Non-Fiction

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The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti: Cheese and Castilian charisma

The Telling Room’s subtitle is ‘A Tale of Passion, Revenge and the World’s Finest Cheese’ which as a connoisseur of quirkiness I found hard to resist. Michael Paterniti fell in love with the idea of Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras’ Páramo de Guzmán cheese, packed in its swanky gold and white liveried tin and selling …

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Ammonites and Leaping Fish by Penelope Lively: Ageing with grace and eloquence

Being of a certain age, I have several over-80s in my life and have lost several more dear to me in recent years. Some have aged well – I have a lovely memory of my 90-year-old aunt executing high kicks in her kitchen a few months before she died, delighted when H couldn’t match her …

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This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett: Which is very much more than that

I’m a huge Ann Patchett fan and when I spotted her memoir in Bloomsbury’s catalogue it seemed the next best thing to a new novel. When it arrived I was a little disappointed as it turns out to be a collection of essays rather than continuous prose but after gobbling them all down I’ve come …

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The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin: Good for whatever ails you

The Novel Cure is an absolute treat for bibliophiles, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Compiled by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin who set up what must be the first bibliotherapy practise in 2008, it’s a set of literary prescriptions for ailments, worries and all that life throws at us, from coping with …

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Armchair Nation by Joe Moran: Life in front of the gogglebox

I’ve just started Joe Moran’s Armchair Nation. Only a few chapters in but I can tell that it’s going to be both entertaining and enlightening as well as a treasure trove of factoids, as H likes to call them. I’ve already stashed away one eye-popping nugget: Anthony Burgess was apparently such a passionate fan of …

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Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen: Food, family and history all served up on a plate

With an ironic nod to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, food writer Anya von Bremzen and her mother set about recreating a series of meals emblematic of ten decades of Russian and Soviet cooking rather like Julia Powell’s tribute to her (almost) namesake in Julie and Julia. Von Bremzen and her mother …

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Meander by Jeremy Seal: When a meander becomes a bit of a plod

Having already written the acclaimed A Fez of the Heart about Turkey and spent many years as a tour guide there, Jeremy Seal clearly has a passion for the country. Meander is a testament to that passion, charting his journey along the river which divides the district of Anatolia – the frontier between west and …

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A quintessential English summer’s day and The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous in my part of the world. Two weeks ago we had planned to spend it wandering around eleven open gardens in a village not too far from us fully expecting that it would come to nothing as we couldn’t quite believe the weather would hold. The village is Mells and it’s …

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