A thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoot

Books of the Year


I can hardly remember what I read at the start of 2011, but I suppose that means a lot of it wasn’t very impactful. However that can’t be said of ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoot’ by David Mitchell possibly my book of the year. I am looking forward to reading his first, ‘Clouds’.

I was very late discovering Steig Larsen, but when I did, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t put the trilogy down. There are many imitators but he is still the best for me.

Two of my favourite writers are Joseph Kanon and Robert Harris, not surprising therefore that ‘Stardust’ and ‘Ghost’ the latest offerings from them both figure high on my top ten list. One last piece of fiction, read late in the year. “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak, beautifully written covering two different time spans that are cleverly brought together as the book progresses.

On the poetry front, Andrew Motion’s biography of Philip Larkin left me feeling I really knew Larkin, and in much the same way Martin Gayford’s, ‘Man in a Blue Scarf’ left me feeling as if I had actually sat for Lucien Freud.

My non-fiction book of the year is, Russia Against Napoleon by Dominic Lieven. I agree with Orlando Figes it is ‘A monumental work. The story of Napoleon’s ill-fated march into Russia.

The last two books were read initially as research for my new book (in progress), ‘Casablanca Kiss’. They were, ‘Mendelssohn’s On The Roof’ by Juri Weil and, ‘Alone in Berlin’ by Hans Falla both underline the awfulness of life under the Nazis, but with tenderness and humour.