As I mentioned before, the Book God was very generous on the birthday present front, especially considering that Christmas wasn’t that long ago. From the list thoughtfully provided by me he chose:

Beware of Pity – I have a couple of Stefan Zweig books already, including one on Mary, Queen of Scots (or MQS for short), but rather fancied this because of an article in (I think) Slightly Foxed – and it has a lovely Klimt cover;

Whale – I have been fascinated by whales of all sorts since I was small, and have adopted an orca through the Whale & Dolpin Conservation Society for almost 10 years, so I’m really looking forward to exploring their place in world culture. This looks like a really interesting series, though I think I’ll avoid the book on cockroaches!

David Rizzio & MQS – murder at Holyrood! Kind of speaks for itself and just irresistible to me – no books on 16th century for Christmas this year;

The Thistle & the Rose – given that it’s 300 years since the Union and that I’m a Scot married to an Englishman, I suspect that this topic will loom large in purchases during the coming year. Plus I really like Allan Massie – I enjoyed his contributions to the excellent programme on John Buchan which BBC Four showed over the holiday season.

My esteemed friend the Hon. Mrs W. was also kind enough to buy me a small token to add to my ever-growing Bloomsbury pile – Hyde Park Gate News – which has miraculously survived being unwrapped in a central London watering hole on the eve of my birthday, surrounded by the remains of very sticky cocktails.