Parliament: the Biography (Volume I)

The history of Parliament is the history of the United Kingdom itself. It has a cast of thousands. Some were ambitious, visionary and altruistic.

Others were hot-headed, violent and self-serving. Few were unambiguously noble. Yet their rowdy confrontations, their campaigning zeal and their unstable alliances framed our nation.

This first of two volumes takes us on a 500-year journey from Parliament’s earliest days in the thirteenth century through the turbulent years of the Wars of the Roses and the upheavals of the Civil Wars, and up to 1801, when Parliament – and the United Kingdom, embracing Scotland and Ireland – emerged in a modern form. Chris Bryant tells this epic tale through the lives of the myriad MPs, lords and bishops who passed through Parliament. It is the vivid, colourful biography of a cast of characters whose passions and obsessions, strengths and weaknesses laid the foundations of modern democracy.

Under Another Sky : Journeys in Roman Britain

This is shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize. This is a book about the encounter with Roman Britain: about what the idea of ‘Roman Britain’ has meant to those who came after Britain’s 400-year stint as province of Rome – from the medieval mythographer-historian Geoffrey of Monmouth to Edward Elgar and W.H. Auden.

What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse? Charlotte Higgins has traced these tales by setting out to discover the remains of Roman Britain for herself, sometimes on foot, sometimes in a splendid, though not particularly reliable, VW camper van. Via accounts of some of Britain’s most intriguing, and often unjustly overlooked ancient monuments, Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way: as indelibly marked by how the Romans first imagined, and wrote, these strange and exotic islands, perched on the edge of the known world, into existence.

The Real Jane Austen : A Life in Small Things

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne’s landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this paperback of the landmark biography, best-selling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen’s life and work – a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more – to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear aunt Jane’ allows.

Byrne’s lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen’s life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Private Eye Annual 2013

The latest edition of the annual that presents the year’s best cartoons, jokes and spoofs from the successful satirical magazine. Illustrated in colour throughout with cartoons, sketches and photo bubbles. The }Private Eye{ annual has become both a seasonal institution and a perennial Christmas bestseller…..

A School Inspector Calls

The third Little Village School novel Summer has arrived in Barton-in-the-Dale and as a new term begins at the little primary school, it’s not just the warm weather that’s getting people hot under the collar. Meetings with the teachers from Urebank School to discuss the merger are producing more than a few fireworks, a disruptive new pupil arrives, set to cause trouble, and a surprising staff love affair is exposed. There’s also a big school production of The Wizard of Oz to organise as well as an impending visit from the Minister of Education.

Headteacher Elisabeth Devine certainly has her work cut out for her. And that’s just some of the drama set to shake-up the village. Throw in a sprinkling of secrets, shocking revelations, old flames, new liaisons, psychics, weddings and misfortune …There’s plenty to gossip about this term.

 

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