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The Gardens of Portugal by Helena Attlee

The Gardens of PortugalA sumptuous coffee table book with glossy photographs and a lot of information, Helena Attlee has made garden history her subject for over 20 years. A busy lady, enthusiastic and well informed she writes and lectures on garden design and leads specialist tours throughout Portugal, Italy and Spain.

The book opens with an outline history of the principal gardens in Portugal. Twenty great gardens are featured, travelling from north to south, many of which lie around Lisbon and Porto. All of them borrow from the country’s rich sea-faring history bringing together a fusion of styles and ideas from east to west in a flamboyant mix.

The Good Plain Cook by Bethan Roberts

The Good Plain CookThis is Bethan’s second novel. It is an evocative literary treat; think Upstairs, Downstairs meets Atonement.
Based very loosely on the lifestyles of Peggy Guggenheim, the 1930s bohemian artist and her reclusive, difficult lover, it is an unconventional look at family life over one hot summer.

The story is set in rural Sussex in the summer of 1936. Kitty Allen, a young-for-her-age, local girl answers an advertisement for a “Good Plain Cook” and sets to work at the seemingly idyllic summer home of the eccentric and forceful American and her communist lover, along with their children and an assortment of staff thrown in for good measure! The sultry humid never-ending days of summer reflect the simmering emotions and passions experienced by these wonderfully drawn characters.

“Reiki Without Rules” by Keith Beasley

Reiki Without RulesThis is a new book from Keith, a local author, explaining how the learning and experience of practicing Reiki has enabled him to become the person he is today.

The book gives a broad over-view of the subject and is aimed at those wishing to know more about Reiki healing in all its forms. Keith believes that it “is all things to all men” and determines in our own time if we are receptive to it.The book is a guide to using Reiki to help ourselves and others; enabling us to “go with the flow” and enjoy our lives following our natural instincts about things.


Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes

Rick Stein's Mediterranean EscapesStuffed full of appetizing recipes bursting with sunshine, covering a route from Corsica over to Sicily and then into Turkey and across to Morocco, this is as much a travelogue as a cookery book.

The legendary Mr. Stein needs no introduction to the British expat, as a renowned chef, a champion of the fruits of the sea in Britain and France; he seems equally at home these days, as a television presenter, as he is in the kitchen.

The Essential Guide For Reading Groups

The Essential Guide for Reading GroupsThere has been a huge increase in the number of reading groups and small book clubs over the past few years. “Richard and Judy” are a household name in the UK and any book they choose to promote will fly off the shelf in the bookshop.

This book is designed to help new groups to get off the ground and also provides material for those already established. It is divided up helpfully into sections giving lots of advice on how to choose a title and get things moving.

Often, when a group of people meet up regularly the structure falls away and the evening turns into a sociable chit chat.

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of FlowersThis is an absorbing story knitting its path through many ancient tales. Unfolding rhythmically, it takes us into the Middle Eastern world of carpet weaving. Threaded with colour and mystery, you will become entranced as you soak up the story of this nameless girl growing up in 17th century Iran.

As predicted by a spectacular comet, her once promising destiny is shattered when her father dies, leaving her and her mother to be taken in as servants by a distant uncle. She is forced into a loveless secret marriage and faced with a bleak future, until she learns wisdom and responsibility.

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

Enduring Love by Ian McEwanThe book opens with a pair of reunited lovers embarking on a romantic picnic in the countryside.  Their happiness is short lived, however, as Joe, the narrator of the story, becomes involved, along with others at the scene, in trying to prevent a hot air balloon  breaking loose from its moorings, carrying away its child passenger.  

Though the child is unharmed, the incident ends tragically and the rest of the book is concerned with the aftermath of the event and most notably with the, ultimately dangerous, obsession that one of the other rescuers develops for Joe.  How Joe deals with this obsession and the effect  it has on his relationship throws up many questions and dilemmas throughout the book.

The Plimsoll Sensation by Nicolette Jones

The Plimsoll SensationIn 1995, Nicolette moved to Plimsoll Road in north London. Her local pub. The “ Plimsoll” had a picture of a red trainer pasted over the original sign. When a new owner changed the name she rescued the old sign and uncovered its illustration of a ship, sparking her curiosity about the man it commemorated: Samuel Plimsoll “The Seaman’s Friend”.

Victorian seamen needed all the friends they could get. Ship-owners overloaded vessels increasing profits at the risk of seaman’s lives, and “coffin ships” were notorious— insured for more than their true value and more profitable if they sank. Captains who refused to sail in such ships were blacklisted and seamen were jailed.