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Hero to a continent

Gabriel García Márquez, by Gerald Martin In July 1965, or so the story goes, a Colombian writer in early middle age, living in Mexico City, decided to take his wife and two young sons on a short and much needed holiday to Acapulco. He had had some small successes, and was respected in the small

Only good news will do

There is a startling passage in this book. It recounts an intimate moment (among many, it should be said) between the President of the United States, George W. Bush, and his Secretary of State and long-time adviser, Condoleezza Rice. They are sitting on the porch of Bush’s Texas ranch. It is December 2006 and, after

Ancient and modern unite

Once, when Adam Nicolson was asked the question ‘will you be writing a family memoir?’, he answered, ‘I think my family is the most memoired family in the history of the universe. It’s like a disease. “No” is definitely the answer to that.’ But Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History is at least a quarter family memoir.

Hungry for love

Love All, by Elizabeth Jane Howard Love All is a dreadful title — sounds like the memoirs of a lesbian tennis player — for an elegantly old-fashioned novel. It is set in the late 1960s; but there is little to anchor it to this period: the occasional references to the Beatles, or to Mary Quant,

A mystic and an administrator

Florence Nightingale, by Mark Bostridge No eminent Victorian has shaped our daily lives in more ways than Florence Nightingale. Her influence continued far beyond her 20 months of bloodsoaked toil in Scutari and the Crimea. Her vision of a public health-care system was the foundation of the National Health Service. Disassociating nursing from religious vocation

The yellow star of courage

Journal, by Hélène Berr, translated from the French by David Bellos ‘What must be rescued,’ wrote Hélène Berr in her diary on 27 October 1943, ‘is the soul and the memory it contains.’ The need to see and understand and later to remember is the theme that runs through Berr’s remarkable diary of Jewish persecution

Surprising literary ventures | 22 October 2008

The Crows of Pearblossom is a rare children’s book by Aldous Huxley, written in 1944 and published posthumously. It originated as a present for his five-year-old niece Olivia de Haulleville, who often visited Huxley and his wife, Maria, at their ranch in Llano in the Mojave Desert (Olivia later moved to the Greek island of