Memories by Naim Attallah


Memories by Naim Attallah



This engaging and illuminating potpourri of vignettes selected from Naim Attallah’s fifteen books of memoirs and interviews, along with a sprinkling of blog posts, gives a taste of late 20th century London culture and entertainingly evokes the shifting fortunes of publishing life over the past forty years. In Memories, Attallah not only writes about his contemporaries at length, but is also written about by them and he is never shy in expressing the highs and lows of his different relationships with a catalogue of cultural luminaries, many of whom are still close friends of his to this day. These range from violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin to the late Christina Foyle, owner of Foyles; jeweller Tomasz Starzewski to artist Emma Sergeant and the former chairman of Conde Nast Britain, Nicholas Coleridge. As the chairman of Quartet and former owner of the Women’s Press, Naim has published a diverse roll call of notable literary names throughout the years, including Angela Carter, Leni Riefenstahl, Annie Ernaux, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Thomas Bernhard, to name but a few. Attallah was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to literature and the arts.

 My Review:

Many would not know the name of Naim Attallah, but in the publishing world he is an iconic figure. Naim is the chairman of Quartet Books and his rise from Immigrant to his role today really is inspirational. In 2017 he was awarded the CBE in the New Year’s Honours. I was delighted to have been sent a copy of what his latest addition to his autobiographies entitled Memories (Quartet Books) which was released in April.


Naim Attallah formerly funded both the Literary Review and the Oldie magazines. (two magazines I read regularly). Naim took over Quartet Books in 1976 and Memories is his sixteenth book.

I never write in books unlike Charles Dickens used to do when researching his novels but my copy of Memories does has Post It notes on many pages with remarks I have made. It is a sign of a book that really has so much life and is high praise.

In Memories Naim Attallah looks back at his time and talks about those who he has come to know but also recollections of his life in London. After arriving in London he had to start somewhere and here Naim talks about his early days. Then talks about those with whom he has come to know. It really become a who’s who of the friends he has made. Names such as: John Le Carré and Auberon Waugh to name just two. The list of names that appear in the book, the Bee Gees, Billy Connolly and Dame Margot Fonteyn, Yehudi Menuhin and the late Christina Foyle owner of Foyles bookshop.

There are poems that have been written for Naim Attallah from past year that appear through the book which says a lot about the man. A look back at the social life and the times of a remarkable man who legendary launch parties for the books he published were by a man who was fearless and noticeable as his was his blue Rolls Royce.

278 Pages.

Thank you to Quartet Books for the review copy of Memories by Naim Attallah

Memories by Naim Attallah was published by Quartet Books on 16th April 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.


Pomeranski by Gerald Jacobs

Pomeranski by Gerald Jacobs


As Benny the Fixer Pomeranski is laid to rest on a cold November morning at the turn of the twenty-first century, a motley crew of survivors from his youth assembles around the grave, its members ‘identified by their lived-in faces – faces that indicated a singular kind of past, a chequered hinterland.’ This encounter with the past, and the discovery of his father Benny’s diaries, leads Simon Pomeranski back to his childhood and the post-war days of the Astorians, a small group of criminals and traders in ‘swag’ who ran their business from Brixton Market and exercised their own particular brand of justice. From this wonderful assortment of characters we are introduced to ‘Spanish Joe’, the cultured Russian emigre, Sam ‘the Stick’, with his wounded machismo and penchant for violent retribution, and the dazzling songstress Estelle, among others. Front and centre in their world, though, is Benny himself, the autodidact owner of Pomeranski Gowns, whose passionate affair with Estelle marks the beginning of a new era for the Astorians. Both riotous and profound, this novel resurrects a vibrant era that deserves a place in our collective memory.

 My Review:

They should have been celebrating Benny Pomeranki’s eighty-first birthday the previous week but on this typical cold November day in 2000 they were instead laying Benny the fixer to rest. Pomeranski (Quartet Books) by Gerald Jacobs is both amusing and also fascinating reminder of post-war Brixton and we are introduced to some ‘interesting’ characters of the time.

Gerald Jacobs

Simon Pomeranski has discovered his father’s diaries and now a trip back in time. This is a story of a small Jewish community based in South London, an area I know very.  But this story is post-war Britain and Benny Pomeranski is just out of the army and is looking for a new start. Benny swops the army life for a life in the rag trade and soon he getting to grips with his new role and his new life. But it does not stop him there. Benny wants more.

So now together with some of his chums they set up what can only be deemed as an interesting group of young men and name themselves after the Astoria Cinema. The Astorians are a small group of friends, they are smart and clever and as Brixton is beginning to liven up, they will make sure they look after each other’s back. You cannot have a group of friends without each of them having their own unique name or badge of honour you might say. So now we have Benny ‘the fixer’.

But this group was not set up just for fun, they had plans, some of the locals deserved seeing to. So Benny ‘the fixer’ and his group set about just that, robberies and beatings took place. After all they deserved it. Was this a case of this band of young brothers just setting a marker and a place for themselves in a new world order in South London?

This is both a fascinating and brilliantly written book that harks back to the post-war days and it is at times really quite humorous but also a compelling read. The characters you will either like or you not it really is as simple as that. Look out for a cameo performance by Ruth Ellis. I really warmed to Pomeranski by Gerald Jacobs, this is from a bygone era and will bring back memories for anyone growing up in South London back in the 1950’s.   

256 Pages.

Thank you to Quartet Books for the review copy of Pomeranski by Gerald Jacobs.

Pomeranski by Gerald Jacobs was published by Quartet Books and was published on 30th April 2020 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.


Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby


Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby

A debut novel from Venetia Welby that captured my attention when I was asked if I would review. At first I was not quite sure what I would make of Mother of Darkness but I have to say this is quite a debut novel, it is lyrical and at times darkly comical.


This is a novel that seems bleak and dark with a drug-fuelled background, which brings with it all the usual insecurities that goes with this. We are introduced to Matty Corani whose life is about to be turned inside out. Living in the back streets of Soho. Matty’s life is just falling apart by the day thanks in no small part to his pal Fix who supplies Matty with his drugs to help him escape from his real life nightmare.

Matty has no other real friends or family to count on and spends his days perched on his window ledge watching the world go by in various states of drug filled hours. Nothing seems real and yet it is real. Matty is just escaping from life that is catching up with him. Women come and go in his life and none will provide a stable lasting relationship. The clues to Matty’s decline are there at the beginning of the story. This is a very lyrical debut novel and it is very easy to get lost in the storyline, do you feel for Matty or will you just be one of the passers-by that he sees pass beneath his window. Fix is Matty’s shield against reality with everything that has happened to him you have to feel some sympathy but at the same time you just want to bring him to his senses before it is too late. His is on a downward spiral. The fact that his is also lying to his psychotherapist does not help his case. This is a Greek tragedy in more than one sense. If this sounds bleak at times it really is but there is something in the story and also in Welby’s writing that makes this a powerful debut set against the backdrop of Soho. A clever and brilliant debut. Some may say brave as it will be interesting to see how Venetia Welby follows this.

Thank you to Grace Vincent at Quartet Books for the advanced review copy.

Mother of Darkness by is published by Quartet Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

Nine Love Letters – Gerald Jacobs


Nine Love Letters by Gerald Jacobs

A debut novel based on true events that cover more than a century and encompass the horrors of the Holocaust all within 256 pages is quite an achievement but this is exactly what Gerald Jacobs has achieved in the deeply moving story of what is two families and letters of love spanning generations is put together and weaved so beautifully in Nine Love Letters.


The real beauty of Nine Love Letters is the writing of Gerald Jacobs and is quiet and something unique, he goes about telling the story of his characters and their quiet ordinary lives with one thing in common and that is just trying to escape the appalling way that some decided that because they are Jewish that they would be persecuted and murdered because of ideology. A lesson that we all need to take on board in these current troubled times we live in.

The stories that connect the people involved span time from the early 1940’s as two separate families the Weisz and Haroun from Budapest and Iraq and the horrors become real and the persecution of Jewish people begins by fascists. Following the war, with the survivors from Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz find themselves in a post war London now trying to pick up the pieces of lives and horrific memories. Two families now trying to adapt to lives shattered by war in London. As much as this is based around the horrors of the Holocaust this is a story of hope and forgiveness even after what some have gone through and witnessed. It is a shining light to what humanity is capable of. Love is after all capable of healing after so much pain and sadness and through the pages of Nine Love Letters this is the message that endures.

Thank you to Grace Pilkington for the advanced review copy.

Nine Love Letters by Gerald Jacobs is published by Quartet Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

The Secret Broker – Simon Crane


The Secret Broker – Simon Crane

The Last Word Review

For fans of globe-trotting thrillers will really enjoy reading the first in a series of novels by Simon Crane. The Secret Broker will take you across the globe as we are introduced to a new secret agent his name is Luca Voss.


There is a gripping opening to the story as a group of mercenaries take over a Japanese ship during a fierce storm one of the crew is murdered and passengers are kidnapped. Who is behind the plot to storm the ship? This clearly is an opening gambit by the author a hook and it worked for me as I could not put the book down. It was devoured one damp Sunday.

For Luca Voss his employers are a secret organisation called the Seven Families are out to maintain the peace no-one seems to know much about this organisation as they are shrouded in mystery. Now Luca has an assistant and she is only known as JJ. She is loyal to Luca and is also his lover. Have we been here before?

Now the pair must seek out the individual who is rather keen on starting a nuclear war. What is his motive behind his plot to kill millions of people? What is North Korea doing firing a missile into Japanese airspace. Are all these linked? Luca and JJ have a race against time to locate the perpetrators and quickly the Severn Families are under threat. Find out who is behind the plot and quickly.

There are many twists and turns in The Secret Broker to keep you guessing until the very last it is a gripping debut novel. Simon Crane clearly is a man who knows the international highly sort after by government leaders around the world so he has done his homework here. It is a well thought out plot and it works. I hope in future books we get to learn more about the key characters in the thriller but if you like action thrillers then The Secret Broker is for you.

You can buy a copy of The Secret Broker here through

The Secret Broker Blog Tour 2016

The Secret Broker blog tour 2016.jpg

Thank you to Quartet Books for the advanced review copy.

The Secret Broker by Simon Crane is published by Quartet Books and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.

Life in B&W by Jim Lee



Life in B&W by Jim Lee


Review Date: 4 September 2015

Author: Jim Lee

Release Date: 31 August 2015

Publishers: Quartet Books

ISBN –10: 0704373890

ISBN – 13: 978-0704373891


Available in Hardback


The Last Word Review

One of the great fashion photographers of our generation and an inspiration to the next

If you ask anyone to name some of the great photographers during the 1960’s and 70’s and the names of Patrick Litchfield and David Bailey would be mentioned but also would be mentioned would be Jim Lee, one of the true greats of fashion photography during this time.

Quartet Books have just released the autobiography of the famous photographer that helped inspire a generation but also the next generation of fashion photographers. For someone like me who has had a very keen interest in photography since childhood and would study all forms of the art I always knew of Jim Lee so that chance to be given the opportunity to review Life in B&W was a moment I will not forget.

The book has so much detail from his early memories of his parents to right to present day and packed with some of his finest work for anyone interested in fashion photography and the work behind the lens of one of the true greats and not just in photography but as a film director.

Looking back at Jim Lee’s early life it was no ordinary life. A father who ended up working for MI5. Studying at an art School for a year changed Lee’s life, he was destined for something other than a desk clerk, at the age of 17 Jim waved goodbye to family and friends and set sail on the Oriana to make Australia his home. At the outbreak of the Vietnam War Lee escaped being called to serve in the army thanks to his father and returned to England.

He wanted to become a film director but destiny was calling and ended up in fashion photography. Lee’s work was important as he made the women in the shoots as important as the clothes they was wearing his work is different from his peers but that is what makes Lee’s work stand out from the crowd he would say his work was iconic and stood out from others.

Lee had four children from his second marriage and a son from his first marriage, sadly Orlando was killed in a car accident at the age of just 13. Then there is the story of a fake obituary after Lee suffered a heart-attack. All in all Life in B&W is a glorious memoir of one of the iconic photographers and lovers of his work will cherish this book and photographs and stories held with the pages.



Meet the Author

Jim Lee


Jim Lee (born 20 November 1945) is a London-based photographer and film director. A fashion photographer for magazines during the late sixties and seventies, he worked closely with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in London and New York on fashion and advertising shoots. He switched to film directing in the late seventies, creating hundreds of television commercials as well as working on several full-length feature films. His earlier photographs form part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, with additional photographs in the archives of The Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow.  A book of his life’s work entitled Jim Lee / Arrested was launched in May 2012 alongside an exhibition of photographs from the book at Somerset House, London. Lee’s work is regularly exhibited at art galleries around the world, and he continues to collaborate on imaginative campaigns, in addition to developing his own creative projects.

Not Far From Dreamland by Val Hennessy


Review Pic

Not Far From Dreamland by Val Hennessy

Review Date: 6 August 2015

Author: Val Hennessy

Release Date:  1 June 2015

Publishers: Quartet Books

ISBN –10: 0704373874

ISBN – 13: 978-0704373877


Available in Hardback


The Last Word Review

More stimulating than a dose of Viagra, this will make you laugh and cry for more

It is not that often that I receive a request to review a funny and humorous book, so my thanks to Quartet Books for sending me a copy. Yes this really is funny.

Allow me to whisk you away to a place called windy place called Saltmarsh situated on the Kent coast and here we meet Ronald Tonks, and he lives in a place he calls ‘The Shack’ the roof leaks he shares his home with his dog (Bingo) who is going bald in places and he is always short of money, Ronald is a feisty chap now at the ‘collecting pension’ stage of his life he is 71, his body is rapidly falling apart, he suffers the ongoing saga of his 90 year old mother who daily gives him many things to worry about then we have his 45 year old Son.

This is based around the year in the life of Ronald Tonks (2012) and the group of ‘platonic’ friends that Ronald surrounds himself with, the trouble is they are all very much in the same position as Ronald. There is one woman that Ronald does not just want a platonic friendship with but rather a bit more her name is Daphne but their friendship is more of an on/off friendship. Ronald became my hero reading this, a real trooper, a campaigner one who carries his bus pass with pride like the wearing of a Blue Peter badge. At times you find yourself laughing so much it is so superbly written.

This is a genuinely funny and witty read, I loved the way that Hennessy has created the characters at this time in their lives and that many will love. Not Far From Dreamland will appeal to much wider audience than the age group of the leading characters in Not Far From Dreamland many will fall for Ronald and his ‘platonic’ group of friends.

There is scope within this book for a sequel and I can only hope that Hennessy is right now penning that very book and I for one would be happy to review the sequel.


Meet the Author

Val Hennessy


Val Hennessy taught English and drama before commencing a writing and journalistic career with the Brighton Voice, Peace News and Big Scream.
Hennessy later became a Fleet Street freelance journalist, an associate editor of Time Out and a columnist for Saga Magazine. She was described by Auberon Waugh as “a handsome if elderly (by punk standards) and inescapably middle-class journalist She is best known for her work as chief literary critic for the Daily Mail from 1989 to 2004. As of 2014, she continues to write for the Daily Mail ’s ‘Retro Reads’ column. Having reviewed thousands of English fiction books, Hennessy is a significant critic of British women’s writing. Hennessy has interviewed Luciano Pavarotti, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Annie Lennox, Michael Douglas, Terence Stamp, Martin Amis, Vivienne Westwood, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Geldof, David Bailey, Jeffrey Archer, Germaine Greer, Laurie Lee and José Carreras.
Throughout her career, she has also written for The Guardian, The Observer, New Society, You Magazine, Spare Rib, City Limits, and London Evening Standard.
Not Far From Dreamland was released on 1 June 2015 and is published by Quartet Books.

Invisible Threads by Lucy Beresford


Invisible Threads - Review Copy

Invisible Threads by Lucy Beresford

Review Date: 23 July 2015

Author: Lucy Beresford

Release Date:  1 June 2015

Publishers: Quartet Books

ISBN 10: 0704373858

ISBN – 13: 978-0704373853


Available in Hardback and Kindle.

Authors Website:


The Last Word Review

Well written Psychological thriller open’s up India’s ‘darker’ World

Sometimes a book will arrive that will leave an indelible mark on you and when I was asked if I would like to review Invisible Threads by Lucy Beresford I had no real idea that this would be THAT book.

This is a deeply moving account of a woman grieving after loss of her husband, who she understood was killed Afghanistan. I found that I was hooked on the story very quickly. We get to know Sara very well and soon she realised that the actual truth about how her husband Mike actually died and more importantly where he died suddenly the book takes on a whole new dimension.

The truth sometimes is stranger than fiction and we find our heroine heading to India and is confronted with the two India’s the colour, the vibrancy and people, then very quickly is confronted with the other. The treatment of women in India in particular the trafficking of women for the sex trade.

I found that Beresford’s style of writing and and the passion for the story line and in particular how she slowly built up the lead character Sara, who I found charming and witty but also someone who could think for herself and would not let go in her pursuit of the truth. The truth when it came for Sara was painful. Mike lied to her about his job and then to find out that when he was killed he was with another woman would destroy a lot of women but not our heroine. Sara after arriving in India became close the one young women Pritti who she then desperately tries to save from the other side of Delhi that the rest of the World may never have known about the sex trade, the human trafficking and who is involved and to what level this goes.

A complex story that is told with tact and also compassion, but at the same time Beresford never shies away from the ‘real’ truths behind the story and her time in India and with The Rescue Foundation helping with trafficked women from Brothels clearly had an impact.

Anyone who enjoys a thriller should have a read of Invisible Threads as it gives the reader much more than this. You will not be disappointed this will leave a mark on you as it has with me. Some may debate as to whether Sara is the lead character or whether India is itself the lead character as Beresford peels back the two sides of India and lets the reader see what Sara see for herself. This is a book that should be on everyone’s to be read list.




Meet the Author

Lucy Beresford


Lucy Beresford grew up by the sea in Sussex and studied English at Durham University. After ten years in Investment Banking, her training to be a psychotherapist also re-ignited her love of narrative and story-telling.

Something I’m not, her controversial first novel, asks whether all women want to be mothers. Lucy’s second best-seller, Happy Relationships: at home, work and play, detoxifies tricky relationships. She has had several short stories published and recorded for Audio. She is also published in Brazil and China.

She writes in a garret with views of Big Ben on one side and Battersea Power Station on the other. On a more practical level, she finds she cannot function without lip-gloss.

Invisible Threads is Lucy Beresford’s second novel and was published in June 2015 by Quartet Books.