Welcome to our last reviews from Kemps in Malton before Christmas. There are so many wonderful titles around for the festive season – perfect for gifting and equally perfect for requesting. So, make sure everyone knows what books would be on your wish list this Christmas and take the stress out of shopping and avoid that Christmas gift disappointment.

As a guide you may also be interested to know that our best sellers in the past four weeks have been these.

• In the Shadow Of Queens by Alison Weir – thanks to her appearance at The Milton Rooms a couple of weeks ago.

• My First Green Cookbook by 2019 Bake-Off Winner David Atherton who popped into Malton to do a little cooking at The Cooks Place, signed some books and met some young chefs.

• Windswept & Interesting – Billy Connelly’s great new autobiography

• The Importance of Being Interested by Robin Ince which we reviewed last month and is a great read and a perfect gift for the non-fiction reader.

• A Year Unfolding : A Printmaker’s View which is a stunning gift book for lovers of art, nature and the work of Angela Harding

• The Storyteller : Tales of Life and Music by David Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame

Thank you for continuing to support our indie bookshop and have a wonderful Christmas.

Silverview by John Le Carre

If it was already difficult to imagine that there would not be another John le Carre novel, the posthumous publication of Silverview makes it even more so. In what has been dubbed as his ‘last complete masterwork’ le Carre has given his readers one last foray into the cat-and-mouse world of espionage and a thoroughly enjoyable one it is. The familiar duality of Le Carre’s style, at once precise and ambiguous, accompanied by a plot suffused with layers of hazy backstories and shadowy characters establishes a secure position for Silverview on the list of his great novels.

The context of the novel, established through a masterfully written interview scene, reaches back through the Bosnian conflict and the Cold War and establishes the novel’s present action which turns on three men. Julian is in his early thirties and is an ex-city trader who has abandoned London to pursue a more earnest life as a bookseller on the East Anglian coast. Here, he encounters Edward Avon, a man who seems to offer multiple ‘irreconcilable versions’ of himself, elusive yet also a persistent presence in Julian’s new life. Edward has lofty ambitions for Julian’s bookshop and sets about converting its basement into a ‘shrine [dedicated] to the most challenging minds of our time’. Finally, there is Stuart Proctor, a member of the Secret Intelligence Service who has been tasked with uncovering an intelligence leak. As Proctor closes in on his man, there is time to consider the moral implications of each character’s duty to their cause played against their loyalties towards those around them. The supporting cast of female characters brings colour and depth to the novel, often helping to propel the plot forward even if none of them take centre stage themselves.

On one level, Silverview is a typical spy genre novel of pursuer and pursued. Le Carre’s skilful use of irony and self-conscious style allows the reader a sight of what’s ahead, albeit obscured. In this sense, we are treated to another suspenseful page-turner. However, le Carre’s novels always overspill their generic boundaries and Silverview offers us the work of a novelist late in his career and reflecting upon his craft. This is another skilful work of fiction from one of the greatest writers of our age: highly recommended.

Published by Penguin Books Ltd ISBN 9780241550069 Hardback £20

The Barn The Lives, Landscape and Lost Ways of an Old Yorkshire Farm by Sally Coulthard

Local author, Sally Coulthard is a best-selling writer and Country Living columnist who writes about the natural world and traditional rural life. She has published over 25 books on subjects as diverse as sheds, sheep and snow, many of which have been translated into other languages.

In her latest book, The Barn, Sally unearths a myriad of hidden histories concealed within the four walls of this the 300 year old barn that stands on her smallholding. After discovering a set of ancient carvings thought to be witch marks, she set out to study the life of the barn throughout the changing circumstances of its long history. What she discovers is that the barn plays a vital role in all manner of activity from its creation in the years of enclosure farming right up until the war years. The country’s rich history of agriculture, industry, transport, medicine, and changing social attitudes have all been played out in the microcosm of the barn.

This unassuming building becomes the touchstone for many forgotten histories within the landscape of rural North Yorkshire making this book a thoroughly interesting read for any of us living close by. The Barn would be a perfect stocking filler for anyone who likes an intelligent read over the Christmas period.

Published by Head of Zeus ISBN:9781800240858 Hardback £20

Little People, Big Dreams Treasury :50 Stories from Brilliant Dreamers

by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

One of the classic childhood Christmas presents, a treasury is often a precious keepsake on many a bookshelf and there is often just as much pleasure in choosing the gift as receiving it.

Opening up a whole world of people and ideas, Little People, Big Dreams: Treasury is a stylish and inspirational collection of biographies suitable for children from about six years old through to teenagers. The treasury includes icons and trailblazers from all walks of life from the 1780s to the present day and includes all manner of creative, scientific, sporting and political personalities. The theme that connects them all is their capacity to dream and each biography charts how these people turned their dreams into a reality.

For those looking for a modern twist on a classic Christmas gift, this treasury will tick the box. Its simple but striking design-led illustrations accompany some truly inspirational biographies that will spark the interest of any young person, something that they will return to and cherish for years to come.

Published by Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd ISBN:9780711264168 Hardback £28

How Winston came home for Christmas by Alex T. Smith

Christmas is fast approaching, and this can only mean one thing: the return of Winston, our favourite festive dormouse! After the first of the series released last year, ‘How Winston Delivered Christmas’, Alex T Smith is back with an equally heart-warming sequel, to be enjoyed by both children and grown-ups throughout the advent period.

Winston is on yet another thrilling mission, and after having a strange nostalgic experience and witnessing a hazy image of his mother, he just knows he must solve this Very Curious Mystery. Unsure of several details, and with only the determination in his heart, he sets off, leaving his best friend Oliver behind, but prepared to confront whatever dangers this task may ensue. Follow the journey of our irresistible friend as he travels across Europe in envelopes and macaroon boxes, desperately searching for clues and making various wonderful friends along the way.

Cleverly constructed, the book contains 24 and a half chapters, thus serving as an extra advent calendar, and the perfect bedtime read. The fun doesn't stop there though, as each chapter is followed by an exciting activity linked to the story itself – a perfect way to keep the children entertained throughout the Christmas holidays! Learn how to make a reindeer Christmas card, practice some small acts of kindness, and even discover how to say Merry Christmas in lots of different languages. With Winston there is never a dull moment, and there is no doubt that this beautifully illustrated and magical story will become a Christmas classic, treasured by families year after year.

Published by Pan Macmillan ISBN:9781529041576 Hardback £14.99