Book review: Party Going, by Henry Green, 1939

‘Party Going’ is, if we are to believe what we are told by many senior literary figures, a masterpiece, and Henry Green is a genius. Sebastian Faulks, in his introduction to this Vintage Clasics edition, cites Green as a personal inspiration; W.H. Auden called him “the finest living English novelist”; Emma Tennant in the IndependentContinue reading “Book review: Party Going, by Henry Green, 1939”

Book review: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, 1961

I was slightly nervous on approaching a re-read of ‘Catch 22’. We are all familiar with the experience of a much loved book, television programme or film being much weaker when revisited (for some reason this is particularly true of television programmes – some iconic series such as The Prisoner, or Monty Python, utterly brilliantContinue reading “Book review: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, 1961”

Book review: Breathing Lessons, by Anne Tyler, 1988

The title of Anne Tyler’s 1989 Pulitzer prize-winning novel refers to the lessons given to pregnant women to help cope with labour pains. As with many other themes in this novel, there is a second, subtler meaning – lessons in breathing are the lessons life teaches us. This is a novel about middle age, aboutContinue reading “Book review: Breathing Lessons, by Anne Tyler, 1988”

Book review: ‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset Maugham, 1915

Customer in hairdressers: “What’s that book you’re reading, love?” Rita: “Somerset Maugham, ‘Of Human Bondage’“. Customer in Hairdressers: [knowingly] “Ohh, my husband’s got loads of books like that.” (Educating Rita (film) 1983) Somerset Maugham isn’t read very widely nowadays, despite having been a central figure in English writing for a large chunk of the twentiethContinue reading “Book review: ‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset Maugham, 1915”

Supplementary: Clothing in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’

It is probably a statement of the obvious that the clothes people wear can tell us a lot about them.  In Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte uses descriptions of her characters’ clothing to give the reader ways of interpreting their roles and their relationships. One example of this is in the description of Jane’s clothing theContinue reading “Supplementary: Clothing in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’”

Book review: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, 1847

I think a case can be made for ‘Jane Eyre’ as the definitive nineteenth century novel. It has it all: Romance – the scene in chapter 22 when Rochester teasingly proposes to Jane, and she slowly comes to realise he is serious, is as touching and effective as anything in Austen, and the final reconciliationContinue reading “Book review: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, 1847”

Comment: 12 Books of Summer

I know I am coming to this a bit late, but having been encouraged by some fellow bloggers to join the 20 Books of summer challenge hosted by 746 books. I was hesitant about joining – 20 novels in three months might not seem too much of a tall order, but I am working myContinue reading “Comment: 12 Books of Summer”