We Need to Keep Talking About Kevin

In the book I’ve just finished reading, several rather unpleasant things happen. Arguably the first most significant even is when, about 200 pages in, a mother throws her six-year-old son across the nursery so hard he breaks his arm. Upsetting, yes, but not for the reasons you might think. Because as the arc of the […]

Read More

Squirrelling About – The Portable Veblen

It’s not often I finish a book in which the plot is almost entirely about a relationship, and I feel that it has been time well spent. Perhaps because of the squirrels, or the light-hearted take on the evils of big pharmaceutical companies, but whatever it is, The Portable Veblen has it. I really don’t […]

Read More

The Unbearable Inconsistency of Levin

While I’m not the first, and I very much doubt I will be the last, I thought I’d share some ideas that were roused in me after reading Anna Karenin (even that sentence shows I’ve been reading Tolstoy). Seeing as it is such a well-read tome, I won’t go into the overall plot too much. […]

Read More

After Me Comes the Flood

Last month, I went to the Emerald Street Literary Festival. Filled with intelligence, literature and inspiring ideas, it was a fantastic day out. And, best of all, it had a bookshop. In the end, me and my friend decided to buy three books each, that way we were effectively getting double for our money, as […]

Read More

Empress Orchid – The Mistrusted Empress

I first heard about ‘Empress Cixi’ through a BBC documentary called ‘The Ascent of Woman.’ An impressive summary of a huge swathe of human history, the programme asked questions about the subjugation of women over the centuries, and examined the reasons behind it. Much of it was startling, such as the fact that covering women […]

Read More

A Little Life

There’s something immensely satisfying in a novel that appears to start out one way, and then takes you somewhere you weren’t expecting. Initially, A Little Life appears to be a well-written if slightly superficial account of a group of young men in New York. The prose is beautiful, but not laboriously so. At a moment […]

Read More

The Versions of Us

A very interesting concept – three possible outcomes for the same couple. We’ve all questioned the ‘what ifs’ in our lives, so this novel has a go at unpicking the actual outcomes of decisions made over the span of an entire lifetime. What keeps you flicking the pages in this book (and I did read […]

Read More

The Dark Rooms Writers Have to Enter

Yes I’m a little late, but I have just devoured Emma Donoghue’s wonderful book, Room. Not since Christmas have I found a book that made me pause at every moment I could on my journeys around London, and even had me walking down the street reading in order to just get a few pages in […]

Read More

An Instruction

His breathing labours over my shoulder, huffing out breath perfumed with ham and disappointment. My hands clunk over the keys, slip off the C sharp, snag on the C. I can feel the wince behind me. Eight bars to go. I stretch out the middle finger, labouring too long in the shift in chords on the […]

Read More

Characters we Love to Hate

I’m far more tolerant in fiction than in the real world. Hours of page-turning will be spent on characters I thoroughly despise, who wouldn’t last more than a few minutes in conversation or who would get a quick ‘delete’ from my social media if they expressed similar views. Or possibly an extensive reply under an […]

Read More