Prodigal Father, Pagan Son Growing up Inside the Dangerous World of the Pagans Motorcycle Club by Anthony Menginie and Kerrie Droban

A shocking true story of one man’s escape from a biker gang – by the son of a notorious gang leader.

To the reader: I am 31 years old. I was born the son of the Philadelphia Pagans’ most notorious leader. I’ve been around some of the most hardcore Pagans; Mongo, Conan, S &S, Malicious, Cheese, Terrible Tony and Dominic. The following events happened. This is not fiction. However, some of the names and locations have been changed in the interest of privacy. I was born into madness. This is my story.

A gritty memoir about the author’s journey through hell … and his ultimate escape from it. By the time he was thirteen, he already had attended thirteen funerals.

Abandoned by his mother, and with his father, ‘Mangy’ Menginie-president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, Philadelphia chapter-in jail, Anthony ‘LT’ Menginie is raised inside the Pagans and inducted into a life of sex, violence, drugs, and organized crime.

In Mangy’s absence, LT finds a father figure in the Saint, a club member who helps teach him the difference between the club members you respect…and those you fear. The author recounts the power struggles that occur when Mangy is released from jail and tries to resume his role as father and president. Soon all hell breaks loose when Mangy betrays the club by going over to the rival Hells Angels, helping to touch off the ‘Biker Wars’ in Philadelphia. The chapter’s new president grooms LT to one day confront his father for his treachery. Faced with an impossible decision, LT has to decide where his loyalties lie.

Prodigal Father, Pagan Son is a voyeuristic glimpse into the shocking and hypnotic underworld of notorious ‘one-percenter’ biker clubs, hit men, drug dealers, and the other individuals who operate under no other rules than the ‘club code.’ But more than this, Menginie’s story is the gritty and powerful true tale of surviving amid personal trials and tragedies, and of one man’s determination to escape to a better life.

Order your copy from Booktopia Australia’s Largest online book shop : click here

Praise
‘This is a one-of-a-kind true tale of being born into madness . . . and of rising above it.’
- Robert K. Tanenbaum, New York Timesbestselling author of Betrayed and Capture.

‘Prodigal Father, Pagan Son delves into the secret underworld of ‘one-percenter’ clubs and delivers a candid and fascinating look at one man’s search for brotherhood amid a life of dysfunction and abuse.’ -Jack Ballentine, author of Murder for Hire: My Life as the Country’s Most Successful Undercover Agent.

About The Author

Anthony ‘LT’ Menginie is the son of Anthony ‘Mangy’ Menginie, former Philadelphia chapter president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.

Kerrie Droban coauthored the capital brief, State v. Ring which was heard before the United States Supreme Court and resulted in the remand of over 180 death row cases nationwide. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.

Find an extract of this book here

Kylie Ladd, author of Last Summer, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kylie Ladd

author of Last Summer and After the Fall

Six Sharp Questions

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1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Last Summer is about what happens to a close group of friends when the man at their centre, Rory Buchanan, dies unexpectedly… it’s about loss and grief and desire and, uh, cricket. As I was writing it, it also occurred to me that Last Summer is about mid-life, about coming to terms with who you are and the choices you’ve made, though I do fear that describing it as a book about middle-aged cricketers is going to have readers expecting Warwick Todd’s Ashes diary.

If so, I’m afraid they’ll be disappointed. Last Summer is dedicated to Geoff Williams, one of my husband’s closest mates, who died unexpectedly at the age of only 39. The novel is a work of fiction- as far as I know, none of the Continue reading

ROME by Robert Hughes (Still waiting on my review copy… taps foot)

Rome is irrepressible. It is a city of ruins and yet it is always new. It has been beaten, sacked, bombed and occupied but wakes noisy and smiling every morning. In Rome’s streets we find humanity at its most vital, beautiful, dangerous, sweet and thoughtful.

It is no great wonder so many visitors fall in love with Rome. It’s no wonder that so many have tried to understand the city. Now prize-winning writer and critic Robert Hughes unravels some of the mystery with dazzling biography of the Eternal City.

The overarching achievement of this vibrant, opinionated, detailed new look at the Eternal City is that it forces the reader to look at Rome with new eyes.

The approach is chronological, the method to take a  mass of historical detail and shape it into a cohesive, narrative, sweeping from on event, movement, influence or person to another, leaving us with so much information and rekindled curiosity that many will want to visit, or re-visit, Rome a the first opportunity.

Who should read it? Anyone with any feeling for this magnificent city!

(Australian Bookseller and Publisher. 5 Star review)

From the publisher:

Robert Hughes, one of the most celebrated art critics and cultural commentators turns his attention to the timelessly fascinating city of Rome.

In this magisterial history, Robert Hughes identifies seven distinct cultural episodes: the city’s Etruscan beginnings, Julius Caesar and the birth of the Imperium, primitive Christianity and the growth of the Church, the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Neo-Classic, the Rome of Fascism and Mussolini and, finally, the Rome of the 1960s – the era of Fellini, la dolce vita and the birth of the paparazzo.

The founding of Rome is shrouded in legend, but current archaeological evidence supports the theory that Rome grew from pastoral settlements and coalesced into a city in the 8th century BC. It developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and finally the Roman Empire. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest and largest city in the Western world.

About The Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938. Since 1970 he has lived and worked in the United States, where until 2001 he was chief art critic for Time, to which he still contributes. His books include The Shock of the New,and The Fatal Shore. He is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes for his work.

Sarah-Kate Lynch, author of Dolci di Love, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sarah-Kate Lynch

author Dolci di Love and more

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in the tiny Central Otago town of Alexandra in New Zealand and raised all over the place but wherever I went I was schooled by nuns. When my high school teacher Sister Eulalia died, I did somersaults down the aisle of the St Mary’s Chapel. If I could have down cartwheels and rung a couple of ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead bells, I would have done that too. Although I would do things differently now, of course, because I’m all grown up and know that the nuns weren’t evil they just had itchy scalps from wearing all that headgear. I had an itchy scalp myself recently and it all became very clear to me. I worked in Sydney and London and all around New Zealand, and am now based on the wild west coast north of Auckland. Luckily for me, my novel research and my day job as Travel Editor of a weekly magazine mean that I get to spend a lot of time travelling the world. I’m particularly in love with the US at the moment as I’ve just worked out that speaking the same language means you get all the jokes.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was 12 I wanted to be a vet because I was good at science and mad about horses plus heavily influenced by All Creatures Great and Small…the TV series based on the James Herriot books.

When I was 18 I wanted to be a journalist because we dissected a rabbit at school and I nearly passed out I was so disgusted. It had not occurred to me that vets dealt with the insides of animals until that point. My school subjects were maths, physics, chemistry, biology and english, which led me away from vet studies and towards journalism.

At 30 I was working for a magazine in London and loving it but my husband-to-be was struggling to find work so we had to head back Down Under and I was less than impressed with just about everything but soon found my feet as editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I thought my then-boyfriend, who was my first, would love me forever but actually he didn’t even love me till my 19th birthday. I also thought, at 18, that this was the end of the world, but happily that turned out not to be true either.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Well, I suppose you could say that All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot influenced my development as a writer because it steered me in the direction of being a vet and left me no other option when that failed to fire.

Regarding music, when the boyfriend above dumped me, by phone, and left me heartbroken, I used to play Chuck E’s in Love by Ricky Lee Jones over and over and over on the record player. Yes, record player. This didn’t develop my writing, in particular, but it did feed my heartbreak and I have come to realise over the years that being overly sensitive is a real gift to a writer because it allows you to plummet the depths of your despair, and everyone else’s, and imagine all the ways your life will end or never be the same and how you’ll take them with you, or at least wreak your revenge, or orchestrate a tearful reunion, or wait while they beg for forgiveness then shoot them. In other words, a sensitive soul feeds the imagination so bring it on, Ricky Lee.

Finally, I remember reading the book, Watermelon, by Marian Keyes before she was a number one bestseller and thinking it was something different to what else was already out there. I felt that I had made a friend rather than read a book, and that the friend I had made was someone very much like me. It occurred to me then that writing books that gave readers that feeling was a real skill, and I started to explore whether I had it or not. I subsequently met Marian Keyes and she was a complete and utter delight: exactly as I had imagined. And if I lived near her and it wasn’t considered stalking, I would be her friend.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I wrote a lot of dreamy short stories as a child, but working in journalism you are gravely discouraged from making things up so I got out of the habit of it. However, I was made redundant from two different magazine jobs then fired from another one in radio and I found myself ever so slightly without employment which was annoying in some ways, but extraordinarily freeing in others. I decided then I would take the time off (although strictly speaking it had already been given to me) to write my first novel, Finding Tom Connor, and I’ve not worried about facts ever since.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Dolci di Love is the story Lily Turner, a busy executive with no children of her own who discovers her perfect husband is keeping a secret family in Tuscany, although when she goes there to find him she instead gets caught up in a web of interfering old widows who are bungling their biscotti baking business as much as their behind-the-scenes matchmaking.

(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis – Nothing tastes sweeter than a second chance

The Tuscan town of Montevedova is famous for its rolling green hills, long lazy lunches and delectable cantucci biscuits. It even has its own patron saint. But Manhattan workaholic Lily Turner is not interested in any of that. She’s only there to find her cheating husband. What Lily doesn’t know, however, is that beneath the cobbled lanes of this charming hilltop village, an underground network of ancient widows is working tirelessly on finding her a happy ending – whether she wants it or not.

Suddenly everything she loved about her old life goes up in a puff of smoke – just like the cantucci the widows are getting too old to make. Then a mischievous six-year-old girl, full of the joys of baking, skips into Lily’s world – igniting the demons of her past … and the promise of the future.)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

That there are two sides to every story, that forgiveness is always an option, and that families come in all shapes and size. Oh, and that Tuscany is the jaw-dropping gem in the crown of Italy and you should go there immediately, or at least bring out all the photos from that trip you took there all those years ago and do a spot of top shelf reminiscing…

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Honestly, I admire all writers. It’s not an easy job, although as your own boss it has its advantages, but for the most part a writer spends a year on his or her own sitting in front of a computer working diligently on a massive project that they don’t really know if anyone else will like. This takes courage, and sometimes a lot of gin, not necessarily in that order although that order is definitely more likely to be productive.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I just want to keep writing novels. Sometimes that seems outrageously ambitious. Sometimes hardly ambitious at all. It depends on the gin/courage levels.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. It’s very easy to talk about writing a novel and it’s even pretty easy to start writing a novel, and actually quite manageable to get half way through writing a novel, but finishing it and having it make sense – and not just to you – is really where the skill lies and that involves sitting on your own in front of a computer working diligently etc. It’s not very romantic but I can never stress enough the importance of a bum on a seat.

Sarah-Kate, thank you for playing.

Follow Sarah-Kate on Twitter here

The Book Of Rachael by Leslie Cannold. A Review by Kylie Ladd.

Have you found Jesus? The publishing industry certainly has, and they’re not letting him go. Why would they, when he’s responsible for so many sales? There’s that perennial best-seller, the Holy Bible, for a start, for which Jesus can take at least half the credit. There’s the multitudinous scholarly texts and mediations on his legacy; there’s all those prayer books and hymnals that have been churned out since medieval times. And then, more recently, there is the fiction. I sometimes wonder if we have CS Lewis to blame for this, if he set the ball rolling with “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” an allegory of Christ’s crucifixion, with Aslan the majestic lion sacrificing himself for Edmund the sinner. In the past fifty years there have been a slew of novels reimagining the life of the carpenter’s son from Galilee who claimed he was the son of God… “The Last Temptation of Christ”, the banned Kazantzakis novel which became the banned Martin Scorsese film;  “The Passion” the movie about a man preaching poverty which made Mel Gibson a billionaire; “King Jesus”, by Robert Graves, bestselling author of “I, Claudius”; my personal favourite, Norman Mailer’s predictably earthy and libidinous Christ in “The Gospel According to the Son”; and then, in the last twenty-four months alone, an unholy trinity- “Christ The Lord” by vampire doyenne Anne Rice, “ The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ,” by the award-winning and much loved Phillip Pullman, and “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible” by James Frey, who likes to make up stuff.

All of which is why I found Leslie Cannold’s first novel, The Book of Rachael, so refreshing. Cannold approaches the time-worn tale of the life and death of Jesus Christ from a new and intriguing perspective- that of Jesus’s sister, Rachael, who falls in love with his best friend and eventual betrayer, Judas Iscariot. As she notes in a post-script to the book, Cannold was inspired to imagine Rachael’s life after watching a BBC documentary where the names, fates and even burial places of Jesus’s brothers were itemized, but- as the narrator casually announced- nothing had been recorded concerning his sisters. That those sisters existed is confirmed by the bible in the gospel of Mark, yet the status of women at that time was far too lowly for any further details of their life to have been set down. The challenge to ethicist and social activist Cannold must have been irresistible. In The Book of Rachael she sets out to correct the balance.

It’s an intriguing premise, and one on which Cannold delivers. Rachael is a fiery, rebellious but hugely likeable character. A natural mimic, she learns to write the alphabet (an activity forbidden to females) after only one lesson; she apprentices herself to the blind crone, Bindy, and becomes a skilled midwife and healer. Even more intriguing however, at least for this reader, is what Cannold does with the story of Jesus. Cannold’s Jesus (here called Joshua) is the seed of an illegitimate rather than immaculate conception; a good- but very human- man, one who serves his father and his Lord, but also falls in love and commits the sin of premarital sex. When his pregnant lover, Maryam of Magdalene, is taken away in shame by her father Joshua immediately leaves their town of Nazareth and searches for her throughout Galilee, along the way cursing the priests and the law-makers who would have her stoned for sinning. He quickly accumulates a following of outcasts and disciples, who travel with him to Jerusalem, where Maryam is eventually found.

The Joshua of the early sections of the book is clear-headed and compassionate, a reasoned and rational philosopher respected by both Judas (here named Judah) and Rachael. As the novel nears its climax, however, his thinking becomes more and more deluded, then dangerous, until Judah is left with what he sees as only one course of action to prevent them all from being killed. That the reader feels, in the end, more sympathy for Judah than for Joshua is not the only unorthodox twist in the tale. An avowed atheist, Cannold cleverly plays with many of the central events of the gospels- the raising of Lazarus, the over-turning of the moneylenders in the temple, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem- reimagining them from a secular point of view. (Spoiler alert) Tellingly, though the crucifixion scene is almost unbearably moving, there is no resurrection. Many of Cannold’s characters may recognise Joshua as the messiah, but she herself does not- a dichotomy which keeps the book absorbing and engaging to the end.

As, too, does the character of Rachael, who we first meet aged five and leave in her thirties. Though Joshua and Judah both weaken and waver at times as the story unfolds, Rachael does not. She remains constant- headstrong, compassionate, both cursed and saved by her fierce intelligence. Cannold has clearly researched the era thoroughly, and brings it vividly to life: the sights, the smells, the stranglehold of both the Romans and the law. In subject matter and setting, The Book of Rachael reminded me strongly of Anita Diamant’s bestseller The Red Tent; in tone I found it reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders. Despite this, it is truly original; a unique and appealing take on one of the oldest stories in the book.

Kylie Ladd’s excellent new novel, Last Summer, is available from Booktopia – click here. (Click here to read my review of Last Summer)

This review first appeared on mamamia.com.au

Amazing Face by Zoe Foster (or why we are selling squillions of these…)

Amazing Face

Clever beauty tricks, should-own products + spectacularly useful how-to-do-its

Author: Zoe Foster

(Buy it now) < stupid link didn’t work – it now works :)

Free Excerpt:

Introduction

I learned how to apply makeup from a girl in the toilets.

She was an exquisite, popular, sophisticated* (*It’s all relative) year nine girl (I was a year eight weed and the girls in the year above were deities for reasons I can only put down to ‘having pashed boys already’), and it was bewitching watching her do her face in the school toilets.

Sadly, my facsimile did not eventuate in the flawless masterpiece I’d hoped, although with several layers of Mum’s salmon Helena Rubenstein powder, blush loaded onto cheekbones that didn’t yet exist and more eyeliner than is Continue reading

Peter Salmon, author of The Coffee Story, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter Salmon

author of The Coffee Story

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born, absurdly, in Southampton – I say absurdly because my parents emigrated to Australia when I was four, so I see myself as absolutely Australian. Which is undermined slightly by my moving to England in 2006 – so I’ve racked up thirty-one years in Australia and nine in England. Hope I still get to be called Australian. I was raised in the thriving metropolises of Boronia and Kilsyth in the (then) outer reaches of Melbourne’s suburban sprawl. As for Continue reading

Kim McCosker, co-author of the 4 Ingredients phenomenon, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kim McCosker

co-author of the 4 Ingredients phenomenon

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Hi, my name is Kim McCosker. I was born in Stanthorpe and raised there until moving to Mundubbera, Qld. I attended Star of the Sea Catholic High School on the Gold Coast, then completed a degree in International Finance at Griffith University. I then went on to train with MLC as a Financial Planner completing a Diploma in Financial Planning through Deakin University in 2000. In 2007 I wrote and co-created the best-selling cookbook series 4 Ingredients. This series of books aimed for busy parents have gone on to become the biggest selling cookbook series in Continue reading

Niromi de Soyza, author of Tamil Tigress, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Niromi de Soyza

author of Tamil Tigress

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Kandy, the central hill country of Sri Lanka and moved to the northern town of Jaffna when I was eight. As the civil war engulfed the country, I fled to India when I was eighteen and completed my schooling before arriving in Sydney, Australia two years later. I now live in Sydney’s northshore with my husband and Continue reading

Picador’s Big Three: The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, At Last by Edward St Aubyn and Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift

July is a big month for Picador Australia and it will be a big month for lovers of contemporary literature, too. Three of the most respected writers writing today – Graham Swift, Alan Hollinghurst and Edward St Aubyn – are set to release new novels on July 1st.

We recommend buying all three (but then, we would). If you would like to become better acquainted before you take the plunge, take a moment to read through the following. We feel confident the reviews will pique your interest…

WISH YOU WERE HERE by GRAHAM SWIFT

The story of a dreadful day of catharsis in the life of a resolutely ordinary man, Graham Swift’s ninth novel begins with remembered images of funeral pyres of burning cattle and the collapse of the twin towers.

“There is no end to madness,” thinks Jack Luxton, sitting alone in his bedroom in a cottage on the Isle of Wight, looking out over the rain-lashed caravan site, now closed for winter, that he has run for the past 10 years with his wife, Ellie. Jack has just returned from the repatriation and funeral of his younger brother Tom, a soldier killed in Iraq, who had left the family many years ago and never kept in touch. Terrible, unrevealed words have passed between Jack and his wife, and she has taken off with the car. Now, with a loaded gun, he awaits her return.

A probing but leisurely character study masquerading as a mystery, Wish You Were is a dark, restrained family drama with its roots in Devon soil, it takes us back to a time when Jack and Ellie were diffident childhood sweethearts growing up on neighbouring farms.

But now the farm has gone, ruined by “the war with the cow disease”. Jack is now “the soft-living proprietor of a caravan site”. For three weeks or a month every year, he and Ellie jet off to the Caribbean, but he never really enjoys himself.

This is not a book for impatient readers but it’s a book which improves with retrospect.

(Excerpts taken from The Guardian online)

Publisher synopsis: A masterly work from one of our greatest writers

On an autumn day in 2006, on the Isle of Wight, Jack Luxton, former Devon farmer and now the proprietor of a seaside caravan park, receives the news that his soldier brother Tom, not seen for years, has been killed in Iraq.

For Jack and his wife Ellie this will have a potentially catastrophic impact. For Jack in particular it means a crucial journey – to receive his brother’s remains, but also into his own most secret, troubling memories and into the land of his and Ellie’s past.

Wish You Were Here is both a gripping account of things that touch and test our human core and a resonant novel about a changing England. Rich with Graham Swift’s love of the local, full of humour and tenderness in the face of tragedy, it is also, inescapably, about a wider, afflicted world. Moving towards an almost unbearably tense climax, it allows us to feel the stuff of headlines – the return of a dead soldier from a foreign war – as heart-wrenching personal truth.

Author Information

Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of eight acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories; his most recent work is Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. With Waterland he won the Guardian Fiction Prize (1983), and with Last Orders the Booker Prize (1996). Both novels have since been made into films. Graham Swift’s work has appeared in over thirty languages.

Pre-order your copy of Wish You Were Here - err… here

AT LAST by EDWARD ST AUBYN

The fifth of St Aubyn’s Melrose novels, At Last is as ever, is a beguiling blend of wit, intellect and compassion. Each of the novels enthrals, but in sequence, their power is synergistic.

They relate the tale of a horrifically dysfunctional family: doctor David, his wealthy wife Eleanor, and their child Patrick, who is raped by David and develops addiction problems. Patrick’s craving for maternal love leads him to marry caring Mary, but after two sons arrive, Mary’s attention shifts. Patrick’s need for unshared affection then leads to his affair with Julia, and he is angst-ridden at Eleanor’s decision to leave the family pile to a shaman – or conman – Seamus.

St Aubyn’s characteristic blend of acid wit, intellect and compassion is plaited through At Last, which is focused on a single day – that of Eleanor’s cremation, in 2005.

St Aubyn’s acerbic humour is wonderful but this is also a psychologically astute book. When the parallels between Patrick and St Aubyn are considered (St Aubyn has revealed that he shares Patrick’s history of abuse and addiction), the novel seems strikingly raw and honest, too.

In At Last, Patrick has recently left the Priory, so the language of psychotherapy is prominent, but there is no self-indulgence. And St Aubyn is still deliciously wicked in his satire. Nancy is a parody of venal greed: “She had no cash for taxis, and her swollen feet were already bulging out of the ruthlessly elegant inside edges of her $2,000 shoes. People said she was incorrigibly extravagant but the shoes would have cost $2,000 each, if she hadn’t bought them parsimoniously in a sale.”

There are few small problems in a shimmering work of multiple strengths. Even minor characters surge with fascinating foibles. And St Aubyn’s ability to pierce the façade of moneyed politesse that veils cruel, hypocritical behaviour is acute.

The final coming to terms is not an epiphany, as that would suggest a clarity of vision through which peace is reached, and with childhood trauma, the circular questions never end. But At Last is as close to a resolution as Patrick will ever come and ends, if not with unrealistic optimism, then at least with hope. Demons are forever, but we’re privileged that St Aubyn chose to share his with us.

(Excerpts taken from The Independent online)

Publisher synopsis: For Patrick Melrose, ‘family’ is more than a double-edged sword. As friends, relations and foes trickle in to pay final respects to his mother, Eleanor – an heiress who forsook the grandeur of her upbringing for ‘good works’, freely bestowed upon everyone but her own child – Patrick finds that his transition to orphanhood isn’t necessarily the liberation he had so long imagined.

Yet as the service ends and the family gather for a final party, as conversations are overheard, danced around and concertedly avoided, amidst the social niceties and the social horrors, the calms and the rapids, Patrick begins to sense a new current. And at the end of the day, alone in his rooftop bedsit, it seems to promise some form of safety, at last.

One of the most powerful reflections on pain and acceptance, and the treacheries of family, ever written, At Last is the brilliant culmination of the Melrose books. It is a masterpiece of glittering dark comedy and profound emotional truth.

Author Information

Edward St Aubyn was born in London in 1960. He is the author of the novels A Clue to the Exit and On the Edge, and the trilogy Some Hope. Mother’s Milk was the winner of the Prix Femina Etranger 2007.

Pre-order your copy of At Lasthere

THE STRANGER’S CHILD by ALAN HOLLINGHURST

This Man Booker prize winner is not noted for his prolific output, so a new novel is always a great literary event. And his latest could be his greatest yet.

Hollinghurst is not a writer who rushes his words… He estimates that he completes on average between 300 and 400 words in a day of writing, although there are many days in which nothing is forthcoming other than gestating thought. He is said to have spent two years thinking about The Line of Beauty before embarking on the first chapter.

Yet while the final result of this deliberation is unfailingly polished, it’s very seldom precious. Instead, his novels are engorged with a playful wit and a powerful eroticism…

The Stranger’s Child begins in outer-suburban Harrow in 1913, the last summer before the First World War, and spans the following century. At its centre are two families and a poem that is destined to resound with personal and social significance.

With its rarefied atmosphere, multi-generational timespan, depiction of the intrusion of war and the unfolding drama of a literary conceit and a disputed event, the novel is bound to be compared with Ian McEwan’s Atonement. The similarities, however, are superficial and what stands out is Hollinghurst’s distinctively delicious style and acuity of social observation…. Yet he is absorbed by questions of morality, which is one of the reasons that he is not overly concerned with wholesome depictions of stoical strength. “The problem with nice people is that they’re frightfully boring to write about,” he told one interviewer. “What I’ve always been interested in is moral weakness. And, most of all, bad behaviour.” Hollinghurst is a particularly unusual contemporary literary novelist. He may be coolly knowing but never bleakly ironic. For while his characters are often promiscuous with their affections, they tend to be in thrall to the idea of a true love that is tantalisingly out of reach. Yet it’s not love that’s the illusion but the notion of its permanence. What survives is what the search for love can inspire: art.

Publisher synopsis: Alan Hollinghurst’s first novel since The Line of Beauty, winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize

It is the late summer of the last year before the first Great War. Cecil Valance, a beautiful young aristocratic poet, is visiting Two Acres, the home of his Cambridge friend and lover, George Sawle. On his departure, Cecil leaves a poem, dedicated to George’s younger sister Daphne, which when published becomes a touchstone for a generation, symbolizing an England in its final glory. Meanwhile Daphne has also become involved with Cecil’s family, visiting their Victorian Gothic country house, Corley, and developing a relationship with Cecil’s brooding, manipulative brother, Dudley, that will link the families for ever.

The Stranger’s Child begins as a novel about two families and two houses: by the time it reaches its profound and moving conclusion, it has become an epic tale told in five parts covering almost a hundred years. Like The Line of Beauty, this is a deliciously funny novel, glittering with acute observation and arch insight into the worlds of those who belong and of those who are excluded, of carefully hidden secrets which are finally, dramatically revealed.

Author Information

Alan Hollinghurst is the author of four previous novels, The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star, The Spell and The Line of Beauty. He has received the Somerset Maugham Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the 2004 Man Booker Prize. He lives in London.

Pre-order your copy of The Stranger’s Childhere

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