Five things we loved this week

Posted on 29th January 2016 by Sally Campbell
Our literary round-up of the last seven days

1. Beatrix Potter is rocketing up the charts

No, not the pop charts – the bestselling book-charts. Not only did we just learn of a long-lost Beatrix Potter manuscript about a wily little kitty, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots -  which is not, incidentally, a story about a cat who goes into a well-known high-street pharmacy looking for toothpaste - but, in the few days since, pre-order sales for the book have sky-rocketed. The new book will be released on September 1st 2016 to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.

2. Girls, be seen and heard

There are many reasons to be happy about Frances Hardinge’s win, this week, of the Costa Book of The Year Award. Firstly, she was not tipped to win – and who doesn’t love a surprise? Secondly, her book, The Lie Tree, is the first children’s book to win the award for 14 years, which can be seen as a big old thumbs up to children’s fiction. Thirdly, the book is deliciously dark and complicated – and informative to boot: it teaches children and adults alike about the Victorian era, especially with regard to beliefs surrounding science, religion and… gender. Last-but-not-least it has a head-strong, smart and brave female protagonist who simply won't be told to: “be seen and not heard”. Brilliant.

3. Jane Eyre fans, now is your moment!

If you are a fan of Jane Eyre, and especially if you admire her courageous and steadfast nature, then now is the time to emulate her and make a stand for a worthy cause. Ferndean Manor is under threat! The listed building Charlotte Bronte used as inspiration for Rochester’s home, which is called Wycoller Hall, situated near Colne, is currently set to lose the support of Lancashire Country Council in 2018. This could mean vandalism, destruction and who knows what. Fans of the novel – and of charming slightly-dilapidated country houses – have already begun to sign a petition, which currently has 6,000 names. But they need more. So be like Jane, and do what is right.

4. Helen has done even more (sorry)

Helen Dunmore’s new novel is astonishing. I have said this already. I keep saying it. Exposure is an intricate espionage novel that combines the two most desirable elements in fiction: a propulsive plot and heavenly writing. It is a book about ideology and a silent war, about a 1960’s England governed by paranoia…The tension in Exposure is acute, the writing is seamless, and the world Dunmore creates is intimate and devastating. Read it.

5. In the name of the Leech

Authors have long been used to name new – and old –scientific discoveries. An asteroid was named Arthurdent for Douglas Adams, an (extinct) whale species, Livyatan melvillei, was named after  Herman Melville, a spider, Draculoides bramstokeri, was named after Bram Stoker, a butterfly genus was named after Nabokov, Nabokovia, and Tolkien has a crater on Mercury named after him. Well, now, after her long-standing support of the American Natural History Museum, Amy Tan is to be immortalized in the naming of a species of leech. The Chtonobdella tanae is a small Australian leech, the first ever to be described with CT scanning. And Tan is delighted. All we ask is that the next discovery be named after Waterstones.


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