'Superlative... definitive and genuinely gripping' SUNDAY TIMES
'Utterly engrossing' EVENING STANDARD
'Compulsively readable... Beautifully written... Definitive' OBSERVER
Appointed by Philip Roth and granted complete access and independence, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth's personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations. The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the post-war literary scene.
Bailey shows how Roth emerged from a lower-middle-class Jewish milieu to achieve the heights of literary fame, how his career was nearly derailed by his catastrophic first marriage, and how he championed the work of dissident novelists behind the Iron Curtain. Bailey examines Roth's rivalrous friendships with Saul Bellow, John Updike and William Styron, and reveals the truths of his florid love life, culminating in his almost-twenty-year relationship with actress Claire Bloom, who pilloried Roth in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll's House. Tracing Roth's path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth's engagement with nearly every aspect of post-war American culture.
*A 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK IN THE OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, FINANCIAL TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, EVENING STANDARD AND NEW STATESMAN*
A luminous memoir of post-war childhood, adventure and loss on the banks of the Nile. 'Wonderful - a brave, inventive, touching distillation of memory and imagination' JENNY UGLOW
Taking the reader on a journey from the dying embers of Edwardian England, through the trauma of two world wars, the hedonism of London in the 1980s and 'Cool Britannia' in the 1990s right up to the present day, One Hundred Summers is a portrait of a century as it was experienced by one extraordinary family. Along the way, Vanessa Branson recalls the rough and tumble of her chaotic but happy post-war childhood; growing up alongside her older brother Richard, who was entrepreneurial even as a teenager, she would have a front-row seat at the birth of Virgin, one of the most remarkable success stories in British business. She goes on to share her many adventures in a fascinating life, from opening an art gallery on London's Portobello Road and founding an arts festival in Morocco, to turning an ancient palace into a world-famous hotel and finding a real-life Neverland in the Scottish island of Eilean Shona, where J. M. Barrie once wrote a screenplay for Peter Pan. Touching, humane and at times heartbreakingly honest, Branson's family memoir is a vivid and charming tapestry of English eccentricity, fortune, fate and passion.
The Sunday Times bestselling edition of Chips Channon's remarkable diaries.
Born in Chicago in 1897, 'Chips' Channon settled in England after the Great War, married into the immensely wealthy Guinness family, and served as Conservative MP for Southend-on-Sea from 1935 until his death in 1958. His career was unremarkable. His diaries are quite the opposite. Elegant, gossipy and bitchy by turns, they are the unfettered observations of a man who went everywhere and who knew everybody. Whether describing the antics of London society in the interwar years, or the growing scandal surrounding his close friends Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson during the abdication crisis, or the mood in the House of Commons in the lead up to the Munich crisis, his sense of drama and his eye for the telling detail are unmatched. These are diaries that bring a whole epoch vividly to life.
A heavily abridged and censored edition of the diaries was published in 1967. Only now, sixty years after Chips's death, can an extensive text be shared.
'Chips perfectly embodied the qualities vital to the task: a capacious ear for gossip, a neat turn of phrase, a waspish desire to tell all, and easy access to the highest social circles across Europe.[...] Blending Woosterish antics with a Lady Bracknellesque capacity for acid comment. Replete with fascinating insights.' Jesse Norman, Financial Times
Siegfried Kracauer was one of the most important German thinkers of the twentieth century. His writings on Weimar culture, mass society, photography and film were groundbreaking and they anticipated many of the themes later developed members of the Frankfurt School and other cultural theorists. No less remarkable were the circumstances under which he made these contributions. After his early years as a journalist in Germany, the rise of the Nazis forced Kracauer into exile - first in Paris and then, after a protracted flight via Marseilles and Lisbon, to the United States. The existential challenges, personal losses and unrelenting hardship Kracauer faced during these years of exile formed the backdrop against which he offered his acute observations of modern life. Joerg Spater provides the first comprehensive biography of this extraordinary man. Based on extensive archival research, Spater's biography expertly traces the key influences on Kracauer's intellectual development and presents his most important works and ideas with great clarity. At the same time, Spater ably documents the intensity of Kracauer's personal relationships, the trauma of his flight and exile, and his embrace of his new homeland, where, finally, the 'groundlessness' of refugee existence gave way to a more stable life and, with it, some of the intellectually most fruitful years of Kracauer's career. The result is a vivid portrait of a man driven both by an urge to capture reality - to attend to the things that are 'overlooked or misjudged', that still 'lack a name', as he put it - and by a need to find his place in a hostile, threatening world.