Chloë Ashby

Chloë Ashby is the author of Wet Paint and Second Self

She’s leaving home: Breakdown, by Cathy Sweeney, reviewed

The narrator of Cathy Sweeney’s first novel has finally cracked. I say ‘finally’ because there have been signs: drinking alone; disliking her daughter, or at least her type; having an affair with her friend’s son; opening a separate bank account in her maiden name when her mother died. But in the beginning we don’t know

The shock of the new in feminist art

Lauren Elkin begins her book about bodily art with a charming ode to the punctuation mark that she in American English calls a ‘slash’ and we in British English call a ‘stroke’. She likes the way it expresses ‘division yet relation’. Brings disparate things together. Makes space for ambiguity. Blends and blurs. And/or. She writes:

The haunting power of 17th-century Dutch art

Laura Cumming writes about art with a painter’s precision. She’s been the chief art critic for the Observer since 1999. Her fourth work of non-fiction, Thunderclap, is a beautifully illustrated memoir that intertwines biography, visual analysis and personal reflection. An eloquent homage to her artist father, James Cumming, and to the artists of the Dutch

Should we judge a work by the character of its creator?

‘Most of my heroes are monsters, unfortunately,’ Joni Mitchell once said, ‘and they are men.’ The singer-songwriter was able to detach the maker from the made. Should we do the same? Is it ethical? Even possible? These are the questions Claire Dederer deftly considers in Monsters, which puzzles through the problem of what we ought

Jenny McCartney, Chloë Ashby and Ysenda Maxtone Graham

18 min listen

This week: Jenny McCartney says don’t expect a united Ireland any time soon (00:57), Chloë Ashby reads her review of Con/Artist the memoir of notorious art forger Tony Tetro (07:57), and Ysenda Maxtone Graham tells us the etiquette of canapés (14:55).  Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson. 

War of the Windsors

46 min listen

This week: For his cover piece in The Spectator Freddy Gray asks who will win in the battle between the Waleses and the Sussexes. He is joined by historian Amanda Foreman to discuss the fallout Harry and Meghan’s new Netflix documentary (01:00). Also this week: Should the House of Lords be reformed or even abolished? This is

The secrets of a master art forger

Tony Tetro’s memoir starts with a bang – or, rather, a bust. On 18 April 1989, 25 policemen spilled into his condo in Claremont, California, confiscated the $8,000 he had just been paid in cash and proceeded to search the place, slicing through wallpaper, pulling up carpets and emptying drawers. The scene is pacy, thrilling,

Meditations on the sea by ten British artists

It is our ability to see a single thing in various ways that Lily Le Brun celebrates in Looking to Sea: Britain Through the Eyes of its Artists. Over the course of ten chapters dedicated to individual artworks, one for each decade of the past century, she explores our shifting relationship with the shoreline through

Women artists have been ignored for far too long

At first glance, Clara Peeters’s ‘Still Life with a Vase of Flowers, Goblets and Shells’ (1612) appears to be just that. Carefully arranged on a wooden tabletop, the collected objects are in conversation, the nubby curves of the shells echoing the ribbed neck of the stone vase, their dusky and rosy hues matching the open

Momentous decisions: Ruth & Pen, by Emilie Pine, reviewed

Emilie Pine writes about the big things and the little things: friendship, love, fertility, grief; waking, showering, catching the bus. She did so in her startling collection of essays Notes to Self, and she does it again in this, her equally startling debut novel Ruth & Pen. As Ruth (‘Counsellor. Patient. Wife. Wife?’) tells herself