Review of the Reads – September 2016
Going to Extremes, the new book by county author Stephen Wade tells the story of Harry de Windt. A prominent personality in the social and literary life of Victorian England, who counted Oscar Wilde among his friends, de Windt also travelled extensively, visiting the penal colonies of Russia and fighting rebels in Malaysia. Wade’s account of de Windt’s adventurous life is published by Pen and Sword Books.
Debbie North, who featured in our June edition, has written a book charting her Coast to Coast journey in her all-terrain wheelchair. Co-authored by her husband Andy, In the Spirit of Wainwright offers a helpful guide for wheelchair users who wish to enjoy as much of the national landscape as they can. The book is published by Sigma Press.
Christine Hanson has left Bookmark in Spalding after twenty-five years. During her time as owner of the shop, Christine hosted many reading and signing events, with one of the earliest visitors and supporters of the shop being Thomas the Tank Engine author, Rev Christopher Awdry. The bookshop and café, under new ownership, are still open to the public Monday to Saturday but will now close on Sundays.
STONEHENGE BY FRANCIS PRYOR
Published by Head of Zeus, Price £16.99 (hbk)
One of the country’s best known archaeologists, Spalding based Francis Pryor here provides a sound introduction to the famous Stones of Salisbury Plain. Though the subject is an old one, new research and findings continue to enlarge our perspective on prehistoric times and modulate our understanding of the significance of the Stones in different historical periods.
Pryor’s writing is accessible to non-specialists and goes beyond the scientific data to provide a deeper sense of the lives led by communities from the Ice Age to the Bronze Age and the place of religion and the natural landscape as Britain underwent significant social and technological changes.
Pryor brings the reader up to date with such recent undertakings as the Stonehenge Riverside Project and while all this research might be covered suitably in existing publications, the reader benefits here from the inclusion of beautiful illustrations and helpful diagrams of the development on the site over the centuries. Pryor’s informative text is supplemented by double-page reprints of paintings by William Turner, John Constable and other archival representations and photographs of the monument.
Helpfully, the size of the book does not aim to outdo the Stones themselves. The relatively compact size and neatly organised notes and appendices further recommend this book as the ideal choice for those learning about Stonehenge for the first time, as well as those looking to catch up on the latest discoveries.
FROM THE FEN TO THE FRONT LINE: STICKFORD AND THE GREAT WAR BY CHERYL STEELE AND JENNY HUMPHREY (EDS)
Published by Stickford Local History Group, price £6.50
The lives of those men from Stickford who went to war between 1914 and 1918 are documented in this fourth book by the parish’s local history group. As with all such publications, this will appeal foremost to local residents with longheld family connections in Stickford, and to specialist historians.
The production of the book was aided by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, but the invaluable research of group secretary Elisabeth Harwood and contributions by relatives provide the stories behind the names listed on the village memorials. Some personal histories are knowable through the existence of service records while the details of other lives remain irretrievable.
The development of the memorials themselves are also discussed, and the history is illustrated with many images from private and public archives, with most of a good reprint quality often lacking in local group publications. The memory of the Great War close to home is complemented by photographs taken at the memorials on the continent, visited by editor Cheryl Steele. The book is available from Stickford Local History Group, www.stickford.org.uk
A WORD IN EDGEWAYS III
Published by the authors, price £3
The third anthology of poems by this local poetry group based at Lincoln’s Development Plus focuses on poems for children, though this extends to reminiscences about childhood that are intended to appeal to readers of any age.
Magical and humorous verses about animals and the excitement around Christmas are likely to capture young imaginations the most, while one cynical poem about not getting away on holiday and reflections on the march of modernity seem to be included for the amusement of older readers.
It is always encouraging to see local writers working to together to foster their individual voices and to infuse their work with local detail and dialect. Though the collection is somewhat let down by several proofing errors, with more careful editorial oversight in subsequent collections, A Word in Edgeways will hopefully find a wider audience, and membership.
This collection is available on Amazon.