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Summary: A review of The Golden Mole, Mistletoe Malice, and The Deorhord.

The Golden Mole: And Other Vanishing Treasure

Katherine Rundell
Faber, £10.99, pp208 (paperback)

Recently published in softcover format is Rundell’s stunning compilation of essays discussing various fascinating animals from around the globe. From the shimmering golden mole to the parasites found in the eyes of the Greenland shark, Rundell eloquently describes the wonders of the natural world. We discover that Pliny the Younger once believed hedgehogs would roll their spines in fallen apples to gather food, and that bear cubs were formed into shape by their mother’s licking. Rundell’s mastery of language, clever humor, and keen historical insights come together to produce a truly exceptional and captivating book.

Mistletoe Malice

Kathleen Farrell
Faber, £9.99, pp288

Farrell’s gloriously acerbic novel – originally published in 1951 and now reissued by Faber – takes a scalpel to the traditional family Christmas family. Elderly, tyrannical Rachel hosts a beautifully drawn cast of ensemble characters, including wayward son Adrian and repressed daughter Marion. Over the course of four days, their resentments, desires, frustrations and foibles are brought to light in razor-sharp dialogue and astute observations.

The Deorhord: An Old English Bestiary

Hana Videen
Profile Books, £15.99, pp352

During medieval times in England, there was a rise in popularity of bestiaries. These were illustrated books that described both real and imaginary creatures. They were used as educational materials in schools and monasteries, but also provided a platform for societal biases, such as misogyny and antisemitism. In her latest book, Videen delves into the Old English language to gain insight into various animals, including spiders, eagles, dragons, and sea goblins. Her compendium combines etymology, cultural context, and the evolution of our perceptions of the animal kingdom.

  • If you want to purchase The Golden Mole, Mistletoe Malice, or The Deorhord, please visit guardianbookshop.com. Additional fees may be incurred for delivery.

Source: theguardian.com