The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


PHOENIX has brought out a wide range of titles in recent months. The first is In the Midst of Life ([pounds sterling]6.99) by the late Jennifer Worth. This journal's reviewer of the hardback edition noted that "whether one agrees or disagrees with her assessment of death. In the Midst of Life is certainly an unfailingly readable treatment of the subject'. A second title is a new edition of Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's Enigma: The Battle for the Code ([pounds sterling]9.99), first published in 2000. This edition includes new discoveries from recently declassified material and new insights into the critical role played by the Poles. Finally we have Robert Hutchinson's Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII ([pounds sterling]9.99). As this journal's review of the hardback edition put it, The author, who makes good use of archival material as well as published sources, tries to be fair to Henry VIII and succeeds. This is never an easy task when it comes to this king.'

JOHN MURRAY has published paperback editions of two works by Henry Hitchings that have established his reputation as a leading wordsmith--Dr Johnson's Dictionary: The Book that Defined the World ([pounds sterling]8.99) and The Language Wars: A History of Proper English ([pounds sterling]8.99) which takes a sometimes bemused look at what is and what isn't 'proper' English.

From VINTAGE CLASSICS we have Ghost Stories ([pounds sterling]7.99) written by MR. James, one-time Provost of Eton. This volume has been compiled and edited by the well known mystery writer, Ruth Rendell who also provides an introduction. In addition Vintage has brought out a novel which is less famous than the film made of it, L. Frank Baunvs The Wizard of Oz ([pounds sterling]5.99) complete with the characters later put on the screen. We also have four of Nancy Mitford's biographies, all written between 1957 and 1970. The author, famous as one of the fcMitford Sisters", brought out her first biography, Voltaire in Love, in 1957 and after that confined herself to well known historical subjects including her most famous, The Sun King: Louis XIV at Versailles (1966), Madame de Pompadour (1968), and Frederick the Great (1970), the last book she wrote. While all the works have been superseded by more scholarly volumes they still remain remarkably readable and act as good introductions for the general reader. All sell for [pounds sterling]8.99. Vintage has also continued publishing the works of four of the last century's best selling writers. The first is Graham Greene and there are three new titles listed here in chronological order: The Man Within ([pounds sterling]7.99). his 1929 story of betrayal and revenge; The Lawless Roads ([pounds sterling]8.99), his 1939 description of Mexico's violent anti-Catholic campaign which later provided the material for The Power and the Glory, and The Captain and the Enemy ([pounds sterling]7.99), brought out in 1988 and Greene's last novel. Like The Man Within it is a thriller set against the world of smuggling and espionage. The second author whose works are being brought out is Stella Gibbons and we now have Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm ([pounds sterling]7.99), her 1940 collection of stories, here introduced by Alexander McCall Smith. The third author is Joseph Heller whose Something Happened ([pounds sterling]9.99), his second novel, published in 1974, shows his skill at writing stream of consciousness fiction. The fourth writer is Elizabeth Bowen and we now have three more works: The Last September ([pounds sterling]8.99), her 1929 novel set against Ireland's cruel civil war. The Heat of the Day ([pounds sterling]8.99), her 1948 novel of love and betrayal in London during World War II, and Eva Trout ([pounds sterling]8.99), her last completed novel here published with a new introduction by Tessa Hadley.

In addition to the above titles Vintage Classics have started two new series. The first consists of two works by the American writer Kurt Vonnegut: God Bless You, Mr Rose-water ([pounds sterling]7.

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