First Thoughts

Painter Of Silence

Georgina Harding

Bloomsbury, €19.80;

ebook €18.41

Review: Stephanie Murray

Georgina Harding’s third novel is set in Romania in the early ’50s. Working as a nurse, Safta comes face to face with a man from her past.

Augustin and Safta grew up together in a manor in the countryside — she the daughter of the house, he the son of the cook.

There are things that Augustin needs to share with Safta about his experiences during the Second World War, but he was born deaf and is mute.

He turns to the form of communication he and his childhood friend relied on years earlier and slowly starts to draw his memories.

This is an unassuming novel that is beautifully written, but the very considered way the story is told also makes it rather slow-paced and lacking in intrigue at times.

However, as Augustin’s drawings become bolder towards the end of the novel, the story becomes more and more enthralling.

Recipe For Love

Katie Fforde

Century, €22.45;

ebook €21.78

Review: Julie Cheng

The best-selling author returns with another romantic tale. Aspiring chef Zoe Harper wins a place on a televised cookery competition. She is convinced this is her chance to fulfil her ambition of owning a small deli.

Zoe feels she is ready to tackle the tough challenges ahead. But is unprepared for the feelings she develops towards one of the judges, Gideon Irving.

However, she is thrown by the arrival of a devious fellow competitor, Cher, who will do anything to become famous.

As the competition heats up the pressure gets to Zoe when the challenges get harder and the need to impress the judges reaches boiling point. When her secret affair with Gideon is discovered, Zoe must reassess her priorities.

Can Zoe rein in her emotions to win the competition or will she lose both her dream and Gideon?

Yet another delicious read from the writer who never disappoints.

All Cheeses Great and Small: A Life Less Blurry

Alex James

Fourth Estate, €23.10;

ebook, €20.03

Review: Alex Sarll

Alex James’s first book was one of the most likeable rock memoirs in years, enthusiastically detailing his time as Blur’s bassist and the coolest kid at the Britpop party.

After the band split he bought a tumbledown Cotswolds farm on a whim, and here he gets excited about blackberries, chickens and the cheese he now makes with exactly the same wide-eyed, unselfconscious delight as he formerly applied to champagne, models and the other trappings of the showbiz lifestyle.

Mercifully, there is no mention of neighbours such as Jeremy Clarkson and David Cameron, but there are still sections here where James’s puppyish personality isn’t quite enough to carry the reader along — especially when he discusses Daylesford, a ghastly-sounding high-end farm shop which James nonetheless loves.

Still, for the most part, his fine turn of phrase and joyous descriptions of the English countryside see him through.

The Natural Explorer: Understanding Your Landscape

Tristan Gooley

Sceptre, £16.99;

ebook €10.99

Review: Laurence Venables

Celebrated explorer Tristan Gooley gives a fascinating insight into how to connect with nature and heighten the enjoyment of outdoor discoveries, be they grandiose or modest.

Gooley combines the work of historical travellers and their use of primitive navigation techniques with his own wealth of knowledge and experience. This comparison demonstrates how the world becomes a richer and more exciting place when seen through many sets of eyes.

Gooley questions the role of the human senses. How would the removal of one change our perceptions? He also covers light, colour and the weather, all everyday occurrences that shape our world.Are you a traveller or an explorer? This account divorces the two and aims to really open our eyes and, perhaps, point out something that was right under our noses the whole time.


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