Lead book review

An unsuitable attachment to Nazism: Barbara Pym in the 1930s

Novelists’ careers take different paths, and sometimes don’t look much like careers at all. It’s true that some start publishing between 25 and 35, and write a novel respectably every two or three years until they die, like Kingsley Amis. Others don’t start until they are 60, like Penelope Fitzgerald, or stop abruptly without warning,

More from Books

Ghosts of the past: The Field, by Robert Seethaler, reviewed

Give dead bones a voice and they speak volumes: George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo was clamorous with the departed having their say. Edgar Lee Masters, 100 years earlier, startled the American literary world with Spoon River Anthology, poems that were miniature autobiographies of the occupants of a small Illinois graveyard. Now, The Field by

Yuri Gagarin – poster boy of manned space flight

To an observant outsider, the Soviets might have appeared to have developed an oddly intolerant attitude towards stray dogs. Every so often throughout the late 1950s, a fresh pack of homeless mongrel bitches was picked off the streets of Moscow and transported to a remote region of Kazakhstan, where they were promptly strapped into the

A whale of a time with Albrecht Dürer

Great books make genres jump. It happened with W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, which looked like a travelogue, claimed to be a novel and felt like neither. Albert and the Whale by Philip Hoare, which recalls and converses with Sebald, is such a work. An antic and original creation, it is not exactly a

The home life of Shirley Jackson, queen of horror

‘One of the nicest things about being a writer,’ Shirley Jackson once noted in a lecture titled ‘How I Write’, ‘is that nothing ever gets wasted. It’s a little like the frugal housewife who carefully tucks away all the odds and ends of string beans and cold bacon and serves them up magnificently in a

Dark days for Britain: London, Burning, by Anthony Quinn, reviewed

Not long ago, a group of psychologists analysing data about national happiness discovered that the British were at their unhappiest in 1978. Reading Anthony Quinn’s enjoyable novel set in that year and early 1979, it’s not difficult to see why. In case you’ve forgotten, strikes were spreading like wildfire. The National Front were reaching a

Spectacular invective: Jonathan Meades lets rip about Boris and Brexit

The title alludes to Jonathan Meades’s first collection of criticism, Peter Knows What Dick Likes, and to the album by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their scabrous personae of Derek and Clive. Meades explains the title in his introduction: ‘It’s akin to “Two-Hour Dry Cleaners” where the operative, out of her head on perchloroethylene,