I've been having trouble with Penelope Lively lately. I love most of her adult novels that I've tried, with the glaring, embarrassing, exception of Booker-winning Moon Tiger which I found dull. I now have two theories as to why Moon Tiger is in all the charity shops, but few of her other novels are. The … Continue reading The trouble with Penelope Lively: Oleander, Jacaranda
The Vondel Translation Prize - a bi-annual prize established by the Society of Authors - has been awarded to the American translator David McKay, the translator of Stefan Hertmans' novel Oorlog en Turpentijn / War and Turpentine. It's set during before, during and after the First World War, in Flanders and is based on the … Continue reading The 2017 Vondel Prize
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
This is a memoir by the first female professor in the UK, Edith Morley, Professor of English Language at the University of Reading. It’s an essential read for anyone exploring the history of women’s higher education in Britain, and for those keen on reliving the struggles of women to make headway in a profession that … Continue reading Edith Morley’s Before and After. Reminiscences of a Working Life
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?
My feelings about the prevailing mood of the previous issues of Penguin New Writing have been borne out by the Foreword in this issue of autumn 1947, by John Lehmann himself. ‘Your Editor has had a dream. A mad, fantastic dream, not to be credited at all. [there follows a paragraph of escalating impossibilities] That … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 31, autumn 1947
This issue of Penguin New Writing, from spring 1947, has a depth that the previous issues reviewed don’t seem to have achieved. John Lehmann goes all-out in his Foreword by saying that the fires that decimated London’s publishing offices and warehouses in the bombing in December 1940 did ‘the book-trade — and the authors who … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 30