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Happy mother’s day with The World’s Wife

Who needs flowers when you can chuckle through Carol Ann Duffy’s very funny (and equally serious) collection of poems celebrating the women in the shadows of their ‘great’ men? Through stories, myths and fairy tales we hear from the plus-ones: Mrs Faust, Frau Freud, Anne Hathaway, Mrs Icarus, Mrs Darwin and many more. A perfect way to start Mother’s day.

7 April 1852

Went to the Zoo.

I said to Him –

Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.


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Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

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Crossing to Safety

Contemplative and exquisitely written

Another long forgotten but fabulous novel is Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner from 1987.  We meet two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang, life-long loyal friends, soul mates, occasional competitors and mutual supporters. If you’re in the mood for a contemplative, tightly and exquisitely written novel, reach for Crossing to Safety.

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Apeirogon by Colum McCann

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Choosing the path of forgiveness

Apeirogon by Colum McCann is a book unlike any I’ve read before; part fiction, part non-fiction. Facts and myths, history and politics, memories, even photos, are woven together to create a rich tapestry. At its heart lies the true story of two men, at either side of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, whose young daughters are killed. After being hit by the same devastating loss, Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan become friends and decide to take their message of reconciliation and forgiveness out to the world. An original, clever and deeply moving read.

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The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

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The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal

A Cloak of Contemplation

This may seem a perverse time to be reading The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare; however, I have my reasons. I first met the author and broadcaster in Munich. The Literaturhaus is a glorious place to meet like-minded artistic folk. Yet, it was a few days later in the beating heat of the German countryside that we talked openly and with that rare candour which seems only ever to emerge – fleetingly – in moments of stillness. Nantesbuch is a small stretch of wilderness, some few miles north of Penzberg. Clare puffed on a cigarette and described his journal as a process of reflection upon his seasonal depression. I countered that summer was in fact the most sobering time of the year for me. He smiled – lit a further cigarette – and that was the end of that.

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Bookstoker’s best books about art and artists

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

The Lonely City

When loneliness turns into art

Just Kids

The making of two artists

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Michelangelo up close and personal, the perfect travel companion for a trip to Italy

The Unfinished Palazzo – Life, Love and Art in Venice

Gloriously gossipy biography of one grand palazzo and three extraordinary women

The Hare With the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

The Hare With the Amber Eyes

An unforgettable family memoir

So Much Longing in So Little Space: The Art of Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard

So Much Longing In So Little Space: The Art of Edvard Munch

A brilliant introduction to the non-canonical Munch

Indelicacy by Amina Cain

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Not lacking in delicacy

Although a short read, Indelicacy by Amina Cain is a delightful, thought provoking novella about socioeconomic amelioration, the complexities of marriage, and female agency. Following main character Vitória who, longing for the economic and temporal freedom to write, climbs (and falls down) the hierarchical ladder from gallery cleaner to kept wife to independent singleton. Indelicacy celebrates the arts and female friendship above the apparent ‘need’ for a woman to produce, commit to and maintain a marriage.

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Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

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Light Perpetual

Stories of lives not lived

It’s London 1944 and a German bomb is about to hit a Woolworths shop where five young children are shopping with their mums. The first chapter of Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford describes, in harrowing detail, the moment of impact. What would have happened to those five kids if they hadn’t turned to ‘dust’? This is what Spufford want us to imagine in Light Perpetual, a gripping tribute to lives not lived.

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