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March - Pick of the paperbacks

Simons Evans provides his reviews for March: 

This_is_not_a_pity_memoir book

This is Not a Pity Memoir, by Abi Morgan

This powerful memoir, from the award-winning writer of The Iron Lady and The Split, tells how her world was turned upside down the day Jacob, her partner of 18 years, collapsed at their home and had to be rushed into hospital, close to death. So serious was his condition Jacob had to be put into an induced coma, and when he came round didn’t know who Abi was, believing her to be an agent of the state sent to spy on him. The couple’s troubles didn’t end there, either, as Abi was diagnosed with breast cancer and Jacob suffered a relapse and had to be hospitalised at the height of Covid. It sounds like the mother of all misery memoirs but, as the title suggests, it is anything but; it’s rather a love story of sorts told with grace, humour and compassion.

Published by John Murray Price £10.99 Pages 303 ISBN 9781529388350


What are you doing here? bookWhat are you doing here, by Floella Benjamin

Whatever life has thrown at the television presenter and charity worker Floella Benjamin she has accepted with good grace, guided by her three principles, consideration, contentment and confidence. As part of the Windrush generation she experienced casual racism in the playground, in her neighbourhood and during her career as well as being exposed to the sleazier side of showbusiness, not least being propositioned by David Bowie – and his wife – at a Christmas party. But as this enjoyable autobiography testifies she managed to rise above it all with a quiet dignity and, as a Baroness and recent appointee to the Order of Merit, Floella now moves in rarefied political and even royal circles. It’s an inspirational story, but also great fun.

Published by Pan Price £9.99 Pages 372 ISBN 9781529071061


Last trains bookLast Trains, by Charles Loft

This thorough and lucid examination of the dismemberment of Britain’s branch line rail network in the Sixties and Seventies is subtitled ‘the death of rural England’ and that feels about right, for surely something important died in those years, in the headlong rush into modernity. Between 1948 and 1973 the rail network halved, and the number of stations was reduced to a third of what it was, and this was at least in part due to Dr Richard Beeching’s 1963 report on the future of British Rail. This fascinating and thorough book provides a balanced view of that decline, “a wound that has not healed,” as a former chairman of the Rail Passengers Council put it, and in so doing provides insights into changes in the way Britain was governed during this period as it emerged from post-war decline onto the beckoning uplands of modernity.

Published by Biteback Price £9.99 Pages 335 ISBN 9781785908064


So much more than that bookSo Much More Than That, by Hannah Grainger Clemson

Has football lost its soul? With major clubs being snapped up by Third World dictatorships while those in the lower divisions either face financial oblivion or are left at the mercy of opportunist developers, it certainly seems so. This excellent book recalls a time before all that, when the once beautiful game was still young and rooted in its local communities, and to some extent that spirit still lives on, especially in the lower reaches of the football pyramid. Mixing family recollections with in-depth archive research the book shows how the aspirations of working-class people in the major industrial conurbations found expression through football, the sense of community and shared purpose providing a haven and comfort in hard times. It’s full of great stories, and some brilliant, evocative photos.

Published by Pitch Publishing Price £14.99 Pages 348 ISBN 9781801504188


Never work with animals bookNever Work With Animals, by Gareth Steel

A working vet for more than 20 years, Gareth Steel lays bear the joys and challenges of his chosen profession in this memoir. He doesn’t pull any punches in describing the often-challenging nature of his work but his love of the creatures that he cares for shines from every page. It’s tough – 100-hour weeks are not unusual, and the suicide rate among vets is four times higher than the national average – but Gareth is still able to retain a sense of humour as he relates tales of egg-bound hens and serial-killing swans. The book is no All Creatures Great and Small, but it’s a great read.

Published by HarperElement Price £8.99 Pages 333 ISBN 978-0008466619




By Simon Evans


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