The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains
Author: Tony Hawks
Publisher: Random House
'If you had to pick two things you wanted - if you had to - what would you pick?' I hesitated. This was a bigger question than usually got asked at these post-match debriefs. 'I suppose the honest answer would be,' I said, still accessing the last pieces of required data from a jumbled mind, 'meeting my soul mate, and finding an idyllic house abroad somewhere.' Inspired by breathtaking views and romantic dreams of finding love in the mountains, Tony Hawks impulsively buys a house in the French Pyrenees. Here, he plans to finally fulfil his childhood fantasy of mastering the piano, untroubled by the problems of the world. In reality, the chaotic story of Tony's hopelessly ill-conceived house purchase reads like the definitive guide to how not to buy a house in France. It finds him flirting with the removal business in a disastrous attempt to transport his piano to France in a dodgy white van; foolishly electing to build a swimming pool himself; and expanding his relationship repertoire when he starts co-habiting, not with an exquisite French beauty, but with a middle-aged builder from West London. As Tony and his friends haplessly attempt to fit into village life, they learn more about themselves and each other than they ever imagined.
'I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of One Hundred Pounds that he cannot hitchhike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, within one calendar month' A foolhardy attempt to win a drunken bet led to Tony Hawks having one of the most unforgettable experiences of his life. Joined by his trusty travelling-companion-cum-domestic-appliance, he found himself in the midst of a remarkable, inspirational and, at times, downright silly adventure. In their month of madness, Tony and his fridge surfed together; entered a batchelor festival; and one of them had sex without the other knowing. The fridge got christened, and they even met the poorest king on Earth. An absurd story of an extraordinary adventure, Round Ireland with a Fridge follows the fearless pair as they battle towards Dublin and a breathtaking finale that is moving, uplifting, and a fitting conclusion to the whole ridiculous affair.
Piano Music for Four Hands is a novel about music and love set against three generations of French history. At its center is a charming but melancholy pianist named Michel Mailhoc. Having survived a series of bungled love affairs and professional disappointments, he retreats to his family house in the Pyrenees. The bright spot in his life is his grandniece Emma, who becomes his prizewinning student. Struggling with his fervent desire for her success and the fear of losing her, Michel sends Emma into the world of international musical stardom that he has renounced for himself. The Mailhoc family saga, stretching from World War I to the turbulent 1960s, is full of sorrow, but the underlying melody remains tender and humorous. From the first sentence we feel curiously at home in Roger Grenier's intimate, precise, and musical writing.
Best known for his piano music, Déodat de Séverac (1872-1921) also composed orchestral and vocal works, including opera, cantata and incidental music. His early works were influenced by Impressionist harmonies, church modes, cyclic techniques, folk-like melodies and Andalusian motives, though his style changed dramatically in 1907 when he began to include Catalan elements in his compositions. In this book, Robert Waters provides a much-needed study of the life and works of Séverac, focusing on the composer's regionalist philosophy. Séverac's engagement with folk music was not a patriotic gesture in the vein of nationalistic composers, but a way of expressing regional identity within France to counter the restrictive styles sanctioned by the Paris Conservatory. The book will appeal to those specializing in French music, European ethnic musics, piano music and French music history.
One second in time may separate the great athlete from the merely good. Seb Coe has made every second count. From an early age he has been driven to be the best at everything he does. Since the moment Coe stood alongside a 'scrubby' municipal running track in Sheffield, he knew that sport could change his life. It did. Breaking an incredible twelve world records and three of them in just forty-one days, Seb became the only athlete to take gold at 1500 metres in two successive Olympic Games (Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984). The same passion galvanised Coe in 2005, when he led Britain's bid to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London. He knew that if we won it would regenerate an East London landscape and change the lives of thousands of young people. It has. Born in Hammersmith and coached by his engineer father, Coe went from a secondary modern school and Loughborough University to become the fastest middle-distance runner of his generation. His rivalry with Steve Ovett gripped a nation and made Britain feel successful at a time of widespread social discontent. From sport Coe transferred his ideals to politics, serving in John Major's Conservative government from 1992 to 1997 and developing 'sharp elbows' to become chief of staff to William Hague, leader of the Party from 1997 to 2001 and finally a member of the House of Lords. Running My Life is in turns exhilarating, inspiring, amusing, and extremely moving. Everyone knows where Sebastian Coe ended up. Few people realise how he got there. This is his personal journey.
'You come from a long line of mistakes,' Guy Caulder tells his daughter Alice. 'My mother married the wrong man. Her mother did the same.' At the end of a love affair, Alice journeys to Normandy to meet Guy's mother, the grandmother she has never known. She tells her that there was one true love story in the family. In the summer of 1942, Kitty is an ATS driver stationed in Sussex. She meets Ed, a Royal Marine commando, and Larry, a liaison officer with Combined Ops. She falls instantly in love with Ed, who falls in love with her. So does Larry. Mountbatten mounts a raid on the beaches at Dieppe. One of the worst disasters of the war, it sealed the fates of both Larry and Ed, and its repercussions will echo through the generations to come.
Today Georges Bizet is most immediately recognized as the composer of the acclaimed opera Carmen. One of the most frequently performed operas for over a century, Carmen explores concepts such as the femme fatale and murderous jealousy with vivacity, color, and a wealth of melody. Yet it is only one act in Bizet's story. In Bizet, renowned musicologist Hugh Macdonald goes beyond the composer's most famous opera to take an in-depth look at his entire life and oeuvre. In so doing, Macdonald identifies a number of previously unknown pieces by Bizet, assembling the first comprehensive catalogue of the composer's work. Incorporating these little-known pieces with a thorough reading of primary sources, Macdonald considers the latest in Bizet scholarship to create a complete biography of the composer. Revealing the true extent of Bizet's work as arranger and transcriber, Macdonald sheds light on the composer's complex relationships with his contemporaries, and traces the strange misrepresentation of Bizet's work by French publishers and opera houses in the 1880s, when Carmen rose to worldwide popularity ten years after the composer's early death. The first biography of Bizet in the Master Musicians series in nearly four decades, Bizet will be essential reading for students and scholars of nineteenth-century opera, as well as for Carmen devotees and opera fans.