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SISSINGHURST By Adam Nicolson (Harper Press, [pounds sterling]9.99) YOU'D think a book by a posh chap about his ancient family house might be unappealing. But this is Adam Nicolson, who wrote Men of Honour, one of the best books anyone has written about Admiral Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. This guy adores English history, and here he seeks it out in every corner of Sissinghurst, the house in question, and the fields and streams and trees that surround it. He gets pretty intimate, too, about the lives and deaths of his father, Nigel, and his Bloomsbury-ite grandparents, Harold and Vita.

UNCOMMON ARRANGEMENTS By Katie Roiphe (Virago, [pounds sterling]9.99) FEMINIST writer Katie Roiphe tells us about the intimate lives of English writers living between the wars. There's H G Wells, driven by a sort of narcissistic passion, who bobs between his wife and his mistresses, one of whom is Rebecca West. …


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