Book review: The Colour of Magic (Discworld 1) by Terry Pratchett, 1983

So this is where it all began. I returned to the original Discworld novel as a change of pace from Dickens and with one question at the front of my mind – would it stand the test of time? How well would it have aged, and how fully formed was Pratchett’s early vision of Discworld?Continue reading “Book review: The Colour of Magic (Discworld 1) by Terry Pratchett, 1983”

Book review: You Can’t Do Both, by Kingsley Amis, 1994

‘You Can’t do Both’ was published in 1994, a year before Amis’s death. It is strongly autobiographical, in particular the central scene when the main characters, Robin Davies and his girlfriend, Nancy, decide at the last moment not to go through with a planned illegal abortion. It is constructed in four long chapters, each representingContinue reading “Book review: You Can’t Do Both, by Kingsley Amis, 1994”

Book review: The History of Mr Polly by H G Wells, 1910

Most Victorian novels were about prosperous people. Yes, they sometimes had money worries, but they weren’t urban working class. Dickens changed all that, and people from all parts of the class spectrum became suitable subjects. However, the petit bourgouise, the shop keeping class, technically bosses in that they were self employed, but dirt poor nonetheless, wereContinue reading “Book review: The History of Mr Polly by H G Wells, 1910”

Book review: Joy in the Morning by P G Wodehouse, 1946

I had a fairly strong reaction when I last read some Wodehouse, and I suspect my record of the event is intemperate. Having calmed down I returned to ‘Joy in the Morning’ determined to be fair minded. In that same spirit of fairness I ought to acknowledge that Wodehouse has some heavy-weight admirers whose opinionContinue reading “Book review: Joy in the Morning by P G Wodehouse, 1946”

Book review: The Understudy by David Nicholls

Sometimes novels don’t quite work. They really ought to, but at the end you are left with a vague feeling that the author missed an opportunity to write an entertaining, satisfying relationship novel, and instead wrote three quarters of one. This was Nicholls’ second book after ‘Starter for Ten’, which has a single white youngContinue reading “Book review: The Understudy by David Nicholls”

Book review: Three Men in a Boat (not to mention the dog) – Jerome K Jerome – 1889

Mildly amusing. Whimsical. Harmless  These are the words that come to mind when I reflect on the experience of reading this Victorian “classic”. For some reason, while many comic novels age appallingly, Three Men in a Boat seems bullet-proof against the passage of time. It is feather-light – there is no plot to speak of,Continue reading “Book review: Three Men in a Boat (not to mention the dog) – Jerome K Jerome – 1889”

Book review: Scoop – Evelyn Waugh – 1938

Read in a Penguin Classics edition Scoop is, by Waugh’s standards, a fairly light-hearted satire on Fleet Street, Government, and the British upper classes. Nobody dies or gets stranded in remote jungles; instead we have what comes closest to a happy ending, in which everyone gets what they wanted. I usually avoid writing at tooContinue reading “Book review: Scoop – Evelyn Waugh – 1938”

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Something Rotten is the fourth in Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” series. I am a big fan of Fforde – he has a comic inventiveness mixed with erudition that is rare in today’s literature. He is hard to categorise – comic fiction certainly, but that is only the start of it. In Thursday Next he has createdContinue reading “Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde”

Starkadder Mad

More on Cold Comfort – not that I am obsesssed or anything. The original novel, Stella Gibbons’s first, was published in the early 1930’s. It has a wonderful period feel – although it is set a few years in the future, and there are glimpses of how the world has changed, with video phones andContinue reading “Starkadder Mad”

Cold Comfort Farm – a classic

I have a confession to make – I love Cold Comfort Farm so much that I/we named my firstborn after two of the principal characters. I figured this would at least give him a great conversation opener when he finally gets interested in girls. CCF is in my top three works of fiction of allContinue reading “Cold Comfort Farm – a classic”