Books Monthly May 2020 nonfiction books - John Partridge's brilliant new cook book leads...
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My nonfiction book of the month is another Pen and Sword publicxation, this time about Norwich and Norfolk's history from the Stone Age to the Great War! And then there's a smashing book about the kind of food you might find in an Enid Blyton book...


Book of the Month - John Partridge: There's No Taste Like Home

 Published by Mitchell Beazley 2nd April 2020


There's No Taste Like Home tells the remarkable story of John's life in food and his emotional journey of grief and recovery through cooking, with every dish inspired by a personal memory, and each punctuated with stunning photography. It is cookbook with real difference and emotion - born out of his winning MasterChef menu that was inspired by his mother who he had recently lost to Alzheimer's.

During the year leading up the MasterChef final John learnt to reconnect with his past, to grieve and to heal through cooking. There's No Taste Like Home is a collection of heart-warming, fuss-free and budget-conscious recipes that each promise to deliver a simultaneous sense of nostalgia and comfort. From easy Breakfast Doughnuts to fun Fish & Chip Tacos to a showstopping Black Forest Gateaux there really is something to satisfy every palette and suit all occasions no matter your skillset or budget.

John has created this wonderful collection of recipes, drawing on all his favourite memories of food, menus and cooking, adding his own unique and creative twist to each dish.

One of my favourite characters in Eastebders when the soap was still worth watching, and a brilliant contestant on Celebrity Masterchef (and an actual celebrity too, which most of them are not, it has to be said), John Partridge turns in a highly respectable and mouthwatering collection of family recipes that influenced his life thus far. As always, I turn to the cakes and desserts pages first, because when it comes to main meal food, I'm strictly a traditional roast and two or three veg man, and there's very little I see on Masterchef or Celebrity Masterchef that can ever tempt me away from what I like and know. I'm a bit like Len Goodman in that respect, except I don't have the inclination or the courage to try anything with which I'm not genuinely familiar. My likes and dislikes are rigid, in thta respect - I won't entertain anything savoury to be corrupted with anything sweet, for example, nor will I ever want to eat anything containing garlic in the quantities most chefs use it. So, back to John's cakes, then. For starters, I have to pay tribute to the printers for printing everything in this sumptuous book so magnificently! There's Black Forest Gateau, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and there's Carrot Cake - that'll do for me, the book is a hit as far as I'm concerned - stunning images of mouthwatering cakes and desserts! There are fruit tarts, too, alongside John's pithy and very funny remarks - it's a homely, fun book, with real food, quite unlike most of what they serve up on Masterchef... a fabulous collection of homespun recipes. This is the best cookbook of the year so far!

Allegra McEvedy: Jolly Good Food - A children's cookbook for every time of day inspired by the books of Enid Blyton

 Published by Hodder Children's Books 5th October 2017


Delicious and easy recipes, inspired by the beloved stories by Enid Blyton. Bake your own pop-cakes and google buns, and wash them down with homemade ginger beer!

Have you ever dreamed of having picnics with the Famous Five, midnight feasts with the Malory Towers girls or party teas with the Folk of the Faraway Tree? With this cookbook, inspired by Enid Blyton's stories, you can! Packed full of yummy recipes, lively artwork and extracts from Enid Blyton's stories, this cookbook will inspire children - and the whole family - to get busy in the kitchen. It's the perfect way to share the pleasure of making and eating food with your child. There are 42 exciting new recipes designed by top chef and Junior Bake Off TV judge, Allegra McEvedy, with fabulous illustrations by Mark Beech and glorious food photography too.

One This wonderful book came my way by chance when I was researching various editions of Enid Blyton books for my forthcoming article on cover art. It was published back in October 2017, and there's a paperback version out next year, but I thought it would be worth a look so I found a dirt cheap version on the web and here it is! With all the excitement about Enid Blyton right now - it seems the Malory Towers series on CBBC and previously released on iPlayer has been a massive hit - and her continuing popularity with all age groups, this is a brilliant idea. Crammed with simply smashing recipes, from the very simple and familiar (jam tarts, jam sponge) to more exotic fare her characters might have enjoyed during midnight feasts or on holiday at the Cornish Riviera. Lavishly illustrated, this is a superb collection of simple but mouthwatering recipes, with each section of the book prefaced with an excerpt from one of Enid's series (Malory Towers, Famous Five, The Naughtiest Girl, etc.). A smashing book based on one of the best-loved writers of all time!

Linda Porter: Mistresses - Sex and Scandal at the court of Charles II

 Published by Picador 16th April


According to the great diarist, John Evelyn, Charles II was ‘addicted to women’, and throughout his long reign a great many succumbed to his charms. Clever, urbane and handsome, Charles presided over a hedonistic court, in which licence and licentiousness prevailed.

Mistresses is the story of the women who shared Charles’s bed, each of whom wielded influence on both the politics and cultural life of the country. From the young king-in-exile’s first mistress and mother to his first child, Lucy Walter, to the promiscuous and ill-tempered courtier, Barbara Villiers. From Frances Teresa Stuart, ‘the prettiest girl in the world’ to history’s most famous orange-seller, ‘pretty, witty’ Nell Gwynn and to her fellow-actress, Moll Davis, who bore the last of the king’s fifteen illegitimate children. From Louise de Kéroualle, the French aristocrat – and spy for Louis XIV – to the sexually ambiguous Hortense Mancini. Here, too, is the forlorn and humiliated Queen Catherine, the Portuguese princess who was Charles’s childless queen.

Drawing on a wide variety of original sources, including material in private archives, Linda Porter paints a vivid picture of these women and of Restoration England, an era that was both glamorous and sordid.



Gaby Dalkin: Eat What You Want

 Published by Abrams 28th April 2020


Finally! A cookbook for people who have had enough with rules and restrictions and are ready for delicious food that makes them feel good.

In her follow-up to her breakout success What's Gaby Cooking, Gaby Dalkin reveals the secret to a happy life: balance. Eat What You Want reflects how Gaby eats in real life, and for her, balancing moderation and indulgence is everything. No deprivation, no "bad foods" list. The only rule? Enjoy your food. Whether you are looking for lighter dishes filled with tons of fresh fruits and veggies (like a Cauliflower Shawarma Bowl or lemony Tahini Broccolini), or soul-soothing dishes like (Ham and Cheese Croissant Bread or Strawberry Crispy Cobblers), Gaby has you covered.

All told, Eat What You Want is an invitation/permission slip/pep rally for you to let go of all the noise around what you choose to eat. Choose joy! Choose fun! Choose no apologies or excuses. But most of all, choose whatever makes you happy.



Kris Bordessa: Attainable Sustainable

 Published by National Geographic 30th April 2020


Packed with delicious recipes, natural remedies, gardening tips, homemaking ideas, crafts, and more, this indispensable lifestyle reference from the popular blogger behind Attainable Sustainable makes earth-friendly living fun, real, and easy.

Whether you live in a city, suburb, or the country, this essential guide for the backyard homesteader will help you achieve a homespun life--from starting your own garden and pickling the food you grow to pressing wildflowers, baking sourdough loaves, quilting, raising chickens, and creating your own natural cleaning supplies. In these beautifully illustrated pages, eco-guru Kris Bordessa offers DIY lovers an indispensable home reference for sustainability in the 21st century, using tried-and-true advice, 50 enticing recipes, and step-by-step directions for creating fun, cost-efficient projects that will bring out your inner pioneer. Filled with more than 300 four-color photographs, this relatable, comprehensive book contains time honored-wisdom and modern know-how for getting back to basics in a beautiful, accessible package.



Mike Raine: Nature of Snowdonia

 Published by Pesda 20th April 2020


This is the revised and expanded 2nd edition of the first complete field guide for the mountains of Snowdonia through the seasons, its plants, animals and rocks. Everything you're likely to see in the hills at that time of year is here in one volume. The guide follow the seasons of Snowdonia; winter is the perfect time for studying rocks and lichen; in spring the bog flowers flourish and beautiful orchids bloom; summer brings fruits and flowers, and the treas are in full leaf; in autumn an amazing display of funghi appear, the hill farms are busy again in preparation for winter and as the nights draw in it is time again to sit beside the fire and tell tales of local myth and legend. A little knowledge of thyme, tormentil and thrift will enhance your day in the hills. Fossil trilobytes and roche moutonnee (rock sheep), bogbean beer and caterpillar fungus, are just some of the fascinating things you will discover.



Christina Anstead & Cara Clark: The Wellness Remodel

 Published by Harper Wave 30th April 2020


The star of HGTV s Flip or Flop Christina Anstead partners with celebrity nutritionist Cara Clark to help women remodel their lives in mind, body and spirit. 

Christina Anstead, star of HGTV s Flip or Flop and Christina on the Coast, is known for her boundless energy, positive attitude, and radiant looks. But what was hidden from fans of her popular television shows was a very real health crisis, including a diagnosis of autoimmune disease, infertility, and the emotional and physical exhaustion of going through a divorce with two young children all in the public eye. The stress of managing it all wreaked even more havoc on her already strained body. It wasn t until Christina met nutritionist Cara Clark that she discovered a path that allowed her to regain her health and heal in body and mind.  

In The Wellness Remodel, Christina chronicles her health journey and shares what she s learned about the importance of creating balance and prioritizing physical and mental self-care. Divided into three parts Gut Rehab (food and nutrition); Building a Strong Foundation (exercise); and The Rewire (mindfulness) the book will be an accessible guide to full-body wellness, offering simple strategies anyone can put into action for immediate results. Christina and Cara will also share their simple cooking strategies build for the real word of working parents and busy weeknights, including sixty of their favorite recipes, complete with beautiful photos and easy-to-follow instructions. 

Inspiring, informative, fun, and empowering, The Wellness Remodel will give readers everything they need to nourish the body, keep it strong, and help their spirit flourish.



Mark Bostridge: Florence Nightingale, The Woman and her Legend

 Published by Penguin April 2020



Winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography

Mark Bostridge's Florence Nightingale is a masterful and effortlessly enjoyable biography of one of Britain's most iconic heroines.

Whether honoured and admired or criticized and ridiculed, Florence Nightingale has invariably been misrepresented and misunderstood. As the Lady with the Lamp, ministering to the wounded and dying of the Crimean War, she offers an enduring image of sentimental appeal and one that is permanently lodged in our national consciousness. But the awesome scale of her achievements over the course of her 90 years is infinitely more troubling - and inspiring - than this mythical simplification.

From her tireless campaigning and staggering intellectual abilities to her tortured relationship with her sister and her distressing medical condition, this vivid and immensely readable biography draws on a wealth of unpublished material and previously unseen family papers, disententagling the myth from the reality and reinvigorating with new life one of the most iconic figures in modern British history.




The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its 22nd year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email at paulenorman1@gmail.com and I'll let you know where to send it.



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