Book review: Laughter in the Dark, by Vladimir Nabokov, 1932

Laughter in the Dark is a early novel by Vladimir Nabokov that contains some of the ideas and themes that he was to return to in the later Lolita. First, a quick plot summary: Albinus is a prosperous middle-aged art critic living in 1920’s Berlin, who in a classic mid-life crisis takes a mistress, the amoral 17-year-oldContinue reading “Book review: Laughter in the Dark, by Vladimir Nabokov, 1932”

Book review: Melmoth, by Sarah Perry, 2018

“Perry’s masterly piece of postmodern gothic is one of the great literary achievements of our young century and deserves all the prizes and praise that will be heaped upon it.” That was the Guardian’s lavish view of Perry’s 2018 follow up to the extraordinarily successful The Essex Serpent, although the quote is edited slightly onContinue reading “Book review: Melmoth, by Sarah Perry, 2018”

Book review: A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute, 1950

In the early 1950’s the world was full of survivors. Everyone had their own story about the second world war. Many people just wanted to get on with their lives. The UK was being rebuilt and a very different world was emerging. Some people didn’t like the direction the UK was going and decide toContinue reading “Book review: A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute, 1950”

Book review: Maskerade (Discworld 18) by Terry Pratchett, 1995

Regular readers of this blog (should there are any) will notice a pattern emerging in which I alternate between a classic/serious novel and the next book in the Discworld series. Today is a Discworld day, more specifically the wonderful Maskerade. And the good news is that this is one of the best, featuring the extraordinary witches ofContinue reading “Book review: Maskerade (Discworld 18) by Terry Pratchett, 1995”

Book review: The Old Devils, by Kingsley Amis, 1986

It is only human nature to assume that reasonable people will agree with you. So when I finished The Old Devils I looked for reviews in the expectation that they would broadly align with my thoughts – that the novel had stolen the 1986 Booker prize from The Handmaid’s Tale, that it was the work ofContinue reading “Book review: The Old Devils, by Kingsley Amis, 1986”

Book review: Paradise by Toni Morrison, 1997

Paradise has a gripping opening: They shoot the white girl first, but the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. The rest of this complex, challenging novel is all about unpicking this first sentence – what has driven these men to attack these women?  They are 17 miles from a townContinue reading “Book review: Paradise by Toni Morrison, 1997”

Book review: Titus Alone, Mervyn Peake, 1959

This is sometimes a worthwhile exercise – try to imagine what it would have been like to read a novel such as Titus Alone when it was first published. Titus Groan and Gormenghast had been published in 1946 and 1950 respectively, and while the narrative had come to a natural close for many of the characters,Continue reading “Book review: Titus Alone, Mervyn Peake, 1959”

Book review: Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake, 1950

The second novel in the series, Gormenghast picks up where Titus Groan left off, returning to the castle where the new earl, 77th of his line, grows up in his vast crumbling demesne into a life governed by strict and stifling ritual. Peake reintroduces his cast of extraordinary characters in a leisurely manner – he is inContinue reading “Book review: Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake, 1950”

Book review: Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake, 1946

God I loved this book and its sequels. They enchanted me in a way that very few other books have done in my lifetime – possibly only teenagers can really feel this way about novels. Decades on I can look at them a bit more dispassionately and see their (very minor) flaws, but they remainContinue reading “Book review: Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake, 1946”