Books

Blue Hydrangeas (Image: Getty)

The sight of blue hydrangeas brings out the worst in Henri Cole

8 September 2018 9:00 am

This new book, from the NYRB’s publishing arm, is in a non-fiction genre I love: short entries dedicated to an…

Pippin Star, a heifer from the Wampler herd in Virginia

The horrors of rewilding

8 September 2018 9:00 am

This unusual book begins with an account of the author’s ten-year love affair with dairy farming and an attempt ‘to…

(Image: Getty)

A paean to lesbian love: Aftershocks, by A.N. Wilson, reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The polymath writer A.N.Wilson returns to the novel in Aftershocks, working on the template of the 2011 earthquake which devastated…

Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of Tysoe Saul Hancock, his wife Philadelphia (née Austen) and daughter Eliza (rumoured to have been the child of Warren Hastings) with their Indian maid Clarinda, c. 1764–5. Eliza was Jane Austen’s cousin and later sister-in-law, and is said to have inspired several of Austen’s characters, including the playful Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park

The scourge of Christian missionaries in British-Indian history

1 September 2018 9:00 am

India’s wealth made it irresistible to the British. But over the centuries, plundering it also cost them dear, says Peter Parker

Papa and his muse in Cuba

The old man and his muse: Hemingway’s toe-curling infatuation with Adriana Ivancich

1 September 2018 9:00 am

One rainy evening in December 1948, a blue Buick emerged from the darkness of the Venetian lagoon near the village…

Karl Ove Knausgaard

The urge to purge: it’s closure at last for the tortured Karl Ove Knausgaard

1 September 2018 9:00 am

And so it comes, the final volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle sequence: a pale brick of a book,…

Replica of The Endeavour

A date with Venus in Tahiti

1 September 2018 9:00 am

There is something about the Transit of Venus that touches the imagination in ways that are not all to do…

As a result of willow-munching, beavers secrete salicylic acid — the active ingredient in aspirin

Busy beavers: in praise of man’s natural ally

1 September 2018 9:00 am

The British experience of beavers is somewhat limited. Most of us haven’t been lucky enough to have spied an immigrant…

Man behind bars: John Lilburne spent more than 12 years of his short life in prison or exile - THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY

John Lilburne: champion of liberty and born belligerent

1 September 2018 9:00 am

John Lilburne was only 43 when he died in 1657, an early death even for the time. But in many…

'The Charge of the 10th Hussars at Benevente (Corunna Campaign), 1809', c1915 (1928)

On the run from Corunna: Now We Shall be Entirely Free, by Andrew Miller, reviewed

1 September 2018 9:00 am

There is only one Andrew Miller. In the 20 years since his debut novel Ingenious Pain won both the James…

A woman churns butter while her customer and children wait. Below, her husband milks a cow with a calf tied to it

How scary is dairy?

25 August 2018 9:00 am

From earliest times, milk has sustained us and has inspired wondrous creation myths. Now it’s the most controversial foodstuff of all, says Joanna Blythman

Caught between fascism and witchcraft: All Among the Barley, by Melissa Harrison, reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison’s third ‘nature novel’, centres on Wych Farm in the autumn of 1933, where the…

Modernist architecture isn’t barbarous – but the blinkered rejection of it is

25 August 2018 9:00 am

When I was younger, one of my favourite books was James Stevens Curl’s The Victorian Celebration of Death. His latest…

Richard Burton at the Old Vic in 1953. and Adrian Lester in Peter Brook’s 2001 production

Glenda Jackson might have made a magnificent Hamlet

25 August 2018 9:00 am

The role of Hamlet is, Max Beerbohm famously wrote, ‘a hoop through which every eminent actor must, sooner or later,…

Will all whales soon be extinct?

25 August 2018 9:00 am

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, is quick to tell us he’s not…

Too much American angst: the latest short stories reviewed

25 August 2018 9:00 am

In ‘A Prize for Every Player’ — one of 12 stories in Days of Awe, a new collection by A.M.…

The translator and spy: two sides of the same coin

25 August 2018 9:00 am

Translators are like bumblebees. In 1934, the French entomologist August Magnan pronounced the flight of the bumblebee to be aerodynamically…

Jimmy Page performing with Led Zeppelin in May 1975. ‘He did believe that he had the power to control the universe’

Jimmy Page is a Capricorn – that says it all

25 August 2018 9:00 am

In 1957, aged 13, Jimmy Page appeared with his skiffle group on a children’s TV programme dedicated to ‘unusual hobbies’…

When Graves was wounded at High Wood on the Somme he was listed as dead. The sense of being a revenant probably affected him for the rest of his life. [Mary Evans Picture Library}

Ménage à quatre with Robert Graves

18 August 2018 9:00 am

Robert Graves was full of ambivalence, says Andrew Motion – defiant and needy, shy and bombastic, unusually sensitive to suffering and capable of great courage

Mary Magdalene washing Christ’s feet by William Blake, c.1805

A feast for foot fetishists

18 August 2018 9:00 am

It is always interesting to see what art historians get up to when none of the rest of us is…

Did the notorious Zinoviev letter ever exist?

18 August 2018 9:00 am

This is a well-written, scrupulously researched and argued account of an enduring mystery that neatly illustrates the haphazard interactions of…

The plight of the returnee: A Terrible Country, by Keith Gessen, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

If the 20th century popularised the figure of the émigré, the 21st has introduced that of the returnee, who, aided…

Anita Leslie, aged 23 in 1937 © Tarka Leslie-King

Anita Leslie: sparkling socialite with the Croix de Guerre

18 August 2018 9:00 am

Anita Leslie knew how to tell a story. Arranging to sit for a portrait six months before she died, she…

How do we envisage Shakespeare’s wife?

18 August 2018 9:00 am

Despite his having one of the most famous names in the world, we know maddeningly little about William Shakespeare. His…

Unlucky in love: Caroline’s Bikini, by Kirsty Gunn, reviewed

18 August 2018 9:00 am

‘The most interesting novels are a bit strange,’ Kirsty Gunn once told readers of the London Review of Books. ‘They…