Friday, September 25, 2015

3 4 Friday - The fragility of global economics, porcelain perfection and the human heart: Edmund De Waal, Vince Cable and Jojo Moyes

Today's '3 4 Friday' is about fragility - the things we take for granted that can break at any moment.

On Wednesday, at Our Lady's Abingdon, former MP and Coalition Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable compared the global economy to a heart attack patient. Seemingly walking around and smiling, and well on the way to recovering, the emergency life support (in the form of quantitative easing and low interest rates) are still plugged in, and no-one seems to have a clear idea on how we remove it...

Sir Vince endeavoured to answer this vexing question - and others - in what was an intelligent, even-handed and above all entertaining evening (three words you might not feel go automatically with discussions about global economics...).

His first book 'The Storm' - written in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis - was an unexpected critical and commercial success. Sir Vince has been able to go back to that book and take a more measured look at what has happened since - and 'After The Storm' also contains the added insight from five years as Business Secretary in the Coalition government. 

His writing is as lucid and compelling as his talk - and with the economic future as fragile and uncertain as its ever been, the book covers everything from why young people can't afford to buy houses, to the political narrative of austerity.

The sobering reality is that patient could suffer another attack at any moment. Britian needs to use its wisdom, experience and influence on an international stage to start offering solutions. This book is an excellent start.

(For a fantastic write-up on some of the details of Vince's talk, Ben has written a brilliant account of the evening - we recommend visiting his blog and reading "There may be trouble ahead" to learn more.

The Abingdon Blog also featured a report and more photos.)


Whilst there are no prizes for naming the most famous 'Potter' in literature, the second most famous might just be Edmund De Waal. The potter, ceramicist and - thanks to his book 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes' - bestselling author has just published his latest book, a history of the fragile perfection along 'The White Road', a personal history of porcelain manufacture.

'The Hare with the Amber Eyes' was that rarest of things; a book that worked on almost every level, mixing beautiful writing, heartbreaking family history, art and philosophy. In 'The White Road', De Waal starts off with his beloved 'Netsuke' and follows the history of porcelain manufacture from ancient China through Dresden, Venice and Versailles, via Cornwall and Dachau. De Waal's passion and deep love of pottery sweeps you up in an at-times dark tale of our pursuit of perfection in white objects.

And our final choice is the fragility of the human heart - and really learning to love again. Since being published in 2002, author Jojo Moyes has rapidly grown to become one of our favourite romantic novelists. Her book 'Me Before You' catapulted her to the big time, and 'After You' - the eagerly awaited sequel - was published yesterday. With a film of 'Me Before You' planned for 2016, we're very excited to have signed copies of Jojo's new book in the shop.

Set shortly after the last book ends, Louisa Clark (Lou) has to pick her self up and move on in the aftermath of her relationship with Will Traynor. Moyes' writes character perfection, with a story you can really get lost in. I think readers sometimes make too big a deal about the amount of crying and laughter that a book elicits (as if you can measure the quality of a book in millilitres of tears). But Moyes effortlessly moves the reader emotionally with the grace of a dancer and the skill of a Jujitsu Black Belt. Just brilliant...

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