Many years ago I bought a curiosity in a book sale: The Book of Beauty, published in 1961 by the newspaper magnate George Newnes, and edited by Eileen Allen. It’s still available on rare book sites but I’ve never seen it anywhere else, and it has fascinated me. The photographs are particularly arresting, the kind of … Continue reading The Book of Beauty
I pounced on this short story collection in a second-hand bookshop in the Lanes in Brighton, silently crying 'Why have I never heard of you before?' (and on typing that I realised that I really must, MUST join the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, and did so.) I hadn't paid enough attention to STW's short story … Continue reading Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Music at Long Verney
This novel annoyed me so much, for its ignorance, or wilful avoidance, of historical accuracy and plausibility. But, if it isn't historical fiction, then it's a deeply uncomfortable read because of its implausibility: we are reading about the systematised prostitution of children in a fantasical story about physical damage in a brutalised society. Some reviewers … Continue reading Xan Brooks, The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times
Inez Holden was a journalist, and a friend or a colleague of most of the literary giants of the middle of the twentieth century, as well as a former lover of George Orwell. I’ve been reading her Second World War writing, and have been thoroughly intrigued by her novel There’s No Story There (1944), which … Continue reading Inez Holden, There’s No Story There
Lyndall Hopkinson is the daughter of Tom Hopkinson (author, journalist, editor of Picture Post), and the novelist and poet Antonia White (her real name was Eirene Botting, but she never used it so let’s stick to Antonia). This 1988 biography of Antonia is mainly about, and trying to explain, if not excuse, Antonia’s destructive awfulness … Continue reading Lyndall Hopkinson, Nothing to Forgive
About 18 months ago I wrote about Susan Cooper's five-novel sequence called The Dark Is Rising. If published today they would be classified as children's / YA fantasy fiction. In the 1960s and 1970s when the five individual novels first came out - my editions are the slim 1980s Puffins with tight leading and a … Continue reading Re-reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising
Which Loki do you prefer? The Tom Hiddleston iteration of Loki is out and about again, in Thor: Ragnarok, which I would rate at 7 out of 10. He's a lot less Loki-ish in this film than in his earlier appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I think he loses impact by being normalised. … Continue reading Which Loki?