Book review: Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, 2020

It feels as if I am the last book blogger on the planet to get round to reading this magnificent novel. I am more than happy to join in with the praise this wonderful book has been showered with, because it is extraordinarily powerful, easily the best novel I have read this year. Even ifContinue reading “Book review: Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, 2020”

Book review: Wintersmith, (Discworld 35) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2006

The Tiffany Aching series of novels gave Discworld a wonderful burst of new life – almost half of the last dozen novels in the series were Tiffany stories. We have followed Tiffany’s story since she was nine, and her training as a witch now sees her placed with Miss Treason, a 113-year old witch renownedContinue reading “Book review: Wintersmith, (Discworld 35) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2006”

Book review: The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch, 1978

I’ve just spent a week in the company of a monster, and I didn’t enjoy it. I really hated The Sea, The Sea. Or rather I really hated the novel’s protagonist, which on this occasion amounted to the same thing. For a novelist with a reputation for labyrinthine plots, this narrative is fairly straightforward. TheatreContinue reading “Book review: The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch, 1978”

Book review: Thud! (Discworld 34) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2005

I read Thud! when it was first published, and can still remember the slightly puzzling feeling of disappointment. His recent novels – Going Postal and Monstrous Regiment for example – had been imperious, but this was a slight mis-fire. Or so I remembered. But memory can be misleading – would the novel have the sameContinue reading “Book review: Thud! (Discworld 34) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2005”

Book review: A Hat Full of Sky, (Discworld 32) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2004

Books can help us navigate our way through life. People who don’t read can get on well of course, but having books with you along the way can help hugely. I can’t think of a greater challenge in life than the transition to adolescence, and I equally can’t imagine how amazing it would have beenContinue reading “Book review: A Hat Full of Sky, (Discworld 32) by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2004”

Book review: How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the FA Cup, by J L Carr, 1975

J L Carr’s A Month in the Country is an under-appreciated masterpiece. The slightly earlier How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the FA Cup shows some of the promise seen in full bloom in the later novella, but has a comedic, not to say comic, premise that holds the author back from revealing his full potential.Continue reading “Book review: How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the FA Cup, by J L Carr, 1975”

Book Review: The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens, 1970

This 1970 Booker winner opens with the following quote: “If patients are disturbed, their families are often very disturbing.” This really tells you all you need to know about this novel. The central character, Norman Zweck, is mentally ill, and his illness can be traced directly back to his profoundly dysfunctional family. Norman comes fromContinue reading “Book Review: The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens, 1970”

Book Review: Don’t Believe a Word, by David Shariatmadari, 2019

Don’t Believe a Word is subtitled “From Myths to Misunderstandings – How Language Really Works” which is a pretty bold claim, and one I suspect Shariatmadari would probably disavow. Because this is much more a summary of the current state of research into some of the larger issues around language acquisition and use than anythingContinue reading “Book Review: Don’t Believe a Word, by David Shariatmadari, 2019”