Birlinn Books – Notes from the Basement

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

This week’s Summer Fiction newsletter opens on a sad note, with news of the death of novelist Isla Dewar. Isla was the author of seventeen novels and won legions of fans with her wit, warmth and pinpoint observation of human behaviour. Our thoughts are with her husband Bob, whose illustrations enliven so many of our books, and her family. Our tribute is here.

You’ll find Isla’s most recent novels, It Takes One to Know One and A Day Like Any Other, in our summer fiction list of books for the holidays.

Merryn Glover’s Of Stone and Sky was in the Herald’s collection of 25 Summer Reads, where it’s called ‘An enthralling mystery, family saga and Sunset Song-esque ode to the land.’ | [Herald]

In timely fashion, the Press & Journal says that Denzil Meyrick’s For Any Other Truth is ‘dramatic, satisfying and definitely a book to take on holiday wherever we end up this year’. | [Press and Journal]

Publishing on Thursday, Alistair Moffat’s first novel The Night Before Morning is winning fans at recommendation site LoveReading, whose expert reviewer said ‘This all too plausible and atmospheric reimagining of the end of WW2 hits hard as it turns history on its head. Moffat’s ability to walk through time with his words ‘makes it all too easy to fall into this story and believe it is real.’ | [LoveReading]

If you like a ‘twisty, intricate and action-packed crime novel’ LoveReading also recommends For Any Other Truth, saying it ‘packs a punch on the emotional front too.’

Bob Harris, whose new Sherlock Holmes mystery, A Study in Crimson is out in the US this week, wrote about the enduring appeal of the man in the deerstalker.

As Wimbledon got off to a flying start last night with Andy Murray’s heart-in-mouth victory, one of Britain’s first great champions, Lottie Dod, subject of Sasha Abramsky’s new biography Little Wonder, was featured in the Telegraph. | [Telegraph, £]

It was quite something to see and hear the Centre Court crowd get behind Murray. As live audiences return to venues, Mara Menzies’s evocative letter to the Lyceum Theatre captures the moment. Read, or listen, here.

It’s not exactly strawberries and cream, but it works brilliantly with any summer berry: here is Liz Ashworth’s honey and raspberry swiss roll from The Chain Bridge Honey Bible.

If you’re heading island-ward, you’ll enjoy Ian Crofton’s journey round England’s islands in Fringed with Mud and Pearls, which is the subject of this blog post. | [University of Kent]

The Tablet’s cover story this week is a long and fascinating article about George Mackay Brown, which has this to say about Malachy Tallack’s collection of GMB’s short stories, Simple Fire: ‘Tallack understands islands, the way they are silent and also impossibly loud and full. He comes at Brown with real empathy. … For newcomers to George this collection is a good introduction.’ | [The Tablet]

Polly Pullar and red squirrels Pipkin and Helen featured on Landward in a segment showing their release back to the wild. Catch up now, and pre-order your copy of A Scurry of Squirrels, which is published on Thursday. | [BBC iPlayer]

With the news of its longlisting for the Wainwright Prize for Global Conservation, catch up with Alastair McIntosh’s 2020 book, Riders on the Storm, in our podcast episode.

Team Birlinn