Stephanie Sy-Quia

A late fling: Free Love, by Tessa Hadley, reviewed

Tessa Hadley is the queen of the portentous evening, the pregnant light and the carefully composed life unwittingly waiting to be unravelled. Free Love, like its predecessor Late in the Day, begins on one such evening. The year is 1967 and Phyllis, a suburban housewife, is applying her make-up. She and her husband, a ‘respected

Mommy issues: Milk Fed, by Melissa Broder, reviewed

This is a novel about ‘mommy issues’. Rachel is a Reform Jew, ‘more Chanel bag Jew than Torah Jew’, and her mother has always been preoccupied by her daughter’s weight. ‘Anorexics are much skinnier than you’, she tells Rachel when she develops the condition as a teenager. ‘They look like concentration camp victims.’ Rachel’s therapist,

A toast to brotherhood: Summer, by Ali Smith, reviewed

The concluding novel of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet is a family affair. Her intergenerational group of seeming strangers from the past three novels find themselves flung together at the eroding eastern edge of England. Daniel Gluck, our centenarian from Autumn, now 104, has been moved out of his care home (thank God, given that we

Rescuing the great British Cheddar

Gastronomy is one of the deepest forms of culture. If you’ve grown up in France you know this, to the depth of your Camembert-calcium-enriched bones (I have, and do). In my Year 2 classroom near Paris there was a poster with the most famous cheeses of France on it: heart-shaped Neufchâtel, orange Mimolette; Reblochon, Roquefort,

If you are going to San Francisco…

In his adopted city of San Francisco, the poet, publisher and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti is venerated to levels nearing those of patron sainthood. In 1954, he co-founded the bookshop-cum-press City Lights on Columbus Avenue, which cleaves North Beach from Chinatown on the top right tip of the San Franciscan peninsula. Lauded by the Los Angeles