Books

Pomak Muslims still live in Greek and Bulgarian villages. Left: a bride embarks on her two-day winter wedding in Ribnovo, 210 km from Sofia

The long tragedy of Europe's borderland

25 February 2017 9:00 am

The border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey has long been a flashpoint. Now, more than ever, says Simon Kuper, it’s a hazardous transit realm for the homeless

The star-struck Claretta, Mussolini’s last love. According to her diaries, he radiated a ‘god-like potency’ and a ‘bull-like’ magnetism

Seducing Mussolini

25 February 2017 9:00 am

As a child in fascist Italy, Clara Petacci (known as Claretta) was dutifully adoring of Benito Mussolini and the cult…

Thick as thieves in Georgian London

25 February 2017 9:00 am

‘To get a confession from a proud male factor, it is always better to call for a poet than a…

George Mackay Brown appears part-inspiration forAnnalena McAfee’s fictional poet Grigor McWatt

It’s a long slog Hame with Annalena McAfee

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, once claimed that he could always tell Scottish fiction from English. Novels, he…

China Mieville’s counterfactual novel is a chilling, surreal caprice

25 February 2017 9:00 am

At the start of this novella the protagonist, Thibaut, is ambushed by Wehrmacht soldiers between the ninth and tenth arrondissements.…

John Burnside treads sacred ground in Ashland & Vine

25 February 2017 9:00 am

John Burnside is the author of an impressive bookshelf of elegant novels and slim, precise volumes of poetry, and like…

Was A.A. Gill just an outrageous show pony?

25 February 2017 9:00 am

When A.A. Gill died last December, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth across the nation. I must admit this…

Jess Phillips — like a clever, funny friend telling you what gets her goat

Harriet Harman and Jess Phillips: poles apart in the sisterhood

25 February 2017 9:00 am

We’re told not to judge books by their covers, but faced with these two it’s hard not to. Harman’s is…

The romance and drama of the night train is captured in Charles d’Albert’s illustration

Time to wake up to the benefits of the sleeper

25 February 2017 9:00 am

As a child, I used to travel with my mother from London to Cannes, a journey that took slightly under…

Paul Durand-Ruel, who created the market for impressionism, commissioned Renoir’s ‘Dance in the Country’, painted in 1883

Connoisseurs and con artists

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Rogues’ Gallery describes itself as a history of art and its dealers, and Philip Hook, who has worked at the…

A provincial library is pure Alan Bennett territory

25 February 2017 9:00 am

This book kept reminding me of Robin Williams in One Hour Photo. Just as his character spied on customers’ private…

Portrait of Persia’s Prince Abbas Mirza c. 1820. From his bailiwick near the Russian border he dispatched educational missions to Europe, sponsored translations of key European works and imported metal casting techniques and the printing press

When Islam was a byword for benign Enlightenment

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Christopher de Bellaigue, a journalist who has spent much of his working life in the Middle East, has grown tired…

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century

The importance of being frivolous

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Sam Leith is delighted by the idea that having fun is the key to human progress

Simon Callow tries (again) to get inside Wagner’s head

18 February 2017 9:00 am

The dust cover features one of the best-known caricatures of Richard Wagner, his enormous head in this version opened like…

Ezra Pound as a young man

Was Ezra Pound mad?

18 February 2017 9:00 am

On 21 December 1945, Ezra Pound was confined to St Elizabeths hospital in Washington DC. He had broadcast for Rome…

The game butcher, with dead rabbits and live, caged ones beneath. (Scene from the 1840s)

How many slaves existed in George V’s Britain?

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Oddly enough, one of the most historically influential pieces of British writing has turned out to be an essay that…

Nothing happens, but everything changes in Sara Baume’s new novel

18 February 2017 9:00 am

This is an extraordinarily compelling novel for one in which nothing really happens but everything changes. Sara Baume’s narrator is…

Althea Altemus: a single mother in the Roaring Twenties

18 February 2017 9:00 am

What the secretary sawSarah Churchwell Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of the Jazz Age by Althea McDowell AltemusUniversity of…

Cardinal Richelieu is transformed from villain to ‘physical and moral genius’ in Dumas’s sequel to The Three Musketeers

There’s swash and buckle galore in Dumas’s sequel to The Three Musketeers

18 February 2017 9:00 am

A feeble king and his scheming minister, a hunchback noble and the Daughters of Repentance, a botched assassination and a…

Cosette, by Emile-Antoine Bayard. Illustration for Les Misérables

Victor Hugo speaks volumes for the outcast and the destitute

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Somewhere between his first and second drafts, Victor Hugo decided to change the title of his great novel from Les…

How LSD saved my marriage — and my life

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Ayelet Waldman is, surely, not the first writer to have scrolled through a list of ‘Books of the Year’ and…

How to improve bedside manners

18 February 2017 9:00 am

‘A tricky part of my job,’ the GP said, scrolling through the next patient’s notes, ‘is breaking good news.’ As…

Three’s a crowd in James Lasdun’s The Fall Guy

18 February 2017 9:00 am

James Lasdun’s latest novel, billed as a psychological thriller, opens in Brooklyn in the summer of 2012. Charlie and his…

Rod Taylor works his invention in a film version of HG. Wells’s The Time Machine

Cheating death by time travel

11 February 2017 9:00 am

The concept of time travel is surprisingly recent, says Jenny Colgan. Before H.G. Wells, it barely existed

Michael Chabon’s ‘faux-memoir novel’ is a simple song about love

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Michael Chabon’s back. He’d never gone away, of course — more than a dozen books in all — but it’s…