Book review: Witches Abroad, (Discworld 12) by Terry Pratchett, 1991

Is it possible to have two favourite Discworld books? I have three favourite children after all, so conceptually it should be possible. Were it to be deemed so by the powers that be, then ‘Witches Abroad’ would definitely be my joint favourite Discworld novel alongside ‘The Night Watch’. Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, her perfect foil,Continue reading “Book review: Witches Abroad, (Discworld 12) by Terry Pratchett, 1991”

Book review: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, by Italo Calvino, 1979

Post-modernist. There, I’ve said it. It’s impossible to review this novel without using this term, so I might as well get it out of the way, and hopefully not come back to its constraining definitions. Published in the original Italian in 1979 and translated into English shortly thereafter, If on a Winter’s Night a TravellerContinue reading “Book review: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, by Italo Calvino, 1979”

Book review: Reaper Man (Discworld 11) by Terry Pratchett, 1991

As the reaction to my Facebook post about Pyramids (Discworld 7) attests, the Discworld novels are hugely loved by a community of readers across the world. People love the novels for many reasons, but I think one of the most common reason is the enormous empathy that Sir Terry shared with his readers. He knew ourContinue reading “Book review: Reaper Man (Discworld 11) by Terry Pratchett, 1991”

Book Review: Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, by E W Hornung, 1899

Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman has not aged well. While his contemporary Sherlock Holmes has prospered in the twenty-first century, with films, television adaptation and yet more ‘inspired by’ novels, Raffles languishes largely forgotten. In this post I am going to explore the reasons for this neglect and suggest a possible way back into the stories. Raffles,Continue reading “Book Review: Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman, by E W Hornung, 1899”

Book review: Moving Pictures (Discworld 10) by Terry Pratchett, 1990

At this point (1990) in his writing career, Terry Pratchett was producing two Discworld novels a year. He’d published Sourcery (Discworld 5) and Wyrd Sisters (DW 6) in 1988, Pyramids (DW 7) and Guards! Guards! (DW 8) in 1989, and Eric (DW 9) already in 1990, before he produced Moving Pictures for the Christmas sales atContinue reading “Book review: Moving Pictures (Discworld 10) by Terry Pratchett, 1990”

Book review: The Ballad of Peckham Rye, by Muriel Spark, 1960

Let’s look first at that title, The Ballad of Peckham Rye. In what sense is the novel a ballad, a “poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas; a slow or romantic song”? In using this formulation Spark is light-heartedly comparing her story to a traditional love song, where hearts are broken, women areContinue reading “Book review: The Ballad of Peckham Rye, by Muriel Spark, 1960”

Book review: The Machine Stops, by E M Forster, 1909

The Machine Stops is a strangely prescient Edwardian novella by an author better known for his writing on the delicate nuances of class behaviour amongst English people abroad. I tend to think of Forster as a modernist, but this text is closer to the Victorian science fiction of Wells and Verne than it is of the BloomsburyContinue reading “Book review: The Machine Stops, by E M Forster, 1909”

Book review: Eric, by Terry Pratchett, (Discworld 9) 1990

Eric, the ninth Discworld novel, was originally published as a Discworld story to distinguish it from its predecessors in the series. It came in a large format with illustrations throughout by Pratchett’s then cover illustrator, Josh Kirby. This is going to make me hugely unpopular with Pratchett fans everywhere, but I have never been a big fan of Kirby’s workContinue reading “Book review: Eric, by Terry Pratchett, (Discworld 9) 1990”

Book review: Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, 2017

When Lincoln in the Bardo won the 2017 Booker prize, much of the media coverage focused on the apparent ‘difficulty of the novel’, probably encouraged by Saunders’s interviews on the topic. In fact the novel is wonderfully accessible, once the reader has adapted to the slightly unusual narrative technique. The novel has many different narrators –Continue reading “Book review: Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, 2017”