"Hunger," says novelist Adele Geras, evoking life in besieged Jerusalem in 1948. "That's my main memory." Just four then, she vividly remembers sitting in the shelter at night hearing the guns, and later the victory parade.
Recalling the shortage of food, she describes how her uncle once managed to get his hands on a tin of sardines and sat all the cousins around their grandmother's big table.
Certain characters in history are so sacrosanct that many believe touching them can bring you some of their golden halo. Henry V, pulveriser of the French, and Elizabeth I, invincible Armada sinker, spring to mind.
Could Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson become one of their number?
Among German-language authors of the early 20th century, Stefan Zweig is being repositioned near the top. Some contemporaries considered him "among the first rank of the second rate", to use Somerset Maugham's self-deprecation, and in the moments of depression that darkened his later years, Zweig may have seen truth as well as envy in such a tag.
By Assaf Gavron (Trans: Steven Cohen) Oneworld, £16.99
Born in 1968, Assaf Gavron is part of the same generation of Israeli writers as Etgar Keret and Eshkol Nevo. All three were born between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. The Hilltop is Gavron's fifth novel and has received considerable acclaim in Israel.
In Herbert Kretzmer's Holland Park house (which is as elegant and grand as you might expect a home belonging to the lyricist of the world's most successful show, Les Miserables, to be) hanging on the wall of the downstairs WC is evidence of Kretzmer's past life.
In 1786, le tout Paris was transfixed by the sensational trial of Cardinal Rohan, accused not only of stealing a 2,800-carat diamond necklace but of implicating Marie Antoinette in the process. A rollicking tale of scheming mendacity, the affaire has long been considered a footnote to the last days of the ancien régime.