23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 34

Richard Cobb

I greatly enjoyed Invitation to the Married Life (Sinclair-Stevenson, £13.95) by Angela Huth. She is a marvellously sharp observer, especially of her female characters. She writes beautifully about the Norfolk coast and skies and she displays a commendable loathing of North Oxford.

Le Horsain (Paris, Folio) by Bernard Alexandre is an eloquent, touching and often very humorous piece of French social history. The author, the Outsider, was parish priest of the village of Vattetot-sous- Beaumont in the Pays de Caux from 1945. to the late 1980s.

Tim Heald's biography of the Duke of Edinburgh (The Duke, Hodder, £17.95) gives a fascinating account of his subject's childhood and adolescence spent in often straitened circumstances in various parts of Europe. The book is written with sympa- thetic insight and is a very good read.

The second volume of Braudel's The Identity of France (Collins, £25) is the most overrated book to have come my way this year. The author displays an unwavering self-satisfaction and is much given to complicated definitions of what is quite self-evident. Poor France comes out in spots and boils on almost every other page. The one good thing about this huge book is the translation.