Books

A short-lived royal adventure

22 May 2004 12:00 am

Jason Tomes’ excellent book charts the rise and fall of Albania’s only king. Of perhaps greater interest is the story…

The race of the thoroughbreds

22 May 2004 12:00 am

I read every page, every line of this very long book with sustained interest and pleasure. It is a collective…

A charming but alarming city

22 May 2004 12:00 am

In the summer of 2001 Sofka Zinovieff accompanied her husband, Vassilis — first met when he was press officer to…

One man’s Mexican dream

22 May 2004 12:00 am

The author of a weighty tome on a 16th-century attempt to create a Utopia in Mexico might well expect to…

The five stages of a downhill descent

22 May 2004 12:00 am

After defeating two fascist powers in a world war, the citizens of the democratic West have gradually come to throw…

Both lion and donkey

22 May 2004 12:00 am

Richard Holmes wrote this book 20 years ago when he was a humble lecturer at Sandhurst, long before his splendid…

Christopher and his kind

15 May 2004 12:00 am

It’s not often that one can recommend a biography of a writer as long as this, particularly since Isherwood was…

The persistence of magic

15 May 2004 12:00 am

W.B. Yeats became a member of the magical Order of the Golden Dawn on 7 March 1890. According to its…

A second, darker diagnosis

15 May 2004 12:00 am

In 1976 Godfrey Hodgson published In Our Time, a portrait of America in the years from ‘World War II to…

Green fairy liquid

15 May 2004 12:00 am

A gushy woman told Whistler that she thought he was the greatest artist since Velazquez. ‘Why drag in Velazquez?’ Whistler…

The Man of Feeling

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Can a writer be guilty of an excess of sympathy for his characters? Sympathy, we are forever being reminded (Tolstoy…

The cloak-and-dagger poet

15 May 2004 12:00 am

It is almost impossible to write a good biography of Shakespeare. His plays contain at once too much and too…

The cad with the toothbrush technique

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Of Nicci French’s six novels three deal with the subjugation of women by an aberrant man. Now the seventh tips…

Truly heroic couplets

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Amid the enmities of contemporary letters, it’s salutary to recognise that for most of us allegiances go farther back, and…

Trading on a famous name

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Was Hitler’s favourite actress a Russian spy? asks the publisher’s ‘shout line’ on the book-jacket, positioned to look like the…

Sworn enemy of the Gradgrinds

15 May 2004 12:00 am

To become a famous philosopher, as the French have discovered, you need an all-embracing theory. It does not have to…

The changing of the old guard

15 May 2004 12:00 am

Sir Peregrine is a romantic. He has drawn his sword from its scabbard in defence of aristocracy in a self-conscious…

Other voices, the same rooms

8 May 2004 12:00 am

I’m not susceptible to ghosts, and never see or sense them; my partner, who is, reports a mildly inquisitive nocturnal…

The mind at the end of its tether

8 May 2004 12:00 am

When I interviewed him about his novel Asylum, Patrick McGrath described himself as a ‘psychological novelist’, adding that he would…

A voice worth listening to

8 May 2004 12:00 am

I could tell you about Graham the man, the hard-drinking, wild and wayward Scots poet who spent most of his…

Justified surgery or pointless blood-letting?

8 May 2004 12:00 am

In June 1937, Nancy Cunard, a supporter of the Republicans’ battle against Franco’s nationalists circulated a questionnaire to the writers…

Somewhere between hero and demon

8 May 2004 12:00 am

‘I do really feel it would have been a better world without Teller… I think he is an enemy of…

Scared of Christmas presents

8 May 2004 12:00 am

In this fascinating book about her two autistic sons Charlotte Moore describes what would be a nightmare life for most…

The sunset glory of the amateurs

8 May 2004 12:00 am

3:59:4: The Quest to Break the Four-Minute Mileby John BryantHutchinson, £14.99, pp. 310, ISBN 0091800331 Fifty years ago, on 6…

Reasonable, readable rambles

8 May 2004 12:00 am

The subtitle, ‘On Settling’, is apt; the book is about the author’s settling in (you could nearly say ‘into’) what…