This thriller is as good as anything by Hilary Mantel


Andrew Taylor’s historical crime novel, The Silent Boy, is so good it makes you rethink all your high-low prejudices. It reminds me of Dickens

Peter Levi Photo: Getty

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer


A review of Peter Levi: Oxford Romantic, by Brigid Allen. A loving biography of a poet priest who went from emaciated El Greco to fat country squire

Triumph of Apollo and Sign of Gemini, ca 1470, by Francesco del Cossa Photo: Getty

Ali Smith's How to be Both: warm, funny, subtle, intelligent – and baffling


You may have to read this fictional account of a 15th-century painter at least one-and-a-half times to understand it, but it's worth it

A member of the London Home Guard demonstrates the use of old wallpaper as camouflage (1942)

The real Dad’s Army was no joke


A review of Operation Sealion: How Britain Crushed the German war Machine’s Dreams of Invasion in 1940, by Leo McKinstry. Civil liberties went out the window when the Nazis threatened

American heavyweight champion Joe Frazier kept his title at the end of the fight called the "match of the century" against Muhammad Ali Photo: Getty

When boxing ruled the world


A review of Bouts of Mania: Ali, Frazier, Foreman and an America on the Ropes, by Richard Hoffer. Boxing was as much about politics, money and race as fighting

‘Flying Rock’

Floating bodies, seeing hands, rippling skies - is Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontage a tragic dead-end?


A review of Uelsmann Untitled: A Retrospective, by Jerry N. Uelsmann. There's no denying that these strange images are part of a venerable tradition – or that a teenager with Photoshop could have done it quicker

1920s Jewellery

In love with the lodger


A review of The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters. The sex is blazingly described but then, alas, the Plot raises its boring head

‘La Guingette à Montmartre’ by Van Gogh (1886)

Exactly how much fun was it being an impoverished artist in Paris?


A review of In Montmatre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris, 1900 – 1910, by Sue Roe. This rollicking read is at its best when describing the bacchanalian squalor


Kafka goes to Dubai


A review of The Dog, by Joseph O’Neill. This riff on Kafka’s The Castle is dominated by a creep but we stay with it because the satire is absurdly funny


In defence of the Jacobins


A review of A People’s History of the French Revolution, by Eric Hazan. A riveting piece of revisionist history by a dyed-in-the-wool communist


The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

Books feature

How does Philip Larkin’s gloom retain such power to disturb? His bleakest verses have the quality of direct address, as if a poetical Eeyore were protesting directly into our ear. ‘Aubade’, his haunting night-time meditation on the terrors of death… Read more


Is America headed for tyranny? It is when the other side's in charge...


A review of The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America. The presidency's power is increasing ominously – although perhaps not quite as much as this book thinks

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell wearing ‘the George’, by Hans Holbein

Thomas Cromwell: more Tony Soprano than Richard Dawkins


A review of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most faithful Servant, by Tracy Borman. More conviction is needed from this otherwise engaging new biography


It's Henry James meets The Young Visiters, and someone needs to call social services


Man at the Helm, Nina Stibbe's first novel, is like What Maisie Knew, but with laughs and four-letter words

Coco Chanel, one of the ‘rackety celebrities’ of the 1920s, with Duke Laurino of Rome on the Lido

A Hello! magazine history of Venice


A review of Italian Venice: A History, by R.J.B. Bosworth. Informative but clichéd history of the past 200-years with guest appearances by Chanel, Coward and Diana

W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot Photo: Getty

Sorbet with Rimbaud


A review of Bloomsbury and the Poets, by Nicholas Murray. A delightful guide to the rich literary history of the London district

Peter and Ian Fleming as boys at Joyce Grove (Peter is on the left)

Was Ian Fleming as cool as his brother?

Secondary Feature

7 August 1964 4 Old Mitre Court, EC4 Darling Fifi, A thousand thanks for your sweet letter & for Heaven’s sake don’t think of bringing me back anything from Brazil, except perhaps a Diamond as big as the Ritz if… Read more

Santiago Carrillo Photo: Getty

Stalin's Spanish bezzie


A review of The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carillo, by Paul Preston. Carillo betrayed the Republican cause and was probably responsible for the worst atrocity committed by the Left during the Civil War

Charles Scott Moncrieff (left) had a deep personal affinity with Proust (right). His rendering of 'À La Recherche du Temps Perdu' is considered one of the greatest literary translations of all time

Soldier, poet, lover, spy: just the man to translate Proust

Books feature

Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s Englishing of Proust — widely and immediately agreed to be one of the greatest literary translations of all time — very nearly didn’t happen. Scott Moncrieff only suggested the project to his publisher after they rejected… Read more

‘While some observers were impressed, others felt the depiction of a doddery Churchill propped up on a walking stick unbecoming’

The lost Victorian who sculpted Churchill


A review of Abstraction and Reality: The Sculpture of Ivor Roberts-Jones, by Jonathan Black and Sara Ayres. This follower of Rodin has a solid legacy, though his most famous commission was 'a most unpleasant business'


The Zone of Interest is grubby, creepy – and Martin Amis's best for 25 years


He has done his subject justice. The final release for the reader is an almost physical relief

The ring-necked parakeet, one of the most successful birds to colonise London, still looks conspicuously out of place in Hyde Park in the snow

What's eating London's songbirds?


Andrew Self's The Birds of London is a thorough and entertaining history, but far too sympathetic to predators and bureaucrats

Chris Barber Photo: Redferns/Getty

Chris Barber should let someone meaner tell his story


Jazz Me Blues is a memoir of a remarkable life by a man far too nice to do it justice

Ruth Rendell cr Jerry Bauer

Fifty years of Inspector Wexford – and a new detective on the block


Ruth Rendell's The Girl Next Door is another quirky, satisfying mystery. But her fans have something else to celebrate

A Siberian exile prepares to shoot a black fox (c.1819)

Siberia beyond the Gulag Archipelago


A review of Siberia: A History of the People, by Janet M. Hartley. The region's past is harrowing, but its potential is staggering