Book review: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, 1966

“There is always another side, always.” As you may know, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ tells the story from ‘Jane Eyre’ of Mr Rochester’s first wife, the ‘mad woman in the attic’, Bertha Mason. The idea of giving a voice to a relatively minor character from a classic work of literature may not have beenContinue reading “Book review: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, 1966”

Book review: The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien, 1940

“Is it about a bicycle?” This wonderful novel has an interesting history. Written between 1939 and 1940, immediately after At Swim-Two-Birds, it was declined by O’Brien’s (English) publisher, Longmans, who said that “we realise the author’s ability but think that he should become less fantastic, and in this new novel he is more so.” InsteadContinue reading “Book review: The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien, 1940”

Book review: You Can’t Do Both, by Kingsley Amis, 1994

‘You Can’t do Both’ was published in 1994, a year before Amis’s death. It is strongly autobiographical, in particular the central scene when the main characters, Robin Davies and his girlfriend, Nancy, decide at the last moment not to go through with a planned illegal abortion. It is constructed in four long chapters, each representingContinue reading “Book review: You Can’t Do Both, by Kingsley Amis, 1994”

Book review: Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding, 1749

The novel was still very much in its infancy as a form when Henry Fielding wrote ‘Tom Jones‘. In this long and elaborate narrative, you can see Fielding working out some of the conventions and traditions that were still to be established. Fielding is a dominant and forceful presence throughout the novel, in contrast toContinue reading “Book review: Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding, 1749”

Comment: Denying the Holocaust on Amazon

I am really flattered that Sunday Times journalists read my blog. That’s the only possible explanation for their headline today “Holocaust denial books sold on Amazon“,  full story behind their paywall, but the headline gives you the idea. You will recall that I wrote the exact same story in March 2015! Now if you followContinue reading “Comment: Denying the Holocaust on Amazon”

Book review: Collected Poems, by Roger McGough, 2003

This is a first – I am going to write a blog about a book I haven’t actually read! Last night I had the pleasure of going to listen to a reading by the great Roger McGough. If you haven’t come across McGough before he is a living legend, and his accessibility and at timesContinue reading “Book review: Collected Poems, by Roger McGough, 2003”

Supplementary: Last words on ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748

  A final post about ‘Clarissa’, I promise. Please be aware of multiple spoilers in the unlikely event you were planning to read this novel. I left Clarissa at the end of volume 4 of 9 in the hands of the sinister Robert Lovelace. In his citation of this novel in the ‘100 best novelsContinue reading “Supplementary: Last words on ‘Clarissa’, by Samuel Richardson, 1748”

Supplementary: Dress in Samuel Richardson’s ‘Clarissa’

Descriptions of clothing in ‘Clarissa’ are rare, which means that when they are included the reader pays particular attention. Two descriptions in particular stood out for me – one of Mr Solmes, and a little later, one of Clarissa: Describing Mr Solmes In volume 2, letter 34 of ‘Clarissa’, we are given our first clearContinue reading “Supplementary: Dress in Samuel Richardson’s ‘Clarissa’”