Theodor Fontane is the greatest German writer to be so widely neglected in English. Finally he has the recognition he deserves from Angel Classics, the excellent small publisher of foolishly ignored European works. After Fontane's flagship Effi Briest comes No Way Back in a
fine new translation (£11.95) that brings the author's wit and insight to the fore. Set in Denmark on the eve of the Prussian takeover
in 1864, it charts the marital and political fault lines of a rural aristocratic family threatened by the creeping changes.
For a political stocking-filler, try The New Machiavelli by Jonathan Powell (Bodley Head, £20). It's a quirky, thoughtful take on the impact of The Prince on modern politics.