Book review: The Rainbow by D H Lawrence, 1915

‘The Rainbow’ is an extraordinarily dense, complex novel. It follows three generations of the Brangwen family in rural Nottinghamshire, and contains some remarkable writing. Originally published in 1915 it is incredibly modernist in tone. But it also has, for me, some serious stylistic weaknesses. Of course this will be heresy for any Lawrence adherents, andContinue reading “Book review: The Rainbow by D H Lawrence, 1915”

Book review: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, 1926

The name of this novel has a complex history – at one stage it was going to be called, among other things, ‘The Lost Generation’ – and this alternative title, together with the epigraph from Ecclesiastes, beginning “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh” provide some useful guides to interpreting this novel.  Set inContinue reading “Book review: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, 1926”

Book review: Amongst Women by John McGahern, 1991

Michael Moran, the patriarch at the heart of this novel, is a depressing misanthropic monster. He abuses his children, terrorises his wife, and attempts (ultimately unsuccessfully) to control every aspect of their lives, all the while ensuring that his interests and comforts are catered for: “Anything easy and pleasant aroused deep suspicion and people enjoyingContinue reading “Book review: Amongst Women by John McGahern, 1991”

Book review: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, 1926

Virago Modern Classics have done the reader no favours in managing expectations by publishing this in a twee edition illustrated with a strangely distorted ginger cat, and a quote from John Updike, author of yesterday’s reviewed novel, describing this as “witty, eerie, tender”. (How many times have you said to yourself, “You know what IContinue reading “Book review: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, 1926”

Book review: Rabbit Redux – John Updike – 1971

The Penguin Modern Classics editions of Updike’s Rabbit quartet (Run, Redux, Rich, and at Rest) contain an afterword by the author which in some ways makes the reviewer redundant, offering insight into the composition of the novels to which few could hope to achieve. Of course, I am going to have a try. Harry ‘Rabbit’Continue reading “Book review: Rabbit Redux – John Updike – 1971”

Book review: The Heat of the Day –Elizabeth Bowen – 1948

Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘The Heat of the Day’ has strong echoes of Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’. It is set in London during the second world war, where the threat of sudden death from the Blitz leads to people to live their lives with a sense of urgency. Bowen’s evocation of life in LondonContinue reading “Book review: The Heat of the Day –Elizabeth Bowen – 1948”

Book review: Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift – 1726

I’ve written at length in this recent series of posts about the gap between the perception of novels in popular culture, and the books themselves. ‘Gulliver’s Travels‘ has probably suffered the most in this regard, or had the longest journey, in that the coruscating satire has been recast over the years as a children’s book.Continue reading “Book review: Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift – 1726”

Book review: The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne – 1850

Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’ is arguably the first classic of American literature. While the language Hawthorne uses is often archaic, this is in fact an astonishingly modern novel in its treatment of its subject matter, and in its construction. While the plot is quite straightforward, and the cast of characters limited, behind this relative simplicityContinue reading “Book review: The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne – 1850”

Book review: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson – 1886

Stevenson’s ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is an under-appreciated masterpiece. It’s a breathlessly fast paced story where the protagonist, Dr Jekyll, is dead (sorry, spoilers) halfway through the very short novel, and yet Stevenson manages to sustain the excitement until the big ‘reveal’ at the end. We now know of course that Dr Jekyll isContinue reading “Book review: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson – 1886”