By Jane Shilling for the Every day Mail

Revealed: 17:01 EDT, 11 April 2019 | Up to date: 05:05 EDT, 12 April 2019

MRS MOREAU’S WARBLER by Stephen Moss (Faber £9.99, 368 pp)


by Stephen Moss (Faber £9.99, 368 pp)

How did the cuckoo get its title? The reply is within the acquainted name that heralds spring. However what of the sparrow, raven and wren, or the resoundingly named hen of the title, Mrs Moreau’s Warbler?

Stephen Moss’s pleasant ebook explores the origins of hen names, ‘each of which has its own tale to tell about our language, history and culture’.

A few of our most acquainted birds bear historical folks names — the chiffchaff and woodpecker — whereas later names describe habitats, or commemorate individuals.

The story behind Mrs Moreau’s warbler is a romantic one. Reg Moreau met his spouse, Winifred, on a nice spring day in Egypt, the place each had been working.

They fell in love, married and spent a lifetime learning African birds, together with the endangered songbird which, in a touching act of devotion, Reg named after Winifred.

WHAT WE HAVE LOST by James Hamilton- Paterson (HoZ £9.99, 368 pp)


by James Hamilton- Paterson (HoZ £9.99, 368 pp)

‘The British Disease is an ailment not to be found in any medical lexicon,’ writes James Hamilton-Paterson. ‘Its symptoms…include strikes, stoppages, go-slows, exorbitant pay demands, equally absurd pay settle-ments, dysfunctional supply chains, loss of market share…’

These, together with a ‘smug, stubborn conservatism’ are, he argues, answerable for the decline over the previous 70-odd years of the manufacturing industries that when made Britain a worldwide industrial energy.

Chapters on vehicles, ships and motorbikes inform a melancholy story, although Hamilton-Paterson, additionally a distinguished novelist, can’t resist glints of darkish humour.


WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail £eight.99, 432 pp)

by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail £eight.99, 432 pp)

Praised by Barack Obama, and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this novel comes garlanded with reward.

Named after its protagonist, it follows the exceptional lifetime of Washington Black. Born a slave on a Barbadian plantation, when he was solely 5 fellow slave Huge Package predicted that he would have a ‘life of many rivers’ — and so it proves.

‘Titch’ Wilde, the brother of the plantation’s merciless proprietor, takes on Washington as his assistant. Collectively they launch his invention: a sizzling air balloon.

He and Washington escape from Barbados, flying in direction of a world the place — as Washington discovers on this wealthy and intricately plotted fiction — freedom means ‘one belongs nowhere, and to no one’.




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