Category: VFDW

A Woman in Your Own Right: The Art of Assertive, Clear and Honest Communication

‘The classic assertiveness bible’ GUARDIAN

Do you sometimes struggle to state what you want (or don’t want)? Do tricky conversations go wrong? Does it at times seem easier to suffer in silence? This book has the solutions you need.

Despite recent advances in gender equality in education, the workplace and the home, in practice many women and girls still find it a challenge to speak up and be heard. Assertiveness – defined by psychologist and assertiveness trainer Anne Dickson as clear, honest and direct communication – is an art, which can be learned. Instead of being governed by the desire to please – the Compassion Trap – assertiveness teaches us to take charge of our own feelings and behaviour, without blaming others. 

In her pioneering handbook, now fully updated to mark its 40th anniversary, Dickson draws on her long experience of in-person training to give all women the practical skills and tools we need to assert what we feel and want, manage difficult conversations, avoid being sidetracked by culturally learned behaviours, say ‘No’, and find self-acceptance.

The Secret Diary of a New Mum (aged 43 1/4)

The touching, honest and laugh-out-loud account of what it’s like to become a first-time mum after 40

Whatever your age, becoming a mum for the first time brings excitement, anxiety and numerous challenges. But how do you cope when, to top it all off, you discover you are almost old enough to be the mother of everyone else in your birth prep group? As one in five babies is born to a mum over 35, and the number of women over 40 giving birth has doubled, The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43 1/4) is Cari Rosen’s timely and hilarious account of becoming a first-time mother in her 40s.

Whether it’s deftly side-stepping questions about your age and baby number two, weeping as younger counterparts ping back into their size ten jeans within thirty seconds of giving birth, or your doctor suddenly referring to you as geriatric, Cari approaches the shared experiences of an ever-increasing number of mothers with insight, humour and honesty.

***Praise for The Secret Diary of a New Mum***

‘Hilariously candid.Daily Mail

Brilliantly observed… funny, embarrassing and yet cruelly honest. It feels good to laugh about it, now the stitches are out.’ Fay Ripley

Warm, witty and very, very wise the perfect antidote to all those po-faced pregnancy books. As a fellow ”Geriatric Mother” I found myself constantly laughing and nodding along in agreement.‘ Imogen Edwards-Jones

The Iris Trilogy: Memoirs of Iris Murdoch

Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the greatest British novelists and philosophers of the twentieth century. She read philosophy at Oxford where she met and later married John Bayley, a literary critic and fellow novelist. So began a forty-year, intense and unconventional but happy marriage, detailed in the classic bestselling memoir Iris. Despite Iris’ extramarital affairs with men and women throughout their long marriage – which John always suspected – their bond was unbreakable, and his memoir beautifully captures their child-like moments of bliss: walking in forests, swimming together in streams, and sharing hot cups of coffee on crisp mornings.

These are touching but poignant stories with the knowledge that Iris and her grand intellect would eventually succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. John would care for her singlehandedly for five years, the last of which he writes about in Iris and the Friends that also describes her peaceful passing. Finally, he reflects on his bereavement and the void that is left when a soulmate departs in A Widower’s House. All three books are told by the person who knew Iris best, with gentle humour – at times unbearably moving – in his portrayal of a remarkable woman.

My Father’s Glass Eye

My Father’s Glass Eye is Jeannie’s struggle to honour her father, her larger-than-life hero, but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals – increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne.

Obsession turns to investigation as she plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half-sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle she she must solve to better understand herself and her father.

Jeannie pulls us into her unravelling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, My Father’s Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.

Stanley and Elsie

The First World War is over, and in a quiet Hampshire village, artist Stanley Spencer is working on the commission of a lifetime, painting an entire chapel in memory of a life lost in the war to end all wars. Combining his own traumatic experiences with moments of everyday redemption, the chapel will become his masterpiece.

When Elsie Munday arrives to take up position as housemaid to the Spencer family, her life quickly becomes entwined with the charming and irascible Stanley, his artist wife Hilda and their tiny daughter Shirin.

As the years pass, Elsie does her best to keep the family together even when love, obsession and temptation seem set to tear them apart…

Rainsongs

Award-winning writer Sue Hubbard delivers a poignant story of transformation, conjuring the rugged beauty of County Kerry’s coastline.

Newly widowed, Martha Cassidy has returned to a remote cottage in a virtually abandoned village on the west coast of Ireland for reasons even she is uncertain of. Looking out from her window towards the dramatic rise of the Skelligs across the water, she reflects on the loss of Brendan, her husband and charming curator, his death stirring unresolved heartache from years gone by. Alone on the windswept headland, surrounded by miles of cold sea, the past closes in.

As the days unfold, Martha searches for a way forward beyond grief, but finds herself drawn into a standoff between the entrepreneur Eugene Riordan and local hill farmer Paddy O’Connell. While the tension between them builds to a crisis that leaves Paddy in hospital, Martha encounters Colm, a talented but much younger musician and poet. Caught between its history and its future, the Celtic Tiger reels with change, and Martha faces redemptive choices that will change her life forever.

The Friendship Cure

Our best friends, gal-pals, bromances, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, long- distance buddies and WhatsApp threads define us in ways we rarely acknowledge. There is so much about friendship we either don t know or don t articulate: why do some friendships last a lifetime, while others are only temporary? How do you break up with a toxic friend? And maybe the most important question: how can we live in the most interconnected age and still find ourselves stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time? It s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. What if meaningful friendships are the solution, not a distraction 

In The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver’s much anticipated manifesto brings to light what modern friendship means, how it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it. From behavioural scientists to best mates, Kate finds extraordinary stories and research, drawing on her own experiences to create a fascinating blend of accessible smart thinking, investigative journalism, pop culture and memoir.

Effie

‘A joy to read – a wonderful, rich book.’ Dame Emma Thompson

The scandalous love triangle at the heart of the Victorian art world. Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at nineteen to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé John Everett Millais away on holiday, she and Millais fell in love. Effie would inspire some of Millais’s most haunting images, and embody Victorian society’s fears about female sexuality.

Effie risked everything by leaving Ruskin. She hoped to find fulfilment as Millais’s wife, becoming a society hostess and manager of his studio, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie’s family letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind the scandalous love-triangle. She shows the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman who was intimately involved in the private and public lives of its two greatest figures. Effie’s charm and ambition helped to shape the careers of both her husbands. Effie is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit: Author of The Railway Children

A SUNDAY TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Winner of the Rubery Book Award 2020 (Non Fiction)

Edith Nesbit is considered the inventor of the children’s adventure story and her brilliant children’s books influenced bestselling authors including C.S. Lewis, P. L. Travers, J.K. Rowling, and Jacqueline Wilson, to name but a few. But who was the person behind the best loved classics The Railway Children and Five Children and It? Her once-happy childhood was eclipsed by the chronic illness and early death of her sister. In adulthood, she found herself at the centre of a love triangle between her husband and her close friend. She raised their children as her own.

Yet despite these troubling circumstances Nesbit was playful, contradictory and creative. She hosted legendary parties at her idiosyncratic Well Hall home and was described by George Bernard Shaw – one of several lovers – as ‘audaciously unconventional’. She was also an outspoken Marxist and founding member of the Fabian Society. Through Nesbit’s letters and deep archival research, Eleanor Fitzsimons reveals her as a prolific activist and writer on socialism. Nesbit railed against inequity, social injustice and state-sponsored oppression and incorporated her avant-garde ideas into her writing, influencing a generation of children – an aspect of her legacy examined here for the first time.

Eleanor Fitzsimons, acclaimed biographer and prize winning author of Wilde’s Women, has written the most authoritative biography in more than three decades. Here, she brings to light the extraordinary life story of an icon, creating a portrait of a woman in whom pragmatism and idealism worked side-by-side to produce a singular mind and literary talent.

***PRAISE FOR THE LIFE AND LOVES OF E. NESBIT***

‘A terrific book.’ Neil Gaiman

‘A very well-researched biography.’ Kate Atkinson

‘Eleanor Fitzsimons’ painstaking research gives us a new insight into the bizarre Bohemian life of the groundbreaking children’s author E. Nesbit. It’s a fantastic read.’ Jacqueline Wilson 

‘Absolutely superb!’ Hilary McKay, children’s author of The Skylarks War (shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards)

‘In this long-overdue new biography, Eleanor Fitzsimons gives us a nuanced yet compelling portrait of E. Nesbit’s many-facetted personality, life and works, as well as of the politically and culturally vibrant milieu in which she lived.’ Fiona Sampson, author of In Search of Mary Shelley

‘What a stirring and unexpected story Eleanor Fitzsimons tells and what a subject she has found. I can’t think of a single writer who doesn’t owe something to Edith Nesbit’s glorious books for children. The extraordinary woman who wrote them proves to be every bit as brave, funny and imaginative as her own intrepid characters.’ Miranda Seymour, author of In Byron’s Wake

‘One of the greatest children’s writers, and an acknowledged much loved influence on Joan Aiken E. Nesbit is celebrated in this wonderful new biography by Eleanor Fitzsimons.’ Lizza Aiken, daughter of Joan Aiken

‘An exceptional biography about an absolutely fascinating individual.’ Adam Roberts, Vice-President of the H.G. Wells Society

‘A fascinating, thoughtfully organized, thoroughly researched, often surprising biography.’ Kirkus Review

‘Fitzsimons delivers a sprightly and highly readable life of a writer who deserves even wider recognition.’ Publishers Weekly