Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Officers and Gentlemen’ – a surprising discovery

download

Browsing in a secondhand bookshop yesterday, I found a lovely first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen, the second book in his Sword of Honour trilogy. Except, to my great surprise, I discovered that the trilogy might never have been written:Continue reading “Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Officers and Gentlemen’ – a surprising discovery”

A Sense of Place

Rochester_Castle_engraved_by_H.Adlard_after_G.F.Sargent._c1836_edited

Even though I was firmly rooted in one place as a child, I struggle to explain where I am from. I was born on the very edge of Frindsbury in Kent, but Frindsbury had been swallowed up by Strood and Strood had been swallowed by Rochester, which was itself merely one of the Medway Towns.  It was as baffling as the relationship of England to Britain to the United Kingdom to Europe, a relationship no Venn Diagram could ever adequately capture.Continue reading “A Sense of Place”

Tim Gautreaux, ‘Waiting for the Evening News’

download

Tim Gautreaux is an author who deserves to be better known. The author of three novels, he has also written beautifully crafted short stories about the Deep South, as the subtitle of Waiting for the Evening News describes it, which immediately puts us in mind of Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy. Continue reading “Tim Gautreaux, ‘Waiting for the Evening News’”

The Slow Movement and Literature

download download

I have written elsewhere about the Slow Movement and education – see here and here, for example – but today I want to consider the Slow Movement and literature. Reading quality literature, we might argue, is now an act of counter-cultural resistance. Continue reading “The Slow Movement and Literature”

Kenneth Grahame, ‘The Wind in the Willows’

20110523154648!Wind_in_the_willows

It is easy to assume that we have read a book simply because it is a classic when, in fact, we never quite got round to it. How many people, I wonder, have read the Paddington books, the Mary Poppins series, or even The Wind in the Willows?  We may have seen the movie but have we actually read the book?Continue reading “Kenneth Grahame, ‘The Wind in the Willows’”

The Wonder of Wemmick

The_Aged_P.,_by_Sol_Eytinge,_Jr.

“Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.” Like Pip, I too grew up in Kent, down by the river. A few miles north was the graveyard that inspired the famous opening to Great Expectations. Just up the road was Gad’s Hill Place, Dickens’ home for the last years of his life.

Continue reading “The Wonder of Wemmick”

Book Reviews and More

In this blog I look at both old and new books, at fiction and non-fiction, at literature written for adults and for children. I write about my books and the ideas that inspired them; I write about the books of others and the ideas that inspired them; I have a reading list to work through but often get sidetracked by new discoveries.

Great 11th Century Books

While it is true that some great books have been written in the 21st century, Joseph Joubert was also absolutely right to argue that the trouble with new books is that they prevent us from reading the old ones. So here – notwithstanding some difficulties with precise dating, which I shall skate over – are seven books from the 11th century which are well worth reading:Continue reading “Great 11th Century Books”

Putting the World Back Into World War I

Indian_bicycle_troops_Somme_1916_IWM_Q_3983

History is never as straightforward as we might like it to be. Take something as straightforward as the dates of the First World War: 1914-1918. We all know that. Except that the peace treaties that officially ended the war were signed in 1919. And labourers continued to die while doing battlefield clearance until 1920. Continue reading “Putting the World Back Into World War I”