Bryher is a pen name. It's taken from one of the Scilly Isles, where the novelist Annie Ellerman once went on holiday and loved it. She was a shipping heiress, and lived in Switzerland with her husband Kenneth Macpherson and her lover Hilda Doolittle (the writer H D). She was a novelist and a patron … Continue reading Bryher, Gate to the Sea
I found this pleasingly hefty but slim volume in The Beaufort Bookshop in Bath, two days after we'd moved (always check out your new city's second-hand bookshops). I do like old editions of nature books, and have a particular keenness for the post-Second World War period, when rationing could be bypassed by going to the … Continue reading The Countryside Companion
I thought this would be a brief lunch-break read, a gentle skim through some nice illustrations and something to explain squinches. How wrong I was. This deceptively small, cunningly designed handbook has taken me two weeks of bedtime reading to get through, but my word it was worth it. The book - by the American … Continue reading How to Read Churches: A crash course in Christian architecture
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