The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Deborah Moggach. Vintage Books, Random House, London.
This book by Deborah Moggach, the author of several successful novels including Tulip Fever, was originally published in 2005 and last year was made into a movie directed by John Madden and starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. Enticed by advertisements for a newly restored palatial hotel and filled with visions of a life of leisure, good weather and delicacies, a group of very different pensioners leave England to begin a new life in India. On arrival, they are dismayed to find the palace is a shell of its former self, the staff rather eccentric, and the days of the Raj long gone. They soon discover, however, that life and love can begin again, even in these quite unexpected circumstances.
The Sleeping Beauty. Elizabeth Taylor. Virago Press, Hachette UK Company.
Vinny Tumulty is a quiet, sensible man who goes to stay at a seaside town where his task is to comfort a bereaved friend. He is prepared for a solemn few days of tears and consolation; but on the evening of his arrival, he looks out of the window at the sunset and catches sight of a mysterious, romantic figure: a beautiful woman walking by the seashore. Before the week is over, Vinny has fallen in love, completely and utterly, for the first time in his middle-aged life. But Emily is a sleeping beauty, her secluded life hiding bitter secrets from the past…
Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975) wrote twelve novels, many short stories, and a children’s book. Her shrewd but affectionate portrayals of middle- and upper-middle-class English life won her a discriminating audience, as well as staunch friends in the world of letters. In his introduction to this edition, David Baddiel explains why he believes Taylor is “the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike”.
Robert Ludlum’s The Ares Decision. Robert Ludlum and Kyle Mills. A Covert-One novel. Orion Books, London, 2011.
When a US Special Forces team is wiped out by a group of normally peaceful farmers in Uganda, Covert-One operative Jon Smith is sent to investigate. Video of the attack shows even women and children possessing almost supernatural speed and strength, consumed with a rage that makes them immune to pain, fear and all but the most devastating injuries. Smith finds evidence of a parasitic infection that for centuries has been causing violent insanity and then going dormant. However, this time it is different. And as Smith and his team are cut off from all outside support, they begin to suspect that forces much closer to home are in play.
The Covert-One series was created by best-selling author Robert Ludlum, who died in 2001; this work was penned by Kyle Mills, the author of ten previous novels.
Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. Penguin Popular Classics, London.
The only book by this author, Black Beauty was a huge success when it was first published in 1877. Its exposure of the ill-treatment of horses at the hands of their owners led to a change in people’s attitudes towards horses and domestic animals in general. A timeless classic, this evocative account of the joys and tribulations of a noble-hearted horse is one of the best-loved animal stories.
Black Beauty is handsome and spirited, with a sweet temper. Aged four, he is sold to a new owner who gently breaks him in. He is no longer free to gallop around the fields yet there is happiness and adventure among the hardship as his situation changes from being a carriage horse on a country estate to a cab horse in town. He is aware that his well-being and future fate depend on the kindness or cruelty of his various masters.
Anna Sewell’s (1821-1878) great love for horses and desire to see them better treated resulted in this much -celebrated horse story. When she was 14, Sewell – already suffering from a crippling bone disease – had a fall which left her disabled for the rest of her life. Confined to her room, she started to write Black Beauty in 1871 but later abandoned the project until 1876. Afraid that she would not live to see the book published, she worked laboriously on it despite failing health. She saw her book published in 1877 and died five months later. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has praised the work as having had a great impact on the treatment of animals.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava, Laurinská 9.
27. Aug 2012 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff