Macdonald, Finlay (2013) The art and life of Lynley Dodd. Penguin. Storyteller Dame Lynley Dodd has found remarkable success with her Hairy Maclary and friends books. We follow her life from small country school to Elam Art School and a teaching career before she finds her stride as author and illustrator of one of the world’s most successful series of picture books. This book is a pictorial history and includes photos of the author’s early years, as well as the artwork she produced from art school pieces to illustrations for the Correspondence School. A beautiful production. Rating: 8.5/10.
Fullerton, Susannah (2013) Happily ever after: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Francis Lincoln. In 2013 Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice turned 200. This novel which is regularly chosen in worldwide polls as the favourite novel of all time has stood the test of time. Fullerton shares insights into Austen’s masterpiece from inception and famous characters, to its iconic status and modern iterations. She looks at the style of the novel – its irony, structuring, and use of the technique known as ‘free indirect speech’. Nostalgic and enriching. Rating: 8/10.
Kidd, Sue Monk (2014) The Invention of Wings. Viking. In a novel inspired by the abolitionist Grimke sisters The Invention of Wings is set in the early years of the nineteenth century. Sarah Grimke was born into Charleston’s aristocracy and as a girl is given ownership of a 10-year-old household slave named Hetty “Handful”. The story follows their journey over the next thirty-five years as they strive for freedom and lives of their own. Grim reading and unswerving in its portrayal of the struggles of the abolition movement. Rating: 8/10.
Galbraith, Robert (2014) The Silkworm. In this second Cormoran Strike crime novel, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) investigates the disappearance and brutal murder of novelist Owen Quine. Quine has just completed a manuscript that will ruin lives and there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. A compulsively readable tale by a master storyteller. Rating: 9/10.
Stone, Brad (2013) The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Little Brown. This definitive biography, read in the week that Amazon launched the game-changing Fire Phone, provides an honest account of the single-minded vision of Amazon founder and digital innovator, Jeff Bezos. Amazon.com started off by delivering books through the mail, whilst riding the dot-com crisis, to become a technology juggernaut that impacts the purchase-decisions of millions of global consumers, taking no prisoners along the way. A compelling narrative that inspires and repels at the same time. Rating: 9/10.