Recent Reviews

The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild

Author:
Mathias Énard

Media:
The Guardian

Review Date:
December '23

French author Mathias Énard, winner of the Prix Goncourt and nominated for the International Booker prize, begins his new novel by quoting the Buddha: “In our former lives, we have all been earth, stone, dew, wind, fire, moss, tree, insect, fish, turtle, bird and mammal.”

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Pure Wit

Author:
Francesca Peacock

Media:
The Wall Street Journal

Review Date:
December '23

Who’s afraid of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle? Virginia Woolf was. In “A Room of One’s Own,” Woolf compared Cavendish, a 17th-century philosopher, poet and scientist, to a giant cucumber plant that had grown all over the carnations and roses in the garden and “choked them to death.”

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Monet: The Restless Vision

Author:
Jackie Wullschläger

Media:
The Times Literary Supplement

Review Date:
October '23

In her new biography Jackie Wullschläger draws on private archival sources and more than 3,000 of the artist’s letters, published by Daniel Wildenstein in his five-volume catalogue raisonné (1974-91), few of which have been translated into English.

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The Revolutionary Temper

Author:
Robert Darnton

Media:
The Spectator

Review Date:
October '23

Robert Darnton traces the build-up of revolutionary sentiment during the reign of Louis XV before public anger finally erupted under his hapless successor.

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The Writer’s Garden: How Gardens Inspired the Worlds’ Great Authors

Author:
Jackie Bennett

Media:
The Spectator

Review Date:
September '23

A sumptuous coffee-table book in which writers from Henry James to Frances Hodgson Burnett are briefly glimpsed while passing through the beautiful spaces that outlast them.

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Soldier Sailor

Author:
Claire Kilroy

Media:
The Times Literary Supplement

Review Date:
May '23

Claire Kilroy’s fifth novel – her first in more than a decade – is a confessional love letter from a mother, Soldier, to her young son, Sailor. It begins in the nadir of postnatal despair, during their first Easter together, when Soldier nearly abandons Sailor in a park on Good Friday.

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Still Pictures

Author:
Janet Malcolm

Media:
The Times Literary Supplement

Review Date:
February '23

Janet Malcolm wrote for the New Yorker for almost sixty years on literature, photography and fine art, the miscarriage of justice, psychoanalysis and interior design – but she was suspicious of biography.

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All Sorts of Lives: Katherine Mansfield and the Art of Risking Everything

Author:
Claire Harman

Media:
The Spectator

Review Date:
January '23

Claire Harman, a distinguished literary biographer, has written a wonderful book to mark the centenary of Mansfield’s death. Determined to consider the work and life in tandem, Harman chooses ten of Mansfield’s short stories, some renowned, some obscure, and discusses them in connection with her life.

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The Empress Eugénie in England: Art, Architecture, Collecting

Author:
Anthony Geraghty

Media:
The Spectator

Review Date:
December '22

After her exile from France in 1870, the wife of Napoleon III purchased a Hampshire estate to house a nostalgic collection of family memorabilia.

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Sojourn

Author:
Amit Chaudhuri

Media:
The Times Literary Supplement

Review Date:
September '22

Amit Chaudhuri’s eighth novel, Sojourn, is a beautiful meditation on memory set during a temporary stay in Berlin. The unnamed narrator is a visiting professor fifteen years after the fall of the Wall. He has been in the city once before, but, in 2004, has little memory of it.

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True to Nature

Author:
Fitzwilliam Museum Exhibition

Media:
The Times Literary Supplement

Review Date:
August '22

True to Nature is a perfectly timed exhibition. The European trend for landscape painting en plein air between 1780 and 1870 resonates with the resurgence of interest in the natural world that the lockdowns inspired, as well as contemporary concern for our threatened habitat.

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These Days

Author:
Lucy Caldwell

Media:
TLS

Review Date:
March '22

Set in Belfast over four intense days and nights of bombing during the Blitz in 1941, These Days is a beautiful homage to the city, its suffering and people. It is also an eloquent meditation on the transience of love and beauty, the fact that moments in time are all anyone ever has, until suddenly they stop.

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The French Mind

Author:
Peter Watson

Media:
The Times

Review Date:
April '22

The French Mind by Peter Watson review - are the French exceptional? Mais, oui. The cultural history of France is told through the chatter of salons and the women who ran them, says Ruth Scurr

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France: An Adventure History

Author:
Graham Robb

Media:
The Times

Review Date:
March '22

France: An Adventure History by Graham Robb review - Vive la France! A quirky chronicle of our neighbour. From Julius Caesar to Covid via Napoleon’s flowerbeds: Ruth Scurr enjoys this witty, free-ranging homage to the French people.

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The Georgians: the Deeds and Misdeeds of 18th Century Britain

Author:
Penelope J Corfield

Media:
FT

Review Date:
February '22

The Georgians - the age that shaped Britain, for good and bad

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