I’ve had a run of bad luck with books recently, a long string of flingings on the floor, duds that drove me again and again to (for example) Terry Pratchett and Barbara Pym to remind myself of what good writing was like. Here are some of the failures, the Xth in an occasional series. Cixin … Continue reading A run of bad reading luck
Handheld Press (which I run) will be publishing a novel in March 2020 called Business as Usual, by Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford: it was originally published in 1933. I've been working on this since August last year. While researching the lives and careers of Oliver and Stafford I worked out that they published at … Continue reading Ann Stafford, Army Without Banners
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 It's a proper historian's book, and has probably been superceded several times since 1936.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