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We have recently moved to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds. 
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Books & Ink Bookshop, 6 North Street, Winchcombe, GLOS, GL54 5LH
Tel. 01242 603625
Email. [email protected]

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May '08 Four Shires Book Review



A Mile of River, by Judith Allnatt (ISBN: 9780385613064; Doubleday, 2008)

This is the first novel of Northamptonshire author, Judith Allnatt (and let's hope there are more to follow!). Sympathetically written, the novel has a beautiful, lyrical style of prose that carries you along, compelling you to turn the pages as fast as you can from the beginning to the end. Set amidst the long, hot summer of 1976, with severe drought on the way, there couldn't be a more disastrous scenario for 17-year-old Jess and her younger brother Tom, who live on a dairy farm with their dad. The farm was already struggling to make ends meed without this extra burden of drought to add to the crisis. Essentially Jess's story, the book is about the difficulties Jess faces with her over-protective and increasingly stern father. Jess works hard on the farm, and works hard on her studies too when she's allowed to go to school. Without her mum from the age of six, she's also been like a mum to her little brother Tom, and she's also responsible for cooking and cleaning the house. What Jess would really like is just a little bit of time to be a normal teenager, allowed to go to the fair with her friends and sit her university exams. Tensions between Jess and her dad reach an all time high as the drought worsens, river levels drop, and Jess begins to unravel the shocking truth about her mum's disappearance. The novel shows a deep insight into discord within a struggling family unit, and a true depth of emotion and understanding.  A sensitive and compelling novel that adults and teens alike will enjoy for its exploration of adolescence, love, loss, hardship and times of change.


BB's Birds: Writings and Illustrations from the Works of "BB" (Denys Watkins-Pitchford), by Bryan Holden (ISBN: 9780955313011)

Anyone who has come across the work of BB (or Denys Watkins-Pitchford, in full), could not fail to be captivated by his beautiful scraper board illustrations, his colourful descriptions of nature and rural themes, or even his magical children's stories, most famously the Little Grey Men books about gnomes in Warwickshire! If you are already an admirer you are sure to love this choice, but if you've never heard of BB what better introduction can there be to his observations on birds than this book by Bryan Holden. In BB's Birds he has collated BB's best observations and illustrations on birds, and you will find that with this book you can step right into BB's world and experience, with him, the arrival of the swallows in spring, or the early morning sound of woodlarks in a Midlands field. BB was a great countryman, and you will find here some fine examples of both his literature and his artwork. BB's Birds is available as a limited edition hardback, priced 35.00 + 5.00 P&P direct from the publishers only, Roseworld Productions Limited. They can be contacted on 0121 704 1002, or http://www.roseworldproductions.com/.



Cool is The Reaping: Poems of Rural England, by Gordon Greenall (ISBN: 9780955421723; Loose Chippings Books, 2008)

If we can tempt you to some rural poetry, then take a look at Gordeon Greenall's second book of poems published in aid of leukaemia research. These rustic poems are a pleasing mix of praise for the countryside today and nostalgia for the past, together with a large dose of excellent humour - Tractorin' and Educating Ted being just a couple of our favourites. Since being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004, Gordon has turned his hand to poetry, bringing to life the Cotswolds countryside and characters who have influenced his life. Residents of Ebrington (Yubberton), Shipston, Paxford and Hidcote - to mention just a few - will be delighted to find their own small part of England featured. Your purchase of this book will not only be of great enjoyment to you, but will also help to fund further research into leukaemia. Signed copies of the book are currently available through our website.



The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England, by Adrian Tinniswood (9781844134144; Vintage paperback, 2008)

Adrian Tinniswood's acclaimed history of the Buckinghamshire Verney family in the seventeenth century, is at once a fascinating social history, meticulous biography, powerful family saga, and not least a riotously good and engaging read. The tale begins with Sir Francis Verney who ran away from his teenage wife in 1608, sold off much of the Verney property, converted to Islam and became one of the most feared pirates on the Barbary Coast. Carry on to read about Bess, who ran off with a clergyman; Cary, a heavy gambler; Henry, obsessed with horse racing; family members involved in the English Civil War; Mall, who became pregnant out of wedlock; or one of the later relatives who was hanged at Tyburn. It's a really good and compelling portrait of seventeenth-century England, and especially the Verney family - history at its best! The history is based predominantly on the extensive records of the Verneys, particularly hundreds of letters kept by Sir Ralph Verney (1613-96) who presided over Claydon House for over 50 years.







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