Week 29: Great Expectations for the new year

By | 2018-09-08T16:20:45+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|

Great Expectations book review What is it about coming to the end of one calendar year and beginning a new one that leads us to think our lives are going to improve? We go to bed shortly after midnight brimming with great expectations and too much eggnog, and wake up the next morning the [...]

Week 28: Re-reading Little Women, or how to ruin a great childhood memory

By | 2018-09-08T16:28:22+00:00 December 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Little Women book review Concord, Massachusetts in the mid-19th century was an exciting place to be, if you were of a thoughtful bent. For a small town, it was home to a substantial collection of philosophers and writers, the most prominent being Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the leading lights of the Transcendentalist movement. [...]

Week 27: Exploring the (he)art of Jane Austen

By | 2018-09-08T16:38:47+00:00 December 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Sense and Sensibility book review There are those who are born to Austen, and those who come to her over time; I’m one of the latter. I managed to gain an Honours degree in English without reading a single Austen novel. I know – shocking! I had to be told [...]

Week 26: Sin and The Scarlet Letter

By | 2018-09-08T16:48:27+00:00 December 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|

The Scarlet Letter book review I confess to having a link - an extremely tenuous one, I admit - to the author of The Scarlet Letter. Sarah Averill Wildes, my eighth great-aunt, was hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts, on the 19th of July, 1692. Her crime, they said, was witchcraft. One of [...]

Week 25: The unnatural beauty of Wuthering Heights

By | 2018-09-08T18:07:09+00:00 November 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Wuthering Heights book review "It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors." So wrote an American critic in 1848 upon publication of Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë's first and only novel. He was not alone. Shock, disgust and bewilderment were the most common reactions, with one reviewer even suggesting the book should be [...]

Week 24: Les Liaisons Dangereuses

By | 2018-09-08T18:16:47+00:00 November 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Les Liaisons Dangereuses book review When is the last time you wrote a letter? Or received one? I'm not talking about messaging someone on Facebook, having a chat on Whatsapp, or even exchanging emails - which, by the way, are going the way of the dodo. Teens have pretty much abandoned email in favour [...]

Week 23: Fanny Hill exposed

By | 2018-09-08T18:36:48+00:00 November 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Fanny Hill book review Forget what you've been told. Disregard the scenes of degradation, despair and early death depicted by Hogarth. The fact is, there was no greater bliss than working the sex trade in 18th Century London. The women in charge of the brothels were kind and caring, the clients were gallant and [...]

Week 22: Moll Flanders and the economics of vice

By | 2018-09-08T18:56:02+00:00 November 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Moll Flanders book review Having decided to spend the next few weeks revisiting some of my favourite "bad girls" I've started with the author who literally wrote the book on virtue succumbing to vanity and vice: Daniel Defoe and his eponymous heroine, Moll Flanders. (Spoiler alert: while virtue wins out in the end, it [...]

Week 19: Ali Smith, Queen of the Shortlists

By | 2018-09-08T19:16:25+00:00 October 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|

The Accidental book review George Saunders was the bookies' favourite but Ali Smith led the pack as far as sales of her book. I'm talking about two of the authors shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, whose winner was, indeed, Saunders for Lincoln in the Bardo. If I had the money - which [...]