Books

Charles Haughey left a poisonous legacy

The jury is still out on whether Charles Haughey did more harm than good for Ireland during his long political life and, in particular, his time in power. Ryle Dwyer reads between the lines of Conor Lenihan’s assessment.

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It’s not just Strictly astrology for colourful celebrity Russell Grant

Dancing on Strictly didn’t just reboot Russell Grant’s celeb status — it proved a key step in his struggles with depression and obesity. The famous astrologer talks to Hannah Stephenson about dementia, dark days and the power of disco.

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Ian Bostridge’s study as enigmatic as Schubert’s masterpiece

WHEN it comes to art songs in German, there is a special kind of prejudice that afflicts us.

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some of the best books for children available this week.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Rosie Nixon

After university, Rosie worked for a book publisher in Brighton.

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First Thoughts: Journey Under the Midnight Sun

IN 1973, with the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East threatening worldwide oil prices, a pawnbroker is found murdered and robbed in an abandoned building in Osaka.

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Book review: The Portable Veblen

IF YOU see squirrels as rats with bushy tails, here’s a warning: this review contains vermin (and nuts). 

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Book review: Wilde’s Women

MOST books about Oscar Wilde view the events of his life in terms of his relationships with men, especially the disastrous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, which brought about his downfall.

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Book review: The Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells

THE Astonishing Return Of Norah Wells marks the triumphant return of Virginia Macgregor, author of What Milo Saw.

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Book review: Mr Splitfoot

IN THE 1970s, an orphaned boy and girl called Nat and Ruth develop an unusual bond to survive the agonies of being raised by a religious cult — and the pair harness Nat’s apparent ability to channel the dead as a means of escape.

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Book review: The Crime and the Silence

Though mostly victims of World War II, the Poles were also the perpetrators of violence against Jews, culminating in the Jedwabne massacre when Jewish residents of the town were burned alive, as Geoffrey Roberts recounts.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Clár Ní Chonghaile

Brought up as the eldest of seven, Clár was always interested in words. 

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some of the best books for children available this week.

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First Thoughts: Kingdom Overthrown

FITZGIBBON’s book is an in-depth and fascinating account of William of Orange’s war against his father-in-law, the deposed James II, a Catholic, on Irish shores.

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Book review: Dictator

ONE of the most striking aspects of Robert Harris’s novel, Dictator — which is the final instalment in his trilogy about the life of Cicero, the Roman politician and philosopher — is the casual way in which violence was administered in the Rome of the first century BC. 

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Book review: One Breath

LAST year I developed a bit of a fascination with free-diving, though from the far and contrasting comfort of my city-dwelling 9am to 5pm routine.

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Book review: How The Other Half Banks

The depiction of unity between banks and people is a lie and explains why 40% of US citizens do not have access to credit, as American law professor Mehrsa Baradaran explains to JP O’Malley.

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Book review: In The Cold Dark Ground

WHEN a body is found in the woods outside Banff, Scotland, — naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin bag duct-taped over its head — the major investigation team, led by Logan McRae’s ex-boss DCI Steel, charges up from Aberdeen.

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Book review: What A Way To Go

THIS amusing coming-of-age novel, narrated by 12-year old Harper Richardson, is full of humour, often of the black variety.

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First Thoughts: Relentless

“The women are doing it now — the men can’t.”

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Book review: In America — Travels with John Steinbeck

In 1960, novelist John Steinbeck took to the byways of America to rediscover his native land. Geert Mak’s retracing of his tyre-tracks gives a fresh perspective to his travels.  compares the two odysseys.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Fiona Barton

The daughter of a journalist, brought up in a house full of books, Fiona always loved writing.

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some of the best books for children available this week.

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Book review: The Long Room

STEPHEN DONALDSON, who works in State surveillance in England in 1981, should have been a writer, according to his adoring but fretful mother, Coralie.

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Book review: The Gap of Time

The updating of a scary tale was a dodgy prospect but this re-imagining of a tragic comedy is brought off with skill and bravado, says Mary Leland.

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Book review: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain

INITIALLY one is tempted to view this novel with its story of a young boy and a Nazi theme as a regurgitation of Boyne’s successful The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

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Book review: Why Fonts Matter

CAN fonts really alter the taste of your food? Or even change what certain words mean to you?

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Book review: The Promise

THE Promise is the 16th novel in the series of books by Robert Crais following LA detectives Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

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Book review: The Widow

HOTLY tipped as 2016’s The Girl On The Train, The Widow certainly comes with great expectations as this year’s unputdownable psychological thriller.

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The two sides to 1916 in books

The Easter Rising was not simply a moment in history but a climactic moment in a revolutionary continum that ranged from the suffragette movement to a campaign for pension rights. Noel Baker reads between the lines.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Helen Blackhurst

Helen was a big reader as a child, but initially theatre interested her more than writing. “I didn’t write stories as a child, but I have these notebooks with dialogue of animals talking.”

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some of the best books for children available this week.

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Book review: I’m Travelling Alone

AS ANOTHER Nordic novel translated into English, this debut offering from Samuel Bjork has a lot to live up to. Inevitably it’s going to be compared to the likes of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson.

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Book review: Brand New Retro

I RECENTLY had an animated excited discussion with my sister-in-law about a recently published book which was a source of interest to us in that some of the content related to her late husband John, my brother, who spent a lifetime in the publishing game.

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First Thoughts: Sofia Khan is NOT Obliged

SOPHIA KHAN has a lot in common with Bridget Jones; Helen Fielding’s creation from 1996.

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Book review: And Yet... Essays

HITCHENS’ death in 2011 robbed the world of one of its foremost critics of cant, tyranny and puritanism.

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Book review: SaltWater

THE sea is the linking motif of this exciting collection of stories, which will please those who like a salty tang to their reading.

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Book review: Cyberphobia

The internet is incompatible with security, both national and personal, because it was never a priority from its inception according to a new book, says JP O’Malley.

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Take a trip back to golden days of Irish pop culture with Brian McMahon's new book

Brian McMahon’s book on retro Ireland is a treasure trove of nostalgia and vintage pop culture, writes Richard Firtzpatrick

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Book review: Grandpa the Sniper: The Remarkable Story of a 1916 Volunteer

Armed with a rusty rifle and a pair of binoculars, 1916 volunteer Frank Shouldice was a crack-shot who harassed British troops during the Easter Rising from the Jameson malthouse, as his grandson tells Richard Fitzpatrick.            

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some of the best books for children available this week.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Julia Forster

A prolific reader, Julia didn’t start to read like a writer until she was 15, and read Jane Eyre. She took an MA in creative writing, but concentrated on poetry. It wasn’t until the end of the course that she had an idea for a novel.

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Book review: Every Thing We Touch: A 24-hour Inventory Of Our Lives

ONE night after a few glasses of wine, Paula Zuccotti told her friend about an idea she had. 

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Book review: A Snow Garden

WHEN Rachel Joyce writes a novel or a radio play, she often cuts out minor characters, or minimises their role.

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Book review: The Press Gang

The journalists at the Irish Press group were as hard drinking as they were hardworking. Sue Leonard hears many tall tales and true from David Kenny, who was there before its demise in 1995.  

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Book review: Counting My Blessings

OTELIER Francis Brennan is a natural storyteller.

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First Thoughts: Falling Up

DANA LIESEGANG was a feisty, happy-go-lucky 19-year-old US Navy recruit, when an attack by a fellow seaman tore her world apart.

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My Name Is X And I Am A Cumberbitch

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. Picture the ‘Sherlock’ star.

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Book review: John Crow’s Devil

TEN years before winning the Man Booker Prize, Marlon James published his debut novel in Jamaica, now available for the first time in Ireland .

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Book review: Beyond Belief

From sinister to sick, the most shocking promotional campaigns of the last century were often racist, crude, rude and downright dangerous, Richard Fitzpatrick checks out Charles Saatchi’s new book.

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First Thoughts: The Girl in the Red Coat

THE story of a child going missing will resonate with many people from newspaper headlines if not actually from the direct experience of living with someone who has disappeared.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Averil Douglas Opperman

Rebelling against her parent’s wishes that she attend Trinity College Dublin, Averil joined the Irish Times as a cub reporter. 

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This week's best books for children

Reviewing some big reads for the little ones. 

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Book review: Chicagonomics

Millions are spent each year on promoting neoliberal ideas worldwide. JP O’Malley reads between the lines of a subtle example of this. 

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Book review: Getting Colder

A FAMILY held together not by love but by habit are at the uncomfortable centre of this thoroughly well-written novel.

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Book review: After You

THE journalist JoJo Moyes started writing novels in 2002. 

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Book review: 100 Documents That Changed The World

ONE hundred of the most significant documents in human history, dating from 2800 BC to 2011 AD, are presented in this beautifully illustrated and well-written book.

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Book review: Carrying Albert Home

CARRYING ALBERT HOME, the title says it all — a devoted husband and his discontented wife set off from West Virginia to Florida to take her pet alligator Albert home.

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Book review: Number 11

AUTHOR Jonathan Coe introduced his readers to the ghastly Winshaw family in his 1994 novel What A Carve Up!

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FIRST THOUGHTS: Persecution and prosecution in Zola and the Victorians

EMILE ZOLA is perhaps not as widely read today in English as he was in the past, less familiar to us now as readers than his friend and contemporary Gustave Flaubert.

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Cecelia Ahern presents grittier side of Ireland with maturity and skill

THE Marble Collector opens with a memory. Sabrina Bloggs, aged three, watches as her mother launches the teapot at the ceiling. 

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Beginner’s Pluck: Hilary Fannin

Hilary worked in a lot of menial jobs and as a classroom assistant before she discovered that it was possible to have a career in writing.

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Book review: The Secret Chord

KING DAVID’S life was long and bloody: whether defeating Goliath, evading deranged King Saul, or fiercely consolidating his power once crowned, he is never far from gore-soaked battles or back-stabbing politics.

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Book review: The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto

SOME people strive for greatness in their lives, others want fame and fortune, while some simply aim to touch lives. Francisco “Frankie” Presto did all three in his life.

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Book review: The Japanese Lover

ISABEL ALLENDE is well known for her wondrous storytelling and ornate descriptions when she became a global phenomenon with her first novel in 1982, The House of Spirits.

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The definitive biography of Big Jim Larkin

Jack O’Connor welcomes the definitive biography of Big Jim Larkin, the trade union leader who transformed the Irish labour movement but who, paradoxically, was at least partly responsible for splitting it apart for decades    

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The Lady in the Van turns the raw material of fact into fiction and back again

THE film of The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith, is the latest success of the popular playwright and former actor, Alan Bennett, now aged 81.

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Pantomime: Aladdin - Everyman, Cork

4/5

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Gothic novelist Patrick DeWitt inspired by ‘unhappy people’

Patrick DeWitt was born to write but success didn’t come easy for the Canadian author who struggled for years to gain recognition, as Sue Leonard learns. 

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Book review: Katherine Carlyle

THE central theme of Rupert Thomson’s haunting novel is how we shape our identity, and ultimately our destiny.

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Andrew Marr's 'Children of the Master' offers a vision of Westminster’s future marred by Machiavellian politics

BRITISH politics is a mess. David Cameron’s Conservatives don’t look comfortable in power. 

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FIRST THOUGHTS: Micheal O’Siadhail poetry collection offers portrait of love and immortal faithfulness

THIS new collection by the poet Micheal O’Siadhail is more than a mere assembly of new poems.

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From bullets to ballots - book traces the rise of modern Sinn Féin party

A new book traces the rise of modern Sinn Féin and how it moved from supporting armed Republicans in the North to constitutional politics. It has gained the biggest dividend from peace, as Ryle Dwyer discovers.

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David Mitchell's 'Slade House' - An inside-out ghost story that is frighteningly effective

DAVID MITCHELL is, in many ways, like the initial protagonist of his latest spooky offering: an immense imagination in a world where mould-breakers are told that “you have to act normal. Can you do that, please?”.

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Three great books looking at flowers, colour and landscape

Peter Dowdall looks at three books which deal with innovative and groundbreaking approaches to municipal design, floral installations and everyday garden colour. 

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Interiors, food and other home-related books that may help in finding a Christmas gift

Kya deLongchamps reviews a range of publications that would make ideal gifts for those with an interest in interiors, food and other home-related topics.

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Glossed over Irish gardening books to tempt your green fingers

Irish gardening books are too often overlooked, says Fíann Ó Nualláin.          

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Five Christmas cook books to get you whizzing around the kitchen

Valerie O’Connor looks at a list of new books that focus on health and well-being and, most especially, quality food. 

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Our thoughts on interior and gardening novels to get your hands on

Rose Martin reviews a selection of the best interior and gardening books, from Dominic Bradbury’s lush peek inside the world’s most beautiful homes to Dermot Bannon’s simple, invaluable architectural advice to the appropriately name.

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Vintage View: Tarquin Blake's Abandoned Churches of Ireland

Kya deLongchamps speaks to photographer and passionate historian Tarquin Blake, about his new book Abandoned Churches of Ireland.  

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If you love chopping wood, these books are for you

Tommy Barker looks at two heavy chunks of books which deal with the manly pastimes of wood cutting, chopping and storing, along with ancient ways of making gates, roof shakes and more in a captivating way. 

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Book review: According to their Lights

A Corkman serving in the British army committed some of the worst atrocities of the Easter Rising. Ryle Dwyer salutes a book that tells the little-known tale of the Irish who fought on the ‘other’ side during the events of 1916.

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First thoughts: This Should be Written in the Present Tense

TWENTY year-old Dorte has just moved to Glumso, renting a small cottage very close to a steadily busy railway line. 

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Beginner’s Pluck: Sloane Crosley

A lifelong reader, Sloane started writing at college with some short stories, and afterwards, after a brief spell in Scotland, she worked in publishing for 12 years.

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Great Christmas books for children

Alien’s Crazy Christmas is a very funny picture book for children who are already aware of Christmas treats and traditions.

 

 

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Book review: I Call Myself A Feminist

GOT a teenage daughter/family member/friend who’s starting to show an interest in feminism? Or, in fact, one who isn’t?

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Book review: Five Minutes Peace

As her much-adored picture book Five Minutes Peace approaches its 30th birthday, children’s author Jill Murphy reflects on her career, and tells Kate Whiting that her success was never planned.

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Book review: The Penguin Lessons

DID last year’s John Lewis Christmas advert have you laughing and crying at the same time and off on a jaunt to the local zoo to see a real-life version of Monty the penguin? Then this is the book for you.

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Book review: The Yellow Diamond

AUTHOR and journalist Andrew Martin whisks us into the world of London’s super-rich, for this sophisticated tale of money laundering, jewel theft and murder.

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Book review: Ghettoside

IT’S TELLING that the testimonies on the cover of Ghettoside, a work of non-fiction, are from fiction writers.

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Book review: High Dive

JONATHAN LEE’s third novel is a fictional account of the Brighton bombing of 1984, when the IRA attempted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher during the Conservative Party Conference at the Grand Hotel.

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10 books sure to please your child this Christmas

The Irish Examiner’s Children’s books reviewer Mary Arrigan picks ten of the best available for under five and under ten year olds, perfect for stocking fillers 

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The book that will prepare you for retirement

If you’ve been working for so long, how do you deal with having 45-50 hours a week of extra free time?

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A gift for book-lovers: Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith have created a beautiful arts anthology, Winter Pages

A new arts anthology edited by Kevin Barry and his wife Olivia Smith is a treat to warm the heart of book-lovers everywhere, writes Marjorie Brennan

This story is enriched with multi-media content

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Book review: An Eagle in the Snow

It is no longer possible to shield children from the world, according to Michael Morpurgo who tells Colette Sheridan of his journey from schoolteacher to best-selling author and how his stories inform as well as entertain. 

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Book review: Winner: My Racing Life

EVER wondered what it’s really like to break a leg? 

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First thoughts: The Hotel Years

THROUGHOUT the 1920s and ’30s, the Austrian novelist, Joseph Roth, travelled extensively throughout Europe, leading a nomadic life, living in various hotels across the continent.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Cesca Major

Cesca became addicted to writing whilst at university.

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Children's books: Once Upon a Place, The Elf on the Shelf

Once Upon a Place compiled by Eoin Colfer (Little Island €16.90) As the title quirkily suggests, place has a profound significance for both characters and events.

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Book review: St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle

TP O’Mahony is not convinced by an attempt to rehabilitate St Paul, the most authoritative figure of the early Christian church.    

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Book review: The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams

THESE 20 tales once again demonstrate Stephen King’s range; alongside the horror which made his name are suspense, realist slices of small-town life, a Western, and even a couple of narrative poems.

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Book review: Stars Of Fortune

THE New York Times bestseller returns with another set of three tales about magic, destiny and love.

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Book review: A Cold Death In Amsterdam

LOTTE MEERMAN is a cold-case detective with the Amsterdam police. Following a tip-off, she is re-examining a 10-year-old unsolved murder.

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Beginners Pluck: Jane Talbot

Daughter of schoolteachers, Jane Talbot has always loved storytelling and folk tales, but she didn’t start writing until she got the idea for her debut.

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The Crossing offers voyage of undiscovery, playing very cool with big emotional baggage

ANDREW MILLER’S latest work is at one level quite a simple story — girl meets boy, girl and boy split up, girl goes on a voyage. 

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Kate Beaufoy: Lakeside lodge deserved a story, so I wrote Another Heartbeat in the House

Kate Beaufoy dreamed of restoring a house she fell in love with. Instead, she restored its historical characters to bring them back to life, as she explains to Sue Leonard

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Book review: New Words For Old - Recycling Our Language For The Modern World

OUR language had smoke and fog for a long time before we needed to combine them to describe “smog”.

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Book review: Numero Zero

NUMERO ZERO from Umberto Eco is a novel of two stories: the shooting of Mussolini and his mistress in 1945, and that of Colonna, a writer in 1992 Milan who accepts the task of ghost-writing a journalist’s memoir.

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Book review: The Mistress Of Paris

IN 1848, the Year of Revolutions, little Emilie-Louise Delabigne began her life in the worst slum in Paris, the illegitimate daughter of a laundress-turned-prostitute.

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'Sport and Ireland: A History' debunks what you thought you knew about our favourite games

Carson played hurley, but not hurling, cricket was once a national sport, and the GAA regarded chess as a gaelic game, as Michael Moynihan discovers in an account of the games people played both on and off the field.

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Far more friction than fiction in John Le Carré’s troubled childhood

JOHN LE CARRÉ is David Cornwell’s penname. The world’s most famous spy thriller writer has given Adam Sisman access to his private papers and some 50 hours of interview time to write his biography. 

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FIRST THOUGHTS: An act of solidarity from quintessential Dub Dermot Bolger

FINGLAS native and quintessential Dub, Dermot Bolger, has dedicated his life to literature in both a public and a private manner. 

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Nadja Spiegel story collection offers startling intensity in cut-glass detail

THE 20 stories that comprise Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t are startling in their intensity. 

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Beginner’s Pluck: Michael O’Higgins

Michael started life as a journalist. He worked for Hot Press, writing news-based stories, and eventually moved to Magill. He was at the stage of securing a staff job, but he’d always wanted to study law.

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Ian Rankin returns with another tale of murder for John Rebus in Even Dogs in the Wild

TOWARDS the start of Ian Rankin’s new John Rebus novel, it emerges that the curmudgeonly detective has “taken the gold watch” and retired.

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First Thoughts: Madelaine Nerson MacNamara turns serendipities into poetry in The Riddle of Waterfalls

MADELAINE Nerson MacNamara nursed a dream of becoming a poet when she was in her teens.

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Book review: Fear Of Dying

WHEN Erica Jong’s no-holds-barred fiction on sex and relationships, Fear Of Flying, was published in the early ’70s, it became a rallying cry for Second Wave feminism, empowering women to be more open about their sexuality, as the 20-something married central character, Isadora Wing, and went in search of the perfect, no-strings sex.

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Biograpahy explores canvas of Francis Bacon’s hedonistic life

Michael Peppiatt has been described as Francis Bacon’s Boswell and in this biography, writes  Peter Murray, he describes a hedonistic lifestyle that, by comparison, makes today’s excesses seem harmlessly amateur.

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Englishman Graham Masterton puts Cork at the heart crime novel Blood Sisters

Graham Masterton has set a thriller in Cork and makes a senior garda, Katie Maguire, its central character. He spoke to Sue Leonard about his life with words and stories.

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FIRST THOUGHTS: A rare and endearing grandiosity from Philippe Claudel

PHILIPPE CLAUDEL first came to notice as one of modern French literature’s most original and compelling voices when his 2003 novel, Grey Souls, won the prestigious and career-making Prix Renaudot. 

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Edge of darkness as physics meet fairytale and folklore in Night Music

ALL good fiction incorporates an investigation of one kind or another, which may account in part for the enduring popularity of the crime / mystery novel. 

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Self-improvement guide inspired by Leonardo da Vinci intriguing, but flawed

Leonardo da Vinci overcame huge difficulties to become the ultimate Renaissance Man, writes Mark Evans.

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Colum McCann: It feels entirely like I’ve done right thing

Colum McCann believes in the redemptive power of storytelling so he set up Narrative 4 to foster empathy in communities beset by conflict. He spoke to Caroline O’Doherty about his hopes for it and his new book.

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Children's books: The Mark, The Light That Gets Lost

The Mark by Rosemary Hayes (Troika Books, €9.40) Jack, who doesn’t use his real name, has been detailed to watch out for a girl called Rachel and is not pleased when he realises that she may reveal his true identity. 

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Book review: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink

Elvis Costello’s memoir of life on the road might be one best suited to hardcore fans of the second-generation Irishman says Richard Fitzpatrick.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Frankie Gaffney

STARTING life in Balbriggan, Frankie moved to inner-city Dublin at 12. He mitched from school, and in his early 20s, working in nightclubs, saw Dublin’s underside.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Frankie Gaffney

STARTING life in Balbriggan, Frankie moved to inner-city Dublin at 12. He mitched from school, and in his early 20s, working in nightclubs, saw Dublin’s underside.

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Book review: Landfalls

DELVING into French maritime records to fictionalise a lost voyage is a considerable task for a debut novel, but Naomi J Williams pulls it off with aplomb.

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Book review: The Movie Doctors

AS co-presenters of the Sony award-winning Film Review programme on BBC Radio 5 Live, Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s light-hearted bickering has endeared them to a weekly audience of more than 500,000 cinephiles anxious for news of the latest releases and insights from stars.

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Book review: Slade House

NO other book this year has made me feel quite so uneasy. 

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First Thoughts: The Woman in Black, and other Ghost Stories

WITH an illustrious career stretching back half a century, and winner of such prestigious honours as the Somerset Maugham Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Whitbread Award, Susan Hill ranks comfortably among the powerhouses of post-war British literature.

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Book review: All Involved

THE 1992 LA riots provide the backdrop to All Involved, Ryan Gattis’ fifth novel.

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Book review:  I Saw a Man

MANY American novelists have taken on the experence of soldiers in Vietnam or Baghdad and conjured the terrors of war and the continuing war at home when they try to debrief and get back into their own lives.

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Book review: Beatlebone

Kevin Barry has accepted he will never write the great American Jewish novel but he still spends nights fretting about what John Lennon’s widow Yoko On might think of Beatlebone. He explains all to Caroline O’Doherty.

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Beamish & Crawford brewers left their mark on Cork

The authors of a new book on Beamish & Crawford describe how the brewery’s founding families played a huge role in Cork’s cultural life

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Book review:  Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life

ANY poetry-lover who encountered Ted Hughes at the Listowel Writers Week in the 1980s is unlikely to forget this Yorkshire-man’s overwhelming presence. 

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Book review: Dark Corners

FORTY years on from her debut novel, this is crime writer Ruth Rendell’s swan song, written before her death in May this year.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Eleanor Fitzsimons

Eleanor worked in consumer research for years; first in Dublin, then London, but after the birth of her first child, she decided not to return to work at once, and the new family returned to Dublin.

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Book review: The Boy Between

IT’S Christmas 2010, and the snow is falling fast. 

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Children's books: The Crow’s Tale, The Barrel Burglary, The 50 States

The Crow’s Tale by Naomi Howarth (Frances Lincoln €17.60)

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Book review: See Me

NICHOLAS SPARK’S fans the world over will be in delirium with the release of his latest novel — See Me.

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Book review: Éamon de Valera: A Will to Power

Ronan Fanning describes Éamon de Valera’s behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the Treaty as petulant, inflammatory, ill judged, and profoundly undemocratic. Ryle Dwyer says this is a fair and balanced assessment.

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Book review:  The Shark And The Albatross

JOHN AITCHISON has a job most of us could only dream of.

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Book review: A Slanting of the Sun

SINCE being plucked from slush-pile obscurity by a Lilliput Press intern after suffering a slew of earlier rejections, Donal Ryan has enjoyed an incredible rise to literary stardom. 

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Book review: Did You Ever Have a Family

LONGLISTED for this year’s Booker Prize and National Book Awards, Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have A Family is a moving meditation on grief and mourning. 

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Children's books

Following The Tractor by Susan Steggall (Frances Lincoln, €9.46) This is a wonderful book of the countryside and its various seasons. 

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Book review: Activities Wise and Otherwise: The Career of Henry Augustus Robinson, 1898-1922

BRENDAN O’DONOGHUE, former secretary general of the Department of Environment and Local Government, has written a magnificent assessment of the career of one of his predecessors during the period before independence. 

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Book review: I’ll Never Write My Memoirs

TO describe Grace Jones as a singer, model and actress seems inadequate, yet she makes clear herein that she’s no fan of the word ‘diva’.

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Book review: The Expatriates

THE world of the contract employee — a contradictory phrase in itself — is the setting of Janice YK Lee’s second novel. 

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Book review: Mr Smiley: My Last Pill And Testament

Hailed as ‘the most sophisticated drug baron of all time’, lovable rogue Howard Marks has gone on to become an author, columnist, DJ, and hero to a generation. 

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Book review: Agatha Raisin: Dishing The Dirt

THE bestselling author returns with another mystery featuring the sleuthing skills of Agatha Raisin.

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Book review: About Sisterland

Martina Devlin has published her ninth novel and given up cooking. She met Sue Leonard to talk about her varied career and her “fundamentally contrary and curmudgeonly” attitude to her writing and journalism.

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Book review: The Making of Zombie Wars

Polemical writer Aleksandar Hemon connects with cities — ‘the concreteness of them’ — whether it’s his native Sarajevo or his adopted home of Chicago, he tells Tony Clayton-Lea.

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Book review: Limits to Culture: Urban Regeneration vs. Dissident Art

In recent decades cities and regions have used culture to drive economic growth but is this process anything other than another form of exploitation? wonders Peter Murray.

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Book review: Kissinger 1923-1968: The Idealist

It’s nearly 40 years since Henry Kissinger held political office but he is still influential — and deeply divisive. Neil Robinson says Niall Ferguson’s first instalment of his biography won’t change anyone’s mind about him.

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Book review: The White Road: A Pilgrimage Of Sorts

LONG before he found literary renown through The Hare With Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal was a ceramicist. 

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Book review: Purity

JONATHAN FRANZEN , was the first novelist to appear on the cover of Time Magazine in 20 years. He has turned up the pace a notch in his latest novel, Purity. 

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Book review: The House By The Lake

THOMAS HARDING — author of Hanns And Rudolf — pulls off the admirable feat of showing us a new history of German’s troubled 20th century by focusing on the story of a small house near Berlin that once belonged to his family.

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Book review: Northman: John Hewitt, 1907-87. An Irish Writer, His World, and His Times

I WISH I’d known in November 1982 what I know now, having read this extraordinary biographical study of John Hewitt by W J McCormack (who is more widely known as the Dolmen Press poet, Hugh Maxton).

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Book review: The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

YOU’RE not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but in the case of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, the mysterious cover is incredibly fitting for this enigmatic psychological thriller.

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Book review: Ireland’s Call: Irish Sporting Heroes who Fell in the Great War

STEPHEN WALKER opens his book about Irish sportsmen who died in World War I with the story of Basil McLear. 

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Children’s books

Robin’s Winter Song by Suzanne Barton (Bloomsbury; €14.80) Winter is coming and the autumn trees are bustling with activity. 

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Book review: A Lonely Note

Kevin Stevens has written a book about tolerance. He talks to Sue Leonard about the fear caused by racial bias and misunderstanding in today’s world.

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Book review: Dinosaurs on Other Planets

In a relatively short writing career Danielle McLaughlin has made huge strides and her latest collection, suggests Billy O’Callaghan, marks her down as a writer of exceptional perception and potential.

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Book review: Asking For It

AT 18, Emma O’Donahue is beautiful, smart and supremely confident. She’s also controlling and fond of getting her own way. 

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Book review: Where My Heart Used To Beat

SEBASTIAN FAULKS plunges back into his favourite eddies in Where My Heart Used To Beat. 

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Book review: The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

MARCUS Goldman is, for a brief, shining moment, the brightest star in the New York literary firmament. 

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Book review: The Evolution Of Everything: How Ideas Emerge

EVOLUTION is not just confined to the species; according to Matt Ridley’s account, it is happening all around us.

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Book review: The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue

WHERE do you get your ideas? — is a question most writers come to dread, and may well be one of the reasons why Frederick Forsyth has finally published his autobiography. 

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Book review: Submission

FRANCOIS is a typically Houellebecqian protagonist: middle-aged, misogynistic, spiritually bereft and disgusted by his parents, and Submission is a typically Houellebecqian novel.

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Children’s books

The Dinosaur That Pooped by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter (Red Fox €17.80)

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Book review: Windharp - Poems of Ireland since 1916

Niall MacMonagle taught English enthusiastically for over 30 years but his determination to share the beauty of poetry is undimmed. He spoke to Sue Leonard about his anthology marking the 1916 Rising centenary.

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Book review: We Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Publisher turned author Thomas Morris talks to Tony Clayton-Lea about the joy and challenges of becoming a writer — and sibling rivalry as a wonderful motivating force.

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Book review: Did You Ever Have A Family

BILL CLEGG was a powerhouse literary agent whose crack addiction became both his downfall and the source of his personal renaissance. 

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Book review: Never Any End To Paris

IN the closing paragraph of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s beguiling, posthumously-published paean to the great French capital of the ‘20s, he writes: “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other... (This) is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”

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Book review: The First Thing You See

GREGOIRE DELACOURT’S The First Thing You See (translated by Anthea Bell) sets you off on a “What if” story, about that person who changes your life in a special way. 

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Book review: A Kind of Compass — Stories on Distance

IT is good to see an anthology of short stories from a new Dublin-based publisher, and even better to discover that the anthology is not confined to Irish writers, nor does it claim to be the “best of” anything.

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Book review: The Moth Catcher

FAT, middle-aged detective Vera Stanhope seems an unlikely heroine. But the dishevelled sleuth has won millions of fans through Ann Cleeves’ gritty crime thrillers, and the TV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn.

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Book review: A Shakespearean Botanical

READERS might wonder why Shakespeare would relate the pretty plant aconitum with ‘rash gunpowder’, as he does in Henry IV Part 2. 

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Children’s books

Snow Bear by Tony Mitton and Alison Brown (Bloomsbury; €8.80) 

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Book review: The Blue Guitar

John Banville’s first novel in three years references many of his own characters in a quasi paean to metafiction and artistic thievery, writes Val Nolan.

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Book review: Zero, Zero, Zero

The scale of the illegal drugs business, the violence, the complicity of bankers in laundering money and the absolute power of the drug barons is beyond comprehension. Cormac O’Keeffe on an escalating world crisis.

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Book review: Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century

HIS entertaining novels and distinctly non-standard biographies have long marked John Higgs out as an ambitious writer, but even by his standards, this is an audacious project.

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Book review: The Unexpected Inheritance Of Inspector Chopra

MUMBAI-BASED inspector Chopra is forced into early retirement due to a minor problem with his heart. On his last day of work, two unexpected things show up.

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Book review: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

SALMAN Rushdie’s tenth novel opens in Arab Spain in 1195, when disgraced court physician and philosopher Ibn Rushd takes in the mysterious 16-year-old orphan Dunia.

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Book review: Latest Readings

UNLIKE Nick Hornby’s Stuff I’ve Been Reading, Clive James’ collection of essays exploring the literature he’s devoured since being diagnosed with leukaemia, lacks pace and punch.

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Book review: The Sermon on the Fall of Rome

WHEN the regular barmaid/manageress of a remote Corsican village tavern vanishes without trace in the middle of the night, the bar’s owner, Marie-Angele, urgently needs to fill the vacancy.

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Book review: Beneath The Earth

JOHN BOYNE has already proved that he’s a versatile writer. 

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Children’s books

Molly Maybe’s Monsters by Kristina Stephenson (Simon and Schuster, €9.50) 

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Book review: Paradise City

THERE’S a journalist in Elizabeth Day’s new novel.

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Book review: Doing Good Better

THE ice bucket challenge, no make-up selfies and Movember are some of the many popular social media campaigns that reveal just how much we like to give our support to a good cause. But are we helping effectively?

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Book review: Lost Between: Writings of Displacement

In 2010, the novelist Catherine Dunne, then chairperson of the Irish Writers’ Centre met the Italian writer Federica Sgaggio.

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Book review: Worktown

IN the late 1930s, the Lancashire mill town of Bolton was the subject of a new kind of research to see how its inhabitants worked and lived.

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Book review: Roy Jenkins: A well-rounded life

THE best political biographies do more than record their subjects’ lives.

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Book review: Close Your Eyes

PSYCHOLOGIST Joe O’Loughlin must find a killer before they strike again. But with few clues and public pressure mounting, there is little going right for him and the police officers he is trying to help.

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Book review: Pedigree

LAST October, the Swedish Academy stunned the world of letters with its announcement that France’s Patrick Modiano had been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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FIRST THOUGHTS: Poet Phillip Larkin shown in a new light

IT is 30 years since Philip Larkin’s untimely death from cancer in 1985 at the age of 63, a death he had long predicted.

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Beginner’s Pluck: Rachel Elliott

A quiet child, Rachel was an obsessive reader, but she wanted to become a vet. “My passions were animals and books,” she says.

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