- Books, Literature, and Writing
Best Books 2012 United Kingdom
Books by Zolthar
Best British Book Releases 2012
If you are looking for a good book to read, 2012 was a wonderful year for British readers. Some very exciting books burst upon the literary scene and it seems that some publishers finally realized that British readers want more than formulaic pap. Any selection can only ever be subjective and this is one reader’s best books of 2012.
Ben Macintyre’s “Double Cross: The True Story of the D Day Spies” is as the title says a true story. Hitler confidently believed that the Allied invasion would come in the Pas du Calais rather than in Normandy. Calais was the logical invasion point. Calais lays only 23 miles from Dover, whereas the Normandy invasion beaches lay 100 miles from Portsmouth. Hitler also had many spies in the United Kingdom, informing him as to allied actions. His confidence in the information, he was receiving, was misplaced since British military intelligence had “turned” his spies and they were working for the British. One “German” spy network was, actually one man claiming expenses and payments from the German government for many non-existent “agents.
“The Spy who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain’s first female special agent of WWII” by Clare Mulley is the true story of a Polish countess, who was Britain’s first and longest serving female special agent. From being an ambassador’s wife, she became a spy. Half Jewish, her one aim was to free Poland from the Nazi yoke. She skied into occupied Poland, parachuted into Nazi occupied Europe, served in Egypt, many British, Polish and French officers owed her their lives. She smuggled vital intelligence out of dangerous situations in her glove linings. She was awarded the George Medal, Croix de Guerre, and the Order of the British Empire for her bravery and service. This amazing woman met her end in no less a surprising way, having survived the dangers of her war exploits. A rejected lover murdered her in 1952. Those needing an antidote to insipid romance novels or the usual portrayals of women will love this true story, which provides a real tonic.
Another true story is My Animals and other family by Clare Balding. Familiar to British horse racing devotees and as the television presenter of the Olympic and Para-Olympic Games, Clare speaks honestly about her unconventional childhood and upbringing. She tells her story through the animals, who taught her about life and love. This gentle, thoughtful and insightful memoir will appeal to many readers, whether horse lovers or not.
A rather different factual book “The Secret History of Our Streets: London” by Joseph Bullman, Neil Hegarty and Brian Hill tells London’s recent history by focusing on six different streets. The street stories demonstrate the social, geographic, economic and other factors, which made London the bustling modern 21st century city it now is and the underlying forces, which shaped Britain itself from the Victorian to the modern age. Through property, the book covers urban sprawl, property speculation, suburbanization, slum clearance, the rise of home ownership and much more. It explores how property defines people’s lives.
Many people have heard how Bob the cat inspired Jim Bowen a street musician. “A Street Cat Named Bob” by Jim Bowen is Bob and Jim’s story, but more than that, it examines how love motivates humans, even when life looks hopeless. The book also tells about the hidden people in London and many other cities. Jim a recovering addict found Bob hurt, lying at the door of his sheltered housing. The two set about helping one another to health.
Some good novels arrived in 2012, one of which was “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, by Rachel Joyce. Pensioner Harold receives a letter, from an old work colleague, one morning and leaving his wife cleaning upstairs goes to post his reply. However, he decides that he must deliver his letter personally and sets out to walk from his Devon home (South West England) to Berwick on Tweed, way up on the Scottish border. Harold, his wife and his son all have time to reflect and consider their lives. Harold learns much along the way about himself, the people he meets along the route and those he loves. He realizes that everyone carries his or her personal pain.
Many readers enjoy detective or mystery novels. Every crime fiction reader has his or her own favourite detective, and many favour the dour Scottish police officer Inspector Rebus. In “Standing in Another Man’s Grave”, by Ian Rankin, Inspector Rebus, now five years retired, returns from retirement to work cold cases. In doing so he comes to the notice of Malcolm Fox, his old adversary from the Police Complaints department. Rebus’ case involves disappearances linked by the A9 road, and he must leave Edinburgh and his favourite pub and travel into the Scottish countryside to solve the case.
“Among Others”, by Jo Walton, is a magic science-fiction fantasy, primarily aimed at teenagers. The story is ostensibly about Morwenna, her twin sister and her mother and purports to be Morwenna’s diary. When her twin dies in an accident, which injures Morwenna, she runs from her mad mother, in Wales, to her father in England and is sent away to boarding school. There she learns about grief, herself, and life, while reading her beloved science fiction books. Superficially it is a coming-of- age novel, however, at deeper levels, it is also about coping with grief, the love of reading and words, nationality and diversity.
“Advent”, by James Treadwell, is another fantasy novel aimed at young adults, but why should teenagers have all the fun? When 15 year old Gavin is sent away from boarding school, his parents send him to stay with a strange aunt, whom he hardly knows. However, when he arrives at Truro Railway Station his aunt is not there to meet him. Gavin discovers parts of a puzzle to do with his very special gift and his family secrets. Set in Cornwall, this modern fable uses its remoteness, wild beauty and atmosphere to reflect and evoke its subject matter.
These were the best books released in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to one reader’s eclectic taste. There is a good mixture between fact and fiction, what connects them all is that they are all, whether fact or fiction, excellent stories.