Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Onward with the script catch-up on Harry Potter from the Really Like This Book podcasts! Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, begins with Dumbledore coming to fetch Harry from the Dursleys, and seeing for himself how awful Harry’s life is there. We see that Dumbledore’s opinions are the standard for normal human relations: he remarks on … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Like The Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix is gigantic. It’s also deeply troubled, a novel of so many things going wrong. It’s a novel in which fantasies about the struggle for the universe taking place in your school – the stuff of so many films – begin to come … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind

Anne Charnock must have been SO ANNOYED when Ali Smith’s prize-winning, multiply lauded novel How to be both hit the bookshelves in 2014. This is because her own novel, Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, published on 1 December, shares the same central, unusual conceit, of a medieval Italian artist who has to struggle against … Continue reading Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The first thing to be said about The Goblet of Fire is that it is gigantic. It must be three times as long as the earlier novels, and is very heavy to hold, a book that really depends on good binding. The second thing to be said from this podcast script formerly known as Really Like … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite of the Harry Potter novels, because it isn’t overgrown, and has a strong balance of the trivial against the impending doom-laden elements that dominate the later novels. It’s a more satisfying and less nerve-wracking read. It’s also got my favourite adult character, Lupin the werewolf, and a proper … Continue reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The BBC’s 100 best British novels: unpacking the numbers

The BBC released a list on Monday 2 December called ‘The 100 Greatest British Novels’. Jane Ciabattari collated this in an imaginative way, by asking literary critics (ie people who make their living from reviewing books) from outside the UK to give their personal lists of the 10 best British novels, assigning each title points from 1 … Continue reading The BBC’s 100 best British novels: unpacking the numbers

The two biographies of Naomi Mitchison

I’ve read two biographies of Naomi Mitchison in the past week (working up some conference papers). Both lean very heavily on Mitchison's published memoirs, and note that her record of her interwar life, You May Well Ask (1979), is deliberately vague about some important matters. Jill Benton’s Naomi Mitchison. A Biography (1990) is both rather too personal and unsettlingly … Continue reading The two biographies of Naomi Mitchison