23/05/2020
23 May 2020

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23 May 2020

Back to Brexit

Books

More from Books
Julian Jackson
France will always have a love-hate relationship with its heroes

The French have a love-hate relationship with heroes. For the great 19th-century historian Jules Michelet, the French Revolution was supposed to have inaugurated the age of the people: ‘France cured of individuals,’ he wrote in the preface to his history. But that same Revolution created a pantheon for its grands hommes. Anyone who has spent time in France will be familiar with the names of those figures celebrated endlessly in street names: Hugo, Gambetta, Pasteur, Jaurès, Moulin and so on.

France will always have a love-hate relationship with its heroes
Clive Aslet
The shock of discovering your ancestors were slave traders

If I had a slave owner in my family background I’d probably keep quiet about it. Richard Atkinson, in his remarkable first book, has gone to the other extreme. Not only did he seek out as much information as he could about the activities of his Georgian forebear, also called Richard Atkinson, but he’s made them the subject of this history. Actually, he was as shocked by what he discovered as anyone. The quest started with a bundle of letters which he and his sister inherited from the wreck of a family fortune that had dwindled, by the 1970s, to a decrepit country house in Cumbria, where the brackets of orange fungus resembled botanical wallpaper, although it still contained a couple of stuffed crocodiles in the upstairs gallery.

The shock of discovering your ancestors were slave traders
Suzi Feay
The sorrows of young Hillary: Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld, reviewed

Question: which American president and first lady would you care to imagine having intercourse? If that provokes a shudder, be assured that the sex scenes between Yale law students Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton in Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel are cringe-free — even the one involving manual stimulation that takes place in a moving car. They’re young, they’re in love, it’s adorable. For Hillary, who has ruefully accepted that a fierce intellect is a drawback when it comes to dating, the leonine charmer from Arkansas is a gift dropped from heaven.

The sorrows of young Hillary: Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld, reviewed
Julie Myerson
The best way to cope with rejection is to write about it

With more than a dozen acclaimed novels to her name, not to mention short stories, poetry, a memoir and a Booker nomination, you might think that Michèle Roberts could have counted on being published for life. But as so many ‘established’ authors know painfully well, in that ever-hungry-for-the-new world there’s no such thing as tenure. So when her latest novel elicits a lack-lustre response from her agent before being ‘sweetly’ but flatly turned down by her publisher, a stunned Roberts finds herself processing the humiliation in the only way she knows how — by writing about it.

The best way to cope with rejection is to write about it
Jay Elwes
Disrupting the world — from a small bedroom in Hounslow

On 6 May 2010 the eurozone crisis was tearing through the continent. Greece was bankrupt, and it looked as though Spain or Italy could be next. Markets were on edge, volatility was high — and then something very strange happened. The S&P 500, one of the US’s main stock indexes, began to crash. It went faster and further than it ever had before, losing 5 per cent of its value in four minutes. The shock spread to the Dow Jones, which hurtled downwards.

Disrupting the world — from a small bedroom in Hounslow
Dominic Selwood
The Plantagenet we always forget

Watching Heston Blumenthal arrange the infernal horror that is a lamprey’s head on a plate is one thing; seeing an enthusiastic dinner guest suck the raw, bloody meat out of it is quite another — something you will never, in fact, unsee. But finding the YouTube link to this spectacle in the chatty preface to an academic book on Henry III is quite the best indicator that you are in for a colourful ride.David Carpenter has chosen his subject thoughtfully.

The Plantagenet we always forget
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