Books

A cross between Joyce Grenfell and Frida Kahlo: Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins

26 October 2019 9:00 am

In 1971, Tove Jansson paid one of her many visits to London, where 1960s fashion hangovers made the whole city…

A sublime lyricist, but no letter writer: Cole Porter’s correspondence is sadly wit-free

26 October 2019 9:00 am

‘In olden days, a glimpse of stocking/ Was looked on as something shocking’, carolled the company of Cole Porter’s 1934…

Whatever happened to glasnost and perestroika?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

This is a timely book. It addresses the challenges of a fractious and fractured Europe. The first word of the…

Could AI enslave humanity before it destroys it entirely?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

Depending on how you count, we are in the midst of the second or third AI hype-bubble since the 1960s,…

Brexit has at least inspired John le Carré — his thriller on the subject is a cracker

26 October 2019 9:00 am

Since 1903, when Erskine Childers warned of the rising tide of German militarism that preceded the first world war in…

Nick Lowe is that rare phenomenon — the veteran rock star who improves with age

26 October 2019 9:00 am

It is to Nick Lowe’s everlasting credit that in May 1977, a few months after David Bowie released the album…

Our appetite for ‘folk horror’ appears to be insatiable

26 October 2019 9:00 am

This eerie, shortish book apparently had an earlier outing this year, when it purported to be a reissue of a…

Edith Nesbit — a children’s writer of genius who disinherited her own adopted offspring

26 October 2019 9:00 am

‘When one writes for children,’ the novelist Jill Paton Walsh has said, ‘there are more people in the room. Writing…

An unconventional biography of the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Paul Hendrickson’s previous (and very fine) book was Hemingway’s Boat, published in Britain in 2012. It was a nice conceit…

The concluding volume of Charles Moore’s life of Margaret Thatcher is – as its predecessors are – a triumph

19 October 2019 9:00 am

This outstanding biography comes to an end, not in an atmosphere of triumph and achievement, but in a welter of…

Two wide-ranging collections of short stories by and about women

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Zadie Smith’s first collection of short stories shows that she can pack all the astute social commentary of her novels…

The grand old man of nature writing continues his noble crusade

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Richard Mabey is the grand old man of nature writing. He has produced 40 books in his noble crusade against…

A prince among men: could Albert have changed the course of history?

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Double identities have never been rare: Norman French conquered England. Anglo Irish led its armies to victory. German Jews helped…

Three remarkable sisters at the heart of 20th-century Chinese politics

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In their lifetime, and afterwards, the Soong sisters from Shanghai seemed like figures from a Chinese fairy tale. There were…

David Cameron’s For the Record ends where the sorriest three years in modern British history begins

12 October 2019 9:00 am

It’s fun to look for what’s missing in a memoir; the forgotten egos, the policy howlers buried for posterity. Some…

A work of art in more ways than one

12 October 2019 9:00 am

Neil Hegarty’s new novel, The Jewel, is a mass of contradictions. It’s about an art heist, but it’s not fun.…

Living on a nuclear submarine does your head in

12 October 2019 9:00 am

Richard Humphreys spent a good part of five years, between the ages of 18 and 23, living inside a nuclear…

Oswald of Northumbria – an Anglo-Saxon saint-king of the north for our time

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In Hamlet a gravedigger asks the riddle: ‘What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or…

Gilgamesh, Michael Schmidt’s ‘life’ of a poem

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In the mid-19th century, around lunchtime, a pale young man with an enormous beard could be seen in the British…

A thought-provoking work of ‘moral atonement’ and ‘comparative redemption’

12 October 2019 9:00 am

No nation’s defeat is ever quite straight-forward, and sometimes downfall can bring its own kind of posthumous victory. By the…

Betrayal in Berlin – a small but important part of the Cold War story

12 October 2019 9:00 am

The Berlin Tunnel was an Anglo-American eavesdropping operation mounted against Russian-controlled East Berlin in 1955–56.  It was a technical and…

Donald Hoffman’s The Case Against Reality is a hard to get your head around

12 October 2019 9:00 am

Vibrations, chemicals and light-waves exist in the world; sounds, tastes, smells and colours only seem to. ‘Many sensations which are…

Patti Smith had a bad year in 2016

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In the Chinese zodiac, 2016 was the year of the monkey, a trickster year full of the unhappy and the…

Man’s first instinct has always been to return to the sea

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Travelling the Indus valley late in the third millennium BC you would have been awed by two Bronze Age megacities,…

Ian McEwan’s anti-Brexit satire is a damp squib

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Kafka wrote a novella, The Metamorphosis, about a man who finds himself transformed into a beetle. Now Ian McEwan has…