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The Invention of Memory: An Irish Family Scrapbook 1560-1934, by Simon Loftus, Daunt Books, RRP£10.99, 442 pages

Simon Loftus, an award-winning food and drink writer, has turned his attention to social history in The Invention of Memory.

The book spans eight generations of Loftus’s family, beginning in 1560 with Adam, son of an abbey bailiff in Swineside, Yorkshire, who follows his ambition to Dublin. Loftus charts the rise of Adam’s descendants, while petty disputes, romance, ghost stories, success and failure play out against the backdrop of the horrors of the bloody colonial conquest of Ireland. Underneath it all lies the issue of changing national identity, seen through the eyes of a colonial household.

Revealing himself to be a masterful storyteller, Loftus has pieced together years of in-depth research to create a rich tapestry of personal reminiscence and factual detail. The result is a powerfully evocative mixture of biography and legend, peppered with both heart-warming and heart-wrenching anecdotes.

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