Title: An Extra Pair of Hands – A Story of Caring, Ageing and Everyday Acts of Love

Author: Kate Mosse

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

As our population ages, more and more of us find ourselves caring for parents and loved ones _ some 8.8 million people in the UK. An invisible army of carers holding families together. 

Here, Kate Mosse tells her personal story of finding herself as a carer in middle age: first, helping her mother look after her beloved father through Parkinson’s, then supporting her mother in widowhood, and finally as ‘an extra pair of hands’ for her 90-year-old mother-in-law.

This is a story about the gentle heroism of our carers, about small everyday acts of tenderness, and finding joy in times of crisis. It’s about juggling priorities, mind-numbing repetition, about guilt and powerlessness, about grief, and the solace of nature when we’re exhausted or at a loss. It is also about celebrating older people, about learning to live differently _ and think differently about ageing. 

But most of all, it’s a story about love.

The Review

I have read a few Kate Mosse books, loved her Languadoc Trilogy so when I saw that she had released a non fiction book, I won’t lie to you, I was intrigued. Especially when I saw its association with the Wellcome Collection. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

In An Extra Pair of Hands Kate Mosse explored what it is like to become a carer for those who has once cared for you. Having gone through this myself recently I say it is the moment you become an actual adult. You may have a mortgage, a car, be married and even have kids of your own but when your parents become your responsibility the whole axis of your world goes of kilter. And it is terrifying.

Mosse explore this so well in her book looking at the practicalities of looking after a parent, taking control of things you never had to do before but mainly she looks at the emotional side of things both of you as the carer and the parent whose loss of independence and having to rely on others can be hard to accept.

The one thing that Mosse does stress is that through all the hard times and though you may feel really negative about becoming a carer at certain points (we are all human) that it is an absolute privilege to be able to give back to those who have given to us.

An Extra Pair of Hands is a heartbreaking yet uplifting read.

An Extra Pair of Hands – A Story of Caring, Ageing and Everyday Acts of Love by Kate Mosse is available now.

For more information regarding Kate Mosse (@katemosse) please visit www.katemosse.co.uk.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Genre: Humour

The Gist: A celebration of the kind of people that you find shopping in bookshops.

Small Review: Following the success of Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller, Shaun Bythell’s third release is a closer look at the customers that he has encountered over the years and how they fall into idiosyncratic categories.

Long Review: In a world full of YouTube videos and handheld computers. one of the industries hit hardest by the advancement of technology was that of the bookshop and seller. However, Shaun Bythell’s bookshop – called The Bookshop – has provided him with both an income and a career as a writer. Shaun Bythell’s career as a book seller has been celebrated in his first two releases Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller (both brilliant reads) and his latest offering looks at the colourful cast of shoppers who have allowed him to keep his shop open. 

The world of bookselling suffered a massive blow this year during the Pandemic and a lot of small independent businesses have sadly had to close. Strangely, during the pandemic reading increased however, with cheap paperbacks all the more readily available from supermarkets and online sellers again the independent shops have been hit the hardest. 

Shaun Bythell released his latest book Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops during the pandemic and it really is a celebration of the weird and the wonderful. Once again, his book is chock-full of stories and experiences from his time as a bookseller. He reminds us that the kind of service and community that a local bookshop can create can never be found in a supermarket or online. 

What is utterly charming is that all of these things haven’t seemed to change Bythell. Known for keeping people at arms length you actually feel that sensation when you read his book. It takes skill to invite someone into your world but to not allow them to get too close.

You really should buy this book for the book-lover in your life. Just do me a favour and buy locally. Your bookshops need you.

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell is available now.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Title: Diary of a Bookseller

Author: Shaun Bythell

Page: 320 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost … In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

The Review

Like a lot of book lovers, my dream would be to own a bookshop, have a bookshop cat and be able to read all day. That sounds like heaven.

In Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller we get to see that the reality of owning a bookshop isn’t always as idyllic as the dream. Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop – like Ronseal – the name of the store does what it says on the tin. It is located in Scotland and is a firm favourite among book lovers who annually pilgrimage to Scotland in September for the book festival.

Bythell’s book lets you know a daily account of all the humorous comings and goings of the shop along with the bizarre and rude customers who frequent the shop often choosing not to buy anything.

And whilst reading The Diary of a Bookseller I was reminded of the difficulties faced in the book-selling world I still really, really want to own a bookshop.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is available now.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: After Me Comes the Flood

Author: Sarah Perry

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

One hot summer’s day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind.

He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house.

Its residents welcome him with open arms – but there’s more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they’ve prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along.

As nights and days pass John finds himself drawn into a baffling menagerie. There is Hester, their matriarchal, controlling host; Alex and Claire, siblings full of child-like wonder and delusions; the mercurial Eve; Elijah – a faithless former preacher haunted by the Bible; and chain-smoking Walker, wreathed in smoke and hostility. Who are these people? And what do they intend for John?

Elegant, gently sinister and psychologically complex, After Me Comes The Flood is a haunting and hypnotic debut novel by a brilliant new voice.

The Review

I cannot tell you what After Me Comes the Flood is about. I genuinely have no idea. The story made no sense to me and it got to the point where I was just reading the words and not even taking them in. I’m sure that there was a bigger message, an allegory or extended metaphor but I could not see it.

After Me Comes the Flood was not the best book I have read.

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry is available now.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.bit.ly/signupST.