Friday 21 February 2014

Compass Points 75

2014 will see many anniversaries – one of which is the start of the 1984/85 miners strike. Until Our Blood is Dry by Kit Habianic is a novel of passion and love, betrayal and decisions during this extraordinary time when people were forced to fight for their future. It is set in Wales, and unlike other dramatisations of this conflict, Kit’s book covers the strike from both the male and female sides of the community. An earlier draft of the novel was shortlisted for the 2008 Transworld Daily Mail First Novel Competition, and its author Kit Habianic is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Guardian, the Daily Mirror, the Times, Marie Claire, and Time Out, so there should be plenty of publicity.  The novel begins when the union is squaring up to the Coal Board, the government and the country. Gwyn Pritchard, overman at Blackthorn colliery, believes that the way to save his pit is to keep his men working and production high. His men disagree and when an old collier dies on Gwyn’s shift, the men’s simmering resentment spills over into open defiance. But Gwyn faces a challenge at home too. His daughter Helen is in love with a fiery young collier, Scrapper Jones. In March 1984, when miners across the country walk out to join what will become a year-long strike, Scrapper throws himself into the struggle and Helen joins the women, preparing food for the soup kitchen and standing with the men on the picket line. Scrapper, Helen and Gwyn must decide which side they are on as the dispute drives the Pritchard family apart and the Jones family to ruin. Until Our Blood is Dry (pb, £8.99 978 1909844537) is published by Parthian in April and you can find out more and order it here.

Talking of fictionalised accounts of the miners’ strike – who can forget that amazing battle scene from the film of Billy Elliot - which you can watch here.

And here’s another anniversary for you – 2014 is the sixtieth anniversary of Roger Bannister running the four-minute mile. It all happened on a blustery late spring day in 1954 when a young Oxford medical student flung himself over the line in a mile race. There was an agonising pause, and then the timekeeper announced the record: three minutes, fifty-nine point four seconds. But no one heard anything after that first word – ‘three’. One of the iconic barriers of sport had been broken, and Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

Let’s watch those iconic 4 minutes of history shall we – this 1954 film footage has Roger Bannister's own commentary overlaid on top – which gives a fascinating insight into his amazing achievement.

Sixty years on and the fan letters still arrive on Roger Bannister’s doormat, letters testifying to the enduring appeal of the four-minute mile and the inspiring effect it had on a generation. Tracks: The  Autobiography of Roger Bannister is a frank, truthful memoir, where one of the iconic figures of sport tells for the first time the full story of the dedication and talent that led to his unprecedented achievement and of his professional life as a distinguished doctor and neurologist once his (strictly amateur) athletic career drew to a close. With characteristically trenchant views on drugs in sport, the nature of modern athletics and record breaking, the extraordinary explosion in running as a leisure activity and the Olympic legacy, this is a rare and brilliant autobiography. 

“I felt at that moment that it was my chance to do one thing supremely well. I drove on, impelled by a combination of fear and pride. The air filled me with the spirit of the track where I had run my first race. The noise in my ears was that of the faithful Oxford crowd. Their hope and encouragement gave me greater strength: I had now turned the last bend and there was only 50 yards more.”

Sir Roger Bannister CBE will be publicising Twin Tracks in a major press campaign. This much-anticipated autobiography of a great and inspirational athlete is published by Robson Press in April (£20.00, hardback with 8 pages of photographs, 978 1849546867).

Now, as we all know, what’s hot right now is well written, thought provoking, European fiction, and here’s a title which is based on a true story, has had sales of 75,000 in France and was the 2010 Winner of The Académie Française Novel Award. Nagasaki by Éric Faye (pb, £7.99, 978 1908313652) tells the tale of meteorologist Shimura Kobo who lives quietly on his own In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki. Or so he believes. Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home.  But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal? This prize-winning novel (based on a true story) is a heart-rending tale of alienation in the modern world. I love the cover – very striking. L’Express called it “one of those brief and understated novels that stay with the reader for a very long time.” Remember, this is the publisher that bought you The Elegance of the Hedgehog – and we all remember how well that did! Nagasaki is published in April by Gallic Books and you can find out more and order it here.

Commando Dad:  How to be an Elite Dad or Carer has been one of the big bestsellers of the last couple of years; selling over 35,000 copies it was the parenting book of choice for Prince William and has received widespread coverage in the press and on television. Now comes Pocket Commando Dad - an abridged, pocket-sized version of the indispensable training manual for new dads. Written by ex-Commando and father of three, Neil Sinclair, this no-nonsense guide will teach you how to prepare base camp for your baby trooper’s arrival, survive the first 24 hours, establish feeding/sleeping routines and much, much more besides! Let training commence! This paperback is £6.99 and has full colour illustrations throughout – (978 1 84953 555 7) and is published in April by Summersdale. The Guardian said it was “‘quick to read, easy to understand and simple to digest… spot on” and you can order it here.

Could spring be finally upon us? Do we feel the first urges of wanting to get outdoors, and off an adventure that doesn’t involve wellies or waterproofs? Well, if you are even considering trying out the ultimate cycle journey from channel to med (St. Malo to Nice) then France En Velo by Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh is the title for you. In this beautifully illustrated guide to travelling across France by bike, you will discover hidden lanes, stunning gorges, amazing places to eat and stay, plus the best of French cycling culture. This iconic journey of more than 1000 miles takes you through no fewer than 21 of France’s regional départements and into some of the country’s most striking and dramatic landscapes helping you to discover the true heart of rural France. Ride one section, follow a mini itinerary, or complete the entire challenge! Beautifully illustrated maps, detailed directions and GPX downloads guide you along the route providing all the essential information you need. The book will be featured in Cycling Weekly, Cycling Active and Cycling Fitness and extracts will run in the Times and on Channel 4’s The Cycle Show. France En Velo (pb, £16.99 978 0957157347) is published by Wild Things Publishing in April and you can order it here.

If you’d like a little taste of what such a trip would involves, then have a little look at some of the fabulous photos  on the cycling website Skedaddle here - John Walsh designed the first St Malo to Nice epic for this cycling touring company back in 2010 and it is now one of their most popular holidays.

Those who have read this next novel in the Compass Office have given it a big thumbs up, and if you have customers partial to the works of Ruth Rendell; then Death in Pont-Aven by Jean-Luc Bannalec is one to suggest for them.  Death in Pont-Aven is a captivating whodunit thriller set in a small village in Brittany, and introduces readers to the enigmatic Commissaire Dupin, an idiosyncratic penguin lover and Parisian-born caffeine junkie whose unique methods of detection raise more than a few eyebrows. It is a book so atmospheric readers will immediately want to wander through the village’s narrow alleyways, breathe in the Atlantic air and savour the Breton seaside specialty dishes. Death in Pont-Aven is a spellbinding, subtle and smart crime novel, peppered with cryptic humour and surprising twists. It was a big summer hit in its original German (reaching number 2 in the bestseller lists) and Der Spiegel called it a “cheerful, sun-drenched, stress-free whodunit thriller” which sounds just like what many of us want for our holiday reading.  This is the first title in a new series featuring the quirky Commissaire Dupin, and I think this gentle crime thriller set in Brittany could be a big hit with British readers.  Death in Pont-Aven (pb, £7.99, 978 1843914983) is published by Hesperus Nova in April, and you can order it here.

And finally a round up of the week’s publicity…

The drinks column in the April issue of Saga Magazine will be entirely devoted to bluffing about wine: the magazine's drinks columnist is Jonathan Goodall co-author of The Bluffer's Guide to Wine and sole author of The Bluffer's Guide to Beer.  
Cover images of both books will feature prominently in his article. Saga Magazine is the UK's best selling monthly with over half a million subscribers and it is read by more than 1.3 million people every month. The drinks page is one of the most popular regular features (after money and letters). Nothing beats good editorial and this is brilliant – make sure you have both titles in stock!

Monarchy by Christopher Lee (£20, hb 978-1903071588 published by Benefactum) is mentioned in the Times this week, following an attack on our royal family in the New York Times. Author Christopher Lee is quoted as saying that the “monarchy is the identity of the nation”.

The fighting about what Scotland will or won’t be able to do if they achieve independence rumbles on – with even David Bowie weighing into the debate at this week’s Brits awards!  There was an interesting  article on the subject by author David Torrance in the Guardian which you can read here – don’t forget to keep David’s book The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum (published by Biteback £14.99, pb, 978-1849545945) on display – this subject is going to be in the news for many months to come!!

The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern was published this week, (pb, £8.99 978 1908313546) and has received ecstatic reviewers from the literary bloggers and in the press. The Independent on Sunday:  called it “genuinely affecting …  a tightly-controlled, well-paced and, at times, heart-wrenching read” while the Sun said “This book hasn't won almost 20 awards for nothing – it’s an addictive read” and Closer magazine called it “a beautiful debut” This multi-prize-winning debut novel with its beautifully evocative descriptions is published by Gallic Press and you can find out more and order it here. One blogger called it a “literary game of pass the parcel, each layer reveals another and another until finally the gift of full disclosure emerges. At turns fascinating, heartbreaking, passionate and astonishing; this one will touch your reading soul.”

Who saw the story in today’s press of the arrest of Brit Mathew Osborne – who apparently stole a £100,000 pink diamond in Australia by simply walking into a jewellers, asking to see the stone then grabbing it, swallowing it, and nipping off on a mountain bike! Simples! Or maybe not, as he is now in police custody while they “keep a close watch on his movements”.  How much more glamorous were David Niven and Peter Sellers back in 1964?!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

No comments:

Post a Comment