The interesting thing about reading the Harry Potter novels chronologically (for my Really Like This Book podcast series on HP), and fairly close together, is that you can see the patterns in their construction. In The Chamber of Secrets J K Rowling reused the pattern that began Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The novel begins with … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Rereading Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent in the weeks after the Paris terrorist murders was sobering. Rereading it while living in Brussels during the ‘lockdown’ while the Belgian police searched for terrorist cells before they blew anyone else up (apparently five potential attacks were prevented) was too close to say 'I enjoyed it', but it is an excellent … Continue reading Fear and loathing of terrorism: Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent
This is a lightly edited version of the first Really Like This Book podcast script about the very well-known Harry Potter novels. I’ve been observing the rise of Harry Potter studies in my professional life, having graded research papers by students, and sometimes these novels inspire excellent essays. There is a lot to say about these … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In the third and (so far) last part of her series about Breq, the last ancillary fragment of a battleship taking on the genderless Radchaai empire, Ann Leckie changes focus again. The first part (Ancillary Justice) was about plotting revenge and heading towards her target (see my review here); the second part (Ancillary Sword, reviewed … Continue reading Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy
Today’s letter in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is Y, and today’s author’s name really begins with M, but his pen-name, by which he was made famous from the 1920s, begins with Y. Dornford Yates was the pseudonym of Cecil William Mercer, and he was famous for two kinds of fiction. The first … Continue reading Rampaging in the Pyrenees: Dornford Yates’s Adèle and Co.
In 1990 I bought a book to read on the way home on the train, and when I got there I wasn’t in London, but in Londinium, for such was the power of Lindsey Davis’s first Falco novel, The Silver Pigs. I read her novels addictively for years. My favourite is not one of the 20 … Continue reading Lindsey Davis, Ancient Rome and Marcus Didius Falco
Today’s letter in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is W, and today’s author is Sylvia Townsend Warner. She began her career in the 1920s as a musicologist and a specialist in Tudor church music, and died as a respected poet, novelist and biographer. She had her first literary successes all around the same … Continue reading Sylvia Townsend Warner and Lolly Willowes
It's National Academic Book week, and over at Vulpes Libris I've posted a heartfelt thank-you to John Carey for his game-changing book, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (1992). It rebooted my research career, and it really annoyed the academic establishment. Tee hee.
Local publican is annoyed because she’s not getting enough sex. Local parliamentary candidate crashes into lorry because he sees a black cat on the road. Local police officer is more distracted than he should be by the local barmaid. Local cricket team are reduced to playing the other local publican in their team even though … Continue reading Witches in the weeds: Charles Gray’s The Herbal Detective
Cotillion is not one of Georgette Heyer’s most well-known novels, nor is it one of the famous ones that get trotted out when trying to explain Heyer’s appeal to newcomers. However, it is absolutely one of my favourites, and recently, when I was suffering an overdose of dystopic and experimental science fiction, I had a … Continue reading Breathlessly whirling with Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion