A winter cornucopia – Recent Biography picks

Well the shortest day has just passed and we are now heading back towards the sun, but there are still plenty of dark and wild days and nights to get through on the way. Luckily we have a bumper crop of great books this month to help you on the journey!

Syndetics book coverA house full of daughters / Juliet Nicolson.
“All families have their myths and legends. For many years Juliet Nicolson accepted hers:¬†the dangerous beauty of her flamenco dancing great-great-grandmother Pepita, the flirty manipulation of her great-grandmother Victoria, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita, her mother’s Tory-conventional background. But then Juliet, a renowned historian, started to ask questions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverServants’ stories : life below stairs in their own words 1800-1950 / Michelle Higgs.
“Step into the world of domestic service and discover what life was really like for these unsung heroines (and heroes) of society. Between 1800 and 1950, the role of servants changed dramatically but they remained the people without whom the upper and middle classes could not function. Through oral histories, diaries, newspaper reports and never before seen testimonies, domestic servants tell their stories, warts and all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDinner with Edward : the story of a remarkable friendship / Isabel Vincent.
“When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter–who lives far away and has asked her to check in on her nonagenarian dad in New York–Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot souffl√© will end up changing her life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCall of the outback : the remarkable story of Ernestine Hill, nomad, adventurer and trailblazer / Marianne van Velzen.
“Long before Robyn Davidson wrote Tracks, the extraordinary Ernestine Hill was renowned for her intrepid travels across Australia’s vast outback. After the birth of her illegitimate son, Ernestine Hill abandoned her comfortable urban life as a journalist for a nomadic one, writing about this country’s vast interior and bringing the outback into the popular imagination of Australians.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn gratitude / Jenny Diski.
“From the acclaimed author of Skating to Antarctica comes a breathtakingly honest and original memoir about living with terminal cancer and her relationship with Doris Lessing, the Nobel Prize-winning author who adopted her as a teenager.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA very private diary : a nurse in wartime / Mary Morris ; edited by Carol Acton.
“The newly discovered diary of a wartime nurse – a fascinating, dramatic and unique insight into the experiences of a young nurse in the Second World War.
‘I always seem to be saying good-bye to men whom I might have loved had there been enough time…’
1939: 18-year-old trainee nurse Mary Mulry arrives in London from Ireland, hoping for adventure. Little did she know what the next seven years would bring.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKick : the true story of Kick Kennedy, JFK’s forgotten sister and the heir to Chatsworth / Paula Byrne.
“The remarkable life of the vivacious, clever – and forgotten – Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history. Kick was Joe Kennedy’s favourite child and Jack’s favourite sister. Spirited, vivacious and quick-witted, her charm was legendary and with her jokes, effervescence and ease of manner she became a star amongst friends, family and the press.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove from boy : Roald Dahl’s letters to his mother / edited by Donald Sturrock.
“On the 100th anniversary of his birth comes a revelatory collection of letters from the nation’s favourite storyteller.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverYou never know : an autobiography / Claire Lorrimer.
You Never Know is former WAAF officer and bestselling novelist Claire Lorrimer’s autobiography, containing a graphic description of the six years she spent doing vitally secret work as a WAAF in the Fighter Command Filter Rooms in World War Two. It is the fascinating story of a life overflowing with adventure, humour, tragedy, love, joy and disasters.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHigh Street to homestead / Angela Williams with Deborah Coddington.
“From her Grey Lynn apartment to one of New Zealand’s most historic homesteads and horse studs, this is an inspirational journey from a corporate life working with Louis Vuitton back to the golden hills of the Wairarapa.” (Publisher information)

And a good one you might have missed:

Syndetics book coverMy life as a wife : life, liquor and what to do about the other women / Elisabeth Luard.
“Triumph and tragedy, happiness and despair, joy and sorrow – through love and death and life lived to the full with a man who loved both alcohol and other women – for food-writer Elisabeth Luard, marriage to writer and sometime king of satire Nicholas Luard was never going to be easy.” (Syndetics summary)