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Roads Christmas would be complete without our authors’ words, which is why, as part of our festive celebrations, we bring you some of our writers’ favourite Christmas memories.

Every year, for more than 100 years, the women and girls in my mother’s family gathered in early December to make Plum Pudding for Christmas. Starting a few years ago, the men and boys were included too – at the instigation of my mother and a cousin who has been key in keeping the ritual ongoing. It’s great fun to see everyone in the family before the holiday madness sets in; and there’s plenty of alcohol on hand (also a new feature, I gather). But it’s also powerful to participate in a chain that remains unbroken, stretching back generations. Here is the pre-steamed pudding mixture in all its gloppy glory. One secret: get the butcher to chop the suet.

Will Schwalbe is the author of the New York Times bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club and he’s the founder of the cookery website cookstr.com.

Will Schwalbe's Christmas

 

 

 

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

After a few months spent on hiatus, the book club gathered once more to discuss the E. M. Forster classic novel Howards End. The meeting was timed with the release of the paperback edition of Will’s The End of Your Life Book Club and although he couldn’t be with us in the Two Roads headquarters, he managed to join in from New York, talking about the book with Lisa, who is in the Big Apple herself: a true transatlantic book club experience!

 

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Will reading HOWARDS END in New York

Surprisingly perhaps, not many people had read Howards End before or even seen the film. The book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings Margaret, Tibby, and Helen; and the Basts, a struggling couple in the lower-middle class. It explores the underlying class warfare involving these three distinct groups and the source of their conflict – Howards End, a house in the countryside which ultimately becomes a symbol of conflict within British society.

For such an apparently heavy subject, the novel is incredibly engaging (and obviously beautifully written). We found ourselves drawn to some of the most obvious themes (the now famous line ‘Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. was the focus of much discussion) and we were particularly intrigued by the relationship between the highly idealistic Margaret and Henry, the pragmatic defender of social conventions. How could such different characters end up becoming husband and wife?

But most of our conversation revolved around the timeliness of the novel. When it was first published in 1910, E. M. Forster’s book dealt with some of the most profound issues of British society: the relationship between ownership and power, and the huge gap between different social statuses. Most people in the club agreed that Howards End still feels incredibly ‘of the time’ today – class still being a subject worth writing about in these troubled times – but also wondered if Forster would pick a different subject matter (race perhaps?) were he alive today.

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Zadie’s Smith ON BEAUTY

The discussion turned towards more recent books when someone brought up Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, the Orange Prize-winning novel which is an homage to Forster’s classic. We started talking about the modern ‘reinterpretations’ of the classics, not only in literature but also in films (we spent quite a bit of time analysing how cult film Clueless relates to Emma, the Jane Austen book it is loosely based on): do they introduce the classics to new audiences and ensure their survival? Or is it just a way to exploit some of the greatest works of the past?

In the end we went back to Howards End and we agreed

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to a good 3 out of 4 score. And then we rewarded ourselves with some well deserved cake (check out more pics on Facebook):

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good morning and happy Monday to you faithful followers of all things Two Roads!

Are you feeling down? Did you have a wet, miserable weekend? Did you look like this while crossing the road today?

Well then it’s definitely time for a healthy dose of Two Roads Monday Blues Remedy!

FORTHCOMING BOOKS FROM TWO ROADS

The Stockholm Octavo (out in paperback on February 14th)

Here’s the updated cover for the paperback edition of Karen’s novel.

New look.

Same fantastic feel.

We are also launching a tumblr. blog devoted to the art of creating the perfect Octavo. Do check it out and follow the slow unveiling of this mysterious art of cartomancy on Twitter and Facebook as well.

 

 

Doodlemum (out on February 28th)

Angie is hard at work on a secret Two Roads project (more juicy details to follow!). But in the meantime go ahead and enjoy her daily dose of Doodlemum on her website (and remember to like her Facebook page!) Stay tuned for a great update from our publicity department coming next week…

 

After Cleo Came Jonah (out in paperback on February 28th)

If you haven’t already go visit Helen’s Facebook page and read Jonah’s Blog. Last post: THE ENEMY.

Beware of that cat…

 

 

 

Until I Say Good-Bye (out on March 14th)

As you know a wonderful video has been uploaded on Susan’s page and on the Two Roads website. It’s a powerful message and although it’s Susan’s husband speaking, you can feel her energy coming through. It’s very moving. Watch & share and keep checking Susan’s Facebook page for touching (and quite funny) updates like this.

Island Wife (out March 28th)

Finally the advance praise is in and it includes quotes from fellow writers, poets and rock stars (yup: you got that right!). Here’s a quick selection:

  • ‘Brave, funny, poignant, beautifully written.’Elisabeth Luard, food-writer, journalist, and broadcaster
  •  ‘The day to day details of a family who have followed the man’s ambitions to the remote island of Mull are  hilarious and very touching. A beautifully told story’Mike Rutherford, founding member of Genesis
  • ‘Humour and honesty prevail throughout and always there is the poetic backdrop of the wild landscape of the island and the wild emotions that come and go with its tides.’Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag series
  • ‘Warm but never sentimental… It balances wry humour and lyrical delight, practical toughness and vulnerability in equal measure… A joy to read.’Philip Gross, novelist and poet
  • ‘Island Wife is a breezy (in every sense), frequently funny and often dreadfully sad tale of a madcap adventure with an intrepid farmer husband and five children on a romantic Hebridean island, which often turns out to be not quite as romantic as the wide-eyed author had imagined.’ Christopher Matthew, author and journalist

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (out April 11th)

Great news coming from the US. Z is part of Publishers’ Marketplace BUZZ BOOKS 2013 (spring/summer edition).

You can download the digital booklet here or read the extract on USA Today’s website.

 

 

 

 

The Still Point of the Turning World (out April 11th)

Will Schwalbe, author of the New York Times bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club, loved Emily’s book. Here’s what he had to say:

  • ‘It’s hard to find words that do justice to Emily Rapp’s The Still Point of the Turning World. It’s one of those rare books that you want to press into people’s hands and simply say, “You must read this. You will thank me.” At every turn, Rapp avoids the maudlin and the expected to get at very deep truths, sometimes painful and sometimes liberating and sometimes both. She looks for wisdom and comfort to a wide range of sources ranging from C.S. Lewis to Marilynne Robinson to Buddhist teaching. And she looks to her son. This is one family’s story of living while facing death, but also an astonishingly generous work about recognizing the pain and grace that exist all around us.’

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

You can now find Fede on instagram as well: just look for Due_Strade_London. Lots of pics of London, Italy & Italian food (and wine), and of course books, books, and even more books.

ONE MORE THING…

Public service announcement!!!

In case you intend to visit Leicester in the future with a dead monarch in the boot of your car…

 

 

 

 

 

Until next week..

 

Mary Anne Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club is launched tonight at an event hosted by The International Rescue Committee UK.  As well as launching Will’s book about his mother and their shared love of books, the event celebrates the life and work of Mary Anne Schwalbe, founder of the IRC-UK, who died in 2009.

 

Marina Vaizey wrote a moving obituary in the Guardian.

Mary Anne Schwalbe, who has died aged 75, was one of my closest friends for more than 50 years. We met when she was the head girl at school – and a subtly effective leader at that early age. Mary Anne was an outstanding listener and teacher, which even encompassed passing on grandparenting practice.

Her first love had been theatre. She attended Radcliffe college, Massachusetts, and directed American auditions for Lamda, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. As a senior educational administrator, she worked at Radcliffe and subsequently at Harvard University. Returning to New York City, she continued her career in education, but in her last two decades she worked directly with refugeesworldwide.

She spent six months in Thai refugee camps, seeing the plight of the dispossessed. This led to her involvement with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the founding of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Her British connections inspired her to persuade the IRC to set up a UK office. She recently raised funding for a library in Kabul and travelling libraries for Afghanistan. Hers was an art of persuasion, delicately and effectively employed.

This dynamo of energy was contained in a small, quiet, smiling, elegantly dressed woman, who could appear as conventional as a lady who lunched, but travelled the world often in desperately trying circumstances: she was an electoral observer in the Balkans, and was shot at in Afghanistan. Mary Anne saw the worst and believed the best.

She is survived by her husband, Douglas, sons Will and Doug, daughter Nina and five grandchildren.

 

 

 

Guest blogger: Lucy Zilberkweit, Press Officer,

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Hodder & Stoughton

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, Two Roads Book Club, Will SchwalbeOn the sixth meeting of our Two Roads Book Club, not only did we have a book that had been on many of our ‘to read’ piles for years, but we FINALLY had the inspiration behind our book club, Will Schwalbe, in the room with us. After months of emails back and forth about our reading list, we were able to celebrate in style with the man himself. We met in the Library at the Hospital Club and settled down to discuss The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

For those who haven’t read this, it’s a novel set in the years following 9/11, and tackles, through the engaging, articulate words of its narrator Changez, what it is to be a Pakistani living in the suspicious, terrorism-altered Western world. The novel is brief, and the narration takes place during the course of one long evening in a Lahore café. The reader, addressed as ‘you’, takes on the persona of an American businessman or CIA agent – the exact occupation and reason for his presence in Lahore is never made clear – and is approached by a bearded young gentleman, who invites himself to join ‘you’ at ‘your’ table. Over the course of cups of tea, snacks and a delicious evening meal, the stranger, who introduces himself as Changez, describes his life during the years he lived in America, interspersed with snapshots of Lahore life. continue reading »

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