“A Life Like Other People’s” by Alan Bennett

alifelikeotherpeoples.jpeg This is a very touching and down-to-earth story of his own family by the famed British dramatist, Alan Bennett.

Known and loved for his work on Beyond the Fringe, numerous stage shows, as well as books including “The Uncommon Reader”, Alan Bennett is completely frank in describing his growing up over a butcher’s shop in the manufacturing city of Leeds, Yorkshire. His father ran the shop. The house had no front hall. It did have great affection between his parents, his brother and himself as well as happy, often hilarious times, with a pair of unconventional aunts.

All this came to an end when the family moved to a small nearby village – “to be in the country”. His mother was stricken with depression and later dementia. His father had to learn to drive a car and made the 50-mile round trip to the hospital every day. Bennett has written the true and heart-breaking story of “care-giving”. He does it without any of the “splother” that his family despises, and it is very affecting and courageous in its frankness.

Not a jolly book for Christmas – but a good one just the same.

Review by Anne McDougall

“Generation A” by Douglas Coupland

Generation A This is a jolting new novel by the young Vancouver writer, Douglas Coupland. It’s the story of five young people in different parts of the world, who get stung by a bee.

This is at a time in the near future when bees are supposed to be extinct. The result is tremendous pressure to isolate this group and try to analyse them. Why were they picked to be stung?

One of them, Diana from North Bay,Ontario,admits that they are “damaged goods – deeply isolated in our own ways”. Coupland probes their isolation in rapid, modern prose. When they all get together,they find a way to get in touch by writing and telling stories. This is the world of cell phones, Blackberries, Ipods – all things that tend to make life faster but not necessarily closer.

Coupland takes an original look at this fast, modern world and the loneliness it may be leading us into – quite unsettling for an older reviewer !! – but energetic and provocative. He has written an international bestseller,”JPod”, and nine novels which have been widely translated and published in most countries around the world.

Review by Anne McDougall

Saturday the 20th, 11am to 1pm, “Royal Murder” by Elizabeth MacLeod

royal-murder.jpegWritten for children in the age range of 10 to 14 years; Elizabeth MacLeod will be here signing and reading from her latest book, “Royal Murder: The deadly intrigue of ten sovereigns.” Danger and drama among the monarchs!

What would you do for absolute power? For many monarchs throughout history, it was a question that ruled their lives. Step into the world of palatial intrigue, where holding the throne means evading death… or causing it.

Some sovereigns were cunning at avoiding their killers. Cleopatra of Egypt once rolled herself into a rug and was carried out past her enemies’ noses. Other royals were brutal when dealing with foes. VIad the Impaler’s monstrous methods inspired the legend of Dracula the vampire.

From monarchs murdered at the hands of their subjects to kings killed on the battlefield, the stories of these ten royals are told:

* Cleopatra of Egypt (69 BCE-30 BCE)
* VIad III the lmpaler of Wallachia (1431-1476)
* Richard III of England (1452-1485)
* “Bloody Mary” 1(1516-1558)
* Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
* Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
* Louis XVI (1754-1793)
* Marie Antoinette (1755-1793)
* Elisabeth of Austria (1837- 1898)
* The Romanovs of Russia (1872-1918).

A final section offers examples from the 20th century — from assassination attempts in England to a royal massacre in Nepal.

Blending dramatic storytelling and historical fact, and complete with fascinating photographs and artwork, Royal Murder is a compelling account of scheming sovereigns.

Feb 13th, from 1 to 3pm, “I Found My Thrill On Parliament Hill”

I Found My Thrill On Parliament HillSaturday the 13th, from 1 to 3pm, we’ll be hosting a booksigning!

“I Found My Thrill on Parliament Hill” An entertaining look at the storied life of Trudeau era cabinet minister, Bud Cullen, Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton.

“Bud Cullen was a rare politician who never let success inflate his ego. At times funny and sad, serious and light, thoughtful and candid, this memoir holds true to Cullen’s wonderful sense of humour and unflinching honesty of spirit.”
Mayor Mike Bradley, City of Sarnia.

“Bud Cullen had a rare gift for personal relations with both colleagues and critics and was highly respected by Government and Opposition members alike, a quality of significance in that contentious environment. He was known for his amicable temperament and his unfailing willingness to work on the resolution of a task, no matter how unpalatable.
Honourable Donald Macdonald

Feb 27th, 1 to 3pm, signing and launch of “RusticoRiders Cycle Africa: from Cairo to Cape Town”

RusticoRiders Cycle AfricaA four-month cycling trip from tip to tail of Africa – in the company of like-minded individuals, accompanied by a support team – was the perfect way for Beryl and Bernie Doiron to marry their joy of cycling with their love of travel and to escape the Canadian winter.

Departing Cairo with its pyramids, they cycled through ancient Egypt, the deserts of Sudan, the mountains of Ethiopia, the lush rolling hills of Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia, the beautiful terrain of Botswana and Namibia and along the Atlantic Ocean of South Africa to Cape Town: a fifth of the journey on clay, washboard, rock, sand, and dusty roads.

It all made January to May 2008 a memorable summer: 10,000km down roads less travelled, time to interact with some of the world’s poorest people, pitching tents in desert and on bush ground and eating local foods.

Again and again, the authors were struck by the welcoming faces of people with very few of life’s amenities, who appear to live in peace and harmony with their surroundings. In small village and countryside, the people and lifestyle also triggered memories of early childhood, growing up on a family farm and nearby fishing village in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Book Signing: “Molly’s Story: Aftermath of War and Love” on Saturday the 12th

mollysstory-b.jpgJennifer Cook will be launching her latest book, “Molly’s Story: Aftermath of War and Love” on Saturday the 12th from 11 am to 1pm. “The story of a young mother’s struggle and despair in wartime Britain when her RAF husband is missing-in-action. Based on the author’s memories, and her brother’s letters home from the RAF.

Saturday Storytime with Kita Szpak and her new book, “You’re Special Wherever You Are”

You’re Special Wherever You AreFor storytime, at 9:30 am on Saturday the 28th, Kita Szpak will be reading from her new book, “You’re Special Wherever You Are”.

From her website:

“No one can believe that Catalina would keep an old, dirty carpet she got from her very old grandmother. Charlie Zee would rather be anything else than black and white. And Alex has the biggest surprise of all when he opens his mouth to breathe fire… These are three stories about a camel, a zebra and a dragon who are all a little different. They show us how important it is to be yourself no matter what the situation may be. You’re Special Wherever You Are is a book both children and adults will enjoy time after time.”

Book Signing by Ron Poulton, “Pale Blue Hope: Death and Life in Asian Peacekeeping”

On Saturday November 28th, from 11am to 1pm, Ron Poulton will be in the store to discuss his new book and sign copies.

About the book, from the publisher: “Working for the United Nations is often dangerous, and sometimes, an utterly futile endeavour. Human rights lawyer Ronald Poulton has experienced these realities first hand. Pale Blue Hope is his account of working for the UN in Cambodia and Tajikistan.
In Cambodia, Poulton investigated human rights violations and political murders before returning to Canada. Later, at the request of the un, Poulton accepted the position of legal advisor in Tajikistan to investigate the ambush and killing of a UN observer force called Team Garm.
Poulton vividly captures life in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, a city full of fear and general curfews and secure steel doors, where political murders are common and suspicion stalks the streets. He quickly learns that his task will be more daunting than he imagined, complicated by un incompetence and regulations and a Tajik culture that sees him as an intruder.
Haunted by his experiences in Cambodia, Poulton chooses engagement with the Tajik people over the security of the un enclave as he puzzles his way to discovering who really killed Team Garm.”