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What We’re Reading

Excellent Essex

Recommended by Max

£14.99

Available in Hardback

Published October 2019

Published by Old Street

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

t’s time we talked about Essex.
It’s the county everyone’s heard of; the place few of us know. Gillian Darley takes us on a vivid, personal tour, from the seaside piers to the empty marshes and the New Town tower blocks, revealing a landscape and a story like no other.
Alongside Essex Man and TOWIE, there’s the Essex that nurtured the first Puritan settlers in America, welcomed refugees from Europe, fugitives from the underworld and bombed-out East Enders. Where dreamers and makers, punk poets, anarchist sects and inventors all found inspiration.
A Colchester nurseryman was the first to trade with a secretive Eastern Kingdom. Braintree’s only earthquake inspired an innovative building system. In Epping, a spat over firewood led to an historic victory for the common people. In Essex, the clash between city and countryside, capital and province, created a shower of sparks that ultimately set the world on fire.
Drawing on everything from ancient maps to reality tv, EXCELLENT ESSEX is no guide book, but a wonderful guide to England’s most misunderstood county.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

Recommended by Max

£8.99

Available in Paperback

Published October 2019

Published by Atlantic

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Once Upon a River

Recommended by Max

£8.99

Available in Paperback

Published September 2019

Published by Transworld

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child. Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes and breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? And who does the little girl belong to?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

The Land of Roar

Recommended by Max

£6.99

Available in Paperback

Published August 2019

Published by Egmont

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

The first in a new children’s fantasy adventure series, full of imagination, humour and heart, and with echoes of Peter PanThe Chronicles of NarniaThe Neverending Story and JumanjiThe Land of Roar is perfect for children aged 8 to 12, and can sit on their bookshelf next to NevermoorWizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon.

Readers can bring their fantasy world to life and meet dragons, unicorns, mermaids and more in this beautifully illustrated children’s book. Believing is just the beginning . . .

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .).

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?

At the Pond: Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond

Recommended by Max

£9.99

Available in Paperback

Published June 2019

Published by Daunt Books

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

Tucked away along a shady path towards the north-east edge of Hampstead Heath is a sign: Women Only. This is the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond.

Floating in the Pond’s silky waters, hidden by a canopy of trees, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of London. On a hot day, thousands of swimmers from eight to eighty-plus can be found waiting to take a dip before sunbathing in the adjoining meadow. As summer turns to autumn and then winter, the Pond is still visited by a large number of hardy regulars in high-vis hats, many of whom have been swimming here for decades.

In these essays we see the Pond from the perspectives of writers who have swum there. Esther Freud describes the life-affirming sensation of swimming through the seasons; Lou Stoppard pays tribute to the winter swimmers who break the ice; Margaret Drabble reflects on the golden Hampstead days of her youth; Sharlene Teo visits for the first time; and Nell Frizzell shares the view from her yellow lifeguard’s canoe.

Combining personal reminiscence with reflections on the history of the place over the years and through the changing seasons, At the Pond captures fourteen contemporary writers’ impressions of this unique place.

Contributors:

Ava Wong Davies | Margaret Drabble | Esther Freud

Nell Frizzell | Eli Goldstone | Amy Key

Jessica J. Lee | Sophie Mackintosh | So Mayer

Deborah Moggach | Nina Mingya Powles

Leanne Shapton | Lou Stoppard | Sharlene Teo

‘The Ladies’ bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath are a London institution, whether it’s sunny or snowy, so what better way to immortalise them than with a book?’ – Red

‘In this collection of work, writers including Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud, Deborah Moggach and Sophie Mackintosh share their stories of the pond and reflect on its history and present.’ –Stylist

‘A joyous collection of essays celebrating the sanctuary of the women’s pond on Hampstead Heath.’ –  New Statesman

‘A small but wonderful collection that shares the joy of the Ladies’ Pond … At the Pond is a series of essays about a body of water but these essays are about so much more than that.’  – Outdoor Swimming Society

‘If you’re a pond dipper / wild swimmer / have ever front-crawled alongside a family of fuzzy buttercup ducklings / peculiarly adored silt in your pores / swum in water so cold you can feel your blood wrapping your heart and lungs in an invisible thermal blanket… this beautiful collection of essays is for you.’ – Dolly Alderton

‘Captures the exhilaration of a visit to the Ladies’ Pond.’ – The Herald

‘There’s a ringing clarity, like the most purposeful swim. And also, there’s the kind of poetry I love, found in prosaic things like bus routes and mobile phones and in the way old cucumber goes mushy inside its shrink wrap. There’s lots of wit and perspicacity. There’s cool honesty, insight and warmth, even in the coldest months… It struck me as clever and appropriate, what Daunt have done: produced a thing about a thing which is a perfect accompaniment to doing the thing. For completion, this should be read near water.’ – Jenny Landreth, Caught by the River

‘In this collection of work, writers including Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud, Deborah Moggach and Sophie Mackintosh share their stories of the pond and reflect on its history and present.’ – Stylist2019’s best non-fiction books

‘This book is made of memories, and sunny days . . . It’s a collection of essays about swimming in the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond, written by an impressive roster of some of the most luminous literary voices in the UK. I especially loved Nina Mingya Powles’ piece, Small Bodies Of Water, which took me beyond North London, to Shanghai and New Zealand, with powerful, poetic descriptions of everything that is beautiful and bewildering about the natural world. I found that I fell in love with many new voices, as well as rediscovering old favourites like Margaret Drabble and Esther Freud. This is a perfect book to dip into when you’re travelling, and it will probably make you want to maintain your adventurous spirit when you’re back at home.’ – Daisy Buchanan

‘The Ladies’ Pond has truly been one of the wonders of my life. Slipping into its waters is slipping into bliss.’ – Deborah Moggach

‘I loved to lower myself down the rungs of the ladder and launch myself into the silky waters of the Pond. There was something magical about the unplumbed depths, the moorhens, the dragonflies, the waterlilies, the willows, the floating rings and rafts.’ – Margaret Drabble, ‘Out of Time’