I've been reading a lot of non fiction this year. One of the books that impressed me most was Philippe Sands' East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity.
Iris Carpenter was one of this courageous band of women who did it anyway. She covered the latter stages of the war in Europe, arriving four days after the D-Day landings, travelling across France with the advancing American Forces and ending up in Berlin. William Boyd's Amory Clay could have been one of this intrepid bunch. Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay follows the life of the eponymous fictional photographer through the 20th Century in a panoramic sweep reminiscent of Boyd's 'Any Human Heart'. Amory begins her career as a society photographer in the '20s but she is soon exploring Weimar Berlin, Jazz Age America and Blackshirts on the streets of London. She goes on to record the Second World War and Vietnam. Amory is British but it is possible to see fascinating traces of Lee Miller and Martha Gellhorn, Iris Carpenter, Margaret Bourke-White and others in her fictional life. The text is punctuated by actual photographs - a nice touch!
Finally, I've been reading a lot of spy fiction over the last couple of years for reasons that I trust will one day be clear. I end with The Human Factor by Graham Greene, the spy novel of spy novels by the master the genre. Another tricky one to do well. Many try but few succeed. Forget James Bond, even George Smiley. This is what being a spy is really like.
[Some of these reviews appeared in my History Girls Blog for December]