New non-fiction: Gallipoli by Arthur Beecroft

9780719816543Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story
At the start of the First World War, Arthur Beecroft was a recently qualified barrister in his twenties. Determined to enlist despite a medical condition, he volunteered for military service, first as a regular soldier, then as a despatch rider. Offered a commission in the Royal Engineers, in 1915 he saw action at Gallipoli.

Now a byword for catastrophic military disaster, the Gallipoli Campaign was the ill-conceived Allied invasion of the Dardanelles. The campaign stalled almost immediately, resulting in over half a million casualties on both sides.

Lucky to survive, several years later Beecroft wrote a detailed memoir of his experiences. Discovered by his granddaughter and now reproduced here almost exactly as it was written nearly a century ago, Beecroft’s vivid narrative takes us through those heady days of the declaration of war, enlistment, initial training, the bungled landing at Suvla Bay, and the exceptionally difficult conditions of the Gallipoli terrain. This is no mere jingoistic account. With a keen eye, Beecroft brings to life the men dogged by disease and exhaustion – ordinary soldiers who, even as they suffered the betrayal of incompetent leadership,  displayed extraordinary reserves of heroism and bravery.

Throughout this rare insight into what it was like for an ordinary ‘civilian soldier’ swept up in the fog of war, Beecroft’s authentic voice still speaks honestly to us today –  of comradeship and devotion to duty, of fear and facing death.  Now published for the first time in the centenary year of the Gallipoli Campaign, this is a soldier’s story in his own words.

Arthur Beecroft

Arthur Beecroft enlisted in 1914 and served as a Signals Officer during the Gallipoli campaign. After the First World War, he wrote several detective novels under the pen-name Arthur Salcroft, and was awarded an MBE in 1922. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard. Arthur Beecroft died peacefully in 1974.

New fiction: Three Strange Angels by Laura Kalpakian (Buried River Press)

9781910208120Francis Carson, brilliant British novelist, renowned for his lyrical prose, his drinking, and his womanizing, was a free spirit who crashed through life. In February 1950 he was found dead in the Garden of Allah swimming pool. Diffident Quentin Castle–newly-married, a lowly junior partner in his father’s firm, Castle Literary Agency–must convey this terrible news to the widow in Oxfordshire. Claire Carson’s plight, impoverished, alone with three small children, her dignity, her desolation, her deep blue eyes awaken in Quentin wholly new emotions. In a spasm of gallantry, he promises to escort Francis’s body home to England from California.

Regent Films are making a movie of Carson’s best known book in sun-splashed Hollywood. As a Brit, accustomed to austere, pinched, post-war London, Quentin navigates uneasily through artifice and opulence. The top executives at Regent treat him with conventional sympathy, polite condescension, and something obscure, tinged with evasion. But these few days in California—and a weekend in Mexico—will change Quentin Castle forever.

His subsequent choices—variously brilliant, audacious and unethical—are enveloped in impenetrable layers of betrayal that will crack, crumble, and finally destroy.

Laura Kalpakian is the author of eleven novels and three prize-winning collections of original short fiction.  Her work has appeared extensively in the UK and the USA.  She has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a residency at Hawthornden Castle, Scotland, and her 2006 novel, American Cookery, was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. A native Californian, Laura was educated on both the east and west coasts of the USA, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.  You can find out more about Laura at her website at www.laurakalpakian.com

Order your copy of Three Strange Angels here

New fiction: Francesca and the Mermaid by Beryl Kingston (Buried River Press)

9781910208076Unhappy in her life and relationship, Francesca is inspired by her sighting of a mermaid swimming away to freedom, to leave her lover and uproot her life. She moves to Lewes to stay with Agnes Potts, her loving, eccentric friend. Francesca begins to paint again with Agnes’s encouragement and when her painting of the mermaid is seen by Henry, a local potter, he takes her into his employment and plans to organize an exhibition of her art.

When Agnes suffers an accident, Francesca must become nurse, chef and companion to her friend. Meanwhile, her ex-lover reappears and attempts to con Henry. Preoccupied by her new duties as Agnes’s carer, Francesca is too late to stop him and suddenly everything she has worked for and built in her new life is put at risk.

Beryl Kingston was born in South London, where she lived throughout the Blitz. Having married her first love at the age of nineteen, Kingston went on to have three children and spent many years teaching English and Drama to secondary school children. Now a full-time writer, Kingston has published over 20 novels, many of which have been bestsellers. Her recent novels Girl on the Orlop Deck and Off the Rails were also published by Robert Hale. For more information, please visit: www.berylkingston.co.uk

Order your copy of Francesca and the Mermaid here

New non-fiction: I Leap Over the Wall by Monica Baldwin

I Leap Over the Wall: A Return to the World After 28 Years in a Convent

9780719816437At the age of twenty-one, Monica Baldwin – the niece of Stanley Baldwin – entered one of the oldest and most strictly enclosed contemplative orders of the Roman Catholic Church. At the age of forty-eight, and after struggling with her vocation for many years, she obtained a special rescript from Rome and left the convent. But the world Monica had known and forsaken in 1914 was very different to the world into which she emerged at the height of the Second World War ….

This is the fascinating account of one woman’s two very different lives, with revealing descriptions of the world of a novice, the duties of a nun’s day, and the spiritual aspects of convent life. Interwoven with these are the trials and tribulations of coping with a new and alien world, as the author is confronted with fashions, interventions, politics and art totally unfamiliar to her.

Written in the post-war years, this re-issue is as fresh and engaging today as it ever was. Humour, intelligence, an endearing humility and a searing honesty all characterize this remarkable classic, giving readers both a glimpse into a hidden world and a unique view on one more familiar.

Praise for I Leap Over the Wall on first publication:

‘What a wonderful book! Now that I have finished it I want to read it again … whatever you think about nuns, whatever your religious views or lack of them, I don’t see how you can fail to be enriched by this book.’ John Betjeman

‘A sympathetically written and extraordinarily interesting account of one of the strangest and most disturbing experiences a modern woman ever lived through.’  Daily Mail

‘Witty, enlightening, entertaining.’  Daily Express

‘A story brilliantly told.’ Observer

‘Witty and intensely moving.’ Sunday Times

‘Works well. Amazing.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Straightforward, quiet and sincere. Profoundly interesting.’ Spectator

‘The book describes in fascinating detail life in an enclosed order.’ Irish Times

Buy your copy of I Leap Over the Wall here

New non-fiction: Neglected Music by Neil Butterworth

Neglected Music: A Repertoire Handbook for Orchestras and Choirs

This book is a unique guide for musicians who are seeking new material to perform. Over 400 pieces of music from the seventeenth century to the present day have been selected, covering a very wide range of styles and nationalities. Under each entry details are given of numbers and types of performers required, duration of piece, publisher, and availability of material and recordings. A description is supplied for each item with an assessment of difficulty, plus other specific guidance.

9780719815805Emphasis has been placed on works the performance material of which can be purchased, to enable musical organizations to avoid the cost of repeatedly hiring music and allowing them to build a library for the future.

In addition to choral and orchestral works, a section on opera has been included with information on thirty works suitable for amateur and student performance. A wealth of information, this book will prove invaluable for musicians of all kinds wishing to widen their repertoire.

 

Neil Butterworth

Neil Butterworth was born in London in 1934. He studied at Nottingham University, London University and the Guildhall School of Music. From 1968 to 1987 he was Head of the Music Department at Edinburgh Napier University. For many years he was music critic for the Times Educational Supplement and the Sunday Times Scotland, and a reviewer for Classic CD. In addition he was a frequent broadcaster for BBC Radio Scotland. He also conducted the Glasgow Orchestral Society for twenty-six years.

Buy your copy of Neglected Music here

New non fiction: Picked Up, Patched Up and Sent Home: Why I Love the NHS by Carl Walker

Picked Up, Patched Up and Sent Home: Why I Love the NHS

‘One of the things that has been missing during the debate over the NHS is something that speaks to the experiences of normal folk and reminds people just what an amazing thing a public national health service really is. Like so many British people, I have used the NHS for a number of reasons throughout my life – some serious, others less so – but where would I be now without it? I honestly don’t know.’

Iso - NHS

This book represents the real-life stories of all of us who are routinely and often unnoticeably held together by the people who work in the NHS. These are the people who patch up, sew back together, irradiate, advise, scan, plaster, console, repair, inject and support us, before delivering us back home to carry on our lives.

A sharply observed collection of sometimes outrageous, often excruciating but always entertaining accounts of different interactions with one of Britain’s greatest treasures.

Nothing about the savaging of the NHS makes me laugh. Until this book. Carl Walker mounts a timely defence of our National Health Service that just happens to be laugh out loud funny. Ideal for fans of ‘not dying’ everywhere.’ Rufus Hound, Comedian

‘A thoroughly enjoyable antidote to much of the nonsense peddled about the NHS these days….lively, sharp, informative.’ Oliver Huitson, Co-Editor, openDemocracy

Carl Walker
Carl Walker is a principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton and has fifteen years’ experience researching and publishing academic work on human behaviour. He is uniquely qualified to write this book on account of having embarrassed himself more times in a medical setting than any other human being alive.

Get your copy here.

New fiction: Another Chance, Another Life by Mark Neilson

Another Chance, Another Life

Becky and Kathy are great friends and, in a cruel yet
comforting parallel, both have recently lost their jobs and
face the prospect of starting their lives all over again.

Becky takes a relative up on his offer of the use of his
narrowboat, and sets sail for the Yorkshire Dales with her
son Jonathon, to see if pastures new can help her regain
what she’s lost. Kathy finds herself in love with a widower,
whose only daughter is still in mourning for her gifted
musician mother, her grief proving a solid opponent to any
new woman in her father’s life.

Both women must endure the weaving and uncertain path
of life, and love, towards a second chance at happiness.

9780719814341

Mark Neilson

Having previously worked as a banker, Mark Neilson went
on to become an Economics lecturer at Strathclyde
University. He later became a consultant but is now a fulltime
writer. His previous novels The Valley of the Vines and
A Strange Inheritance are also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Another Chance, Another Life here

 

New fiction: The Angel and the Sword by Sally Wragg

The Angel and the Sword

9780719814303The Nazi Party have a firm hold of 1930s Germany when wilful Henrietta Arabella, the youthful Duchess of Loxley, is sent on a tour of Europe by her formidable grandmother Katherine to
remove her from the temptation of an unsuitable love affair with the grandson of the estate’s chauffeur.

But the removal of one temptation only serves to spark another and, craving adventure, and for once escaping her companion, Hettie finds herself alone and lost in an insalubrious area of
Venice.

An incredible chain of events begins against the backdrop of the waterways and winding streets of Italy: Hettie will become
embroiled in the theft of secret war office papers, a German Count and a fantastical tale of a Saxon king and queen before she finds the anchor she seeks, her heritage and her history.

Sally Wragg

After marrying her husband and raising two children, Sally
Wragg completed an English degree at the University of
London and has since turned her hand to writing. Having
begun with short stories in women’s magazines, Sally now
has a number of books published by Robert Hale; Daisy’s
Girl, Maggie’s Girl and Playing for Keeps.

Buy your copy of The Angel and The Sword here

What We’re Reading in… February

recent article in The Bookseller told us what we already know: reading is good for us.

So, what are we at Robert Hale currently reading?

Esther, Editorial Controller:

9536900_Zola_LadiesParadise.indd“I tend to read a couple of books at the same time but for the last few months, my main read has been Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise (Oxford World’s Classics). This French classic captures Victorian Paris very well; fashionable ladies, ambitious members of staff of the Ladies’ Paradise shop, and a desire to love and be loved are all prominent features, not to mention the rise of commercialism that was sweeping through Europe at this time. It’s a good read so far. The reason I read 19th century literature is because these books have the power to pull us back to an earlier period in history to let us experience what we don’t know – entertainment, politics, and industry – and imagine what life could have been like had we been there at the time.”

 

catherine - pile of booksCatherine, Design and Production Manager:

“I’ve had to promise myself not to buy any more books until I’ve got through the pile on my bedside table (see photo). I’ve been a fiend for buying books but not having enough time to read them!

cathering - broadchurchI’m currently enjoying Erin Kelly’s Broadchurch (Little Brown: Sphere) which gives extra background on the characters in the TV series. She’s written the book based on the first series with its creator Chris Chibnall. The stories are only available as eBooks at present but it’s a genius marketing tool. I’m a big fan of Erin Kelly’s books – her latest, The Ties That Bind (Hodder & Stoughton), being among my book pile. In addition, I’m about two thirds of the way through Jo Nesbo’s The Bat (Vintage). It’s the first Harry Hole case but issued in translation somewhat after his other books in the series. I have found previous Jo Nesbo books take a while to get into but worth persevering with!”


Sarah, Marketing and Publicity Manager:

“I’m reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Bloomsbury).Sarah - signature of all things
It tells the story of a fictional female botanist, born in 1800, who has dedicated her life to her science, but finds this life turned upside down when she falls in love with a man whose beliefs run contrary to her own.

The book fuses together the Victorian concerns of science, divinity, magic and exploration. It’s very engaging and beautifully written for a story laced with science, and I’m enjoying learning about botany and related historical events, such as the foundation of Kew Gardens.”

 

Isobel, Marketing and Publicity Assistant:

“I’m reading Picked Up Patched Up and Sent Home: Why I Love the NHS by Carl Walker (Robert Hale). It’s a nice way to look at a subject that is veryIso - NHS topical, but can be a little morbid/ overwhelming. Carl’s tales of his many encounters with the public health service reminds me how fragile our bodies are, but somehow this isn’t done in a depressing way. Carl humanises the people who work for and use the NHS, and makes fun of sensationalist headlines that have turned the acronym into a political buzzword of horror. His style of writing is silly and clever at the same time, and makes me laugh loudly while I sit in Pret on my lunch break.”

 

New fiction: A Breach of Trust by John Dean

9780719814310A Breach of Trust

A crooked businessman suffers a fall at home and there is no reason to think it is anything other than an accident until after he dies when information comes to hand which points towards murder.
Detective Chief Inspector Blizzard and his team are
brought in to investigate and attention quickly focuses on the controversial closure of a local factory amid claims of widespread fraud. To solve the case, the detectives must enter a world in which passions run deep, threats and intimidation are rife, and hatred is never far from the surface.

John Dean

John Dean is an award-winning journalist from Darlington,
Co. Durham. He has twice been named North-East
Freelance Journalist of the Year and also Environmental
Reporter of the Year. His previous novels include Strange
Little Girl, The Railway Man, The Secrets Man and To
Honour the Dead.

Buy your copy of A Breach of Trust here.