Book of the day
A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries … Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.
1914 … Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger …
2016 … Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret …
The Secret Wife crosses centuries, as past merges with present in a story of love, loss and resilience.
Facts of the day
1888 The first wax drinking straw is patented, by Marvin C Stone in Washington, DC.
The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s Eve, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (literally ‘Old Long Since’) is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.
Bandleader Guy Lombardo popularised the song and turned it into a New Year’s tradition. Lombardo first heard ‘Auld Lang Syne in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants. When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s Eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born. After that, Lombardo’s version of the song was played every New Year’s eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria.
Before he was famous, author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, managed America’s first Saab dealership. It failed within a year. Thankfully, things got better for Vonnegut thereafter, and he went on to become a popular novelist.
Something less well known about Vonnegut is that he shares a lot of characteristics with one of his literary heroes, Mark Twain. Vonnegut named his firstborn son after Twain; both men were born in November; both served in the army; both worked as journalists; both were heavy smokers; both had their books banned.
Rising star in 2017
Debut novelist, Emma Flint, Little Deaths (UK: Picador, January 2017; USA: Hachette, January 2017)
One July morning in Queens, New York, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.
106 BC Cicero (Italy)
1698 Pietro Metastasio (Italy)
1730 Charles Palissot de Montenoy (France)
1803 Douglas William Jerrold (UK)
1870 Henry Handel Richardson (Australia)
1886 John Gould Fletcher (USA)
1891 Osip E Mandelstam (Poland)
1892 J R R Tolkien (South Africa, UK)
1893 Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (France)
1901 Eric Voegelin (Germany)
1906 Roman Brandstaetter (Poland)
1910 T S Willan (UK)
1922 Morten Nielsen (Denmark)
1930 Marcel Dubé (Canada)
1944 Blanche d’Alpuget (Australia)
1963 Alex Wheatle (UK)
Jokes of the day
Q: What do you get from sitting on ice for too long?
Cartoon: Various, Winter clothes, CartoonStock
Quote of the day
Anonymous: ‘God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.’