I must be one of the last people among the middlebrow fanciers to have read Beverley Nichols. He is perfect bedtime reading: light, frivolous, witty, of an earlier period so there won't be anything nasty in the woodshed, and unexpectedly moving. I first noticed his existence in a delightfully poisonous parody in Leonard Russell's immortal … Continue reading The shrine of Beverley Nichols: should one worship?
I’m a bit behind the pack in reading Simon Morden’s novel Down Station (2015). I’m not sure I’m going to stay on board for its sequel, The White City, published in 2016, but there are a lot of very good things about this London fantasy novel. 1: It isn’t about London. It starts there, in … Continue reading Simon Morden’s Down Station
I found these four short novels with a squeal of triumph in an Aberdeen second-hand bookshop, and bought them for £3. That’s right: the four books that are one of Garner’s greatest creative accomplishments, in a pristine box set, for barely more than they cost the original buyer in the late 1970s. I could barely … Continue reading Alan Garner’s The Stone Book Quartet
This time in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up I’m in the fourteenth century, immersed in a muddy Norfolk field at the medieval nunnery of Oby. The Corner That Held Them (1948) is a most peculiar and very readable novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner, author of the immortal Lolly Willowes. The Corner That Held Them is … Continue reading Sylvia Townsend Warner: The Corner That Held Them
This time, in the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up, I’m in Ancient Rome, rereading Naomi Mitchison’s excellent novel about very early Christians in the reign of the Emperor Nero, The Blood of the Martyrs, from 1939. You can probably guess the ending already from the clues in the title, but, trust me: it may be … Continue reading Naomi Mitchison’s The Blood of the Martyrs
Negroland is a memoir of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s as an upper-class black girl in Chicago. It’s about race, class, position, white socks, prejudice, hair oil and its stains, integration, politics, fabulous clothes, architecture, representation, style, standards and history. Jefferson mixes poetry and lyrics with historical extracts and retellings of events from … Continue reading Negroland, by Margo Jefferson
From time to time I binge on Discworld. This week, on holiday, I’ve been rereading some of the Terry Pratchett novels that tackle bigotry and racism. They are deeply satisfying combings from the beard of his invention. They don't offer a unified theory of how people could be nice to each other, but they are … Continue reading Pratchett on bigotry