Lilian Pizzichini

The Osnabrück witch trials echo down the centuries

Absent mothers resonate in the latest offerings from two heavyweights of French literature. Getting Lost is the diary kept by the prize-winning novelist Annie Ernaux while she was having an affair with a married man in 1989. Ernaux has already written a novel about this relationship. Now we have a more immediate and intimate account.

The sweet life turns sour

Shawn Levy specialises in chronicling 20th-century hotspots such as London in the Sixties and Sinatra’s Vegas. Here, he turns his attention to the regeneration of post-war Rome. How did the Eternal City erase the memory of its defeat? The answer is as layered as a Cassata cake. The sponge is the commitment that saw new

Girls about town

On 8 June 1920 an old beggar woman sat against a wall in Kingsway holding a mongrel in her arms and singing aloud. Virginia Woolf noted in her diary that there was a recklessness to her. She was singing for her own amusement, shrilly, and then fire engines came by singing shrilly, too. ‘Sometimes everything

In the grip of yellow fever

In late Victorian south London a ‘lower-middle-class’ boy, Arthur Ward, is lingering over his copy of The Arabian Nights. The book falls open at a colour illustration of Scheherazade, mysteriously pictured with a white peacock. Twenty years later, she materialises as Kâramanèh, the dazzling female sidekick of Fu Manchu. Young Arthur, who by now had