03 December 2020, The Tablet

Books of the year


A gloomy year has produced glowing books. Tablet reviewers choose the very best to lift our hearts and stir our passions through the coming months, from novels and nature to politics and protest

Ysenda Maxtone-Graham
Anyone who has been lucky enough to be close friends with someone 30 or 40 years older or younger will nod in recognition reading Isabel Vincent’s short memoir Dinner with Edward (Pushkin Press, £8.99; Tablet price £8.09), a book that celebrates the magic of the ageless friendship. A divorcing, work­aholic New York journalist, Vincent is rescued and healed when she makes friends with her 92-year-old widower neighbour, Edward: a man with old-fashioned good manners, who not only reminds her how to live well and calmly, but is also a superb cook – and Vincent is a superb describer of his cooking.

Timothy Radcliffe
I found it impossible to put down Conquistadores: A New History by Fernando Cervantes (Allen Lane, £30; Tablet price £27). The Spanish conquerors of the Americas, usually despised as brutal men driven only by greed for gold, are shown to be more sophisticated, often more respectful of the dignity of the indigenous people than their British equivalents. The friars, Franciscan and Dominican, play a key role in these ­dramatic events, with emergence of a new understanding of universal human rights.

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User Comments (2)

Comment by: Seán Healy
Posted: 15/12/2020 13:21:25
I'm struggling on your website to see how I can buy a book by one of your correspondents (Christopher Lamb). Must I revert to Amazon or can you let me know how I can order books you reference and/or review and/or recommend? Can I do this via your website?
Comment by: John Maguire
Posted: 13/12/2020 18:44:27
Dear Tablet,
I'm trying to buy one of the books you reviewed on 5th December issue and can I find how to do this on your website? (No!) I have a subscription to the Tablet and am logged on, but I can't even see whether it's possible to buy a book here (in the books section).
I've worked in I.T. for 40 years, so please don't blame 'user error' or ignorance!
By all means let me know the trick, but please be quick or I will have had to resort to Amazon to get it in time for Christmas.
Frustratingly yours,
John Maguire (jmaguire@totalise.co.uk)