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New non-fiction for November 2021

by Brandon King

Take a look at our latest non-fiction titles for November 2021.

Sybil & Cyril: cutting through time, by Jenny Uglow

In 1922, Cyril Power, a fifty-year old architect, left his family to work with the twenty-four year old Sybil Andrews. They would be together for twenty years. Both became famous for their dynamic, modernist linocuts, streamlined, full of movement and brilliant colour, summing up the hectic interwar years. Yet at the same time they looked back, to medieval myths and early music, to country ways disappearing from sight. This book traces their struggles and triumphs, conflicts and dreams, following them from Suffolk to London, from the New Forest to Vancouver Island. This is a world of Futurists, Surrealists and pioneering abstraction, but also of the buzz of the new, of machines and speed, shops and sport and dance, shining against the threat of depression and looming shadows of war.

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Crown & sceptre: a new history of the British monarchy, by Tracy Borman

The British monarchy is the one of the most iconic and enduring institutions in the world. It has weathered the storms of rebellion, revolution and war that brought many of Europe's royal families to an abrupt and bloody end. But for much of its history, it also spearheaded seismic change, shaping our religious, political and cultural identity and establishing the British monarchy as the envy of the world. Within the next decade, there is likely to be a change of monarch, sparking renewed global interest on a scale not seen since Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. 'Crown & Sceptre' explores the history and evolution of the monarchy from 1066 to the present day, feeding the renewed interest not just in the modern royals but in the predecessors who helped shape the institution into what it is today.

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Diaries and notebooks, by Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith's first novel was picked up by Hitchcock and was a world-wide success. Her second novel was meant to tell everything about her true inside and dare what no-one had dared to write before: a lesbian love-story with a happy ending. But when she eventually relented to publish it under a pseudonym, it was a decision that would shape her life more than she could have guessed at the time. Henceforth she would vent her inner life either encoded in her future novels or - unbeknownst to most - in the 18 diaries and 38 notebooks she kept throughout her life. The way she talked about her journals - especially her notebooks - indicates that she always meant to bring them into the open one day. Her journals reveal a most complex life that might help explain why her novels were so much more than just crime novels: world literature.

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Allegorizings, by Jan Morris

Soldier, journalist, historian, author of 40 books, Jan Morris led an extraordinary life, witnessing such seminal moments as the first ascent of Everest, the Suez Canal Crisis, the Eichmann Trial, The Cuban Revolution and so much more. Now, in 'Allegorizings', published posthumously as was her wish, Morris looks back over some of the key moments of her life, and sees a multitude of meanings. From her final travels to the USA and across Europe to late journeys on her beloved trains and ships, from the deaths of her old friends Hilary and Tenzig to the enduring relationships in her own life, from reflections on identity and nations to the importance of good marmalade, it bears testimony to her uniquely kind and inquisitive take on the world.

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Fry's ties, by Stephen Fry

Every single one of Stephen Fry's ties - whether floral, fluorescent, football themed; striped or spotty, outrageous or simply debonair - tells an intimate tale about a moment in Stephen's life. Inspired by Stephen's hugely popular Instagram posts, this book will feature beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations and photographs to celebrate his expansive collection of man's greatest clothing companion - the tie, in all it's sophisticated glory. Distinctively funny and offering witty asides, facts and personal stories, this book will make the perfect gift for anyone who has ever worn a tie.

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Call the midwife - a labour of love: celebrating ten years of life, love and laughter, by Stephen McGann

This is a beautifully illustrated anniversary book celebrating ten years of the much-loved and internationally renowned BBC One TV series 'Call the Midwife'. Written by actor and author Stephen McGann, a founding member of its starring cast, this book is the up-close and personal story of 'Call the Midwife' as told by the cast and crew who've made it into the iconic drama it is today.

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Harry Hill's fight!: thirty years not quite at the top, by Harry Hill

In this highly entertaining memoir from one of the nation's most popular comedians, Harry Hill takes an honest and hilarious look back at his life and career through the lens of what didn't go right. We join him on the journey in childhood, and his starring role in the cub panto, through a short-lived career as a hospital doctor - where he was reprimanded for daydreaming during a life-saving operation - to slogging it out on the comedy circuit in the 90s alongside comics like Bill Bailey and Jo Brand - to becoming a national TV teatime favourite. He takes us behind the scenes of his ill-fated X-Factor musical I Can't Sing! and on a very strange car journey with Simon Cowell. Harry's was a fight to not quite the top of the showbiz food chain. Full of truthful reflection and uproarious stories, he finds joy in failure, creativity in struggle and revels in the lessons to be learnt from a flop.

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My life in Dire Straits: the inside story of one of the biggest bands in rock history, by John Illsley

Dire Straits filled giant stadiums around the world and sold hundreds of millions of records. Throughout the eighties they were one of the biggest bands on the planet. Their classic songs - 'Sultans of Swing', 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Money for Nothing', 'Brothers In Arms' - formed the soundtrack of a generation and live on today: still racking up sales, still being played on the radio on every continent. In 'My Life in Dire Straits', John Illsley - founding member, bassist and mainstay - evokes the spirit of the times and tells the story of one of the great live acts of rock history.

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National treasures: saving the nation's art in World War II, by Caroline Shenton

As Hitler prepared to invade Poland during the sweltering summer of 1939, men and women from across London's museums, galleries and archives formulated ingenious plans to send the nation's highest prized objects to safety. Using stately homes, tube tunnels, slate mines, castles, prisons, stone quarries and even their own homes, a dedicated bunch of unlikely misfits packed up the nation's greatest treasures and, in a race against time, dispatched them throughout the country on a series of top-secret wartime adventures. 'National Treasures' highlights a moment from our history when an unlikely coalition of mild-mannered civil servants, social oddballs and metropolitan aesthetes became the front line in the heritage war against Hitler.

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The women of Rothschild: the untold story of the world's most famous dynasty, by Natalie Livingstone

The story of the family who rose from the Frankfurt ghetto to become synonymous with wealth and power has been much mythologized. Yet half the Rothschilds, the women, remain virtually unknown. From the East End of London to the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Spitalfields to Scottish castles, from Bletchley Park to Buchenwald, and from the Vatican to Palestine, Natalie Livingstone follows the extraordinary lives of the English branch of the Rothschild women from the dawn of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twenty first. As Jews in a Christian society and women in a deeply patriarchal family, they were outsiders. Absorbing and compulsive, this book gives voice to the complicated, privileged and gifted women whose vision and tenacity shaped history.

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Europe's 100 best cathedrals, by Simon Jenkins

Europe's cathedrals are magnificent. They outstrip palaces and castles. They are the most sensational group of structures anywhere in the world - which everyone should 'see before they die'. They are also hugely popular, most of them absolutely packed. They are humankind's greatest creations. In this book, Simon Jenkins has travelled the continent - from Chartres to York, Cologne to Florence, Toledo to Moscow and Stockholm to Seville - to illuminate old favourites and highlight new discoveries. Beautifully illustrated with colour photographs throughout, this joyous exploration of Europe's history tells the stories behind these wonders, showing the cathedral's central role in the European imagination.

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These precious days, by Ann Patchett

As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth as she explores family, friendship, marriage, failure, success, and what it all means. Ranging from the personal - her portrait of the three men she called her fathers; unexpectedly falling into a life-changing friendship with Tom Hanks; how to answer when someone asks why you don't have children - to the sublime - exploring the Harvard Museum of Natural History before its doors open; the unexpected influence of Snoopy; the importance of knitting - each essay transforms the particular into the universal, letting us all see our own worlds anew. Illuminating, penetrating, funny and generous, 'These Precious Days' is joyful time spent in the company of one of our greatest living authors.

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