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by
23 April 2021

This week’s selection: Archbishop Welby’s vision for 21st-century Britain, and biographies of David Sheppard and Barbara Pym

Reimagining Britain: Foundations for hope by Justin Welby (Bloomsbury, £12.99 (£11.69); 978-1-472-98497-5). Revised and expanded edition.

“It is now three years since Justin Welby first published his Reimagining Britain. The fundamental message of that book remains as urgent as ever. But, in this revised and expanded edition, Welby has taken fully into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and all the social and political unrest that has ensued. If anything, the new edition of Archbishop Welby’s book is even more important than its predecessor. Here is a radical vision for 21st-century Britain. The thesis of this book is that the work of reimagining is as great as it was in 1945, and will happen either by accident — and thus badly — or deliberately. Welby explores the areas in which values are translated into action, including the traditional three of recent history: health (especially public, and mental), housing, and education. To these he adds family; the environment; economics and finance; peacebuilding and overseas development; immigration; and integration. He looks particularly at the role of faith groups in enabling, and contributing to, a fairer future. When so many are immobilised by political turmoil, this book builds on our past to offer hope for the future, and practical ways of achieving a more equitable society.”



David Sheppard: Batting for the Poor by Andrew Bradstock (SPCK £9.99 (£8.99); 978-0-281-08103-5). New in paperback.

“From his time as Captain of England's cricket team to his pioneering work as Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard led a remarkable life. Now his story is told in full for the first time in this fascinating and insightful biography. Batting for the Poor draws on the papers left by Sheppard in the Liverpool Central Library as well as other archival material and more than 150 interviews conducted by Andrew Bradstock, all brought together to create a picture of a diligent and passionate man who helped break down divisions and turn Liverpool's fortunes around. Batting for the Poor is a vivid, entertaining biography that will be enjoyed by cricket fans, those interested in 20th-century history or the history of Liverpool and those interested in man that inspired so many as the Bishop of Liverpool. You will discover the story of an exceptional leader, and learn about the history of some of the divisions and struggles in the second half of the 20th century that still impact society and culture in England today.”

 


The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne (William Collins, £25 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £20); 978-0-00-832220-5).

“Barbara Pym became beloved as one of the wittiest novelists of the late 20th century, revealing the inner workings of domestic life so brilliantly that her friend Philip Larkin announced her the era's own Jane Austen. But who was Barbara Pym and why was the life of this English writer — one of the greatest chroniclers of the human heart — so defined by rejection, both in her writing and in love? Pym lived through extraordinary times. She attended Oxford in the ‘30s when women were the minority. She spent time in Nazi Germany, falling for a man who was close to Hitler. She made a career on the Home Front as a single working girl in London’s bedsit land. Through all of this, she wrote. Diaries, notes, letters, stories, and more than a dozen novels — which as Byrne shows more often than not reflected the themes of Pym’s own experience: worlds of spinster sisters and academics in unrequited love, of powerful intimacies that pulled together seemingly humble lives. Paula Byrne's new biography is the first to make full use of Barbara Pym’s archive. Brimming with new extracts from Pym's diaries, letters and novels, this book is a joyous introduction to a woman who was herself the very best of company.”

 

Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.

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