Genre: Literary Fiction

The Gist: When an eighties one hit wonder pop star commits suicide the people in her life reflect on their time with her and try to figure out what part they may have played in her demise.

Short Review: A piece of political literary fiction that is balanced with a story of music, relationships and trying to make the world a better place.

Long Review: Scabby Queen is a really hard, gritty story set in London and Scotland over a period of 40 years. It is told from multi-perspective from the people who knew Clio Campbell – the one hit wonder and political activist. Clio Campbell has committed suicide and those that saw her at her best and at her worst reminisce about the times she influenced their own lives. 

Kirstin Innes has created a wonderfully unlikable character in Clio Campbell. She really is awful. Yet you cannot feel sorry for her. She is a product of her environment and the situations that she has been involved in, the relationships she has had – especially the ones she had in her formative years with her parents. 

I won’t lie to you, Scabby Queen is not an easy read. You want to love Clio but she makes it really difficult and you will spend a lot of your time yelling at the other characters to realise how toxic she is but it really is a good read.

Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes is available now.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Failosophy – A Handbook for When Things Go Wrong

Author: Elizabeth Day

Pages: 112 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

‘Most failures can teach us something meaningful about ourselves if we choose to listen’

In Failosophy Elizabeth Day brings together all the lessons she has learned, from conversations with the guests on her award-winning How to Fail podcast, from stories shared with her by readers and listeners, and from her own life, and distils them into seven principles of failure. Practical, reassuring and inspirational, these principles offer a guide through life’s rough patches.

From failed exams to romantic break-ups, from career setbacks to confidence crises, from navigating anxiety to surviving loss, Failosophy recognises, and celebrates, the fact that failure connects us all. It is what makes us human.

With insights from Malcolm Gladwell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Frankie Bridge, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sande, Alain de Botton, Mabel, Fearne Cotton, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Scott and many, many more, Failosophy is the essential handbook for turning failure into success.

The Review

I really like Elizabeth Day. I enjoy her writing – both fiction and non-fiction and I enjoy listening to her podcast. When I was given the opportunity to read How to Fail I jumped at the chance. The same goes for Failosophy. When you get so much from a writer you gorge yourself on all of their works and fortunately for me I have yet to be disappointed. 

Failosophy is an extension of both he book and the podcast How to Fail. Whereas the book How to Fail was about Elizabeth Day’s journey and the podcast invites us to listen to a plethora or diverse and interesting people and their journey what you get from Failosophy is guidance for your own journey. I’ve said journey far too much and now I feel like I am in a montage at the beginning of The X Factor.

This pocket-sized guide is great to dip in and out of and helps to remind you that not all failures are failures. It really is a joyful things to read 

Failosophy – A Handbook for When Things Go Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) please visit www.elizabethdayonline.co.uk.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Threepenny Memoir

Author: Carl Barat

Pages: 227 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

‘Looking back at The Libertines is like catching flashes of sunlight between buildings as you race by on a train. An old film reel where the spools are weathered and worn, leaving empty frames on the screen.’ 

In the final years of the last millennium, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty forged a deep musical bond, formed The Libertines and set sail for Arcadia in the good ship Albion; a decade later, Carl would emerge from his second band, the Dirty Pretty Things, after one of the most significant — and turbulent — rock ‘n’ roll trajectories of recent times. Threepenny Memoir navigates the choppy waters of memory, and gives an inside look at life in the eye of the storm, chronicling how a pair of romantics armed with little more than poetry and a punk attitude inspired adoration in millions worldwide — and proceeded to tear apart everything they had. 

With unflinching honesty but real warmth, Carl — who has recently performed with The Libertines for the first time since 2004, and released a solo album — looks back at the creative highs and the drug-addled lows of life with both bands, as well as giving an intimate account of the people and places that have informed his songwriting. From Camden bedsits, impromptu gigs and minesweeping drinks in the Dublin Castle to Japanese groupies, benders in Moscow and chatting to Slash, Threepenny Memoir charts a fantastic course through recent musical history. And, in the aftermath, Carl reflects on the pressures — both external and self-inflicted — that led to each band’s demise, and on the challenges and rewards that life as a solo artist now holds. 

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

None who know The Libertines can ever accuse Carl Barat of living a boring life. In Threepenny Memoir we see the inception, the excitement and indeed the demise of the the most important bands of the noughties.

What is wonderful about Threepenny Memoir is seeing the love affair (because although it was a platonic thing it has to be called a love affair) between Carl Barat and Pete Doherty from the perspective of an actual Libertine and not from someone at the sidelines of musical history.

What this memoir has managed to do is to remind me just how much I love the music of this era and how much I miss the person I was back then.

Threepenny Memoir by Carl Barat is available now.

For more information regarding Carl Barat (@carlbaratmusic) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Ma’am Darling – 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret

Author: Craig Brown

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up. She cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor.

Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. John Fowles hoped to keep her as his sex-slave. Dudley Moore propositioned her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was in love with her.

For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy. “If they knew what I had done in my dreams with your royal ladies” he confided to a friend, “they would take me to the Tower of London and chop off my head!”

Princess Margaret aroused passion and indignation in equal measures. To her friends, she was witty and regal. To her enemies, she was rude and demanding.

In her 1950’s heyday, she was seen as one of the most glamorous and desirable women in the world. By the time of her death, she had come to personify disappointment. One friend said he had never known an unhappier woman.

The tale of Princess Margaret is pantomime as tragedy, and tragedy as pantomime. It is Cinderella in reverse: hope dashed, happiness mislaid, life mishandled.

Combining interviews, parodies, dreams, parallel lives, diaries, announcements, lists, catalogues and essays, Ma’am Darling is a kaleidoscopic experiment in biography, and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

I have a soft spot for Princess Margaret. I think it is because she just kept losing her spot, her place in the royal family shifted so naturally as the heir in succession, she never really had a place in line to the throne that was as important as she seemed t think she was. Therefore, she didn’t really find a way to fit in and was denied the things she so desperately wanted – which very simply seemed to be loved.

In his book, Ma’am Darling, author Craig Brown presents you with various stories about Princess Margaret. Situations and encounters that she found herself in. Some of them are true and some are made up. You, as the reader, are left to figure out which is which.

Princess Margaret is one of he most interesting royals and whilst these stories may seem wild and unbecoming of a princess I would really like to pretend that she did all of them. The world of the royal family would just be so much more fun if they were all true.

Ma’am Darling – 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown is available now.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks ) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.