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Fiction, Poetry and Plays

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LADY THATCHER’S WINK
Author: David Arscott
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 60 1
Format: Paperback; 170 pages
This novel is also available as an e-book
ISBN 978 1 907242 61 8

A biting and viciously funny political satire on our Age of Austerity. We’re in the last days of a general election campaign a few years from now. The Corbyn project has long since failed, Brexit has spawned perpetual chaos and the ruling Tories have lurched to the right, with Labour abjectly following in their wake. The state has been further dismantled, while the poor, the unemployed and the disabled are ruthlessly demonised and punished.

But there’s a shock in store, revolving around the indecent violation of a portrait of Margaret Thatcher that hangs in 10 Downing Street. A chance encounter opens the eyes of the caretaker prime minister, a landed grandee, to the grim realities of the country he nominally runs. As he swings to the left and Labour leapfrog him to fill the vacancy, the flag-waving Excalibur party promotes a policy of inviting the House of Windsor to play a greater role in government – and King Charles III seems more than willing to oblige . . .

 

    


 

BOYHUNT
Author: David Johns
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 978 0 9548975 2 9
Format: Paperback; 250 pages

It's the 14th century – the age of Chaucer's pilgrims, of the Black Death and social unrest, of the Lollards, Miracle Plays and the Peasants' Revolt – and a young lad is fleeing for his life the length of England.

The evil Baron Fulke has devised a terrible sport. His nephew Ranulph, the rightful heir to his dead father's northern possessions, is to be hunted to death for a trumped-up crime. All that can save him is the discovery of a precious religious relic, a phial of Christ’s blood.

Ranulph journeys south, danger always at his heels, via Lindisfarne, York, Lincoln and Coventry, and with a growing band of colourful companions: Henry, the would-be monk; Christopher, the affectionate idiot boy; Janie, the travelling minstrel; Brother Walt, the ex-hermit, and his bothersome goat; Avelina, the peasant girl with her mysterious potions; and Swinke and Swonken, a pair of Siamese twins.

In London, where he witnesses the death of Wat Tyler at Smithfield, our fast-maturing hero has an agonising decision to make – should he return north to claim his feudal inheritance or choose instead to embrace the excitements and uncertainties of an age still struggling to be born?

 

    


Chosen by The
People's Book Prize

for their June 2009 collection

 

THE EYE & THE BLADE TRILOGY
Author: David Johns 
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 9548975 3 6 
Format: Paperback; 440 pages

These three novels packaged in a single volume (The Frozen City, A Flight of Bright Birds and Shadows in Crimson Colours) move with a confident historical sweep from the last quarter of the 19th century to the 1930s. They’re recommended to readers of fantasy and a general audience from about 13 years upwards.

At the outset young Tom’s desperate search for his father leads him into the stronghold of the vicious Red Blade – and thrusts upon him a destiny that will haunt his family for generations to come.

The stories are set in a kaleidoscopic range of locations, from an isolated monastery and a mountain health spa, through the rural theatres visited by a troupe of travelling players to the laybrinthine creation of a modern architect and the dangerous streets of a city in the throes of a bloody revolution.

As the turbulent action moves steadily westwards across Europe, each of Tom’s descendants must decide for himself whether to take up the challenge and risk his life for a cause which generates both bravery and violent opposition.

 

    


 

 

MARACAS IN CARACAS
Author: David Arscott
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 978 0 954 8975 0 5
Format: Paperback; 176 pages

Here's evidence that the short story form is alive and kicking.  David Arscott, first published in Ian Hamilton's prestigious New Review back in the 1970s, brings us a collection set in that period and displaying a kaleidoscopic variety of styles, themes, locations and atmospheres.  In these beautifully crafted tales, we meet a hunted revolutionary confronting his fear in a remote jungle hideaway;  a besotted English portrait painter pursuing an elusive subject across two continents;  a resentful Methodist preacher tussling with his faith in the pulpit;  a young Mexican stunt diver dealing with a sexual predator;  two subtly ferocious Oxbridge dons locking horns across wine glasses and canapés;  an American draft-dodger caught up in a wild Venezuelan carnival ...

 

 


     

CULTIC CYPHERS FROM CELTIC CYPRUS (7,5)
Author: David Arscott
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 978 0 9542587 0 2
Format: Paperback; 246 pages
Also available as an e-book

Pity an afflicted crossword compiler seduced by the shameless promiscuity of the English language, by the shifting syllables that whirl within his word-choked brain!

Complete with its own grid and set of clues, this remarkable novel moves fluidly between playfulness and anguish – the most elaborate suicide note in literary fiction.

Writing the definitive manual for cryptic puzzle solvers, Douglas O’Dale finds himself betrayed by the subtle intricacies of his own verbal sorcery, and forced to confront the horror of what happened on a hot summer night long ago.

 

 


 

 

     

NEVER TRUST NOBODY
Author: Johnnie Johnson
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 55 7
Format: Paperback; 157 pages

Barry Crisp is a convicted murderer, a one-time major underworld figure. When he is unexpectedly released from prison he has to ensure that he and his family are safe for there are old scores to be settled by men as violent as he is, men to whom murders and brutal assaults are the natural ways to resolve matters. Arthur Wendell, top of the tree now, has a particular reason for meting out his kind of justice.

At the same time Barry’s eight-year-old son is kept in ignorance of his father’s past and of the dangerous present. When they find him he will be used to entrap his father. Throughout this novel the moral ambiguity of deeply flawed adults contrasts powerfully with the innocence of young Tom Crisp.

Never Trust Nobody vividly captures the cynical world of criminals, its gang chiefs, its vicious heavies, its seedy foot-soldiers.

 

 


 

 

     

OLIVACEA
Author: William Wyndham
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 1 978 1907242 57 1
Format: Paperback, 226 pages

In the introduction to this second collection of his poetry, William Wyndham describes the first (Orchads) as his ‘coming of age’. In Olivacea we witness a deepening maturity, with verse both public and personal which draws on the classic tradition while adapting its forms in the services of a singular poetic vision.

For all his classical erudition, however, Wyndham writes of present concerns, whether intimate or universal, and a keen humour constanty bubbles beneath the finely wrought surface. His themes range from the political and the social to the peace and joy of a happy marriage.

 


 

 

     

ORCHADS
Author: William Wyndham
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 12 0
Format: Paperback, 276 pages

William Wyndham’s collected poems have back-cover tributes from the English literature professor and author Gabriel Josipovici and the travel writer Colin Thubron.

The product of a lifetime’s work, these closely wrought, deeply spiritual poems reflect Wyndham’s passion for Greece and Greek. His literary influences include George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins and T.S. Eliot, but the voice (devout, questioning and teasing) is undeniably his own.

 


 

 

 

LEGACY
Author: Martin Sharp
Price: £8.50
ISBN 978 0955 9006 8 6
Format: 96 pages paperback, illustrated

This two-act play explores the life of Dorothy Whitney Elmhirst, social activist, arts patron and co-founder of the social experiment at Dartington Hall in Devon in the 1920s. She formed inspiring friendships with Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Graham, Cecil Beaton, Benjamin Britten and the actor-director Michael Chekhov, among many others. 

Legacy is the first full-length stage play by Martin Sharp, who has been writing, directing and producing for theatre, film and television since the early Nineties, and who is an award-winning film maker recognised at the New York Festivals for his documentary film Any Body Can Dance.

A production of Legacy is reviewed in the British Theatre Guide.

 

 

     

BLUEPRINT
Author: Kizzie French
Price: £9.99
ISBN:978 0 9548975 4 3
Format: Paperback; 410 pages

‘Architecture is the new aphrodisiac,’ pronounced the International Herald Tribune – and in this exhilarating novel the sexiest of the arts at last gets its sexy treatment.

Kizzie French explores this glamorous and viciously competitive milieu through the ambitions of the feisty Calla Marchant, who aims to make her mark on the new millennium by pitching for one of the profession’s glittering prizes – offered by a man with more than a passing resemblance to the Prince of Wales!

As the action swirls with a cinematic sweep between London and New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, Calla is forced to come to terms with the consquencies of her own turbulent love life as well as the ploys of her unscrupulous rivals.

French’s vividly drawn characters range from British aristocrats to US entrepreneurs, while their criss-crossing lives take us beyond architecture into the fields of fashion magazines, professional photography, art galleries, show jumping and powerboat racing.

 

 


 

 

     

LA SERENISSIMA
Author: Tracy-ann Martin
Price: £12.50
ISBN:978 1 907242 46 5
Format: Paperback; 950 pages

This is a tale of passionate love, not only between a man and a woman but for the captivating city of Venice, otherwise known as La Serenissima. Tracy-ann Martin’s debut novel plunges us into a cauldron of spiritual warfare, its heroine caught up in a 600-year-old prophecy which pitches the defenders of Venice against cruel and relentless forces of evil intent on destroying it.

What begins as an innocent family holiday is soon transformed into an intense struggle for the very soul of this ancient city on its atmospheric lagoon. An ordinary mother and housewife finds herself literally on the side of the angels as love and laughter fight for their survival against abject fear and death.

 

 


 

 

     

KNUTT IN OIL
Author: John Player
Price: £7.99
ISBN 9781 907242 06 7
Format: 235 pages paperback

Introducing Warren Knutt who, seeking a roof over his head, three square meals a day and the ability to travel the world at someone else’s expense, finds himself bound for the Persian Gulf on a tanker. The trip is the epitome of life as a young merchant seaman in the early post-war years. He and his shipmates face life at sea and ashore with a mixture of caution and recklessness, but his survival kit contains a sense of humour sufficient to get him off the hook before a situation gets out of hand.

Beneath the brash exterior lurks a sensitive romantic, although Knutt would strenuously deny that. He and his shipmates share a world of boredom at sea and licentious ‘dungaree runs’ ashore. The prudish may well deplore the explicit sex and strong language, but the young men of the sea were never meant to live sheltered lives.

More than 30,000 British merchant seamen lost their lives in World War 2, virtually as sitting ducks. Those who survived never knew when a run ashore might be their last. Perhaps Knutt and Co felt obliged to honour that legacy.

 

 


 

 

     

KNUTT IN KHAKI
Author: John Player
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 13 7
Format: Paperback, 196 pages

Having given up the merchant navy, a reserved occupation exempt from national service, Warren Knutt joins the 2.3 million men who became Britain’s conscripted peacetime army between 1947 and 1960.

From his very first day in uniform he realises that he has made a terrible mistake. Later, when ‘the powers that be’ add a further six months to his military service, he finds remaining faithful to the love of his life back home a daunting task when, with very few exceptions, his companions are running on neat testosterone.

This book relates his battle between conscience and his natural inclinations when opportunity knocks – a mixture of aggro and humour as each member of Knutt & Co finds his own way through the complexities of young adulthood in an environment for most of the time quite alien.

 

 


 

 

     

YOU CAN'T SEE THE WIND
Author: John Player
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 07 6
Format: Paperback, 232 pages

When merchant seaman Tug Wilson jumps ship in Australia, he knows little of the changes that are about to take place in his life. He travels the country, working, falling in love, always pondering the big questions about existence and wondering at its unpredictability.

In this restless, questing novel, Wilson’s path crosses those of many other people, and he finds himself enriched by them, at last coming to realise that, despite the highs and lows of his life, he is always where he should be – in the right place at the right time.

“The wind moves the seas and wears down mountains. It plays with leaves and uproots trees. Only in the feel and the sound of it and the movement of things do we recognise its presence and see the results of its passing. It is the vehicle of change that blows through the seasons of the Earth and through the lives of all its creatures.”