Tomorrow Perhaps the Future
Vintage, £20, pp384
The most famous literary chroniclers of the Spanish civil war may have been Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, but, as Sarah Watling demonstrates in her fascinating and comprehensive study, that ignores the far less self-aggrandising contributions of a group of brilliant women who included everyone from the poet and activist Nancy Cunard to the journalist (and wife of Hemingway) Martha Gellhorn. Watling’s protagonists are flawed but brave, battling fascism with guts and determination – even if, inevitably, they kept an eye on which of their gruelling experiences would make the best copy.
Serpent’s Tail, £14.99, pp271
F Scott Fitzgerald once observed: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” His statement is borne out in witty and often fascinating fashion in Sarah Thomas’s superb debut novel. It revolves around a young tutor, Mel, who finds herself involved with a group of oligarchs and society climbers, all desperately jockeying for position. But Mel is no mere Nick Carraway-esque observer. Anyone who enjoyed The White Lotus will love Thomas’s scalpel-sharp skewering of the mores and idiocies of the idle rich.
Heiress, Rebel, Vigilante, Bomber: The Extraordinary Life of Rose Dugdale
Penguin, £10.99, pp362 (paperback)
Before Patty Hearst, there was Rose Dugdale. An Oxford-educated debutante who underwent what she called “a lunge to the left”, she ended up being one of the leading figures in the IRA in the 70s, orchestrating bombing raids and daring art thefts with a grim flair that saw her become notorious. Sean O’Driscoll’s fair-minded examination of her extraordinary, often violent life – Dugdale is unrepentant about her activities – acknowledges her humanity and viciousness.
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