Book review: Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford 1949

‘Love in a Cold Climate’, a companion volume to ‘The Pursuit of Love’, tells the story of an extended family of aristocrats’ lives and loves between the wars. It was published in 1949, when the world it describes was already becoming a distant memory. The large armies of domestic servants – it is said, onlyContinue reading “Book review: Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford 1949”

Book review: Sourcery, (Discworld 5) by Terry Pratchett, 1988

‘Sourcery’ is book five in Terry Pratchett’s magisterial Discworld series. It features the return of Rincewind, the world’s worst wizard of whom it was said that when he “dies the average occult ability of the human race will actually go up by a fraction”. In the Discworld we have seen thus far, (i.e. in books 1-4) the wizardingContinue reading “Book review: Sourcery, (Discworld 5) by Terry Pratchett, 1988”

Book review: An Awfully Big Adventure, by Beryl Bainbridge, 1989 (Spoiler free, for a change)

An Awfully Big Adventure’ represents three firsts for me – it is the first Beryl Bainbridge novel I have read; this is the first deliberately spoiler-free review I have written; and never before have I finished a novel and immediately gone back to the beginning and started again. I suspect from the way the novel isContinue reading “Book review: An Awfully Big Adventure, by Beryl Bainbridge, 1989 (Spoiler free, for a change)”

Book review: The Third Man, by Graham Greene, 1949

I’ve read plenty of novels that have been turned into films, and I have even read one or two novelisations, but this is a one-off: Greene was commissioned to write a screenplay, and given a location in which it should be set, but before writing the script he wrote the novel on which the screenplay was goingContinue reading “Book review: The Third Man, by Graham Greene, 1949”

Book review: 1606 William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro

I am coming late to the Shapiro party, and that is only in part because I got stuck halfway through this actually very readable account of  England in 1606 and the plays Shakespeare wrote in this year. (Quite rightly Shapiro cheats a little and also spends some time in 1605, looking in detail in particularContinue reading “Book review: 1606 William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro”

Book review: The Valley of Fear, by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1914

‘The Valley of Fear‘ is last and the least well-known of Conan Doyle’s four Holmes novels (the others being ‘The Study in Scarlet’, ‘The Sign of the Four’, and ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’). It features a brief appearance by that Napoleon of crime, Professor Moriarty. We last saw Moriarty some 20 years earlier inContinue reading “Book review: The Valley of Fear, by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1914”

Book review: Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1945

Why reread ‘Animal Farm‘? I could spin you a line that the novel has a new importance in our post-Brexit world, but the honest answer is that my list of reviews looks a bit sparse without this novel. I can’t really claim to have read extensively across the great novels written in English without including ‘AnimalContinue reading “Book review: Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1945”

Book review: The Driver’s Seat, by Muriel Spark, 1970

What a disconcerting, puzzling book this is. At barely 100 pages it is little more than a long short story, but Spark gives the reader a lot to think about in this strange tale of her lead character’s last few hours on earth. “She will be found tomorrow morning dead from multiple stab wounds, her wristsContinue reading “Book review: The Driver’s Seat, by Muriel Spark, 1970”

Book review: The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, 1886

Authors of classic works of literature tend to gain a reputation in popular culture – Lawrence is raunchy, Dickens is long-winded and a bit preposterous, Joyce impenetrable, Pinter full of pauses, and Shakespeare “difficult”. Sometimes these reputations are justified; more often they are cliches that are dispelled as soon as one reads the author concerned. ButContinue reading “Book review: The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, 1886”

Supplementary: The Day of the Triffids – a closer look at murder/suicide

Yesterday’s post on ‘The Day of the Triffids’ was getting overly long, and I wanted to spend some time looking more closely at the scene below from chapter 5, ‘A Light in the Night’. I think it demonstrates Wyndham’s “less is more” technique. it also provides a further perspective on the question of how toContinue reading “Supplementary: The Day of the Triffids – a closer look at murder/suicide”