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Waterfront Festival

Book Reviews: February - March 2014

21 February 14 words: LeftLion
Steampunk Apothecary, Bolder and Wiser, Quaker to Catholic: Mary Howitt and The Memory of Bridges
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Steampunk Apothecary
Jema ‘Emily Ladybird’ Hewitt
GMC Publications, £14.99
This is a ‘How To’ publication with a difference. Full of lusciously atmospheric photographs, the book introduces us to Emily Ladybird, Jema Hewitt’s steampunk alter-ego, and her faithful assistant Mr Woppit, who lead us by the hand into their fantastical world, showing us ‘step by step’ how to create a trove of weird and wonderful accessories. Each chapter takes us on a unique narrative episode in the intrepid team’s adventure – Fairy Hunter, Kraken Rider, Broken Doll’s Picnic, Vampire Chateau and Labyrinth Library – which gently introduce us to the ethos behind the steampunk movement. Each subheading has a distinctive style and colour theme. Some are quite feminine, some more whimsical, some deliciously macabre. Techniques are illustrated clearly and vary in complexity with a useful resource section at the back. This book would make an excellent gift for any style conscious steampunk with a modicum of dexterity and a magpie’s enthusiasm for collecting. Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson
GMC Publications website

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Quaker to Catholic: Mary Howitt
Joy Dunicliff
St. Clair Publications, $16.95
Mary and William Howitt were a formidable literary partnership, banging out around 180 publications between them. Their friends included the likes of Dickens, Wordsworth, Browning and Gaskell. During their time in Nottingham they witnessed the reform riots of 1831 and the burning of the castle from their home on South Parade. Joy Dunicliff, a historian from Uttoxeter, presents a first person account as Mary reflects back on her incredible life: the world travel, the strict upbringing as a Quaker, the estimated 28 children she had (eleven survived), and her championing of women’s rights. This book is perfect for anyone after an easy read but if you require something more complex and entertaining then check out the original on which this is based: Mary Howitt’s autobiography Volume 1 and 2, edited by her daughter Margaret. Dunicliff wins the award for best ever typo with this pearler: June Austen (p 140). James Walker
St. Clair Publications website

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Bolder and Wiser
Sarah Dale
Self Published, £7.99
A book well worth making time for, it’s like a meal with old friends. Sarah Dale intermingles her own personal warmth and wisdom as a psychologist with insights from a variety of remarkable interviews conducted with older women from diverse walks of life. A colourful mosaic portrait of women’s history emerges through the living voices, insights and intergenerational messages. I found myself laughing, sighing, and feeling comforted, surprised and inspired by turns. The women reflect on significant moments in their personal history interwoven with events in wider history which impacted on their lives. The reader identifies with experiences common to women as she ricochets through real stories of relationships, family, children, education, work, regrets, life lessons, and precious memories show how the personal shapes the politics of everyday life. The power of women’s self-definition and interpretation inspires the reader to look forward to years ahead with bated breath. Natasha Picot
Creating Focus website

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The Memory Of Bridges
Roberta Dewa
Glass Tortoise, £7.99
Roberta Dewa’s memoir weaves together the tangled threads of her mother’s secrets and Dewa’s own life against the backdrop of a changing Wilford Village. Charting a course from the late fifties to present day, Dewa makes excellent use of her bone-deep knowledge of the area and its character, cataloguing the evolving face of the village and Nottingham itself. She draws you into a life that moves through vividly rendered scenes of a childhood spent mooning over a bushy-eyebrowed Davey Jones and avoiding the local flasher to that of an adult searching for the things her mother kept hidden and digging through the historical life of Bad King John. Dewa’s eye for the right details to bring a bygone era into sharp relief combines pleasingly with her gift for poetic description, and the book is a tonic for anyone brought low by a naff celebrity memoir over Christmas. Robin Lewis
Roberta Dewa website

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