Bookends: Prep-school passions

In his introductory eulogy, Peter Parker calls In the Making: The Story of a Childhood  (Penguin, £8.99) G. F. Green’s masterpiece, which, though not popular, attracted the admiration of E.M.… Read more


Bookends: Pure gold

5 May 2012

Even nowadays, a 50-year career in pop music is a rare and wondrous thing, and for a woman triply so. And yet Carole King’s golden jubilee passed a couple of… Read more


Bookends: … and the inner tube

28 April 2012

In the early 1990s, when Boris Johnson was making his name as the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, Sonia Purnell was his deputy, and last year she published a biography of… Read more


Bookends: Tilling tales

21 April 2012

Several years ago, I listed as my literary heroes Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations and E. F. Benson’s Lucia. The latter was the more damaging admission. Lucia is an egotist… Read more


Bookends: Terribly Tudor

31 March 2012

History publishers like a gimmick, so I assumed Suzannah Lipscomb’s A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England (Ebury, £12.99) must be a cheeky rip-off of Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide series.… Read more


Bookends: A matter of opinion

24 March 2012

In an age when the merely mildly curious believe they can get all they really need to know from Wikipedia for free, A. N. Wilson’s fellow literary professionals must take… Read more


Bookends: Down on the farm

10 March 2012

Can we please have an inquiry into why already talented people are allowed to go off and be brilliant at something else too? As a quarter of Blur, Alex James… Read more


Bookends: Wasp without a sting

3 March 2012

‘It may be hard to accept that a chaste teenage girl can end up in bed with the President of the United States on her fourth day in the White… Read more


Bookends: Dickensian byways

25 February 2012

Is there room for yet another book on Dickens? Probably not, but we’ll have it anyway. The Dickens Dictionary (Icon, £9.99) is John Sutherland’s contribution to the great birthday festival… Read more


Bookends: Short and sweet

11 February 2012

Before texts and Twitter there were postcards. Less hi-tech, but they kept people in touch. Angela Carter (pictured above) and Susannah Clapp were friends, and over the years, postcards from… Read more


Bookends: Trouble and strife

4 February 2012

It isn’t true that Joanna Trollope (pictured above) only produces novels about the kind of people who have an Aga in their kitchen: what she writes about are families. Her… Read more


Bookends: Doors of perception

21 January 2012

Unlike most of the old rockers he writes about, the esteemed US critic Greil Marcus is becoming more prolific as he enters his twilight years. An eccentric monograph on Van… Read more


Bookends: The year of living dangerously

14 January 2012

Most people who recall 1976 do so for its appallingly hot summer, when parks turned brown and roads melted. Some will also remember that the celebrity culture throve then as… Read more


Bookends: A shaggy beast of a book

7 January 2012

Autobiography is a tricky genre to get right, which may be why so many well-known people keep having another go at it. By my reckoning Tales from an Actor’s Life… Read more


Bookends: An unreal world

31 December 2011

Even by Hollywood standards, Carrie Fisher is pretty crazy. She was born a Hollywood princess, and remembers her parents — Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher — as ‘not really people… Read more


Bookends: A metropolitan menagerie

17 December 2011

London has always loved its animals. James I kept elephants in St James’s Park (allowed a gallon of wine per day each to get through the English winter), while as… Read more


Bookends: Saving JFK

10 December 2011

Stephen King’s latest novel is a time-travel fantasy about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. At almost 750 pages, 11.22.63 is drawn-out even by blockbuster standards. Critics have bemoaned its… Read more


Bookends: Not filthy enough

26 November 2011

The Pursued (Penguin, £12.99) is a lost crime thriller by C. S. Forester, the author of the Hornblower novels. It was written in 1935, rediscovered in 2003 and is now… Read more


Bookends: About a boy

12 November 2011

The Go-Between was L.P. Hartley’s best novel, Joseph Losey’s best film, and probably Harold Pinter’s best screenplay. In the novel, the Norfolk house and estate are fairly incidental but, as… Read more


Bookends: Spirit of place

5 November 2011

A new book by Ronald Blythe is something of an event. In recent years the bard of Akenfield has mostly published collections of articles, which makes At the Yeoman’s House… Read more


Bookends: The showbiz Boris Johnson

29 October 2011

Amiability can take you a long way in British public life. James Corden is no fool: he co-wrote and co-starred in three series of Gavin and Stacey, and wowed the… Read more



3 September 2011

Dr Temperance Brenner, like her creator, Kathy Reichs, is a forensic anthropologist. She works in North Carolina, specialising in ‘decomps and floaters’. This ensures that in Flesh and Bones (Heinemann,… Read more



27 August 2011

‘Owl?’ said Pooh. ‘What’s a biography?’ ‘A biography,’ replied Owl, ‘is an Important Book. Such as an Interested Person might read. Anyone who is interested in the real-life toys which… Read more

Bookends: Laughing by the book

13 August 2011

Comedy is a serious business. The number of young people who seek to make a living making other people laugh seems to grow every year. Jonathan Lynn starts Comedy Rules… Read more


6 August 2011

Of all the great cultural shifts of recent years, the rise to respectability of American comics may be the strangest. Once, Superman, Batperson and the like were just lowbrow trash… Read more