This year, thanks to Easter being so early, it may have escaped your notice that Mother's Day (or Mothering Sunday) is almost upon us this Sunday. But fear not. It's our (completely unbiased) opinion that a book might be a lovely gift for Mum, so if you are looking to buy something special, we’ve put together some suggestions from the shop to inspire you (and not just books).
This year it’s difficult to move for baking and cook books. But our top pick is woman-of-the-hour, bake-off supremo Mary Berry. Her book 'Mary Berry at Home' is an imaginative collection of her favourite dishes that she cooks everyday for her family and friends. Over 150 simply prepared, delicious, reliable recipes for lunch, dinner and parties as well as mouth-watering, foolproof bakes. Mary invites you to enjoy afternoon tea, with an array of delicious cakes, traybakes and treats.
Perhaps your mum might prefer the 'Fabulous Baker Brothers' (looking mean 'n moody as they lean against their little Morris Van on the cover there), or a rather splendid reissue of 'Delia’s Cakes'. But if you're looking for something a little different amongst a batch of top titles, how about Lynn Hill’s 'The Clandestine Cake Club' - a club which meets once a month at a secret location only revealed a few days before the event.
They bake a cake on a specified theme and then try a bit of each others’. In this book Lynn Hill (creator of the club) has collected together their favourite recipes in this great book. With everything from traditional Victoria Sandwich to Shirley Temple Mocktail Cake, it’s a great, quirky baking book gift.
If the Mum you are buying for is more into brand new fiction – and a nice, gifty hardback to boot – then we can definitely help!
First is the ever-readable Maggie O’Farrell, whose ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’ is a definite change of direction for the author of ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ and ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’. Set in London during the unending heatwave of 1976 (does Mum remember that?) it’s the tale of an Irish family’s meeting after their father disappears, with a gradual unravelling of tales of sibling rivalries, religious guilt, shame and secrets. The characters are really brought to life and draw you in to their hopes and disappointments as the story moves from London, to New York – and eventually back to Ireland.
A new book by Margaret Forster is a perfect treat for Mother's Day and 'The Unknown Bridesmaid' is vintage Forster territory. An observant writer, she writes about ordinary lives, but in a captivating way that makes even the unexceptional seem anything less than ordinary. 'The Unknown Bridesmaid' is full of compassion about the disintegrating life of Julia, a child psychologist, whose own troubled past is coming back to haunt her.
Barbara Kingsolver is an author with legions of fans, and ‘Flight Behaviour’ is a gripping, absorbing tale with similarities to her much-loved ‘The Poisonwood Bible’. Anyone who loved this book will recognise the brilliant way Kingsolver conveys blind belief and the inability to face up to reality.
Dellarobia Turnbow thinks she has seen a miracle. Her life is soon part of a media circus and scientists with reputations to make clamouring for the story. She was witness to the unexpected migration of the monarch butterfly, but why has it suddenly become erratic? Dellarobia ekes out a living in the Bible Belt – a life dependent on the seasons and where unpredictable and unreliable seasons are already making her precarious existence more perilous and leaving her son with no future. The explanation is there for everyone to see, but still everyone seems to grapple with the evidence. An absorbing and entertaining story as well as a timely novel that deals with the subject of climate change.
'Sweet Girl' by Annabel Lyon is a strong and intriguing historical novel that follows an intelligent and educated young woman's life in Ancient Greece and her struggle to find her place in society and empower herself at the same time. It's a moving and absorbing story that shows us both the life of the wealthy and the more seedy underbelly of Athenian life. With beautiful, sparse prose, the story unfolds at a wonderful pace with some astute observations on the challenges women faced in this society.
Just out is Jess Richards’ 'Snake Ropes', a skillfully written debut novel in the vein of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood. It’s a terrific and evocative story in which Jess Richards vividly creates a remarkable island community for us; from their ancient myths and their subtle creole, to the harsh and self-sufficient lifestyle they lead and their isolation from the mainland and their fear of the ‘tall men’ that they trade with. According to Ellie “It is quite magical and a beautiful novel that follows two girls living on the island and the mysterious disappearances of local boys whenever the tall men visit. An enthralling and original debut novel.”
Another gift idea is a classic from children’s laureate Anthony Browne. Publisher Random House have produced a special mother’s day version of the classic ‘My Mum’ – and it even contains a mother’s day card! Here’s what Julia in the shop thinks: “A beautiful celebration of what it is to be a mum with fantastic illustrations and a free mothers day card. Perfect for mummies, mothers and mums!”
And while talking of gifts, have you seen our new range of mugs by Urban Graphic (who also design some of our most popular greetings cards): 'Where There’s Tea There’s Hope' and 'If The Music Is Too Loud, You’re Too Old' A stylish alternative to a book...
Finally, Moleskine have gone all colourful this year with their fabulous large hardback notebooks now in colour (available in pink, blue, green and yellow)! Perfect for someone who needs to keep plenty of notes, plus likes a bit of style (Mum).
And if you can't totally move over to an electronic notebook, we love the Moleskine Folio Smart Phone Cover, in a set complete with a Volant Notebook (it fits phones such as iPhone 3G/3GS and a Sony Xperia) and gives you space to write things down the old fashioned way!
That’s a whole dozen choices for you! If you’re still after ideas though, just ask a member of staff who will happily recommend other great titles for the perfect gift this Mother’s Day.
And if you are in the shop for browsing on Saturday we’ll also be having a baking celebration of our own and offering cupcakes! So why not join us?