Radio 4 Book of the Week, May 2017
In 1997, Bella Bathurst began to go deaf. Within a few months, she had lost half her hearing, and the rest was slipping away. She wasn’t just missing punchlines, she was missing most of the conversation – and all of the jokes. For the next twelve years, deafness shaped her life, until, in 2009, everything changed again. Sound draws on this extraordinary experience, exploring what it is like to lose your hearing and – as Bella eventually did – to get it back, and what that teaches you about listening and silence, music and noise. She investigates the science behind deafness, hearing loss among musicians, soldiers and factory workers, sign language, and what the deaf know about these subjects that the hearing don’t. If sight gives us the world, then hearing – or our ability to listen – gives us each other. But, as this smart, funny and profoundly honest examination reveals, our relationship with sound is both more personal and far more complex than we might expect.
‘A hymn to the faculty of hearing by someone who had it, lost it and then found it again, written with passion and intelligence and full of matters auricular that I knew little about. it’s a brave and important work … terrifying, absorbing and ultimately uplifting.’∼ Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review, 1st May 2017
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction
A group of schoolgirls set off on a field trip to the English countryside. They soon discover that the nearby town offers alcohol, drugs and sex, at once tempting and terrifying. It is not the unfamiliar countryside but the untried emotional landscape these girls must negotiate which heads inexorably to a shattering conclusion. This is a spellbinding, haunting novel by a brilliant young writer.
‘Exhilarating to read … vigorously entertaining … contemporary and fresh. It explores, with great sensitivity, the discovery of personal identity, and marks a fine beginning as a novelist for Bella Bathurst.’ ∼ Spectator
‘A work of brilliance and insight … Bathurst has pulled off the often difficult transition from nonfiction to fiction with panache … sharpened by acute observation and artful characterisation.’ ∼ Telegraph
‘This authentic, stingingly accurate novel … has captured something important; shocking, yet familiar and real.’ ∼ Scotland on Sunday
The Lighthouse Stevensons
Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award
This is the biography of an extraordinary family; a story of high endeavour and remarkable ingenuity, and of men pushed to the limit and beyond. Robert Louis Stevenson may have been the most famous of the Stevensons but he was not the most productive. All four generations of the Lighthouse Stevensons devoted themselves to the seemingly impossible task of illuminating the dangerous seas around Scotland. This is the story of their visionary quest and their astonishing feats as they battled terrifying conditions, personal demons and political pitfalls to light the seafarers’ way.
‘Deeply accomplished …This splendid book preserves the memory of great deeds performed in a heroic era.’
‘”All that stone and history and effort, you think, just for a lightbulb.” A gripping history, beautifully written.’
‘An inspiring account of men pushed to the limits and beyond on offshore slivers of black rock exposed to sea and gales; of masons, carpenters, blacksmiths and storemen lodged on site in elevated and cramped capsules that could become prisons for days on end when storms struck.’
The Bicycle BookShortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011
Two wheels. A frame. Two pedals. What could be simpler than a bicycle? And yet the bike continues to inspire a passionate following. Since the millenium its use in Britain has doubled, and then doubled again. Thousands now cycle to work, with more taking it up every day.
Award-winning author Bella Bathurst takes us on a journey through cycling’s best stories and strangest incarnations, from the bicycle as a weapon of warfare to the secret life of couriers and the alchemy of framebuilding. With a cast of characters including the woman who watercycled across the Channel, the man who raced India’s Deccan Queen tarain and several of today’s top pro racers and mountain-bikers, she offers us a brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present, and world-conquering future.
“Drat and double drat. I had an idea for a money-making venture. I would write a book in praise of cycling… Curses, curses, when I find Bella Bathurst has blown me out of the water with her Bicycle Book, and she has done it beautifully…In Bella Bathurst the bike has found the best and brightest booster so far.”Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday
“[Bella has a] sharp eye…[and] elegant prose: like a tail wind pressing on your back, it propels the reader through the pages… With The Bicycle Book Bathurst adds her voice to the call that we are now at the dawn of a new golden age of this versatile machine.”Robert Penn, The Observer
“…filling a yawning gap in the market… Bathurst is an ideal observer: someone who is interested in finding out, not showing off. Someone with a keen eye for the ridiculous, but who isn’t supercilious.’Scotsman
Shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award and the subject of a 2008 BBC Timewatch documentary presented by the author.
A fine shipwreck has always represented sport, pleasure, and in many cases the difference between living well and just getting by. From all around Britain has uncovered the secret history of wrecking, from beach orgies so wild that few participants survived until morning to remote crofts fitted with silver candelabra via cows hung with lanterns to lure unwary ships to ruin and the Cornish reputation for drowning survivors.
‘The beauty of this finely judged book book is that, for all her detailed research and assiduous journalism, Bathurst never forgets that the whole attraction of wrecking is its mystery. Rich in the lore of the sea, but steeped in the everyday experience of the people she meets.’
‘Bathurst is a brave and talented writer. She is wry, perceptive, laconic, occasionally downright funny and uncannily skilled at recreating atmosphere … Some of her most intense passages about the movement of water are breathtakingly novelistic and poetically precise.’
‘An enchanting study … seductive … This book offers a deep vision of humanity that is the more uplifting for its lack of sentimentality. I cannot recommend it too highly.’
The Weekenders: Adventures in Calcutta
In 2001 a group of authors including Andrew O’Hagan, Tony Hawks and Irvine Welsh were given the opportunity to visit Sudan, one of the world’s most inaccessible countries. The resulting book: The Weekenders – Travels in the Heart of Africa was an award-winning triumph, combining fiction and non-fiction into a compelling travel narrative that was both entertaining and illuminating. Now the Weekenders are back, joined by some new faces and taking on one of the world’s most fascinating and contradictory cities – Calcutta.
The Omega Point: The search for the secret of human consciousness
What is consciousness? Where does it reside? Does it belong to the mind or the body, or does it exist outside both? Is consciousness part of our souls, or does it live in the things we create – our art, our music, our cities and wars? As science and spirituality converge, what’s the next leap: humans with the souls of computers, or conscious machines?
From the smash-and-grab acid of the ’60s CIA to stoner elephants and singularitarians, Bella Bathurst follows the world’s longest-running detective story.