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Beatrice and Virgil

By Yann Martel

Canongate

ISBN: 978-1847677655

#163;15.99

While Life of Pi was a deserved Booker winner, Martel's long-awaited follow-up has received a more mixed reaction. There are some who have taken offence at his allegorical treatment of the Holocaust, while others have dismissed it as yet another tedious ramble about how hard it is to be a writer.

Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume

By Silvena Rowe

Hutchinson

ISBN: 978-0091930967

#163;25

The eastern Mediterranean is probably the most neglected of the world's cuisines, at least as far as British palates are concerned. Silvena Rowe does much to try to correct this lamentable situation with an exquisite book, exploring the blend of sour and sweet and fresh and dried food that is the hallmark of Levantine cooking.

What I'm reading - Victoria Jaquiss

Untold Stories by Alan Bennett. After I read that one reviewer "turned the last page with such regret" I stopped bemoaning my slow progress through this wonderful book. So I'm taking my time. In fact I'm spending years reading it, and I'm savouring every moment. Here's a recent favourite from the entry for February 2, where Bennett recounts a reader's wartime evacuation experience: "Alderman Roberts, Mrs Thatcher's father, was thought to be in the black market and Maggie used to hang out of her window and spit on the other children." It says it all.

Victoria Jaquiss is a music teacher in Leeds. Send your What I'm Reading to features@tes.co.uk.

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