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Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Biographies

The Exiled Collector: William Bankes and the Making of an English Country House
Anne Sebba
(UK: The Dovecote Press, 2009; USA: John Murray, 2005)

On 30 August 1841 William John Bankes, former Tory MP, pioneer Egyptologist and renowned traveller, was caught in compromising circumstances with a guardsman in London’s Green Park. Bankes paid a heavy price for his ‘moment of madness’: less than two weeks later, well aware that sodomy carried the death penalty, he had fled in to exile, eventually settling in Venice. The British Government declared Bankes an outlaw, a vindictive and archaic procedure, which might have enabled them to seize his house – Kingston Lacy in Dorset. It was the vicarious embellishment of that house, although it could be no more than a memory, that was to be his only enduring passion.

Based on extensive research from previously undiscovered archives, this is the first ever biography of William Bankes. The Exiled Collector recounts Bankes’ dramatic life story, examines the psychology of collecting, the pain and creativity of exile and affords a revealing insight into the minds of a hypocritical ruling elite in early Victorian Britain.

Recommended by:
Paul Atherton, Managing Director, Simple (TV) Productions Ltd (film/television)
Paul says: ‘I received a copy of this at my first ever book launch, thanks to the author Anne Sebba.’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Exiled Collector: William Bankes and the Making of an English Country House)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Exiled Collector: William Bankes and the Making of an English Country House)

Paul is currently involved in a campaign to raise awareness of the Homeless in London by Living in a Car: for a year. You can follow his progress via Twitter @LondonersLondon using the hashtag #LivingInACar

antonincaremeCooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Carême

Ian Kelly
(UK: Short Books, 2003; USA: Bloomsbury USA, 2005)

A unique feast of biography and Regency cookbook, Cooking for Kings takes readers on a chef’s tour of the palaces of Europe in the ultimate age of culinary indulgence.

Drawing on the legendary cook’s rich memoirs, Ian Kelly traces Antonin Carême’s meteoric rise from Paris orphan to international celebrity and provides a dramatic below-stairs perspective on one of the most momentous, and sensuous, periods in European history – first Empire Paris, Georgian England and then the Russia of War and Peace.

Carême had an unfailing ability to cook for the right people in the right place at the right time. He knew the favorite dishes of King George IV, the Rothschilds and the Romanovs; he knew Napoleon’s fast-food requirements, and why Empress Josephine suffered halitosis.

Carême’s recipes still grace the tables of restaurants the world over. Now classics of French cuisine, created for, and named after, the kings and queens for whom he worked, they are featured throughout this captivating biography. In the phrase first coined by Carême, ‘You can try them yourself.’

Recommended by:
Paul Atherton, Managing Director, Simple (TV) Productions Ltd (film/television)
Paul says: ‘I was bought this as a Christmas present. Years later I met the author Ian Kelly and fortuitously we became good friends.’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Carême)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Carême)

Paul is currently involved in a campaign to raise awareness of the Homeless in London by Living in a Car: for a year. You can follow his progress via Twitter @LondonersLondon using the hashtag #LivingInACar

johnlecarreJohn le Carré: The Biography
Adam Sisman
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2016; USA: HarperCollins, 2016)

Over half a century since The Spy Who came in from the Cold made John le Carré a worldwide, bestselling sensation, David Cornwell, the man behind the pseudonym, remains an enigma. He has consistently quarried his life for his writing, and his novels seem to offer tantalizing glimpses of their author – but in the narrative of his life fact and fiction have become intertwined, and little is really known of one of the world’s most successful writers.

Written with exclusive access to David Cornwell himself, to his private archive and to the most important people in his life – family, friends, enemies, intelligence ex-colleagues and ex-lovers – and featuring a wealth of previously unseen photographic material, Adam Sisman’s extraordinarily insightful and constantly revealing biography brings in from the cold a man whose own life has been as complex and confounding and filled with treachery as any of his novels.

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (John le Carré: The Biography)
Available in the USA via Amazon (John Le Carre: The Biography)

victoriawoodVictoria Wood: The Biography
Neil Brandwood
(UK: Virgin Books, 2003)

Victoria Wood’s wit and humour endeared her to millions of TV viewers for over four decades. Writer, producer and actress of television shows such as As Seen on TV and Dinnerladies, Victoria was often voted the funniest woman in Britain… Her rise to stardom, from her early years in Lancashire to the successes of the sell-out shows at the Royal Albert Hall, is sympathetically and honestly portrayed by Neil Brandwood. This meticulously researched and written biography provides an insightful account of the life and career of one of Britain’s best-loved comediennes.

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Victoria Wood: The Biography)

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