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.
Alice thrust this novel into my hands as I began running for my train, since we'd spent too long talking in a café after meeting up in person again after almost eight years. We had become friends in Brussels fifteen years ago or so, where I was an editor and she was a novelist, and … Continue reading Alice Jolly, Between the Regions of Kindness
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 It's a proper historian's book, and has probably been superceded several times since 1936.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
As ever, seduced by a spine, I swooped on The Bees while passing its shelf in the bookshop, solely because of the gorgeous yellow cover. Imagine my delight when I find that this was shortlisted for the Women's Prize, and is a science fictional fantasy novel about a beehive. What could go wrong? And really, … Continue reading Laline Paull, The Bees
I bought this book because I wanted to patch the gaps in my reading about immigration, and Lovers and Strangers deals with the 1950s to the present day. Although the book is marketed as focused on the Windrush generation, it's much more complex than that, and does a very welcome job of showing how immigration … Continue reading Clair Wills, Lovers and Strangers. An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain