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Lanny by Max Porter
Lanny is a gloriously idiosyncratic little boy, busy building dens, talking to trees, enchanting and baffling his parents; getting on with the endlessly interesting stuff of life in an “ordinary home-county place”, a rural village in commuting distance of London. We see him, and we miss him, through the eyes of his rapturously devoted mother, a father who can’t feel the same closeness, an ageing artist who cherishes Lanny’s buoyant creativity, and a whole company of local people whose voices rise and fall in an “English symphony”. We also watch Lanny from the perspective of Dead Papa Toothwort, an ancient spirit who stirs in the ground and has seen all life in this place.
Max Porter’s second novel is a fable, a collage, a dramatic chorus, a joyously stirred cauldron of words. Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, Lanny is similarly remarkable for its simultaneous spareness and extravagance, and again it is a book full of love. It plays pretty close to the edge over which lie the fey and the kooky; anyone allergic to green men may need to take a deep breath. But Porter has no truck with cynicism and gets on, bravely, exuberantly, with rejuvenating our myths.
The Mitford Girls by Mary Lovell
THE MITFORD GIRLS tells the true story behind the gaiety and frivolity of the six Mitford daughters - and the facts are as sensational as any novel: Nancy, whose bright social existence masked an obsessional doomed love which soured her success; Pam, a countrywoman married to one of the best brains in Europe; Diana, an iconic beauty, who was already married when at 22 she fell in love with Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British fascists; Unity, who romantically in love with Hitler, became a member of his inner circle before shooting herself in the temple when WWII was declared; Jessica, the family rebel, who declared herself a communist in the schoolroom and the youngest sister, Debo, who became the Duchess of Devonshire. Described as ‘a cracking read’, this is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, containing much new material, based on exclusive access to Mitford archives.