Cressida Connolly rss


Shunned, slighted and starving in Sheffield — the Indian immigrants who have become Britain’s untouchables

27 June 2015
The Year of the Runaways Sunjeev Sahota

Picador, pp.480, £14.99, ISBN: 9781447241645

Novels of such scope and invention are all too rare; unusual, too, are those of real heart, whose characters you grow to love and truly care for. The Year of… Read more


Why I love undertakers

13 June 2015

I adore undertakers. Unlike dentists or buses or boyfriends, they’re always there when you need them: even if you call in the middle of the night you will be answered… Read more

Make up: Setting us apart from other mammals?

Terror Management Studies is a brand new area of research — and it’s not about IS or Boko Haram

23 May 2015
The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski

Allen Lane, pp.229, £20, ISBN: 9780241217252

This is not a book to be read in solitude. Not for the obvious reason that it’s frightening, but because every few lines some fascinating or unexpected fact forces you… Read more

‘The Giantess’ by Leonora Carrington, currently on show at Tate Liverpool

A mad menage — and menagerie - in Mexico: the life of Leonora Carrington in fictional form

28 March 2015
Leonora: A Novel Elena Poniatowska

Serpent’s Tail, pp.455, £12.99, ISBN: 9781846688553

Leonora Carrington is one of those jack-in-the-boxes who languish forgotten in the cultural toy cupboard and then pop up every few years to a small flurry of excitement. Born in… Read more

Lady Antonia Fraser, 1969 Photo: Getty

Dancing with T.S. Eliot — and other romances: the girlhood of Antonia Fraser

10 January 2015
My History: A Memoir of Growing Up Antonia Fraser

Weidenfeld, pp.303, £20, ISBN: 9780297871903

Despite it being a well known fact that Antonia Fraser had earthly parents, I had always imagined that she had somehow skipped infancy and emerged instead from a celestial cloud,… Read more

Author Rose Tremain Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty

The problem when novelists write short stories

8 November 2014
The American Lover Rose Tremain

Chatto, pp.232, £15.99, ISBN: 9780701185220

Rose Tremain walks on water. Her historical novels are absolutely marvellous, brilliantly plotted, witty and wise, with some of the best characters you’ll find anywhere. Indeed one of their number… Read more


Care for the dying needs more imagination – and less hospitalisation

1 November 2014
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End Atul Gawande

Profile Books/Wellcome Collection, pp.288, £15.99, ISBN: 9781846685811

‘To die of age is a rare, singular and extra-ordinary death’, wrote Montaigne, ‘and so much less natural than others: it is the last and extremest form of dying.’ Not… Read more


If you don’t think this novel is practically perfect, I’ll send you a replacement

4 October 2014
Lila Marilynne Robinson

Virago, pp.272, £16.99, ISBN: 9781844088805

If there were a harvest festival to honour the bounty of the autumnal book crop, the choir would be in especially good voice this year. There is much cause for… Read more


Improbable, unconvincing and lazy - Ian McEwan’s latest is unforgivable

6 September 2014
The Children Act Ian McEwan

Cape, pp.224, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224101998

The Children Act could hardly be more attuned to the temper of the times, appearing just as our newspapers are full of a story about parents absconding to Spain with… Read more


This thriller is as good as anything by Hilary Mantel

30 August 2014
The Silent Boy Andrew Taylor

HarperCollins, pp.432, £16.99, ISBN: 9780007506583

A few years ago, after a lifetime of wearing white shirts through which the straps of my white bra were plainly visible, I discovered a remarkable fact: if you wear… Read more


The cruellest present you could give a hated old in-law

5 July 2014
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir Roz Chast

Bloomsbury, pp.240, £18.99, ISBN: 9781608198061

It takes a special sort of talent to be able to make drawings of your own 97-year-old mother on her deathbed funny. The person with that gift is Roz Chast.… Read more

John Burnside Photo: Getty

My desert island poet

31 May 2014
I Put a Spell on You John Burnside

Cape, pp.273, £14.99, ISBN: 9780224093873

If I had to be marooned on a desert island with a stranger, that stranger would be John Burnside. Not that he’s a literary Ray Mears: I rather doubt that… Read more

Jane Gardam Photo: Getty

No one would want to live in Jane Gardam's stories – but they're an amazing place to visit

24 May 2014
The Stories Jane Gardam

Little, Brown, pp.464, £20, ISBN: 9781408705681

In the world of Jane Gardam’s stories the past is always present, solid and often unwanted and always too big, like a heavy antique sideboard crammed into a modern retirement… Read more

Photo: Vetta / Getty

Mid-life crisis, 13th-century style

10 May 2014
The Ten Thousand Things John Spurling

Duckworth Overlook, pp.354, £16.99, ISBN: 9780715647318

The word delicate is seldom a compliment.  I once threw a saucepan of hot soup out of a fifth storey London window because a boyfriend said it had a delicate… Read more

George Saunders Photo: Getty

Samuel Beckett walks into a nail bar

29 March 2014
Tenth of December George Saunders

Bloomsbury, pp.288, £8.99, ISBN: 9781408837368

It isn’t very often that a writer’s work is so striking that you can remember exactly where and when you were when you first read it. I was in a… Read more


Sometimes one story is worth buying a whole book for. This is one of those times

8 March 2014
Bark Lorrie Moore

Faber, pp.208, £14.99, ISBN: 9780307594136

All the Rage A.L. Kennedy

Cape, pp.224, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224098434

Any new book by Lorrie Moore is a cause for rejoicing, but her first collection of short stories for 16 years demands bunting, revelry and tap-dancing. She is one of… Read more

Scarlett O’Hara runs through the streets of burning Atlanta

'Where are the happy fictional spinsters?'

18 January 2014
How to be a Heroine, or What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much Samantha Ellis

Chatto, pp.250, £16.99, ISBN: 9780701187514

This book arose from an argument. Lifelong bookworm Samantha Ellis and her best friend had gone to Brontë country and were tramping about on the Yorkshire moors when they began… Read more

Letters of Note includes letters from Elvis Presley to President Nixon Photo: Mondadori via Getty

'God has given me a new Turkish colleague called Mustapha Kunt...'

30 November 2013
To the Letter: A Journey Through a Vanishing World Simon Garfield

Canongate, pp.464, £16.99, ISBN: 9780857868589

Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving a Wider Audience Shaun Usher

Canongate, pp.384, £30, ISBN: 9781782112235

Under normal circumstances, Simon Garfield’s chatty and informative excursion into the history of letter-writing would be a book to recommend. In recent years this author has produced eloquent and witty… Read more

Lucian Freud in his bedroom in Notting Hill, May 2011

Breakfast with Lucian, by Geordie Greig - review

12 October 2013
Breakfast with Lucian Geordie Greig

Cape, pp.272, £25, ISBN: 9780224096850

According to the medical historian Professor Sonu Shamdasani, Sigmund Freud was not the best, nor actually the most interesting, psychoanalyst in early 20th-century Vienna.  Rather, Freud’s genius lay in creating… Read more

Expo 58, by Jonathan Coe - review

21 September 2013
Expo 58 Jonathan Coe

Viking, pp.263, £16.99, ISBN: 9780670923724

In 1958 a vast international trade fair was held just outside Brussels. As well as being a showcase for industry, Expo 58 gave each country the chance to present something… Read more

Wreaking, by James Scudamore - review

27 July 2013
Wreaking James Scudamore

Harvill Secker, pp.389, £14.99, ISBN: 9780091933791

An abandoned lunatic asylum, a nasty pornographer in a wheelchair, a bizarre glass-ceilinged viewing dome beneath a scummy lake, a vast henchman, a mother who hears angels telling her she… Read more

All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld - review

25 May 2013
All the Birds, Singing Evie Wyld

Cape, pp.229, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224096683

Half in jest, Evie Wyld has described her highly garlanded first book After the Fire, a Still Small Voice as ‘a romantic thriller about men not talking’. The same description… Read more

The symbolism of the cemetery: the draped urn, popular among the Victorians, is usually taken to mean that the soul has departed the shrouded body for its journey to heaven

How to Read a Graveyard, by Peter Stanford - review

4 May 2013
How to Read a Graveyard Peter Stanford

Bloomsbury, pp.263, £16.99, ISBN: 9781441174777

Peter Stanford likes cemeteries. Daily walks with his dog around a London graveyard acclimatised him, while the deaths of his parents set him wondering about customs of mourning and places… Read more


How Many Camels are there in Holland? by Phyillida Law - review

16 March 2013

Phyllida Law has a delightfully natural style, a gift for anecdote and the knack of seeing the funny side of pretty much everything.  She’s a good actor: she’s obviously a… Read more

Growing up the hard way

16 February 2013
Tin Toys Trilogy Ursula Holden

Virago Modern Classic, pp.418, £9.99, ISBN: 9781844088270

Like the gingerbread house, these three novels seem at first to be a delightful and innocent place, entirely suitable for the three not-quite orphaned young girls who are Holden’s heroines.… Read more