I will read anything Hadley Freeman writes as a journalist, as she is witty, sensible, has a piercing eye for the unnoticed-but-telling observation, and is always entertaining. Her House of Glass is probably the best biography / memoir I've read all year so far. It's the story of Freeman's Jewish grandmother and her family, emigrating/escaping … Continue reading Hadley Freeman, House of Glass
Sybille Bedford is a glorious writer. She's alluringly readable, and the two novels I have read by her were instantly absorbing. Her prose exudes authority and intelligence, her novels charm, intrigue, persuade and convince. She is magnificent, and I don't understand why she has received so much less attention than, say, Elizabeth Bowen or Elizabeth … Continue reading Sybille Bedford, A Legacy
The Mere Wife, by Maria Dahvana Headley I didn’t finish this. I got to the bit where the character in the Hrothgar role got killed, and the character in the Beowulf role is in a car with the character in the Wealtheow role, considering kissing her. I did not want to read on because the … Continue reading My gifts to the Oxfam bookshop
Over on Vulpes Libris I wrote about a book pyramid scheme, though which I received James Baldwin's classic, landmark novel of homosexual desire, Giovanni's Room. Reader, I had mixed views.
I read After Leaving Mr Mackenzie for #ReadingRhys, but, to be truthful, I really don’t think I would have bothered had it not been for that impetus. I tried Wide Sargasso Sea many years ago and didn’t get on with it at all. I don’t even think I finished it. Jacqui suggested this novel as a … Continue reading Looking into the gutter: Jean Rhys’ After Leaving Mr Mackenzie
It’s Women in Translation month, so here is my favourite author in translation: the magnificent, audacious, riotously insouciant Colette. I posted a review of her novella Julie de Carneilhan a year ago. Here are two more. Gigi (1944) is the story of a trainee teenage prostitute in the belle époque who avoids joining this family … Continue reading Women in Translation: Colette’s Gigi, and The Cat
I used to own Elaine Dundy's The Dud Avocado in my twenties, but I don’t think I ever read it properly, and it disappeared from sight in a house move. Oh how foolish I was, because – now that I’ve paid it proper attention - this stunning classic is superbly written and fizzing with good-natured life. I … Continue reading The glory of unmarried freedom in Paris, in Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado
This week's letter is C, and today’s author is Colette. Julie de Carneilhan was published in 1941, reprinted by Penguin in the 1950s in an English translation by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Apparently it was filmed in 1950, and in 1990. Leigh Fermor’s translation is over 60 years old now, as timeless as the novel itself, but also not modern; there’s … Continue reading The stratagems of aristocratic survival, in Colette’s Julie de Carneilhan