Christmas gift ideas: local authors

Books are a great gift for Christmas and we at Sussex Life like to encourage buying local produce, so what better than to give a good book by a Sussex author or with a Sussex theme. Here are some you might like to consider

The Boy who Bit PicassoAntony PenroseThames & HudsonRRP: �8.95When Antony Penrose was three he met Picasso and became his friend. In this charming book Tony – the son of the American photographer Lee Miller and the British Surrealist, Roland Penrose – recalls the many happy hours he spent with Picasso at their family farm Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, East Sussex, and in Picasso’s own house and studio in France. His memories include pretend bullfights on the floor, playing in Picasso’s ‘messy’ studio and the time he bit Picasso – and what the great man did in return! The book features archive photographs by Lee Miller and twenty Picasso artworks – a delightful introduction for children to the art of Picasso.

Best in Show: Knit Your Own DogSally Muir and Joanna OsbourneAnova BooksRRP: �12.99The perfect gift for dog-lovers and knitters, Best in Show features all the instructions you need to make your very own knitted canine. Choose from 25 different breeds: a perky Poodle or a burly Bulldog, a delightful Dalmation or a loyal Labrador. The dogs are easy to make and it only takes a few evenings to create a companion for life.Brighton resident Joanna Osborne, with her co-author Sally Muir, runs her own knitwear business, Muir and Osborne, and has several pieces of knitwear in the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.Backstage Brighton: Theatre-going in Brighton & HoveVarious authorsQueenSpark BooksRRP: �11.99In 1900, Brighton had more theatres than anywhere in the UK outside London. Backstage Brighton celebrates theatre and theatre-going in the city past and present. If you’ve ever wondered what once stood on the site of the Brighton Centre or why the Sallis Benney is so called, you’ll love this book’s journey through the history and heritage of Brighton and Hove’s many venues, as told by the people who were there.

Dinosaur Doctor: The Life and Work of Gideon MantellEdmund CritchleyAmberley PublishingRRP: �18.99Gideon Mantell was a surgeon and a palaeontological pinoneer who used his skill in comparative anatomy to establish the Age of Reptiles and discover more about the lives of early dinosaurs, including that of his most famous discovery, the Iguanodon. Most of Mantell’s findings came from his extensive study of the geology of the Weald and he lived in Lewes for most of his life. Mantell’s collection of fossils and antiquities was exhibited to the public and later formed a major section of the British Museum. Edmund Critchley was introduced to his fascinating fellow Sussex resident via landscape studies and the Sussex Archaeological Society. As a Consultant Neurologist, then Professor, his previous writing includes books on speech (he is a Neurologist), the neurological bounds of reality, the spinal cord, and a novel describing the medical profession in the 1930s.   

The Eloquence of DesireAmanda Sington-WilliamsSparkling Books�14.99Brighton resident Amanda Sington-Williams has lived in Japan, Spain and Australia and has travelled extensively, and her globe-trotting influences the scope of this novel, which explores the familial conflicts caused by obsessive love, the lost innocence of childhood and the terror of the Communist insurgency in Malaya. The story unfolds as George is posted to the tropics in retribution for an affair with the daughter of his boss: his wife Dorothy grudgingly accompanies him while their 12-year-old daughter Susan is sent to boarding school. Desire and fantasy conspire with lies and despair to turn the family inside out with Dorothy becoming a recluse, George taking a new lover, and Susan punishing herself through self-harm.

Funky Lunch: Happy Food for Happy ChildrenMark NortheastAbsolute PressRRP: �7.99The Funky Lunch concept began in Sussex when Mark Northeast created a space rocket-shaped sandwich designed to encourage a reluctant four-year-old to eat his lunch. Mark soon discovered a remarkable talent for creating sandwiches that have children tucking into their lunch – vegetables and all - with unprecedented enthusiasm. After posting his remarkable designs on his blog, Mark’s concept received worldwide media attention, and as well as appearing on Blue Peter he was asked to create a design for Children in Need. There are ideas for snacks and special occasions, and the instructions are simple enough for children to join in the fun.

The Reluctant TommyRonald Skirth (edited by Duncan Barrett)MacmillanRRP: �16.99Ronald Skirth was just nineteen when he was sent to fight on the Western Front. He was a non commissioned officer in the Royal Artillery, and this is his extraordinary story – the story of a young man who went to war a devoted servant of king and country, but returned convinced that all war was wrong, and who acted on this conviction, making a pact with God that he would not kill.This riveting memoir was written fifty years after the end of the war, drawing on Skirth’s own contemporary diary entries and letters home. Through letters to his sweetheart, Ella, at home in Bexhill-on-Sea, he gives a first-hand account of the horrors he experiences and the moral choices he is forced to make.

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Threads of SilkRoberta GrieveHale BooksRRP: �18.99Roberta Grieve, secretary of the Chichester Writers’ Circle and editor of the Chichester Literary Society’s quarterly newsletter, had her first story published in 1998. This latest novel tells the story of Ellie Tyler, an intelligent girl who dreams of escape from her drunken and abusive father and the East London gangland she is forced to work within. Her only refuge is in her artistic talents, which she hopes will one day enable her to escape her nightmare existence. Forced to give up her education and abandoned by the one man she truly loves, Ellie runs away to a small Essex village. After landing a job at the silk mill and with the encouragement of Alex, the mill owner, Ellie rediscovers her creativity and slowly starts to rebuild her life. Having suffered the unimaginable, will Ellie ever find happiness again?

Is God Still an Englishman? How We Lost Our Faith (But Found New Soul)Cole MoretonLittle, BrownRRP: �20.00In this book, East Sussex-based Moreton poses some big questions: Who are we? What do we believe? Where are we going? A former teenage fundamentalist, Moreton argues that the long predicted death of the Church of England has already happened.  He describes what he perceives as the battles, blunders, sex scandals and financial disasters that caused its decline and asks whether we can forge a new national identity now that we have a thousand gods instead of one. From the miners’ strike to the climate camp, and from Hillsborough to the funeral of Jade Goody, he reveals how a constantly evolving but uniquely English spirituality remains at the heart of who we are. Sussex features heavily in the book with considerations of life in Firle and a discussion of paganism in Eastbourne.

Foxly’s FeastOwen DaveyTemplarRRP: �10.99This debut picture book by Brighton illustrator Owen Davey tells the wordless story of a vegetarian fox and shows that you shouldn’t judge people or animals by their appearance. It’s a charming book, with nostalgic yet contemporary illustrations in warm, muted colours. A recent graduate, Owen was Highly Commended by the 2009 Macmillan’s Prize awarded to illustration students.

Seventy Years On: A Tapestry in TimeDavid Arnold, foreword by Dame Vera Lynn DBE LLDCrown Publishing LtdRRP: �29In the seven decades that have passed since the beginning of the Second World War, Britain has rarely been truly at peace. This book by local author and former magazine editor David Arnold sets out to tell the story of those years through the memories of scores and scores of people, civilians as well as service men and women, many from Susssex,  who lived through them. Though the years 1939-1945, the most tumultuous in modern history, occupy the bulk of the book, the reader is taken through the many smaller conflicts involving British and Commonwealth forces from the end of the last world war up until the present day.

Missing Member Rodney DeitchAshgrove Publishing RRP: �8.99An ex-Brighton Evening Argus reporter and former parliamentary Lobby Correspondent, Rodney Deitch uses his inside knowledge of the machinations of Westminster to tell the engaging and often hilarious story of Dr Leo Springfield, a disillusioned Labour MP facing personal and professional disaster. With his seat and his party’s government under threat in an upcoming election, he faces the wrath of both party and media when a charity of which he is a trustee misplaces �2 million. Springfield departs for Italy on the trail of a co-trustee and fellow MP to recover the money, navigating between a randy policewoman, a nosy journalist, an eccentric Italian private eye and a sometimes wilful Golden Retriever, Boothroyd.

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