Category Archives: Novel

“The Fire from Heaven” by Mary Renault

From the start I was hooked, in a way: beautifully, intricately written, researched, and imagined, so at every turn I felt in the hands of a writer of the very top class. I knew she would be taking me on … Continue reading

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“The Big Over Easy” by Jasper Fforde

A clever, funny and surreal whodunnit, part of a series of novels; in fact after I’d finished reading it I found out that in an earlier novelĀ one of his characters decided to lie low for a while by hiding out … Continue reading

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“The Aeneid” by Virgil

Strange to confess, but this is the first time I’ve read the entire poem cover to cover (in English, quickly – several decades ago I’d read it all in Latin over a number of weeks). It came out other than … Continue reading

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“A Maggot” by John Fowles

I’d no idea what to expect: I knew he’d written The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but had neither read nor seen that. I (still) don’t even know if he’s British or American. But this book is long-lasting in its effects for … Continue reading

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“A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” by Marina Lewycka

Fun. It’s written in the person of a Ukrainian-British woman, telling the story of her father’s disastrous marriage in widowerhood to a more recent Ukrainian immigrant, the well-named and warhead-breasted Valentina. It’s very funny, but succeeds mostly I think because … Continue reading

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“If on a winter’s night a traveller” by Italo Calvino

Unique (in my limited experience). A contorted and jerky tale which successfully breaks down the ‘fourth wall’: the protagonist is “you”, “the Reader”, who begins by beginning readingĀ “If on a winter’s night a traveller” by Italo Calvino, and ends by … Continue reading

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“McCool” by Aidan Andrew Dun

With Aidan’s poetry I’m always amazed at what I was trying to get at when writing about Unholyland but didn’t nail. Trying again now, after reading Aidan’s two Middle-Eastern verse epics in the wrong order. What it is is a … Continue reading

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“The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes & “The Reader” by Bernard Schlink

Strange how things fit together by chance. I read these two back to back with no thought of connections. Both are short novels, novellas, intellectually “about” “history”, and written by male narrators each looking back over a relationship with a … Continue reading

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“Unholyland” by Aidan Andrew Dun

Another step on Aidan Andrew Dun’s journey towards the poetic recognition he so deserves, and perhaps a major milestone: he now has his name and words fixed in stone at King’s Cross, and has attracted, for the cover of this … Continue reading

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“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

A fascinating attempt to novelise the Iliad, taking the material beyond the confines of Homer’s poem, both before and after, but not falling into the trap of having to tell the whole bloody story in detail, wooden horse and all … Continue reading

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