I took a while to get into this sturdy family saga: it was blocking the reading pile for weeks while I struggled to pay it proper attention. Then something clicked, and the peculiarities of The Fountain Overflows (1956) began to attract my attention. At first I thought that it was rather like Rose Macaulay’s Told … Continue reading Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows
I think I must have read this Angela Thirkell novel first when I was 13, stuck in bed with mumps, and very bored. It entranced me. The tiresome adult children converging on the beleaguered and saintly mother; the glow of perfection cast over the rightful landowning classes; the crashing irruption of the Adams family into … Continue reading Angela Thirkell’s The Headmistress
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.
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 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.
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