Hilary Spurling impressively captures the essence and the spirit of Anthony Powell, his writing and his era, says Philip Hensher
Lady Anne Barnard is a name that means almost nothing today, but her story is a remarkable one. She defied…
In post when the curtain came down on Britain’s African empire, there survives today a generation of colonial officers whose…
No sensible writer wastes good material. A couple of years ago Tim Parks published a memoir, Teach Us to Sit…
No messenger bearing bad news can expect to be popular.
Anyone who thinks that a stable and loving family background is the key to a happy life had better read this book; for its protagonist, now 80 years old, was rejected as a baby by his unmarried mother, looked after by a doting and doted-on grandmother until he was four, and then, inexplicably (given that he had various relations who could have cared for him), consigned to an orphanage of Dickensian grimness from which he was finally discharged at the age of 14 with nothing but a Bible, a new suit, and a ten-shilling note.
The cautionary slogan ‘less is more’ has never been the American writer Joyce Carol Oates’ watchword.
‘Every poet describes himself, as well as his own life, in his writings,’ observed Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in one of his lectures on English literature, which he delivered twice a week to an audience of young people in his palazzo in Palermo.
The Poor Little Rich Girl memoir, popular for at least a century, nowadays slums it in the misery department. ‘One particularly annoying aspect of being sexually abused or traumatised as a child,’ writes Ivana Lowell in Why not Say what Happened? (Bloomsbury, £25), ‘is that everyone wants you to talk about it.’ Does she mean ‘everyone’, or just her agent, publisher and ‘many psychiatrists’?
Christopher Meyer agrees with George W. Bush that he was a far better president than his current reputation allows
A Fortunate Life, by Paddy Ashdown