Books

They shared a love of books, beekeeping, print-collecting, alchemy, geometry, music, astronomy and the English language: John Evelyn (left) and Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn: a meeting of like minds

19 August 2017 9:00 am

For Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, two great recorders of Restoration England, life was a cabinet of curiosities, says Frances Wilson

Deity sculptors work on a preliminary structure for the ten-armed Goddess Durga in preparation for the Durga Puja festival

Calcutta: city of gods and beggars

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Writing of his grandmother’s cremation, Kushanava Choudhury reflects in The Epic City that, while his expatriate Indian cousins are separated…

Sex and the sect: the infamous Brethren

19 August 2017 9:00 am

You can never completely leave a religious cult, as this strange and touching memoir demonstrates. Patterns of thinking, turns of…

A woman on a ducking-stool, accused of witchcraft. Drowning would have proved her innocence

Magic mushrooms and the roots of witchcraft

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Until the mid-1960s many historians believed witchcraft was a pre-Christian pagan fertility ritual, witches worshipping the Horned God, whose consort…

Karl Ove Knausgaard discovers the world anew

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Here is the opening sentence of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s meditation on beds.: With its four legs and its flat, soft…

Nelson Mandela meets Mrs Dalloway in Johannesburg

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Martin Amis once said that the writer’s life is half ambition and half anxiety. While one part of your brain…

Bernard MacLaverty’s Midwinter Break is practically perfect in every way

19 August 2017 9:00 am

He’s not what you’d call prolific, Bernard MacLaverty. Midwinter Break is his fifth novel in 40 years, and his first…

What makes a man walk out on his life?

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Walking out of one’s own life — unpredictably, perhaps even without premeditation and certainly without anything approaching a plan —…

Rebooting the sordid glamour of 1970s New York: Nick Valensi, The Strokes’s guitarist

How 9/11 revived New York’s music scene

19 August 2017 9:00 am

‘New York stories in a way are always real estate stories,’ says the journalist Alan Light in Lizzy Goodman’s bustling…

Self-portrait, with his wife Margaret

The dazzling vision of Thomas Gainsborough

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Working in semi-darkness, Thomas Gainsborough produced some of the airiest, most poetic paintings imaginable, says Philip Hensher

A clash of creeds in Old and New Ulster: Nick Laird’s Modern Gods reviewed

12 August 2017 9:00 am

This is a very modern novel. Terrorist atrocity sits side by side with the familiar and the mundane. Where better…

Sheep being milked in a pen. (From the Luttrell Psalter, English School, 14th century)

Wolves, wheat and wool: in search of old England

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Englishness is big business in the nation of shopkeepers, and not just in politics and tourism. In literature, the gypsy…

General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck in 1917

General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck: the Lion of German East Africa

12 August 2017 9:00 am

What’s going on with book reviews? Here is the Pulitizer prizewinning (for ‘criticism’) Michael Dirda in the Washington Post, on…

Miss Muriel Matters: fearless campaigner for female suffrage

12 August 2017 9:00 am

On the evening of 28 October 1908, two unremarkable middle-class women wearing heavy overcoats gained admission to the Ladies’ Gallery,…

Aubrey Beardsley’s ‘The Climax’ — an illustration for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome

From anchorites to zeppelins: the giddy range of Levitation

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Levitation. We all know what it is: the ‘disregard for gravity’, as Peter Adey puts it in his new book,…

How Nazi Germany became a top tourist destination

12 August 2017 9:00 am

We don’t usually think of Hitler’s hated henchman Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Holocaust of European Jewry, as a comic…

The formidable Thelma Holt (right) with Vanessa Redgrave in 1987

Sweetpea Slight’s adventures in theatreland were far from sweet

12 August 2017 9:00 am

The story of Sweetpea Slight is a footnote to a footnote in the annals of British theatre. Even her name…

Neel Mukherjee tackles the desperate inequalities of India

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Neel Mukherjee has had a two-handed literary career, working as a reviewer of other people’s novels and writing his own.…

The maestro could hear if a single player was doing something wrong, even in the most noisy tutti

Toscanini and the morality of conducting

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Toscanini’s simple set of values made him certain of the rights and wrongs of everything, says Michael Tanner – except regarding women

Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett performing in 1967

Where is Pink Floyd in David Weigel’s history of Prog Rock?

5 August 2017 9:00 am

There is many a book that has been cooked up over a liquid lunch, but rarely has one been so…

No one person can speak for all on the autistic spectrum

5 August 2017 9:00 am

The Reason I Jump, by the autistic Japanese teenager Naoki Higashida, was a surprise bestseller in 2013. Rendered as a…

Dan Powell

An English hen harrier makes a fabulous heroine

5 August 2017 9:00 am

I often feel slightly sorry for the British nature writer. It’s not an attractive emotion — it sounds patronising —…

Read Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY to the guitar music of Agustin Barrios

5 August 2017 9:00 am

It is an unexpected pleasure when fiction has a soundtrack to accompany the work of reviewing. H(A)PPY is ‘best enjoyed…

Michael Kidson — in a class of his own

5 August 2017 9:00 am

The Enigma of Kidson is a quintessentially Etonian book: narcissistic, complacent, a bit silly and ultimately beguiling. It is the…

Elizabeth Day’s veiled satire of the Chipping Norton set is a delight

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Arriving at boarding school with the wrong shoes and a teddy bear in his suitcase, the hero of Elizabeth Day’s…