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 Measure for measure

The Jubilee celebrations are all set for the coming days. Trooping the Colour, Buckingham Palace concert, street fairs, tea parties...reinstating imperial measures?

Strange times. But if you'd like to receive some interesting, stimulating commentary on modern society, politics and economics, as well as discussions about memoir, fiction, history, works in translation and much more, the Hay Festival is once again available online. 

It's always refreshing to hear intelligent, informed individuals speak passionately and eloquently about their subject of expertise and after only viewing four speakers I feel more energised and inspired, though my reading list has once again been extended.

I have always wanted to visit Hay but it's been wonderful to be able to view the talks online in the past couple of years. Here in Suffolk, we do have the opportunity to hear authors in person in the coming days and weeks, and there's something to be said for being in a room with like-minded individuals and having serendipitous conversations with other audience members.

This coming week, there are events held in Southwold to mark the Jubilee and I will be talking to Stewart Ross about the research for his latest book, an entertaining and informative compendium of information about Queen Elizabeth II.

In the coming weeks we'll have the crime writing festival Slaughter in Southwold and the Felixstowe Book Festival. More about them nearer the time.

But for book conversation in Woodbridge, perhaps you'd like to join me at book group tomorrow evening. We'll be meeting at 8pm to discuss 'Still Life' by Sarah Water. I'd be grateful if you would reply to this email to let me know if you are coming, so that I can make adequate preparations! Hope to see you there! 

Thank you for reading.

Join me in meeting Stewart Ross in Southwold on Wednesday 1 June when we will be talking about the latest in the series of 'For Dummies' books, exploring facts and figures about the reign of
Queen Elizabeth II.

   Stewart has an extraordinary 350 books to his name, including prize-winning books for children, novels, plays, three librettos, a musical, and many works on history and sport. He is also a very entertaining speaker!

   We will be talking together as part of the Jubilee Celebration Week in Southwold. For more details and bookings click here.
Queen Elizabeth II for Dummies
by Stewart Ross

Whether or not you're able to meet Stewart in Southwold this week (see above!), and you may or may not be planning to mark the Jubilee next weekend, there's no getting away from the fact that Queen Elizabeth is our longest living monarch. And this remarkable book tells us something of how she did it.

If you're not familiar with the For Dummies series, it can look a slightly flippant or irreverent title but these are incredibly well put together volumes which give you an amazing grounding in a whole raft of subjects. This time all about Queen Elizabeth II.

There are the stories you might expect about the Queen’s family background, her childhood, early ascension to the throne, and her role during times of national crisis and triumph. 

But there's also a great crib sheet to past monarchs and prime ministers, and details about British government, power and policy.

It doesn't shirk from difficult topics, either, with sections about Charles and Diana, the annus horribilis and the cost of the monarchy. 

There are lighter subjects too - do you remember 'It's a Royal Knockout!'? The author explains why that was rather a disaster. We're introduced to royal animals and past jubilee celebrations. There's information about 'The Crown' - what it gets right, and what it doesn't, and why. And who has played the Queen in film and television over the years.

I think this book is brilliant! I can't imagine how a writer embarks on such a project - well, I can and it looks like a lot of hard work. There's a huge amount of information contained in a well designed paperback. It's great for accessing that one elusive nugget of information you wanted to tell a friend but it's also so readable, once you 'dip' into it, you'll find yourself still turning the pages hours later! 

Everything here is presented in such a warm, friendly, intelligent manner. And the content is so fresh and fascinating. Great!

For recommended non-fiction titles, take a look here.
The Baker by the Sea
by Paula White

Inspired by real people and places in Suffolk, this is a simple story, beautifully illustrated, about how everyone is important and has something to contribute, no matter how small their role.

A picture book, aimed at young children, the images are sophisticated and mesmerising and the story poignant and powerful.

A boy is intrigued by the activity in the fishing village where he lives. Everyone is busy with the tasks they carry out to keep the seaside community working. There's a baker, a boatbuilder, a blacksmith, and there are the fishermen.

The men who go out in the fishing boats put themselves in peril with each trip, and the responsibility of providing food for their community weighs heavily.

To the young boy, life as a fisherman looks full of adventure and he struggles to understand why his father has chosen to be a baker. 

In what is a nostalgic portrayal of life in a village by the sea in Suffolk, there is a strong message that we all have a part to play and are to be celebrated for the gifts we bring.

The author is an artist, printmaker and illustrator who is inspired by her home in Lowestoft in her work, and this book recalls her grandfather's story as a baker in the beachside village. It's a very lovely book.

Read about more recommended children's books here.

Browsers Bookshop Book Group

at St John's Hall, Woodbridge

Monday 30 May 8pm 
talking about...

Still Life
by Sarah Winman

Described as "uplifting... and full of unforgettable characters, 'Still Life' is a novel about beauty, love, family and friendship".
What will we think of it?
If you'd like to join in the discussion, reply to this email to receive details.
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