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
This is the third in a series (but not necessarily a sequence) of novels about humans who fled a dying Earth and lived for centuries in their spaceships, looking for a new home. The first novel, The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet, takes place on a spaceship, and the second, A Closed and … Continue reading Becky Chambers, Record of a Spaceborn Few
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
This very good autobiography by one of our great biographers has a truly terrible photograph of herself on the cover. Claire Tomalin looks tired, as if she's not been looking after herself; she's irritated and preoccupied, but also patient. This is the face of a woman who had recently been widowed, with four children to … Continue reading Claire Tomalin, A Life of My Own
For a change, here are three books I've read recently that I liked a lot. They are all satisfying, well-crafted reads, and I'm going to keep them all, but I don't have vast amounts to say about them other than 'they're good'. Mary Stewart, Thornyhold Mary Stewart writes about magic so convincingly that there must … Continue reading Three good books