Book review: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013

Americanah is Adichie’s third novel, following Purple Hibiscus in 2003 and Half a Yellow Sun in 2006. It’s a more personal novel than the earlier works, reflecting a maturity of her style and writing. Although its reputation as a novel about race goes before it, Americanah is at its heart a love-story. It follows twoContinue reading “Book review: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013”

Was Fanny Price adopted?

(And more specifically, does her legal status within the Bertram household offer the reader any insight into her character?) Was Fanny adopted? Strictly speaking, no. Adoption as a legal concept did not exist in the UK until the twentieth century. The first legislation relating specifically to adoption was not passed until the 1920s. Before thenContinue reading “Was Fanny Price adopted?”

Book review: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, 1814*

I tried. I really did try to enjoy Mansfield Park. If ever a writer deserved the benefit of the doubt it is the author of the extraordinary Pride and Prejudice. But I wasn’t able to love this novel. There are without question scenes of fine writing and much to admire throughout, but it would makeContinue reading “Book review: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, 1814*”

Book review: I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld 38), by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2010

I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth in the series of Discworld novels that focus on the earlier years of witch in training Tiffany Aching. The wonderfully poetic title of the novel is Tiffany’s defiant statement that she will be her own witch, not conforming to the convention that witches of all ages wear black (i.e. ‘midnight’)Continue reading “Book review: I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld 38), by Sir Terry Pratchett, 2010”

Book review: Officers and Gentlemen, by Evelyn Waugh, 1955

Volume 2 in the Sword of Honour trilogy, and sequel to Men At Arms, Officers and Gentlemen sees our hero and Waugh avatar Guy Crouchback returning to London following the debacle at the end of the first novel. Despite the capital suffering from the worst weeks of the Blitz, aristocratic young men try their bestContinue reading “Book review: Officers and Gentlemen, by Evelyn Waugh, 1955”

Book review: Men at Arms, by Evelyn Waugh, 1952

Men at Arms (not to be confused with the Terry Pratchett Discworld novel of the same name) is the first in Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy of novels about his experiences in the Second World War. His avatar for the purposes of this semi-autobiographical novel is the urbane Guy Crouchback. Guy is in his mid-thirties,Continue reading “Book review: Men at Arms, by Evelyn Waugh, 1952”

Book review: Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart, 2020

About a third of the way through Shuggie Bain I found myself once again questioning the wisdom of the Booker Prize panel, concerned that this 2020 winning novel was not much more than a standard misery memoir. Because it certainly starts that way. This openly autobiographical novel tells the story of the author’s distressingly difficultContinue reading “Book review: Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart, 2020”

Book review: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, 2016

The Underground Railroad is a powerful exploration of the experiences of slaves in the USA in the first decades of the nineteenth century. It vividly brings to life the brutality of that period in images that will be hard for some readers to stomach. The history of the real underground railroad has been extensively documented,Continue reading “Book review: The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, 2016”

Book review: The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, 2020

If you enjoy murder mysteries but aren’t a fan of the more gory, bloody thirsty variety of the genre, you will love Richard Osman’s intelligent but ever so slightly sedate ‘The Thursday Murder Club’. Set in a retirement village, four friends gather once a week (“It was Thursday because there was a two-hour slot freeContinue reading “Book review: The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, 2020”

Book review: Milkman, by Anna Burns, 2018

I decided to end 2020 with a final Booker Prize winner, Anna Burns’ Milkman, which won the prize in 2018. It won from what seems a fairly weak long and shortlist, missing many of the big-hitters in English fiction in recent years, although I would freely admit to not having read any of the short-listedContinue reading “Book review: Milkman, by Anna Burns, 2018”