Wednesday, November 15, 2006

namedropping

Who would have expected a book about the Bayeux tapestry would read like a thriller? It was almost looted by the Nazis. Himmler regarded it as an Aryan masterpiece and was desperate to get it out of France. The Allies reached Paris only just in time. THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY: THE LIFE STORY OF A MASTERPIECE by Carola Hicks tells the entire history of this fascinating artefact which appears to have lead a charmed life. I ought to declare an interest as Carola is a friend of mine. So is Fiona MacCarthy, whose excellent biographies of Eric Gill, William Morris, and Byron have been followed by a more personal book, LAST CURTSEY: THE END OF THE DEBUTANTE ( (one of the good things about being both an academic and a crime writer is that I know a wide range of writers that I know. Fiona was herself was one of the debutantes who curtseyed to the Queen in 1958, the very last season. Her account is part biography and part social history and describes in vivid detail a world that had more or less vanished. I loved it.

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