Book news

  • Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism by Nick Timothy – review
    Andrew Rawnsley

    Theresa May’s former svengali offers a thought-provoking challenge to conventional rightwing thinking

    What Dominic Cummings, the teacosy-wearing consigliere of Boris Johnson, is to the current regime at No 10, Nick Timothy was to Theresa May. He even had a svengalian beard.

    During that brief, and now largely forgotten, period when May appeared to be wildly popular, Timothy was her domineering co-chief of staff. In so much as there was anything you might call Mayism, he was the author of it. Then she fought her disastrous 2017 election campaign, in part at his urging and with a manifesto he co-authored, and the Tories lost their majority. “My phone rang. It was Theresa ... I could hear the disappointment and hurt and anger in her voice. There was terror, too. I had seen or heard her cry before, but this was different. She was sobbing. I remember thinking she sounded like a child who wanted to be told everything was just fine.”

    This book is at its best when it challenges conventional right-wing thinking.

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  • Cancelled culture: at-home substitutes for major theatre, art and music events
    Susannah Clapp, Kitty Empire, Laura Cumming, Michael Hogan, Sarah Crompton and Fiona Maddocks

    The Observer’s critics offer creative alternatives to major forthcoming gigs, concerts, shows and exhibitions that have been postponed or called off

    Cancelled: Eurovision Song Contest 2020
    Alternative: Charli XCX’s Self-Isolation IG Livestream (Instagram)
    It’s hard to know how long CXCX will continue with her top-notch series of daily livestreams, in which she’s played at talkshow host, communing with collaborators Christine and the Queens, Rita Ora and Kim Petras, or working out with Diplo. But let’s hope they never end. KE

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  • Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels
    Imogen Russell Williams

    In difficult times, a mysterious robot, a ‘Green Book’ campervan tour, hard lessons in survival, an accidental detective and more

    With normal routines disrupted and anxiety levels high, brilliant children’s books may offer a handle on difficult times, or at least a charmed bubble of escapism. This month’s crop of books for eight to 12-year-olds are particularly powerful. Damien Love’s Monstrous Devices (Rock the Boat) is a superbly assured debut, featuring 12-year-old Alex, a mysterious toy robot and a breakneck chase through Europe to discover its secret and stop its terrifying power being unleashed on the world. Alex’s dapper and imperturbable grandfather, some truly sinister villains and an effortless, atmospheric evocation of place and history combine in an unforgettable, immersive reading experience.

    For non-magical adventure, award-winning YA author Nic Stone turns her hand to writing for younger readers in Clean Getaway (Knights of Media). When Scoob’s outrageous grandma kidnaps him and sweeps him away on a campervan tour of the landmarks of her past, guided by the “Green Book” that once told African Americans where they could safely travel, Scoob isn’t expecting a series of shattering revelations about his grandfather’s past, his grandma’s secret weakness, and his own father’s love. Funny, warm and highly original, it’s an exciting, poignant and thought-provoking road-trip novel.

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