Category: Books & Reviews

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The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is an unrelentingly awful tramp through the worst parts of early American capitalism. Normally I would hate something this despairing, but actually I found myself drawn in and – unusually for me – unable to look away. Upton Sinclair’s expose of the Chicago meat packing...

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Did not finish – reading by numbers

Adding a book to the ‘did not finish’ pile always feels like a failure. On whose part, I don’t know – the reader and the writer are sometimes equally to blame. There are plenty of (probably) truly excellent books that I just haven’t been able to finish, and loads of...

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Review: A love letter to the great American road trip, featuring gods, demons and zombies. An interesting tale told in fits and bursts. American Gods, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, 2001) I’m mostly familiar with Neil Gaiman from his work on Dr Who, and for being the other half of Amanda Palmer....

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Beware of Pity – Stefan Zweig – review

Beware of Pity – Stefan Zweig Pushkin Press (July 13, 2011) Review: Zweig’s masterpiece is ultimately over-long and rather pointless. It is just before the outbreak of World War I and young Austrian officer Anton Hofmiller is stationed at a Hungarian outpost. He befriends a local rich family, the Kekesfalvas,...

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The Sea – John Banville

Review: At sea in a waterlogged tale of pretentiousness. I love literature and literary fiction. I don’t demand that my favourite authors and books have a distinct plot or fall into a fixed genre. I don’t need to ‘identify’ with the main characters, and in fact there don’t even really...

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Country of the Pointed Firs – Sarah Orne Jewett

Review: Perfect for a holiday read – or for dreaming about being on holiday. It’s not very often that I finish a book and immediately want to read everything else by that author. It happened with Tove Jansson, Elizabeth von Arnim and now again with Sarah Orne Jewett. An unnamed...

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The Lost Dog – Michelle de Kretser

“The Lost Dog”, Michelle de Kretser. (Chatto & Windus, London: 2008) Review – Beautiful & tedious & gorgeous & dull. Yes, all of those things. I had to re-borrow this book from the library to try to remember what it was about and if I’d liked it. In general, I’d...

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Song of the Lark – Willa Cather

“Song of the Lark”, Willa Cather; (Kindle edition), 1915 Review – A worthy American classic I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Willa Cather before picking up this book. She’s an important classic American author – but somehow I’d missed her entirely. And, in fact, I may still have...

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte

“The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” (Kindle edition), 1848. A review of Anne Bronte’s forgotten classic. It’s no secret that I adore classic novels. Just a few days after borrowing my Kindle in Italy, C’s mum handed it back to me and said “you’ve got a lot of Anthony Trollope, haven’t...

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Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

“Life After Life” Doubleday, 2013 (Kindle) Could also be called “Fifty Ways to Kill a Woman”. Ursula Todd, doomed to live her life over and over again, tries so hard every time to get it right. But perhaps you never can get it right. We don’t really get second chances....