Those of us who have spent an embarrassing number of hours immersed in the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer have…
As L.P. Hartley noted, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And no more so than during the two world wars, a fact that has provided a rich seam for several debut novelists to mine this summer.
Barbara Pym, now thought of as a reliable and popular novelist of the 1950s and 1960s, has almost disappeared from sight, overshadowed by the more explicit and confessional writers we are accustomed to reading today.
The narrator of Julian Barnes’s novella has failed disastrously to understand his first love. David Sexton admires this skilful story, but finds something missing
The acute emotional pain caused by his first wife’s infidelity was of priceless service to Evelyn Waugh as a novelist, says Paul Johnson
If you know anything at all about Cynthia Ozick — an officially accredited grande dame in America, less famous in Britain — you won’t be surprised to hear that her new novel is influenced by Henry James.
Francis King celebrates Margaret Drabble’s distinguished career and vividly recalls their first meeting
Julie Myerson’s eighth novel is told by a woman who roams the City of London after an unspecified apocalypse (no power, bad weather).
Olivia Glazebrook’s first novel begins with a disaster.
Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel is a haunting echo of her own final years, according to A. N. Wilson
What if Princess Diana hadn’t died, but, aided by her besotted press secretary, had faked her death and fled to America to live under an assumed identity? Is this an interesting question? Is a novelist justified in exploring such a supposition? I believe the answer to both questions is ‘no’.
Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death
Rocco LaGrassa was ‘stout around the middle . . . wee at the ankles, and girlish at his tiny feet, a man in the shape of a lightbulb’. In Salvatore Scibona’s first novel we join this lightbulb of a man on perhaps his darkest day: the day on which the police arrive at his door to tell him his son has just died of tuberculosis in a prisoner-of-war camp in North Korea.
Frederic Raphael was the first man to use a four-letter word in The Spectator: the work of his fellow playwright Stephen King-Hall, he wrote in 1957, made him ‘puke’.
Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers is set in Hanmouth, a small English coastal town described so thickly that it is established from the outset as effectively a character in itself.
Sam Leith explores H. G. Wells’s addiction to free love, as revealed in David Lodge’s latest biographical novel
The title of this first novel refers to a version of childhood as a magical kingdom where evil can be overturned and heaven and earth remade at the whim of a power-crazed infant.
With a new novel each year, Robert Edric cannot have much time for courting London’s literary establishment, but does he stay at home in East Yorkshire? The London Satyr is set in 1890s London and to me, a Londoner, it seems not merely researched but felt, as if its author has tramped the streets and occupied the world of his characters.
The death of the Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad is the central event of David Miller’s debut novel.
Andrew Rosenheim is building a solid reputation for intelligent, thoughtful thrillers driven by character and theme rather than plot mechanics.
Great House is an ambitious novel, if it’s a novel at all.
Annie Proulx (pronounced ‘Pru’) began her writing career — quite late, in her fifties — as E.A. Proulx, to baffle misogynist editors; then she was E. Annie Proulx, until she dropped the E and became simply Annie the Proulx.
Sebastian Faulks’s latest book, examining the great characters of British fiction, may be scorned by the literary establishment, but Sam Leith salutes its enthusiasm and humour