Books

Unspeakably prolix and petty: will anyone want to read John Bercow’s autobiography?

15 February 2020 9:00 am

In his autobiography, John Bercow takes his peerage as a given. But that might be scuppered by accusations of bullying, says Lynn Barber

Death in the Cape – the lonely fate of Mary Kingsley

15 February 2020 9:00 am

What compelled three well-known British writers to leave their homes and travel 6,000 miles to participate in a nasty late-19th-century…

The stomach for the fight: cooking for Churchill during the war

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Georgina Landemare cooked for the Churchill family in all their kitchens, during the 1930s and 1940s. She got as close…

There’s something hot about a hat

15 February 2020 9:00 am

When an American describes a woman as wearing a ‘Park Avenue Helmet’ you know exactly what is meant. This is…

Philip Hensher’s latest novel is a State of the Soul book

15 February 2020 9:00 am

This is a very nuanced and subtle novel by Philip Hensher, which manages the highwire act of treating its characters…

A dark emerald set in the Irish laureate’s fictional tiara: Actress, by Anne Enright, reviewed

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Actress is the novel Anne Enright has been rehearsing since her first collection of stories, The Portable Virgin (1991). It…

Hiding from the Gestapo in plain sight in Berlin

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Of the many bleak moments that have lodged in my mind since reading this extraordinary book the most unshakeable is…

How long is long enough to look at a work of art?

15 February 2020 9:00 am

There is a vogue at the moment for books which use art as a vehicle for examining the writer’s wider…

Lake Ohrid: an oasis of peace in the war-torn Balkans

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Kapka Kassabova’s previous travel book, Border, was rightly acclaimed and won several prizes. The author travelled to the edge of…

It’s not the dark hours the insomniac dreads but the clear light of day

15 February 2020 9:00 am

The insomniac may come to dread the night’s solitude, but the next day poses the greater challenge. That’s when you…

The real Calamity Jane was distressingly unlike her legend

8 February 2020 9:00 am

Calamity Jane’s legend as brave frontierswoman, crack shot and compassionate nurse to the wounded was nurtured largely by herself. The truth, says Sam Leith, was dismayingly different

Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King is certainly no Abyssinian Andy McNab

8 February 2020 9:00 am

In 1935 the troops of Benito Mussolini’s sinister-clownish Roman Empire II invaded Ethiopia, in large part out of spite for…

The downside of mindfulness

8 February 2020 9:00 am

Way back in 1996 Norman E. Sjoman published a book called The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace, in which…

A grand romance: Sophy Roberts goes in search of lost Bechsteins in Siberia

8 February 2020 9:00 am

In the world of classic cars, barn-finds sometimes do occur. An old Mercedes Gullwing might be discovered under tarps and…

An unsentimental Hungarian education: Abigail, by Magda Szabó, reviewed

8 February 2020 9:00 am

Although widely read in her native Hungary, Magda Szabó, who died in 2007, did not gain international acclaim until the…

Chinatown – that late masterpiece of film noir – could never be made now

8 February 2020 9:00 am

In one of the most frequently quoted lines of post-war European cinema, a character in the 1976 Wim Wenders film…

How could enlightened 18th-century Britain have believed that a woman could give birth to rabbits?

8 February 2020 9:00 am

Does a practical joke differ from a hoax? It could be a matter of scale. Anyone can deploy a whoopee…

Hitler’s affair with his niece — and a failed attempt on his life— make for a sizzling thriller

8 February 2020 9:00 am

The journalist Deepa Anappara turns to crime with her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus,…

Dirty money and political manipulation: Independence Square, by A.D. Miller, reviewed

8 February 2020 9:00 am

A.D. Miller’s gripping new book is set largely during Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, which Miller covered as a journalist. Ten…

There was no fairy tale ending for the lovely Gladys Deacon

8 February 2020 9:00 am

The story of how Hugo Vickers eventually tracked down the former Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough is almost as fascinating…

Was Dresden a war crime?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Dresden defined the horror of war: revenge and cold-blooded murder. It still does, says Christopher Priest

Prepare to be amazed: the story of Birmingham’s Symphony Orchestra

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Those who conduct the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra may not be aware that musicians fill in a form after…

Gothic horror, German-style

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Many of our favourite folk tales have lost much of their original Gothic horror in later versions. By contrast, Daniel…

Entente hostile: China, Japan and Korea

1 February 2020 9:00 am

The mutual animosity of the Far East Asian nations can strike some as baffling, given their shared history and cultures,…

Bawdy, it’s not — Strange Antics: A cultural history of seduction

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Anyone reading Clement Knox’s history of seduction for salacious entertainment is likely to be disappointed: it contains no mention of…