This 1958 novel crackles with foreboding. It is based on the apparently artless retelling by a teenage girl of a summer spent in France with her elder sister and their younger siblings. It seethes with barely understood sexuality, and, in the absence of any reliable and responsible adults, the dangers that Joss and her sister … Continue reading Rumer Godden, The Greengage Summer
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
I was in two minds about this book all the way through, and I’m still unclear how I feel about it. It’s certainly compelling, but it is three stories bundled into one narrative, and sold under the bookshelf-friendly title of yet another memoir from the Sackville-West / Nicolson dynasty. (The full title, A House Full … Continue reading A House Full of Daughters, by Juliet Nicolson
I posted a double review of Frank O'Connor's autobiographies over on Vulpes Libris: An Only Child, and My Father's Son. I learned a lot about Irish history, Irish literature, Irish convents and army pensions.
This Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is about Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream. He is a giant of American literature, and of masculine writing. He wrote men’s books about manly subjects: war, bullfighting, deep sea fishing. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Islands in the Stream was published after his … Continue reading Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream
Prepare for high-stakes romantic melodrama, early 1920s style. This Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up is about Dornford Yates' first two novels. Anthony Lyveden was published in 1921 and its sequel, Valerie French, appeared in 1923: they were written after he had made his name with several collections of brilliant and witty short stories … Continue reading Dornford Yates’s Gothic melodramas, in Anthony Lyveden & Valerie French
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