Books: Dolly Parton makes her fictional debut in a new book co-written with James Patterson…
1. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson is published in hardcover by Century, priced at £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now
She may already be one of the world’s most famous and beloved celebrities, but at 76, Dolly Parton proves it’s never too late to add another string to her bow with her very first novel. . And yes, Dolly fans, that’s all you can hope for. Run Rose Run tells the story of AnnieLee Keyes, a talented young singer who arrives in Nashville with high hopes of becoming a country star. She soon catches the eye of retired mega-star Ruthanna, who decides to help her in her quest. But AnnieLee has dark secrets and is also on the run from a questionable past – which soon catches up with her. Co-written with James Patterson, it is approximately 400 pages. But, just like Dolly’s hit songs, you’ll quickly find yourself drawn in and sail through. Dreams, drama and danger, with a generous dash of magic and wisdom at every turn, this is a great holiday or bedtime read. There’s also an accompanying album featuring songs from the story, to bring it even more to life.
(Review by Abi Jackson)
2. These Days by Lucy Caldwell is published in hardcover by Faber & Faber, priced at £12.99 (ebook £10.99). Available now
The Belfast Blitz is a lesser known but no less devastating part of World War II. Lucy Caldwell’s extensive research and fluent prose paint a harrowing picture of destruction, as the city barely survives a series of heavy German bombardments. These Days tells the story of the middle-class Bell family, through which Caldwell explores family ties, romantic relationships, and social disparities. Audrey is engaged, but lacks the vigor of true love, while Emma struggles to navigate a secret Sapphic romance alone. As the city’s infrastructure is reduced to rubble, grief and terror become overwhelming, but an unwavering strength of character shines through – both in Audrey and Emma, as well as in the wider Northern Irish community. . These Days is a moving piece of historical fiction that will captivate your heart.
(Review by Rebecca Wilcock)
3. Sell Us The Rope by Stephen May is published in paperback by Sandstone Press, priced at £8.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now
It is May 1907 and several personalities who will shape the 20th century are meeting in London. Stephen May takes us through the squalid streets of the capital to meet Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky and many others as they attend the 5th Congress of the Russian Communist Party under the watchful eyes of the Tsar’s secret police. May uses less familiar names for these men – Stalin is nicknamed Koba, Lenin is Ulyanov, and Trotsky is Yanovsky, as they intertwine with fictional characters. As Koba meets Elli Vuokko, a (fictional) Finnish activist, he first comes across as a charming and generous man and, without the nickname that has become synonymous with a ruthless and bloody dictatorial government, it can be easy to overlook the monster. which he was until his true character was slowly brought out throughout the tale. Current events give this atmospheric book a different context, a reminder that evil walks among us – often with a smiling face.
(Review by Ian Parker)
4. Mother’s Boy: A Writer’s Beginnings by Howard Jacobson is published in hardcover by Jonathan Cape, priced at £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now
Howard Jacobson’s Mother’s Boy is a hilarious, funny yet sentimental memoir by the prolific 79-year-old – who has written a book approximately every two years since publishing his first novel Coming From Behind at the age of 40. Jacobson was born into a working-class Jewish family in Manchester in the 1940s. The book details his close relationship with his mother, who supported his ambitions to go to Cambridge and become a writer, as well as his difficult relationship with his dad. In between, he describes his early studies and career, ending with the publication of his first novel. Like all great memoirs, Mother’s Boy is at once acerbic, tender and indiscreet. Jacobson’s comedic turn of phrase rarely disappoints, and there are laughs on nearly every page.
(Review by Luke O’Reilly)
Children’s book of the week
5. Big Hedgehog And Little Hedgehog Take An Evening Stroll by Britta Teckentrup is published in hardcover by Prestel, priced at £10.99 (no ebook). Available now
With its sweet story and dreamlike illustrations, the overwhelming impression you get from Big Hedgehog And Little Hedgehog Take An Evening Stroll is one of calm. Big and Little Hedgehog go home, but they keep stopping because there’s so much for the younger kids to see. While Big Hedgehog wants to rush home, Little Hedgehog shows the power of slowing down a bit and enjoying what’s around you, whether it’s seeing the sunset or watching the fireflies dance. While not the most groundbreaking tale, it makes perfect bedtime reading – and has a sweet message about the value of enjoying life slowly.
(Review by Prudence Wade)