More from Books

Reaching for the moon

Some writers spend their careers happily producing variations on the same book. Others seem to rethink the sort of book they would like to write with each new work. Only a very few, however, have a career which looks like a planned trajectory into something completely new; you would not predict Tolstoy’s late fables from

The lure of the gypsies

William Blacker ‘set off to explore the newly “liberated” countries of Central Europe immediately after Christmas 1989’. From Berlin he went to Prague, where he wondered, ‘Should I continue eastwards, even as far as Romania? In the end it was old architecture which persuaded me. I had heard of the famous painted monasteries of northern

The Old Red Lion and Dragon

In the 1970s, when Byron Rogers was appointed speechwriter to the Prince of Wales, the Daily Telegraph, where he was for many years a prolific contributor, report- ed the story in a one-sentence paragraph: ‘The Prince of Wales has appointed as speechwriter Mr Byron Rogers, a colourful Welshman.’ Nearly 40 years on, he still resents

Home thoughts from abroad | 8 July 2009

The subtitle, ‘The Anglo-American Gardens of Florence’, of this engaging and elegantly produced book, is misleading. The reclusive and narcissistic chatelaine of the Villa Gamberai in the days of its glory, Princess Catherine Jeanne Keshko Ghika, was not an Anglo-American but a Romanian. Similarly, Lady Paget, indefatigable not merely as a custodian of her superb

The Oaks of Cheyithorne Barton

Michael Heathcoat Amory inherited Chevithorne Barton in Devon from his grandmother. She had experienced the unimaginable loss of her husband in the First War and their three sons in the Second, including the author’s father. Creating a garden at Chevithorne was a consoling distraction. Michael Heathcoat Amory has done her and his family proud, transforming

Raising the last glass

My Father’s Tears, by John Updike Although an air of valediction inevitably hovers over this collection of short stories, the last of John Updike’s more than 60 books and published in the wake of his death, it is in no way a depressing read. On the contrary: there is something exhilarating about finding him maintaining