More from Books

Mother both superior and inferior

In January 1831 26-year-old Aurore Dupin Duvenant abandoned her secure provincial existence, her husband and small children, and set out for Paris and la vie bohème. She soon took a 19-year-old lover, adopted male dress, and began to write for a living. The publication of her novel Indiana led to a staff job on La

A star but not a team player

In January 1942 Orson Welles finished filming The Magnificent Ambersons, his follow-up to Citizen Kane (1941). When he flew to Rio the next month to begin work on a new project (which would soon be scuppered by the RKO studio), he left behind a rough cut of a picture about the decline of a genteel

Bad presentation of a good cause

Brian MacArthur’s credits as an author include three Penguin anthologies and a tribute to Princess Diana. He embarked on the emotive and complex subject of prisoners of war of the Japanese in 2002 and had completed his text with the help of three research assistants by the beginning of May 2004. MacArthur’s aim is ‘to

Trouble at the sex factory

I should perhaps declare, not an interest quite, or at least not only an interest, but an expertise. Ten years ago I spent seven months in Bloomington, Indiana researching a biography of Alfred C. Kinsey, the pioneer entomologist and sex researcher. The book appeared in 1998. T. C. Boyle has had the bright idea of

Going astray abroad

These days we are all sophisticates, or so we like to think. Thanks to the media and the internet we can become worldly without leaving home. What’s more, if we stay at home our theoretical broad-mindedness is never put to the test; we can express hip views and appear open to cultural differences whilst remaining

A tale of January and May

So you’d like your child to be a successful writer (as the classified ads might say)? Well, the least you can do, in that case, is to ensure that he or she grows up as a first- or second-generation immigrant. That way, you will provide them with an incomparably rich (literarily speaking) background straddled between

Once upon a funny old time . . .

The drama of this book is not its contents but its frame, the sense of what might have been that surrounds it, had the players only known their parts. Everything was there, programmed as in a space shot, for this to have been a real-life fairytale. Once upon a time, in a far-off land, there

Mau Mau and all that

Surprisingly (but maybe not to those who knew him well) it was the Duke of Devonshire who, having been appointed colonial secretary in Bonar Law’s government, issued a White Paper in 1923 about the paramountcy of African interests in the then colony of Kenya: Primarily Kenya is an African territory and HMG thinks it necessary

Living it up in Paris

The French no longer keep diaries or go in much for social memoirs. They take their secrets with them to the grave, which is why so many of the best accounts of postwar Paris social life are Anglo-Saxon. It is therefore all the more extraordinary to read this memoir dictated from the pinnacle of Parisian

From mourning into morning

Grief hangs like a pall over the opening section of Christopher Rush’s account of how he came to make a journey in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. A 49-year-old Edinburgh schoolmaster and writer, his life disintegrated in 1993 when his beloved wife Patricia died suddenly from breast cancer after 25 years of marriage, and