It’s the secret of a successful marriage: my wife treats me like a dog

6 July 2013

‘Here, Wolf,’ says the Fawn to me, showing me a saucer. ‘Look at this! This is the new place where you put your mouth things. See! See the saucer? Look… Read more


I’ll tell you what really devalues marriage: patronising, preachy little tax breaks

6 July 2013

The Conservative party is trying to redefine marriage. I can’t believe they think they’re going to get away with this. Throughout human history it has been one thing, which is… Read more

6 July 2013

Q. Over the years my close friends locally have been giving each other birthday and Christmas presents. Now, as I reach 60, it seems ridiculous to worry about choosing and… Read more

8 June 2013

Q. With just a month to go of training as a primary school teacher, I am relieved and excited to have been offered a job. Now it has been a… Read more

Children make their way to their class r

What Michael Gove should know about going to school in Singapore

18 May 2013

I like to tease my friend Wei about being a tiger mother. She once told me of an incident where her daughter Shu was making an artwork for a friend… Read more

An elderly woman takes a walk near the A

It's time to admit it: the NHS is unable to look after our elderly

18 May 2013

I decided to become a hospital visitor last year, after being a patient and finding myself in something more like a factory than an old-fashioned ward. A terror of infection… Read more


How can I write like that about my family? Easy. My wife isn’t reading

4 May 2013

People often ask how I get away with writing about my wife so often. Doesn’t Caroline mind being cast as the matronly foil to my errant schoolboy? I’d love to… Read more


Why should our children be more like the French?

27 April 2013

I’ve no particular beef with the French, gruesomely tortured beef as it would no doubt be, but I’m a little tired of being told we ought to follow their example… Read more


My battle with Britain's mean, ineffective immigration system

27 April 2013

When I first came to this country nearly a decade ago, Britain wanted immigrants like me. Back then you could get a visa just for being creative. It was called… Read more

What is this word?

23 March 2013

‘What are you writing?’ I asked my nine-year-old daughter as she sat at the kitchen table doing her homework. ‘A recount,’ she said. ‘What’s a recount?’ She looked at me… Read more

Group portrait of the Du Maurier sisters with their dog Brutus by Frederic Whiting (1918). From left to right: Daphne, Jeanne and Angela

'Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing', by Jane Dunn - review

9 March 2013
Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing Jane Dunn

Harper Press, pp.423, £25, ISBN: 9780007347089

Jane Dunn is something of a specialist on sisterhood. She has — we learn from the dedication — five sisters of her own; she has already written a book about… Read more

The daily I miss every day

2 March 2013

Not a day passes in which I don’t regret firing Irena. She was my ‘daily’ from 1991 to 2004. I don’t think I could have asked for anyone better qualified.… Read more


Family favourites

11 September 2010
Wait for Me! Deborah Devonshire

John Murray, pp.370, 20

Because Deborah Devonshire’s journalism has nearly always made me laugh, and because she seems like one of the jollier aunts in P. G. Wodehouse — an Aunt Dahlia, not an… Read more


Beating his demons

11 September 2010
Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl Donald Sturrock

Harper Press, pp.656, 25

Some of us are still startled that Wallace Stevens was 44 when he published Harmonium. So what to make of the fact that Roald Dahl was past the midpoint of… Read more


Kin, but less than kind

28 August 2010
Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family Jeremy Lewis

Cape, pp.580, 25

About 100 years ago two brothers settled in the same small English town and raised 12 children. Charles Greene was a scholar, destined for the Bar, who blundered into schoolmastering… Read more


Why, oh why?

14 August 2010
Pictures of Lily Matthew Yorke

Corsair, pp.311, 7.99

In my many years as a judge for the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography, I have been constantly surprised by the high proportion of books that deal with the… Read more


Mother issues

24 July 2010
I Curse the River of Time Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund

Harvill, pp.233, 16.99

The Norwegian, Per Petterson, was not well known until his 2003 novel, Out Stealing Horses, became a surprise international bestseller. It deserved the many prizes it garnered: it is a… Read more


Secrets and silences

30 June 2010
Hancox: A House and A Family Charlotte Moore

Viking, pp.484, 20

Charlotte Moore’s family have lived at Hancox on the Sussex Weald for well over a century. Charlotte Moore’s family have lived at Hancox on the Sussex Weald for well over… Read more


Small but perfectly formed

23 June 2010
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance Edmund de Waal

Chatto, pp.351, 16.99

Some years ago, Edmund de Waal inherited a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke from his great-uncle Iggie, whom he had got to know 20 years previously while studying pottery and… Read more


The pride of the Sackvilles

23 June 2010
Inheritance Robert Sackville-West

Bloomsbury, pp.293, 20

Knole is a country house the size of a small village in the Kent countryside. For the past 400 years it has been inhabited by 13 generations of a single… Read more


The loss of innocents

16 June 2010
The Missing Boy Rachel Billington

Orion, pp.304, 18.99

Forgetting Zo Ray Robinson

Heinemann, pp.278, 12.99

Here are two novels about that most harrowing and haunting of subjects — children who go missing. Here are two novels about that most harrowing and haunting of subjects —… Read more


The loneliness of the long distance salesman

2 June 2010
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim Jonathan Coe

Viking, pp.352, 18.99

If only E. M. Forster hadn’t beaten him to it by exactly a century, Jonathan Coe could have coined the enigmatic phrase ‘only connect’ in this novel. If only E.… Read more


Lurking beneath the surface

12 May 2010
Tony and Susan Austin Wright

Atlantic, pp.352, 14.99

One’s past life is, usually, comfortably past. One’s past life is, usually, comfortably past. Susan Morrow’s first husband, Edward, is so firmly in her past that his second wife even… Read more


The woman behind the god

12 May 2010
Empress of Rome Matthew Dennison

Quercus, pp.320, 20

The emperor Augustus was the original god/father. Julius Caesar was often referred to as ‘the divine Julius’, but his nephew (and adopted son) was the first Roman to have temples… Read more


The ultimate price

21 April 2010
The Courtesan and the Samurai Lesley Downer

Bantam, pp.338, 12.99

Lesley Downer is one of the most unusual authors writing in English. Years ago, determined to become an expert on the Japanese geisha, ultra-sophisticated entertainers and hostesses who are neither… Read more