This one, Lords of the Horizons, by Jason Goodwin, is a fascinating, if unorthodox, history of the Ottoman Empire. It's not chronological, but it does offer wonderful set piece essays illuminating palace life, wars, cities and even the dogs of Constantinople. There are chapters on the cage, where the sons of the sultans were shut away until needed, and the special swaying walk of the Janissaries. It's a fantastic read and if I find myself re reading this and The Letters of Lady Wortley Montagu, anytime I need a fix of Ottoman history.
notorious character from British and Caribbean history. Michael de Frietas was a hustler from Trinidad, a mixed race boy who could be black as you like or pass for white and who took swinging London by storm. John and Yoko patronised him, the great and the good paid him court. His skill was to be whatever people wanted him to be, a radical, a pimp, a drug dealer, a leader. He believed his own hype and ended up hanged in Trinidad for a double murder. I am not an apologist, but his story is fascinating. It illuminates and lays bare early sixties race politics in Britain.
What can I say? If you have never ever read any books by Liza Picard you are a lucky, lucky person because you can go and read them now! She has written a series of wonderful books that dissect and reveal London life over different periods of history. I have learnt more from these than any school lessons. They are so easy to read and digest, everything is clear and Liza Picard is so obviously delighted with the facts that she uncovers any reader cannot fail to be delighted too. I think the Dr Johnson one pictured here is my all time favourite. At one point I had two copies as I had misplaced it and could not bear to think it was lost.
The same goes for knitting. I am currently knitting a Gansey, Staithes in case you were wondering, four steel pins that look like some kind of fiendish weapons. And I have had to re edit the sleeve three times so far. I am the same with knitting as with writing, I rush at it terrified to take my time in case I lose confidence and stop. But rushing is no good. You need to take your time. Step back. Look. Do it again. Better.