Books

Sister, where are you? – Clover Stroud mourns her beloved sibling

5 March 2022 9:00 am

‘CERTIFICATE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY,’ the freshly issued death certificate read. In the craziness and shock of grief for…

The making of a poet: Mother’s Boy, by Patrick Gale, reviewed

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Charles Causley was a poet’s poet. Both Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin considered him the finest candidate for the laureateship,…

Troubles of the past: The Slowworm’s Song, by Andrew Miller, reviewed

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Andrew Miller specialises in characters who are lost, often struggling to deal with the burden of failure. They don’t come…

TB is back with a vengeance

5 March 2022 9:00 am

If you were a teenager before 2005, one reminder of tuberculosis in British life is that small circular scar on…

Julie Burchill has found a new way to provoke: she’s turned sincere

5 March 2022 9:00 am

The greatest ever social media spat took place before the first tweet was sent, and was conducted via fax, which…

The torment of mentoring spoilt rich kids

5 March 2022 9:00 am

For 20 years of my adult life, I moonlighted as a private tutor. After a full day in the office…

The fuss over Mary Seacole’s statue has obscured the real person

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Mary Seacole may not have qualified as a nurse in the modern sense, but British troops benefited greatly from her healing skills, says Andrew Lycett

Howard Jacobson superbly captures the terrible cost of becoming a writer

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Howard Jacobson, who turns 80 this year, published his first novel aged 40. Since then he has produced roughly a…

Margaret Atwood seems embarrassed by the sheer volume of her output

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Margaret Atwood is among the major writers of English fiction of our time. This is a very boring way to…

Has the role of resistance in the second world war been exaggerated?

26 February 2022 9:00 am

When in 1941 Winston Churchill famously declared that the newly formed Special Operations Executive, set up to encourage resistance movements,…

That sinking feeling: The Swimmers, by Julie Otsuka, reviewed

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Julie Otsuka has good rhythm, sentences that move to a satisfying beat. Even as her tone shifts — from tender…

Truly magnificent: the splendour of Suleiman I

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Suleiman I richly deserved his epithet, as this vivid account of his early years illustrates, says Jason Burke

A playful version of the universe: Pure Colour, by Sheila Heti, reviewed

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Readers familiar with Sheila Heti’s work, most notably How Should a Person Be? and Motherhood, in which she examines both…

The machinations of the Dudleys make Game of Thrones look tame

26 February 2022 9:00 am

This is the gripping story of the ever-fluctuating fortunes of three generations of the Dudley dynasty, servants to — and…

Masters of the opium trade: the fabulous wealth of the Sassoons

19 February 2022 9:00 am

David Abulafia admires the shrewdness, generosity and panache of the Sassoons over many generations

From pirates to princes — the heroic transformation of the Normans

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The Normans had an astonishingly good run. Not only did they take over England in 1066, of course, but they…

Christina Patterson overcomes family misfortunes

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The journalist and broadcaster Christina Patterson’s memoir begins promisingly. She has a talent for vivid visual description, not least: ‘We…

What’s to become of Africa’s teeming youth?

19 February 2022 9:00 am

Demographers are attached to their theories. The field’s most enduring is the ‘demographic transition’, whereby modernisation inexorably lowers a society’s…

Inside New India: Run and Hide, by Pankaj Mishra, reviewed

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The first novel in more than 20 years from the essayist and cultural analyst Pankaj Mishra is as sharp, provocative…

Playing until her fingers bled: the dedication of the pianist Maria Yudina

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The 20th century was an amazing time for Russian pianists, and the worse things got, politically and militarily, the more…

Why did Britain lock up so many innocent refugees in 1940?

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Despite prostrate Germany’s need for the return of its men, in Britain we didn’t release our prisoners of war until…

Watcher of the skies: John Constable, painter and meteorologist

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes how John Constable’s energy and imagination freed British art from the constraints of the past

Lonely voices: Dance Move, by Wendy Erskine, reviewed

12 February 2022 9:00 am

‘The drawer beside Roberta’s bed contained remnants of other people’s fun’: so begins ‘Mathematics’, one of 11 stories in this…

Know your left from your right: the brain’s divided hemispheres

12 February 2022 9:00 am

The dust jacket of The Matter With Things quotes a large statement from an Oxford professor: ‘This is one of…

The best and coolest decade: nostalgia for the 1990s

12 February 2022 9:00 am

The long 1990s began with the Pixies album Surfer Rosa in 1989 and ended with the invasion of Iraq in…