Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent (2016) I know, I know. It’s probably the most popular novel of 2016, winning prizes, praised everywhere in the UK media for months. I was so looking forward to reading this, and I was so damn disappointed. Perhaps it was the reviews, of which ‘one of the most memorable historical … Continue reading It’s Not You, It’s Me: More Reading Disappointments
On Vulpes Libris I've posted a furious review of Antonia White's marvellous novel Frost in May. I've been meaning to read this for years, but could never find a second-hand copy, which I think is indicative. It's one of those novels that, if you respond to it, you have to keep it. It was also … Continue reading Now posting on Vulpes Libris: Antonia White’s Frost in May
A slightly unfortunate phrasing, that: as if she'd written a novel called Death, or Sudden Demise. It's a great novel, and I talk about it over on Vulpes Libris. Go see.
This book has been looking at me for months, sitting on the shelf in an accusing position, in the stack received during and since Christmas and somehow not yet read, because I knew full well it would not be a nice read, not be comforting, not be bedtime reading, not be reading I could prop … Continue reading Ben Judah’s This is London
John Lehmann begins this issue by announcing that he’s dropping my favourite part of the magazine, The Living Moment. The reason for what he rightly calls this ‘freakish editorial decision’ is that the articles suitable for this section —commissioned reportage of changing post-war life — are getting scarce. However, despite this annoying beginning, I think … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 35: The sound of idols smashing
The only things I knew about Angelica Garnett before I read this autobiography were (1) that she was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Grant, and (2) that her eventual husband David Garnett had announced that he would marry Angelica on first meeting her, in her cradle. Deceived With Kindness suggests that … Continue reading Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness. A Bloomsbury Childhood
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?