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Time's Arrow tells the story, backwards, of the life of Nazi war criminal, Doctor Tod T. Friendly. He dies and then feels markedly better, breaks up with his lovers as a prelude to seducing them and mangles his patients before he sends them home...
Escaping from the body of the dying doctor who had worked in Nazi concentration camps, the doctor's consciousness begins living the doctor's life backwards.
Meet Fahner, the retired small-town doctor who resorts to the garden axe when his patience with his cruel wife runs out.
Meet Patrick, so entranced by the sight of his sleeping girlfriend that he cuts a small piece out of her back, just to see what she tastes like.
Meet the silent assassin who calmly despatches two Neo-Nazi thugs on a railway platform.
A nameless lawyer invites us to read an extraordinary dossier of violent and unspeakable acts. All the crimes have one thing in common: the guilty have never been convicted in a court of law. But however heinous the crime, the narrator shows how the human circumstances behind events can tell a different story.
Published: 6 Jun 2002
Winner of the McKitterick Prize
Two women in a room.
‘Courageous’ Rachel Cusk, Guardian
One is dying.
The other just sits back and watches.
For both, there is everything to lose.
Surgeons are meant to save lives, but Nancy is a special kind of surgeon. When she makes a mistake in the operating theatre she is summoned to explain herself to a tribunal and is forced to consider what it means to be a doctor who has killed as well as cured. And to realise that her own redemption can only come through telling a tale that nobody wants to hear.
Gabriel Weston, author of the acclaimed Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story, winner of the 2010 PEN/Ackerley Prize, has written an extraordinarily moving and powerful novel.
Doctors and patients alike trust the medical profession and its therapeutic powers; yet this trust has often been misplaced. Whether prescribing opium or thalidomide, aspirin or antidepressants, doctors have persistently failed to test their favourite ideas - often with catastrophic results. From revolutionary America to Nazi Germany and modern big-pharmaceuticals, this is the unexpected story of just how bad medicine has been, and of its remarkably recent effort to improve.
It is the history of well-meaning doctors misled by intuition, of the startling human cost of their mistakes and of the exceptional individuals who have helped make things better. Alarming and optimistic, Taking the Medicine is essential reading for anyone interested in how and why to trust the pills they swallow.
A haunting tale of war, love and loss from the author of Birdsong and A Week in December
The Sunday Times bestseller
On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks – an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer – is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host is Alexander Pereira, a man who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does.
The search for the past takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front.
This moving novel casts a long, baleful light over the century we have left behind but may never fully understand. Daring, ambitious and in the end profoundly moving, this is Faulks’s most remarkable book yet.
It's 1899 and a young girl is abandoned in London by her feckless family. She finds lodging and work assisting a doctor. But Jane Stretch is no ordinary girl, and Mr Swift is no ordinary doctor.
Jane does her best to keep up with the doctor, her twisted bones throbbing, as they hurry past the markets, stage doors and side shows to appointments in certain boarding houses across town. The young actresses who live there have problems, and Mr Swift does what is required, calmly and discreetly. Grateful to her benefactor and his wife, Jane assists him and asks no questions - the desperate women not minding that it is a cripple girl who wipes their brows.
When this unlikely pair becomes involved with Johnny Treble, a rakish music hall star, and the police come knocking, it seems that Jane's spell of good fortune is unlikely to last...
Simon Forman was one of the most extraordinary personalities of Elizabethan and Jacobean London.
Charismatic, volatile and ambitious, he was doctor to the giants of the theatre and his 'playbook' contains the first eye-witness accounts of Shakespeare's plays. Like most doctors he was also an astrologer, reading the stars for all and sundry.
Constantly on the fringes of great events and court intrigues, his name has been linked with Sir Walter Raleigh's mysterious group, 'the School of Night' and with the notorious Overbury poisoning case, in which the beautiful Countess of Essex was accused of murder.
Also uncovered is Forman's private world, that of a compulsive womaniser who kept a coded diary, never fully deciphered before, a record of promiscuity as colourful as the journals of Pepys and Boswell.
THE NEW YORK TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER
THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER
'Finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option...Unmissable' New York Times
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?
Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.
Since the ascendancy of the Taliban the lives of Mosheen and his beautiful wife, Zunaira, have been gradually destroyed. Mosheen's dream of becoming a diplomat has been shattered and Zunaira can no longer even appear on the streets of Kabul unveiled. Atiq is a jailer who guards those who have been condemned to death; the darkness of prison and the wretchedness of his job have seeped into his soul. Atiq's wife, Musarrat, is suffering from an illness no doctor can cure. Yet, the lives of these four people are about to become inexplicably intertwined, through death and imprisonment to passion and extraordinary self-sacrifice.
The Swallows of Kabul is an astounding and elegiac novel of four people struggling to hold on to their humanity in a place where pleasure is a deadly sin and death has become routine.
Published: 5 May 2005
Henry VIII was almost never alone. He was surrounded, twenty-four hours a day, by the small group of intimates and personal attendants who made up the staff of his Privy Chamber. They organised his daily life, kept him amused and acted as the landline between the King and the formal machinery of government. These men, intermarried, interbred and close-knit even in their mutual feuding, were supremely well placed to rig politics and patronage for their own benefit. Their influence was important and sometimes decisive: factions in the Privy Chamber destroyed Anne Boleyn, they frustrated the 'Catholic' reaction of the 1540s, and, by doctoring Henry's will, prepared the way for the full-blooded Protestantism of his son's reign.
The Reign of Henry the VIII is not so much a book about Henry VIII. It is about the great game of politics over which he presided.
Published: 3 Oct 2002
In the vast space of East Africa lives a close-knit tribe of expatriates. They all meet at dinner parties; they share the same doctors and eat at the same restaurants; they sleep with each other and take the same drugs.
Set in contemporary Nairobi, Rules of the Wild is at once a sharp-eyed dissection of white society in modern Kenya and the moving story of a young woman, Esme, struggling to make sense of her place in Africa, and her feelings for the two men she loves - Adam, a second generation Kenyan who is the first to show her the beauty of her adopted land, and Hunter, a British journalist sickened by its horrors.
Romantic, often very funny and always compulsively readable, Rules of the Wild will be recognised as a classic novel about the white man in Africa, a book to set beside Out of Africa and White Mischief
It is the summer of 1936, the early months of the agonising civil war that engulfs Spain and shakes the rest of the world. In a prison in the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela, an artist sketches the famous porch of the cathedral, the Portico da Gloria. He uses a carpenter's pencil. But instead of reproducing the sculptured faces of the prophets and elders, he draws the faces of his fellow Republican prisoners.
Many years later in post-Franco Spain, a survivor of that period, Doctor Daniel da Barca, returns from exile to his native Galicia, and the threads of past memories begin to be woven together. This poetic and moving novel conveys the horror and savagery of the tragedy that divided Spain, and the experiences of the men and women who lived through it. Yet in the process, it also relates one of the most beautiful love stories imaginable.
The young George III was a poignant figure, humdrum on the surface yet turbulent beneath: hiding his own passions, he tried hard to be a father to his siblings and his nation. This intimate, fast-moving book tells their intertwined stories. His sisters were doomed to marry foreign princes and leave home forever; his brothers had no role and too much time on their hands - a recipe for disaster.
At the heart of Tillyard's story is Caroline Mathilde, who married the mad Christian of Denmark in her teens, but fell in love with the royal doctor Struensee: a terrible fate awaited them, despite George's agonized negotiations. At the same time he faced his tumultuous American colonies. And at every step a feverish press pounced on the gossip, fostering a new national passion - a heated mix of celebrity and sex.
As a young girl in China Xinran heard a rumour about a soldier in Tibet who had been brutally fed to the vultures in a ritual known as a sky burial: the tale frightened and fascinated her. Several decades later Xinran met Shu Wan, a Chinese woman who had spent years searching for her missing husband who had been serving as a doctor in Tibet; her extraordinary life story would unravel the legend of the sky burial. For thirty years she was lost in the wild and alien landscape of Tibet, in the vast and silent plateaus and the magisterial mountain ranges, living with communities of nomads moving with the seasons and struggling to survive.
In this haunting book, Xinran recreates Shu Wen's remarkable journey in an epic story of love, loss, loyalty and survival. Moving, shocking and, ultimately, uplifting Sky Burial paints a unique portrait of a woman and a land, both at the mercy of fate and politics.
Longlisted for the National Book Award 2013
In a snow-covered village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only one person who might be able to help.
For tough-minded doctor Sonja Rabina, it’s just another day of trying to keep her bombed-out, abandoned hospital going. When Akhmed arrives with Havaa, asking Sonja for shelter, she has no idea who the pair are. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis, revealing the intricate pattern of connections that binds these three unlikely companions together and unexpectedly decides their fate.
'A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular' Ann Patchett
Published: 3 Jul 2003
In the early years of the last century, two brothers, Charles and Edward Greene, settled in Berkhamsted, a small country town thirty miles from London. There they were to found a remarkable dynasty - fathering twelve children between then - each of whom were to lead varied, well-documented and extraordinary lives.
This book explores for the first time this generation of the Greene family in colourful detail - their relationships and shared history, and their lives - as explorers, writers, doctors, spies, politicians and much more. There is Graham, one of the greatest English writers of the twentieth century; Hugh, the Daily Telegraph's Berlin corespondent in the years leading up to WW2, and later Director-General of the BBC; Raymond, a brilliant mountaineer and medical man who took part in the 1933 Everest expedition; their sister Elisabeth, MI6 agent, enlisting family and friends into the secret service; cousin Ben, a pacifist and Labour Party activist who was interned in 1940 at the same time as Oswald Mosley; his sister, Barbara, who spent the war in Germany; and their younger brother Felix, a pioneer of radio journalism and apologist for Communist China, who moved to a commune in California with his cousin Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley; and Herbert, the black sheep of the family, fantasist and amateur spy.
Interlacing biography, history, high adventure and scenes from literary life, Shades of Greene provides a riveting insight into the self-confident, enterprising, upper middle-class English world that flourished between the 1920s and the 1970s: and into a truly remarkable tribe.
Published: 7 Apr 2011