Book review: New Grub Street, by George Gissing, 1891

Gissing isn’t really read very much today. His novels – or at least some of them – are still in print, but I doubt if he makes his way onto many syllabuses or reading lists. Certainly I would not be reading him now if ‘New Grub Street’ hadn’t appeared on the Guardian’s best 100 list.Continue reading “Book review: New Grub Street, by George Gissing, 1891”

Book review: 1984 by George Orwell, 1949

When I re-read a novel (as here) for the umpteenth time, I always look carefully for things I have forgotten or overlooked the last time. It’s surprising what you miss – I wrote about this here a while back. The first thing that struck me about ‘1984’ is what a brilliant opening it has. Not justContinue reading “Book review: 1984 by George Orwell, 1949”

Book review: The History of Mr Polly by H G Wells, 1910

Most Victorian novels were about prosperous people. Yes, they sometimes had money worries, but they weren’t urban working class. Dickens changed all that, and people from all parts of the class spectrum became suitable subjects. However, the petit bourgouise, the shop keeping class, technically bosses in that they were self employed, but dirt poor nonetheless, wereContinue reading “Book review: The History of Mr Polly by H G Wells, 1910”

Book review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, 2015

Time travelling. Could there be a more tired, worn-out plot line than time travelling? If 50 years of Dr Who hasn’t explored every single crevice and wrinkle of the multiverse, Ben Elton decided to give it a go. And for 95% of the book he very nearly gets away with it. Hugh Stanton, ex-special forces,Continue reading “Book review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, 2015”

Book review: Joy in the Morning by P G Wodehouse, 1946

I had a fairly strong reaction when I last read some Wodehouse, and I suspect my record of the event is intemperate. Having calmed down I returned to ‘Joy in the Morning’ determined to be fair minded. In that same spirit of fairness I ought to acknowledge that Wodehouse has some heavy-weight admirers whose opinionContinue reading “Book review: Joy in the Morning by P G Wodehouse, 1946”

Book review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, 1955

‘Lolita’ is not an easy book to review. Perhaps more than any other novel that I have reviewed on this blog thus far, ‘Lolita’ comes with a burden of critical responses that make it hard to see the novel for itself. It is an elusive text at the best of times, with its classically flawedContinue reading “Book review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, 1955”

Book review: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)

One of my reasons for exploring the Guardian’s ‘best 100 novels written in English’ list is to try and find some hidden gems – books that I have not come across before that are really worth reading. Poe’s only novel, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket‘ meets only one of these criteria –Continue reading “Book review: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)”

Book review: The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson – 2015

Many books are commissioned, but few as nakedly as this – Bryson openly admits that it was his editor’s idea to revisit the places he passed through for his earlier, and hugely successful, ‘Notes from a Small Island’ on the twentieth anniversary of the first book. Bryson has little interest in the idea, but hasContinue reading “Book review: The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson – 2015”

Book review: The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman –

Among the candidates for award for the best opening line to a children’s novel, this has got to be in with a shout: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. if itContinue reading “Book review: The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman –”