Does the world need a new biography of John Buchan? There have been three so far: a very thin and respectful one written a few years after his 1940 death, in an atmosphere of sincere grief and hagiography. Then there was Janet Adam Smith's 1965 biography, invited and facilitated by the family, which was the … Continue reading Ursula Buchan, Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps
HERE BE SPOILERS. Avengers: Endgame is not a film you can talk about in detail without spoiling it for those who haven't seen it, so please don't read on if you get upset by spoilers. I MEAN IT. I don't yet know if I liked the whole film or not. I was very bored in … Continue reading Avengers: Endgame.
I found this book of travel writing about the south-west of mid-1950s USA in The Second Shelf, a new antiquarian bookshop in London specialising in works by women. This was only the second book (partly) by a man I've seen there (the other was a lesbian pulp novel apparently written by a man with a … Continue reading J B Priestley and Jacquetta Hawkes, Journey Down a Rainbow
This novel by Trifonia Melibea Obono (a most beautiful name for a writer, or anyone) is from Equatorial Guinea, and is apparently the first from that country to be translated into English. Lawrence Schimel, a prolific Spanish-English translator and author, has done an impeccable job of effacing his translator's presence by presenting the story's complex … Continue reading La Bastarda
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
Vita Sackville-West mostly published novels, but also a few biographies, and this one is apparently the most well-known. I doubt that it's often read: it's long, detailed, has many elegant maps and eleven appendices including family trees and speculative genealogies. It's a proper historian's book, and has probably been superceded several times since 1936. History … Continue reading Vita Sackville-West, Saint Joan of Arc
John Wright is a naturalist and former cabinet maker, whose hobbies have turned into jobs and, in many cases, also books. A Natural History of the Hedgerow is a separate venture from his River Cottage Handbooks, and is both lavish (colour photographs throughout!) and lacking, possibly due to a desire on the publisher's part to … Continue reading A Natural History of the Hedgerow, and ditches, dykes and dry stone walls