Category Archives: Books

Does it matter if Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell is all wrong?

There is always a role for challenging the orthodoxies of history – what we have was written or recorded via the filter of the culture and prejudices of the author no matter how scrupulously they claim otherwise. These are fine books and the TV adaptation is excellent, but we need to remember they are a fictionalised account of what happened – written by a brilliant author at the peak of her powers – but still fiction based on one interpretation of the history.


Wolf Hall is filmed and acted in such a naturalistic style, you might be fooled into thinking it was true By Andrew M Brown 12:00PM GMT 31 Jan 2015

Poor Wolsey has gone. Jonathan Pryce was pale and blotchy enough by the end, with those nasty-looking pustules on his face. Wolf Hall is filmed and acted in such a naturalistic style, it is hard not to assume that you are watching the truth. Would it matter if the characterisation was all wrong, as the historian Suzannah Lipscomb claimed on the radio?

Take my father-in-law: he read Hilary Mantel’s novels when they came out and his view was completely changed. Until that point, the Thomas More of his imagination had been Paul Scofield in the Robert Bolt play and film: the man of conscience and high principle, but also popular and loved by his family. Wolf Hall’s More, on the other hand, as played by Anton Lesser, is a sour, sarcastic, desiccated prig who’s horrid to his wife.


Malignant toad

Meanwhile Thomas Cromwell, revealed in Holbein’s famous portrait to be a narrow-eyed, malignant schemer, sitting toad-like with his paperwork, is rendered by Mark Rylance as practically a saint. We experience with him the loss of his wife and daughters, his childhood suffering, and the death of his dear patron Wolsey. He is even kind to animals. Of course we empathise.

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Obituary: PD James

PD James
PD James was known as the Queen of crime fiction, the creator of the suave, cerebral police officer, Adam Dalgliesh.

She strongly rejected suggestions that crime novels were not proper literature, producing a string of well-researched and beautifully constructed stories to prove her point.

Phyllis Dorothy James was born in Oxford on 3 August, 1920, the daughter of a civil servant.

Her parents did not have a happy marriage; her mother was committed to an asylum when James was just 14, leaving her to look after the house and her siblings.

From her early days at Cambridge High School for Girls, she nurtured an ambition to write but was forced by the family’s financial circumstances to leave school at 16 and find a job as a filing clerk.

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The Elvis Presley coverup – What we didn’t hear about the death of the king

Music-Sound Bites-Box Sets

After Presley’s death, an effort was launched to protect the reputation of the hospital that had treated him by JOEL WILLIAMSON SUNDAY, NOV 16, 2014 11:59

The call came to Memphis Fire Station No. 29 at 2:33 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 1977. The dispatcher indicated that someone at 3754 Elvis Presley Boulevard was having difficulty breathing. “Go to the front gate and go to the front of the mansion,” the voice directed. Ambulance Unit No. 6 swung out of the station onto Elvis Presley Boulevard and headed south, siren wailing, advertising a speed that the ponderous machine had not yet achieved.

The two medics manning the ambulance recognized the address right away. The “mansion,” as the dispatcher called it, was Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, three miles south of the fire station. They had been there often, to take care of fans fainting at the front gate and pedestrians injured by passing automobiles. Two years before, one of the medics, Charles Crosby, had come to assist Elvis’s father, Vernon Presley, after he suffered a heart attack. He thought it might be Vernon again.

On this run Crosby was driving the ambulance. He was thirty-eight, stoutly built, dark-haired, and heavily mustached. His partner, Ulysses Jones, twenty-six, sat in the passenger seat. Members of the Memphis Fire Department, they had received eighty-eight hours of special training to become emergency medical technicians and had years of experience. On each call, they alternated between driving and riding in the back with the ill or injured. This time, Ulysses Jones would ride with the patient.

Crosby expertly threaded the boxy white, blue, and orange vehicle through the thin midafternoon traffic with lights flashing. Heat waves shimmered up from the asphalt in front of him. During the day, the mercury had risen into the mid-90s and hovered there. In a city not yet fully air-conditioned, many working Memphians breathed the hot, damp air, mopped their brows, and thought fondly about getting home to an icy drink on their shady screened-in porches.


As the ambulance crested a low hill and swooped down the broad six-lane boulevard toward Graceland, the gates swung open and the crowd milling around the entrance parted. Making a wide sweeping turn to the left, the vehicle bounced heavily across the sidewalk and hurtled through the entranceway, striking one of the swinging metal gates a clanging blow. One of the several musical notes welded to the gate fell off. Crosby accelerated up the curving drive toward the mansion. He braked hard in front of the two-story, white-columned portico. Climbing down from the ambulance, Crosby and Jones were met by one of Elvis’s bodyguards.

“He’s upstairs,” the man exclaimed, “and I think it’s an OD.”

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The 10 Most Popular Fad Diets, Debunked


By Esther Inglis-Arkell November 13, 2014

What should you cut out of your diet to be more healthy? Everything. According to the most popular diet books on the market, there’s barely a food on Earth that’s safe to eat. But what is the actual benefit of these diets? Here’s what science has to say.


10. Cut Out Wheat to Slim Down

The Books: The Wheat Belly Fat Diet, Wheat Belly

The Claims: Wheat is making you fat! And not just fat, but fat around the tummy, which is the worst kind of fat! Belly fat itself puts you at a higher risk of cancer and other diseases. And we can cut our weight and cancer risk way down by cutting wheat out of our diet. This is especially hard because, since the 1970s, Americans have been pushed to eat more “whole grains” in order to be healthy. But since the 1970s, Americans have gotten steadily fatter on this supposedly healthy diet. Is there any doubt that wheat is ruining our health?

The Facts: Most “wheat belly fat” books contain persuasive book jacket blurbs that stress how obesity has gone up in the decades since people began eating a carb-based diet. But correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. One possible explanation for the national weight gain is the fact that the median age of the United States population has also gone up, and no matter what, we gain fat as we age. In fact, age is a major factor in why we gain belly fat. Eat no wheat whatsoever, and you’ll still pack on a bit more belly fat as you get older, even if the fat is internal. (Sorry.)

It’s possible that belly fat may be more unhealthy than regular fat. Abdominal fat cells tend to boost the production of certain hormones which aren’t healthy. But belly fat isn’t the only problem. It turns out that “gluteal fat” (AKA the fat on your butt) promotes inflammation and insulin resistance. In other words, all extra fat can be bad. Belly fat isn’t necessarily worse than any other kind of fat.

Even if belly fat is especially unhealthy, wheat might not be the main culprit. If you want to lose belly fat, you might want to look at saturated fats. In one study, men who ate muffins made with saturated fats gained more abdominal fat than men who ate muffins made with unsaturated fat. There is even one carefully-done study that suggests carbohydrates might lower a person’s amount of belly fat. Men with a daily diet that contained 10 grams of soluble fiber lost more visceral fat over 5 years than men who didn’t eat the soluble fiber. Oats, barley, and beans all have soluble fiber. A warning — this reduction in fat was a 3.7 percent reduction. There are no miracle diets that will simply take away your belly. Nor, really, do there need to be.

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 The 10 Best Stephen King Books

Your picks for the horror master’s scariest, most suspenseful page-turners, from ‘It’ to ‘The Dead Zone’ a Rolling Stone Readers Poll By Andy Greene  November 5, 2014

In our recent interview with Stephen King, we asked the author to name the best book he ever wrote. Without a moment’s hesitation he went with Lisey’s Story, a 2006 novel about a woman coping with the death of her husband, who happened to be a best-selling author. We figured many of his fans would have a different choice, so we opened it up for a vote. Here are the results, but note that the vast number of Dark Tower books made it hard for any one of them to make a great showing on the list.


‘The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass’

Stephen King The Dark Tower

Dark Tower mostly takes place in Mid-World, the decayed remains of a once great empire where a Gunslinger named Roland is attempting to reach the distant – titular – Dark Tower. The fourth book in the series was published in 1997, and it focuses largely on Roland’s teenage years and his doomed love affair with Susan Delgado. It was the final Dark Tower book written before King’s van accident, which inspired him to quickly finish the series by writing the last three books all in a row. To some fans, the final books felt a little rushed and anti-climactic, and they see book four as the best of the series.

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