Book review: Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood, 1996

Alias Grace is a fictionalised account of the mid-nineteenth century murder of Thomas Kinnear, a Canadian farmer, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. Two servants, Grace Marks and James McDermott, were convicted of the murder of Kinnear, and while McDermott was executed, Marks was sentenced to life in prison. This is Grace’s story. The novel opens several yearsContinue reading “Book review: Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood, 1996”

Book review: The Constant Rabbit, by Jasper Fforde, 2020

Jasper Fforde is one of our most consistently inventive writers. In The Constant Rabbit he has once again shown this with a surreal allegory which at its heart is about difference. What could so easily have been a heavy-handed satire on Brexit and racism becomes a thoughtful discussion of how people cope with discrimination, bothContinue reading “Book review: The Constant Rabbit, by Jasper Fforde, 2020”

Book review: In a Free State by V S Naipaul, 1971

The version of In a Free State which won the 1971 Booker prize consists of a framing narrative and three short stories – “One out of Many,” “Tell Me Who to Kill,” and the title story, “In a Free State.” In his introduction to the edition of the novel that I have just read, NaipaulContinue reading “Book review: In a Free State by V S Naipaul, 1971”

Book review: Troubles, by J G Farrell, 1970

It’s really nice to now be able to give an early Booker prize-winning novel a positive review, after having severely panned John Berger’s G., followed by the indifferent Something to Answer for. Because Troubles was wonderful. (OK, strictly speaking Troubles isn’t an ‘early’ Booker prize winner. It won the Lost Booker Prize in 2010, when the absenceContinue reading “Book review: Troubles, by J G Farrell, 1970”

Book review: Something to Answer For, by P H Newby, 1969

Let’s be honest – this novel would be out of print and gathering dust if it wasn’t for it being the winner of the inaugural Booker prize in 1969. That’s really its only point of interest. Otherwise the plot is banal to the extent that it exists at all, the characterisation outside the handful ofContinue reading “Book review: Something to Answer For, by P H Newby, 1969”

Review: Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville, 1853

Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby the Scrivener, A Story of Wall Street‘ tells the curious story of a scrivener – a copyist – who gives up on work and life, responding to all requests for him to do anything with the simple “I would prefer not to“. The narrator, his employer, knows almost nothing about Bartleby –Continue reading “Review: Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville, 1853”

Book review: G. by John Berger, 1972

The Bad Sex prize was set up in 1993 by Auberon Waugh, with the intention of “gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels”. It’s such a pity that the award wasn’t around when John Berger published G., because he wouldContinue reading “Book review: G. by John Berger, 1972”