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March hardback recommendations

March Hardbacks

Lead Sister, by Lucy O’Brien

Lead sister hardback book by Lucy O'BrienThe Carpenters were one of the biggest selling acts of the Seventies, due in no small part to the expressive vocals of Karen Carpenter, who died 40 years ago at the age of just 33. But beneath brother Richard’s inventive arrangements and intricate melodies there lay a deeper melancholy, brought to the fore by Karen’s rich, deep voice. It’s there on many of their best records, including Yesterday Once More, Rainy Days and Mondays and the remarkable Goodbye to Love.

Lucy O’Brien’s book, for once, puts the spotlight on Karen, celebrating her extraordinary musicianship, not just as a singer but also as a hugely under-rated drummer. Indeed, O’Brien suggests it was Karen’s move to centre stage from behind her drum kit – under pressure from management and record company executives – that contributed to the eating disorder that would result in her death, that and the multiple pressures of stardom and a troubled personal life. Who knows if it would have been any different had she lived today, probably not given the hateful nature of social media. But at least we still have the music to remember her by, and that wonderful voice of course.

Published by Nine Eight Books Price £22 Pages 367 ISBN 9781788708241


Why beethoven hardback bookWhy Beethoven, by Norman Lebrecht

This engrossing book has everything you need to know about the great composer, as well as offering a personal account of the author’s own love of his music, brought into sharp focus during the Covid pandemic. And don’t be put off by the book’s size, by being divided into 100 ‘pieces’, each one devoted to a particular work, providing biographical, historical and musical context, it’s easy to dip in and out of, and both the physical and ebook versions include links to a handy online playlist. If you aren’t an admirer of Beethoven before reading this book, odds are you will be by the time you finish it.

Published by Oneworld Price £20 Pages 913 ISBN 9780861544530


Gilded youth by Tom Quinn hardback bookGilded Youth, by Tom Quinn

Philip Larkin once said, in slightly more colourful language, that ‘they mess you up, your mum and dad’ and nowhere does this apply more obviously than the Royal Family. In this gossipy history long-time royal reporter Tom Quinn goes as far back as Anglo Saxon times to look at how attitudes to royal child rearing have evolved – or not – the essential attitude being best exemplified by the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who told the author, “children should be toughened up and just get on with it. We fuss far too much about children’s sensitivities and well-being. It’s largely nonsense.”

There are some fascinating insights into the current generation of royals and, inevitably, the rivalry between Princes William and Harry and Kate and Megan. Quinn notes that one difference today is that those royal children who feel confined by the institution at least now have the opportunity to move beyond its boundaries, something often denied their predecessors.

Published by Biteback Price £20 Pages 262 ISBN 9781785907647


The mother by TM Logan hardback bookThe Mother, by TM Logan

Anyone who enjoyed the TV adaptions of TM Logan’s earlier novels The Catch and The Holiday will know what to expect from this latest offering – plenty of twists and turns, misdirections worthy of a stage magician and a sympathetic, main character, a mother who claims she has been wrongly convicted of murdering her MP husband. Released from prison after serving half of her 18-year sentence she resolves to clear her name – and see her sons again – helped by a journalist who has his own reasons for getting to the bottom of the mystery. It’s a real page-turner, as you would expect and the conclusion does not disappoint.

Published by Zaffre Price £16.99 Pages 408 ISBN 9781804180839


Simon Evans


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