Caroline Moore

A passion for moths – and the thrill of the chase

Over the years, I too have regularly been meeting with moths. So far, I have encountered 891 species just in my own garden in Sussex. But most of these moths came to me: I have an ancient metal Robinson trap, inherited from my grandfather, which lures them to a mercury vapour bulb. Katty Baird, how-ever,

Isabel Hardman, Matthew Parris, Graeme Thomson and Caroline Moore

21 min listen

This week: Isabel Hardman asks how Ed Miliband is the power behind Kier Starmer’s Labour (00:57), Matthew Parris says we’ve lost interest in our dependencies (05:03), Graeme Thomson mourns the loss of the B-side (11:57), and Caroline Moore reads her Notes on... war memorials (16:51).  Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.

The enduring power of war memorials

This Sunday, in my village of Etchingham, East Sussex, we will gather around our war memorial. It is a fine monument, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with the names of the dead inscribed around an octagonal base. There are no famous names upon it: indeed, there is only one commissioned officer, a Second Lieutenant (who

Lara Prendergast, Christopher Howse, Lionel Shriver, Peter Hitchens, Joanna Lumley and Caroline Moore

55 min listen

On this week’s very special Christmas episode, we’ll hear from Lara Prendergast on why she’s planning to party hard this Christmas. (00:57) Next, Christopher Howse on those helping to preserve the UK’s medieval churches. (06:31) Then it’s, Lionel Shriver on the Covid heretics she admires most. (16:41) Followed by, Peter Hitchens on Christmas in Russia during

How chilling ghost stories became a Christmas tradition

‘A sad tale’s best for winter,’ says little Mamillius in The Winter’s Tale: ‘I have one/ Of sprites and goblins…’ (He is dead by Act III.) Ghost stories have always been best told on a midwinter night — preferably aloud, in a group drawn close together around a blazing fire. Pleasure comes from awareness of

There is nothing cosy about Penelope Lively

At one time, Penelope Lively was routinely shortchanged by critics. Her protagonists are often middle-class professionals — historians, archeologists, scriptwriters and the like — and her Booker-prizewinning Moon Tiger was notoriously dismissed as the ‘housewife’s choice’. Now, gods, stand up for housewives! Lively is not a cosy read. The word which keeps coming to mind

Working remotely: five formidable female anthropologists

I was first sent a version of Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology in June last year. I started my review; but publication was delayed. So I tore up my opening paragraphs, which began with the remark that only armchair travel was possible at present. By 2021, I imagined, that would be out

The sex life of the Monarch butterfly is positively wild

Wendy Williams is an enthusiast, and enthusiasm is infectious. Lepidoptery is for her a new fascination, and it shows. On the plus side, her excitement shimmers as freshly as a newly-hatched Adonis Blue. She marvels, and makes us marvel, at the miracles she discovers. She wonders at the strangeness of a butterfly’s proboscis, which is

Time is the essence

Tessa Hadley is not the sort of writer to land the Booker Prize, which tends to reward writers from ‘anywhere’ rather than ‘somewhere’. Hadley labours under perceived limitations: she is distinctively British, writes about the middle classes, and turns out, as the puff on the back rightly says, ‘the quintessential domestic novel’. Those who are

Making the foreign familiar

Boyd Tonkin is superbly qualified to compile this volume. As literary editor of the Independent, he revived that newspaper’s foreign fiction prize, first won by Orhan Pamuk and his translator Victoria Holbrook. Translators are routinely undervalued. As with stage-lighting technicians, one is apt consciously to notice only glaring blunders; so it is good to know

Distant neighbours

Readers should skim past the blurb of The Friendly Ones. The novel is about prejudice, of many different kinds; but this description might prejudice one’s reading: The Friendly Ones is about two families. In it, people with very different histories can fit together, and redeem each other… by the decision to know something about people

Well of sorrows

The Red-haired Woman is shorter than Orhan Pamuk’s best-known novels, and is, in comparison, pared down, written with deliberate simplicity — ostensibly by a narrator who knows that he is not a writer, but only a building contractor. Polyphonic narratives are replaced by a powerful, engaging clarity. This simplicity is the novel’s greatest strength, yet

Too much of everything

Arundhati Roy has published only one previous novel, but that one, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize. That was 20 years ago. Early success did not, however, block Roy into neurotic silence: instead, it offered her a platform for verbally intemperate political activism. She is an impassioned campaigner against globalisation, industrialisation and

Speckled Footman and Maiden’s Blush

Last year, I attempted to pass through security in an American airport carrying a small black box, containing eight batteries and a visible circuit board. If the switch was flipped, the display counted down in red flashing numbers. Unsuprisingly, the officer in Salt Lake City pulled it out of my hand baggage. ‘What’s this?’ ‘It’s

A study in alienation

Looking for the Outsider is the biography of a novel, from conception through publication to critical reception. Alice Kaplan’s life-story of L’Étranger (The Outsider in English translations, The Stranger in American) is a lovely work, lucid and thought-provoking. It makes one feel afresh the sheer strangeness of Albert Camus’s imagination. All genius is, perhaps, freakish;

The great Dadaist novel

Anicet is, as its cover proclaims, a Dadaist novel, reissued on the centenary of its composition. Louis Aragon would doubtless have been delighted to learn that it is almost impossible to review. An art critic, with his ‘little gadgets… called criteria’, is satirised in these pages as a kind of ‘policeman’, whose mission is in

Sins of omission | 23 March 2016

My last review for The Spectator was of Julian Barnes’s biographical novel about Shostakovitch. A Girl in Exile also depicts the life of an artist favoured by a brutally oppressive regime, this time written by one who was there. Ismail Kadare survived the rule of that isolationist tyrant Enver Hoxha. In some quarters, Kadare has

A pitiful wreck

When I look at the black-and-white photograph of Julian Barnes on the flap of his latest book, the voice of Kenneth Clark floats up from memories of the black-and-white television of my childhood: ‘He is smiling — the smile of reason.’ Supremely ‘civilised’, thin-lipped, faintly superior, temperamentally given to aphorism, it is no surprise to

Complicated, but unfussy

Amory Clay, photographer and photo-journalist, was born in 1908, only two years after Logan Mountstuart, writer, poseur and ‘scribivelard’. Amory died in 1983; Logan in 1991. Though shaped by the same era, their accounts of their lives are tonally worlds apart. Logan is flamboyant, self-regarding, lyrical, self-pitying; Amory plainer, braver, yet less self-revealing. Both, of

God help me shippies!

T.H. White complained that the characters in Walter Scott’s historical novels talked ‘like imitation warming pans’: those in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, of which Flood of Fire is the final volume, talk like a whole Benares brass bazaar. As an avid reader of both Hobson-Jobson (the dictionary of Anglo-Indian slang) and Patrick O’Brian, I thought