Rites of Passage

The 1980 Booker Prize winner…

Rites of Passage by William Golding Golding’s book divided the Booker judges initially, as it was the first part of a planned trilogy, (the other two volumes were published several years later). Could the prize be given to a part work?  Of course it could – and that has happened several times since in Booker Read More

Best of Beryl

The Booker Bridesmaid & the Best of Beryl

I wrote this piece for Shiny New Books’s Booker Celebrations week – coming to you at the beginning of July, where it’ll be included in a post about many of the wonderful novels that were shortlisted for the Booker Prize but didn’t win. I thought I’d share it here first though… Beryl Bainbridge – Shortlisted Read More

Schimmelpfennig

A novel with a rather long title…

One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Translated by Jamie Bulloch The worst thing about this book is its cumbersome title – which is actually the beginning of the novel’s first sentence, which continues thus: …just after daybreak, a solitary wolf crossed the frozen river marking the Read More

LBD OK

Two books about fashion and design…

Vogue Essentials: The Little Black Dress by Chloe Fox This book arrived and I couldn’t stop myself from immediately becoming totally immersed in it. The idea is simple – stunning photography from the Vogue archive – from Beaton to Demarchelier via Bailey, models Shrimpton on the cover to Moss and Lily Cole, plus Coco Chanel Read More

Our Souls at Night

20 Books of Summer #1 – Why have I never read Kent Haruf before?

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Over the years, so many people have sung the praises of Kent Haruf, but he remained undiscovered for me until I got one of his novels at a book sale – then it sat on the shelf until I picked it up for this years 20 Books of Read More

Educated Miss Laila

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

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Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More

Sue Black

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

Six degrees tipping

Six Degrees of Separation: The Tipping Point

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.Our starting book this month is the non-Fiction bestseller… The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell This book, first published in 2000, (which I reviewed here in 2009) was one of Read More

Abbess

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More

Youngson

Two lonely people, linking their lives in letters…

Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson This novel told in letters took me pleasantly by surprise. Within pages I was hooked and I read it in one extended sitting, shedding a tear along the way as I followed the story of the developing friendship between two lonely middle-aged people.  Tina and Anders are separated Read More

Once-Upon-A-Time-in-The-East

A Wild Swans for this generation?

Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo It is inevitable that Guo’s memoir, which was shortlisted this year for the Rathbones Folio Prize (which I wrote about here), will be compared with Jung Chang’s brilliant family history and memoir Wild Swans, with Guo adding her story as a young woman from the Read More

Desert Island Books

My new Desert Island Library – 100 Books

I’ve had a tab entitled ‘Desert Island LIbrary‘ on this blog for ages, in which I imagined if I were stranded on a desert island, which books I’d like washed up onto the shore in a waterproof trunk!  I started off writing short takes on the books to go into this trunk – but it Read More

Holiday

1974 joint Booker Prize winner…

Holiday by Stanley Middleton Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Holiday at a book sale, only knowing that it had shared the 1974 Booker prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist. I’d otherwise never heard of Middleton, so I was surprised to find this was the 14th novel of his 44-novel career!  If Read More

Chevalier Magnan

Two novels with a French connection – Chevalier & Magnan

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier This was our Book Group’s choice for this month – ‘Blue’ being the key word we’d picked it by.  This was Chevalier’s first novel, published in 1997, and it is different to all of her others by having a dual timeline, following the stories of two women, centuries apart. Read More

Honeyman and Houm

Two novels in which the protagonist is NOT ‘completely fine’

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman Most people I know who have read this book have loved it – but not everyone, notably Rebecca (who reviewed it here).  I must say that although it was an entertaining read that I sped through, I’m tending towards Rebecca’s view.  You’ve also probably seen all over Read More

six degrees poisonwood

Six Degrees of Separation: The Poisonwood Bible

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Click on the titles to go to my reviews where they exist.  Our starting book this month is the chunky literary bestseller: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver This Read More

i-am-i-am-i-am

“17 Brushes with Death”

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell Subtitled “17 Brushes With Death” O’Farrell’s memoir was recently longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize, and I (and others on our shadow panel) were devastated when it wasn’t shortlisted. For me, it could have replaced Ayobami’s Stay With Me or perhaps Rausing’s Mayhem, although I can Read More

Rathbones Folio

From one book prize to another: The Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist

One of the younger book prizes, the Rathbones Folio Prize began life as the Folio Prize,  sponsored by the Folio Society in 2014.  The prize money has varied, but is currently £20,000 sponsored by the investment bank, and this year’s winner will be announced on May 8th. The prize has an interesting and unashamedly literary Read More

McBain Berthon Ishiguro

Review Catch-Up – McBain, Berthon, Ishiguro

Driving Lessons by Ed McBain McBain is most famous for his many 57th Precinct novels, but he has written many other books too. This slim book from 1999 was part of a series of novellas from Orion called Criminal Records. Some were published separately, the others anthologised in one volume edited by Otto Penzler. A Read More

Wellcome Book Prize 2018 shortlist

Wellcome Book Prize Shadow Panel Results…

It’s been a busy month or two of reading the six wonderfully varied books shortlisted for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize. The judges will announce their result on Monday, but today our informal shadow panel is posting its winner, and our winner is:  TO BE A MACHINE by MARK O’CONNELL  Here’s what the shadow panel Read More

Shortlist Blog Tour Banner

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour

Today, it’s mine and Paul’s (Halfman, Halfbook) turn on the Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour. Each day two bloggers are covering one of the books on the shortlist for this prize which will be announced on Monday. One will review, the other will host an extract, so head over to Paul’s blog (Halfman, Halfbook) to read a Read More

Shortlist Blog Tour Banner

Wellcome Book Prize #5 – Rausing

My penultimate review of the six books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize. The final one for The Vaccine Race will be my stop on the official blog tour, for the prize which starts tomorrow (details above). Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing You may remember much news coverage of the Rausing family, heirs Read More

the1977club

1977 week – ‘Here’s Johnny!’

Twice a year, Simon and Karen host a club where we all read from a particular year. This time it was 1977. This turned out to be not the best year for me – the book I would have chosen, had I not read it before would have been Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym Read More

Adebayo Mannix

Wellcome Book Prize #3 & #4: Adébáyọ̀ & Mannix

Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ Adébáyọ̀’s novel is the one fiction selection on this year’s Wellcome Prize shortlist. Although it has much to say about the patriarchal society of Nigeria in the 1980s, it surprised me with how much it does meet the prize criteria of a book that celebrates, ” the many ways Read More

Butchering

Wellcome Book Prize #2 – The Butchering Art

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris This is the second of my reviews of books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, read as part of the shadow panel. Lindsey Fitzharris is an American with a doctorate from Oxford in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, and a post-doc Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust Read More

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Before it gets recycled…

Sometimes, a book is just falling apart so much, and you have no need to keep it despite it having some sentimental value, that the best thing is to recycle it. This is the case with my Puffin Songbook. First published in 1956, mine is the second reprint from 1963. The cover is by Ronald Read More