The Image of God, Personhood and the Embryo by Calum Mackellar (SCM Press, £35). The author, an expert on medical ethics and visiting professor in bioethics at St Mary’s University, has produced a scholarly argument in support of the Christian belief in the moral status of the human embryo as reflecting the image of God. With chapters ranging from “Being a Person from a Christian Perspective” to “Incarnation and the Embryo”, the author answers critics who think it is morally permissible to experiment on or destroy human embryos. His book should be read by all involved in the pro-life movement.
The Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton (Head of Zeus, £9.99). There is nothing particularly novel to report from Elizabeth Norton’s broad survey of women’s lives in Tudor England, but the stories are fascinating, and the author’s grasp of the wide literature on the topic is adequate. Most of the stars of the show are familiar and high up the social pecking order, but if you don’t know much about gender in early modern England you’ll learn a great deal. The book rises above the level of gallimaufry and, as so often, it’s the little details about everyday life that will stay with you.
Carnal Knowledge: Regulating Sex in England 1470-1600 by Martin Ingram (Cambridge University Press, £21.99). In 1987, Ingram’s Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England made a signal contribution to the study of early modern social history. Thirty years on, Ingram has produced another landmark study of how sexual behaviour was monitored and regulated during the period. Ranging from rural to urban locales, and stressing the roles of both secular and ecclesiastical justice, this hugely impressive work challenges easy assumptions about the transformative role of the Reformation and brings sex-obsessed early modern England to life.
The Dark Tower by Donal Anthony Foley (Theotokos, £7.99). This is the second book of the Glaston Chronicles series, in which a group of young people – Matt Bergin and his cousins, Luke and Annie – join together to fight evil forces out to destroy them and the Christian faith that inspires them. Foley, whose first book involves time travel in France during World War II, situates this exciting sequel in Switzerland in the 21st century, where the “Dark Tower” is owned by an aged, corrupt and very rich entrepreneur. The novel, which depicts the dangers of the occult, is especially recommended to young teenagers.
American Noir by Barry Forshaw (No Exit, £9.99). Forshaw, the pre-eminent writer on modern-day crime fiction and cult films, returns with perhaps his most highly anticipated volume yet. Trawling through the mean streets of America, Forshaw surveys the genre, from its political beginnings through to the present day. The second half features the ever-popular American TV crime drama shows, with such series as The Sopranos and The Wire singled out for attention. Forshaw makes a good case for crime fiction being the literature of social justice and morality.
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