Book review: The Understudy by David Nicholls

Sometimes novels don’t quite work. They really ought to, but at the end you are left with a vague feeling that the author missed an opportunity to write an entertaining, satisfying relationship novel, and instead wrote three quarters of one. This was Nicholls’ second book after ‘Starter for Ten’, which has a single white youngContinue reading “Book review: The Understudy by David Nicholls”

Book review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, 1961

‘A Clockwork Orange’ is narrated by the main character, Alex, a teenage boy in a near future but very recognisable society. Alex leads a gang of ultra-violent thugs, who every evening rape, murder, steal, and commit crimes with impunity. Alex really enjoys this aspect of his life, and the casual nature with which he describesContinue reading “Book review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, 1961”

Book review: Wonder, by R.J.Palacio, 2012

‘Wonder’ is an American children’s novel about August “Auggie” Pullman, and 11-year-old living in Manhattan. Auggie has a rare medical condition giving him a severe facial deformity. Until now, Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother, but the book opens at the point his parents decide to enrol him in a private school. It chartsContinue reading “Book review: Wonder, by R.J.Palacio, 2012”

Book review: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, 1964

‘A Single Man’ is a portrait of a single day in the life of George, a lonely, late middle-aged Englishman living in Santa Monica and teaching at a university in LA. George is gay. Thus far, thus autobiographical. George has in the recent past lost his lover, Jim, in a car accident, and is slowlyContinue reading “Book review: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, 1964”

Comment: Missing Terry Pratchett

It is rare that going into a bookshop saddens me, but it did so last week. Going into any half decent bookshop in December any time in the last 20 years or more inevitably meant encountering a large pile of the latest hardback DiscWorld novel – the easiest item on my Christmas list. But thisContinue reading “Comment: Missing Terry Pratchett”

Book review: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreisser, 1900

‘Sister Carrie’ follows a young woman as she travels from her small town life at the age of 18 to the big city. At first she lives with her sister and her sister’s husband. She struggles to find work, and succumbs, quite easily it has to be said, to the blandishments and an attractive andContinue reading “Book review: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreisser, 1900”

Book review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, 1891

I know I don’t normally write about the publication history of the books I review, but the background to this one is more complex than usual, and quite relevant. It was published in full in Lippincott’s Monthly magazine in 1890 (in a significantly shorter version than the final novel). Wilde predicted “I think it willContinue reading “Book review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, 1891”

Book review: Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969

I’ve written elsewhere on the mysterious process that is re-reading a novel. The experience ranges from a comforting stroll down memory lane, to the more common “I know I have read this, but for the life of me can’t remember a single thing about it”. Slaughterhouse 5 was for me definitely a re-read, and IContinue reading “Book review: Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969”