The Magician and his Wife

Edith and Oliver by Michelle Forbes I managed to miss Forbes’s debut, Ghost Moth, which received rave reviews – something I should remedy having read her second novel. Edith and Oliver is set in the world of the Edwardian music hall and after a flash-forward prologue, begins with a memorable morning after the night before Read More

Meanwhile, at Shiny…

Here are links to my recent posts over at Shiny New Books… Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh This is one of my most-loved TV programmes ever, and the original play is now 40 years old. Penguin have reissued it with a new intro by Leigh – and it still holds up today! Little top up? Read More

A life in a day… again and again and again…

Groundhog Day – Book by Danny Rubin, Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin August has been such a busy month. Not only have I managed to read 19 books, but I managed to go to the theatre twice and forgot to tell you about the first time when I took my daughter to the Old Read More

Branagh at the Garrick

The Entertainer by John Osborne Having a potentially wet weekend to myself, no chance of the planned car boot sale taking place, I looked to find myself a theatre ticket for a day out. I went to the Garrick to see Ken Branagh’s company do Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade last December (see here). I wanted to book for the Read More

Branagh at the Garrick – Rattigan double-bill

(republished into its original place in the time-line from my lost post archive) I went to see Kenneth Branagh’s new theatre company perform a double-bill of one-act plays by Terence Rattigan last night. The two plays, Harlequinade from the 1940s when Rattigan was at his critical peak, and All On Her Own, a twenty minute Read More

Two National Treasures at the Oxford Literary Festival

Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner in Conversation Earlier this evening I went into Oxford for my only visit to the Oxford Literary Festival this year. It was a sell-out event at the Sheldonian – with two national treasures who have been collaborating for decades in conversation. We were all crammed into the Sheldonian. I’d bought Read More

My first Penelope Fitzgerald read…

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald Penelope Fitzgerald is yet another of those lauded middle-brow female novelists from the second half of the twentieth century that I had not yet tackled. I’ve long been a champion of Beryl Bainbridge and Muriel Spark; I’ve added Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Forster, Edna O’Brien, Penelope Mortimer and not forgetting Barbara Read More

Would you do this on holiday?

Lazy Days by Erlend Loe Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw. With its irresistible cover I was always going to pick this book up to examine it. I read the blurb on the flyleaf and discovered that the author, new to me, was Norwegian, and that the book was likely to be quirky and probably Read More

NT Live Theatre at the Cinema x 3 from the archives

Frankenstein – NT Live (June 2012) I’m having a break from Beryl today, as I’m dying to tell you about the film I went to see last night, because if I delayed and you wanted to go, you might have missed it… Last summer one of the biggest critical smashes in the theatre was Danny Boyle’s production of Read More

Wendy takes the lead …

Wendy & Peter Pan by Ella Hickson, RSC at the RST, Stratford What a treat!  Juliet and I went to the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday night to see their new family production Wendy & Peter Pan.  Yes, you read it right – Wendy comes first in Ella Hickson’s re-telling of J M Read More

Books in Bath and a French Farce

Yesterday my daughter and I went to Bath, it’s only an hour and a half from us, and the delights of the city are many. Yesterday was all about shopping, dining and theatre – we’ve done the heritage bit on previous visits.  We arrived in time for lunch (Nandos), then got stuck into shopping… One Read More

Nice little surprises

It’s lovely when you get a nice little surprise (or ‘pleasing’ as Lynne at DGR would call them). I’ve had a couple of good bookish ones this morning. Firstly, I unpacked my acquisitions from the charity shop yesterday. I know I don’t need books, but my daughter was having her hair cut, and what was Read More

Meet Mr Sulky

Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard, translated by David McClintock When Stu announced he would host Thomas Bernhard Reading Week this week, I first thought ‘Who?’. Just a little research revealed that he was considered one of Austria’s leading writers of the post-war era, and he was also rather controversial for constantly criticising Austria – a Nestbeschmutzer (one Read More

A family drama with a Hollywood backdrop

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub A novel set during the golden age of Hollywood has an instant allure, promising old-fashioned glamour and a look behind the scenes of the movies, plus possibly a whiff of scandal. That’s not what this novel is really about though, despite its title and monochrome cover … Read More

Nights at the Theatre

Front Row: Evenings at the Theatre by Beryl Bainbridge From 1992 until 2002, Beryl was the theatre reviewer for The Oldie magazine, and  her reviews have been collected in this volume. Collected columns like these can easily date, however Beryl prefaces each review in her idiosyncratic style with comments about what she’d been doing, or thoughts about arriving at the Read More

A Beryl Bibliography – part two

Following on from last week’s post highlighting Beryl’s earlier novels, here is a brief survey of her later novels and other works to help you choose which books, if any, you’d like to read if you join in with Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week in mid-June. Once more, clicking on a book title will take you Read More

It’s. Bill Shatner’s. Autobiography. Yes. Captain Kirk…

Up Till Now: The Autobiography by William Shatner with David Fisher I can’t remember if I’ve confessed up to it since I’ve been blogging, but I used to be a full-blown Trekker – a Star Trek fan.  I managed to stop just short of buying a uniform, but had all the videos of all the Read More

A groundbreaking novel…

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive.   Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Jacqueline Susann’s 1966 novel was hugely influential; it paved the way for Jackie Collins and all the other bonkbusters that followed. I’d been wanting to reach this book for ages, but knew nothing Read More

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

This was a lovely showbiz memoir to read – Julie has the ability to see the good in everybody and make friends wherever she goes. This first volume of memoirs stops at the point Walt Disney was poised to make her an Oscar-winning megastar, but is no less interesting for that. I hope there will Read More