Reviews for new books by William Boyd, Helen Fielding, Peter Acrkoyd Malcolm Gladwell and Simon Heffer. A Zola-loving Pin-up. Travel-inspired short stories in Author Pitch. Book now for the Omnivore Pin-up Good Sex Pageant.
Win the Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist
We're hugely excited to be giving away the entire shortlist for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction. One lucky Omnivore Digest subscriber can get their hands on six fantastic books: Return of a King, William Dalrymple's timely book on the first Anglo-Afghan war; Under Another Sky, Guardian journalist Charlotte Higgins' account of her road-trip around Roman Britain; The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett's biography of Italian poet and fascist Gabriele D'Annunzio; the first volume of Charles Moore's monumental Thatcher biography; David Crane's Empires of the Dead, on the creation of WWI's war graves; and Dave Goulson's book about the plight of the bumblebee: A Sting in the Tale. The winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize, judged by Martin Rees, Mary Beard, Shami Chakrabarti, Peter Hennessy and James McConnachie, will be announced on 4 November. To be in with a chance of winning, tell us what Samuel Johnson was referring to when he said  "____ like friends, should be few and well chosen." Entries to by Friday 18 October.
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
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"On one side stands the dark-hued comedy of loneliness and grief; on the other, upbeat fantasias of merry widowhood afloat on the social-media cloud. You can see just why Fielding has killed off Mark Darcy." Boyd Tonkin, The Independent VS "It isn’t just the style that jars ... It isn’t even the pile-up of clichés … It’s the fact that I hardly believed a word of it." Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times
Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig
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" is the most important book yet written on Freud, worth all the self-seeking insidiously boastful memoirs and other pathetic efforts by critics and curators to explain him." Brian Sewell, Evening Standard VS "The cumulative impression is of slapdash editing or, worse, padding ... For me, though, the strangest thing is that it contains so little of substance about painting" Alastair Sooke, Telegraph


Peter Oborne raised eyebrows with his vituperative review of Matthew D'Ancona's In it Together in the Spectator, which D'Ancona used to edit:

"If he had concentrated on policies he could have produced a book of real importance ... Instead, he has focused on personalities — rather insipid ones at that — and as a result In It Together is a tremendous disappointment."

D'Ancona's 12-year-old son, Zac (or someone purporting to be him), took to the online comments section to defend his father: "The only reason you are attacking this book is because you are a jealous idiot who hates the author and will do anything you can to undermine him and make yourself look good!!!!!"

Read all reviews for In it Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government

Three Brothers by Peter Ackroyd
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"The plot takes off with no excess baggage. Imagine Bleak House rewritten in less than 250 pages" Alan Johnson, The Times VS "Just about all of the main male characters are gay (including the straight ones) and one of the few female characters in Three Brothers is at pains to stress that she doesn’t like sex. Oh please." Virginia Blackburn, Daily Express
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
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"… quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years … epic in scope but human in resonance " Elizabeth Day, The Observer VS " … a novel to read for its subject matter and narrative drive. Gilbert’s prose is emphatic, somewhat rough and ready" Helen Dunmore, The Times
Solo: A James Bond Novel by William Boyd
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“To bring a much-loved character back to life in this way is a formidable literary achievement." Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail VS "Boyd imbues Bond with 21st-century sensitivities and sets the tale in 1969 — Life on Mars-style. Sadly, it doesn’t work … Boyd’s Bond takes an awful long time to start behaving violently." Robert Crampton, The Times
Best of the rest
The Circle by Dave Eggers, Worst. Person. Ever by Douglas Coupland, Goat Mountain by David Vann, Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Pick of the paperbacks
The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup, Risk by CK Stead
High Minds by Simon Heffer
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"[A] monumental book … Heffer has written a stunning overview of the great and the good – and the not-so-good – of Victorian society and of the changes which a largely benevolent capitalism brought about" Sarah Bradford, Literary Review VS " account of the Victorians that might have been based on an A-level syllabus from the Seventies." Philip Hensher, Telegraph
David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
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"Gladwell’s most enjoyable book so far. It is a feel-good extravaganza, nourishing both heart and mind" Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times VS "Too often Gladwell seems to be mythologising his subjects. He treats their unusual individual histories as morality tales." David Runciman, Guardian
What Should We Tell Our Daughters by Melissa Benn
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"Sadly, Benn’s book is an exemplum of why many young women reject their mothers’ version of feminism. In covering familiar ground thoroughly ploughed by Susan Faludi, Carole Gilligan, Susie Orbach and Natasha Walter, she does identify some of the pressures on young western women ... But her own migraine-inducing prose style, the lack of rigour she brings to her data, and the banality of her proscriptions showcase what not to do to enlist young women in the feminist cause." Naomi Wolf, Observer

What are you reading at the moment?
Sacreligiously a bounty of books, papers and poems including Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani and Émile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames en français.

What will you read next?
I have the complete works of Kafka waiting for me. It has crinkle cut pages which I am overly excited about. I should probably be more sensible and start reading for my imminent PhD. 

Cleo, 28, East London 

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Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel by Frances M Thompson

Tell us about your book...

From childhood holidays on campsites in France to a life-changing journey to Naples, the places I’ve written about in Shy Feet are countries and cities that have stayed with me long after I’ve left. However, the stories are completely fictional.

Why did you decide to self-publish?
I am petrified of rejection. There you go, that’s the honest answer! I daren’t risk humiliation so haven’t (yet!) reached out to a single literary agent. It also made sense to self-publish in some ways. Short story collections are notoriously hard to pitch to agents or publishers – especially by a debut author. I was also very attracted by the creative control self-publishers maintain and by the fact self-published books don’t have a shelf-life. 

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