Book review: King Solomon’s Mines, by H Rider Haggard 1885

When I was very much younger, so much younger than today, my parents had a lavishly illustrated collector’s edition of ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ in their modest collection of books. The illustrations were vivid, and I can remember them to this day. This must have been why I was able to recall a vast amount ofContinue reading “Book review: King Solomon’s Mines, by H Rider Haggard 1885”

Book review: Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth, 1800

Maria Edgeworth was, in her time, an extremely successful author, and is claimed as an influence on a number of other writers, not least of which is Jane Austen. ‘Castle Rackrent’ is an early work, a short novella with a title suggestive of the gothic, but actually totally devoid of anything mysterious, other-worldly or supernatural. Continue reading “Book review: Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth, 1800”

Book review: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, 1843

Or to give it its full title, ‘A Christmas Carol in prose, being a Ghost story of Christmas’. I challenge you to find a better first line that the one Dickens uses to open ‘A Christmas Carol’: “Marley was dead: to begin with.” I love that use of the colon in the middle of thisContinue reading “Book review: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, 1843”

Book review: The Hobbit, or There and Back again, by J R R Tolkien 1937

It was a pleasure returning to Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ after a break of several decades (plus the three Peter Jackson films of course). It’s a lovely young person’s novel – the description on the blurb of it being a children’s novel is a little imprecise for my liking, as anyone under the age of approximatelyContinue reading “Book review: The Hobbit, or There and Back again, by J R R Tolkien 1937”

Book review: Black Mischief, by Evelyn Waugh, 1932

In many of my previous reviews I have struggled to respond to texts that either contain offensive language – that use racially insulting terms, that denigrate gay people or women, or otherwise offend my twenty-first century sensibilities. I usually try to draw a distinction between those texts that use offensive language which was in commonContinue reading “Book review: Black Mischief, by Evelyn Waugh, 1932”

Book review: Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams,

The novels in the Hitchhiker series have a complex publishing history. ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ (the answer to which is, of course, 42),  was originally an outline for a Doctor Who series, Dr Who and the Krikketmen. For some unknown reason the proposal was rejected by the BBC, and it went on to eventuallyContinue reading “Book review: Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams,”

Book review: The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler, 1943

My binge reading of Chandler continues with ‘The Lady in the Lake’, a title that does two things. It tells us to expect a body to turn up sooner or later in a lake, and hints more obliquely that there may be Arthurian elements to the narrative. Marlowe takes a case that he would normallyContinue reading “Book review: The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler, 1943”

Book review: The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler, 1953

I first read ‘The Long Goodbye’ around 25 years ago, and returning to it was an absolute pleasure. It is another Marlowe novel, and is (as they all are), a gem. Some novels change over time, but Chandler’s work has a timeless quality. It doesn’t matter what is happening in the outside world, Marlowe will alwaysContinue reading “Book review: The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler, 1953”

Comment: Structured or formulaic?

I have been trying to decide whether there is really a difference between a text that is highly structured, such as a sonnet for example, and a text that follows rules of composition that are formulaic. I have a suspicion that the difference may be limited: when we like the text we say it isContinue reading “Comment: Structured or formulaic?”

Book review: Wyrd Sisters (Discworld 6) by Terry Pratchett, 1988

‘Wyrd Sisters’ sees the return of Terry Pratchett’s magnificent three, Granny Weatherwax; Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, Discworld’s most chaotic coven. The opening of the novel is closely modelled on Pratchett’s source text, Macbeth: King Verence I of Lancre, a small mountainous kingdom high in the Ramtops, is murdered by his cousin, Duke Felmet, andContinue reading “Book review: Wyrd Sisters (Discworld 6) by Terry Pratchett, 1988”