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Inspired by the excellent Ken Burns documentary of Ernest Hemingway I decided to read one of his works. For Whom the Bell tolls I read at school and found it heavy going. Farewell to Arms I knew the story from the film. I’m not a reader of short stories so I plumped for the audio version of The [...]

July 30, 2021 // 0 Comments

Cricketing Lives/Richard H. Thomas

This is less a compendium of the lives of colourful cricketers than a broad sweep of cricketing history to the present day. Charlie Blythe It’s well informed, witty and entertaining but did not tell me much I did not already know. It’s particularly interesting on Victorian cricket, an era [...]

July 20, 2021 // 0 Comments

Recent fiction: Barcelona Dreaming & Widowland

Both the above two books – written by Rupert Thomson and C.L. Carey – were favourably reviewed but I had not heard of either author. Barcelona Dreaming is three interlocking short stories set in modern Barcelona. In the first Amy, who has a curio shop, meets a young Moroccan outside [...]

July 14, 2021 // 0 Comments

A Good Read

An interesting issue was raised in this week’s Good Read on Radio 4 presented by Harriet Gilbert – namely, you can enjoy a book at one period of your life but not in another. She gave as her example The Franchise Affaire by Josephine Tey. I read a lot of Christopher Isherwood as a kid [...]

July 8, 2021 // 0 Comments

Napoleon’s Plunder and the Theft of Veronese’s Feast/Cynthia Salzman

This is an account by Cynthia Salzman of the appropriation of Paolo Veronese’s Wedding Feat of Cana in 1796 by Napoleon. The painting hung on the refectory wall of the Santa Maggiore church in Venice commissioned by the Benedictine Order. Napoleon , just 26, had conquered most of the Italian [...]

July 2, 2021 // 0 Comments

Hemingway/BBC 4

A new Ken Burns documentary is worth waiting for though not worth missing England v Germany as it clashed. You know that the production values will be high and he will lay out the facts in a non-judgemental way. By contrast the Channel 4 type of documentary, normally on the royals, will be more of [...]

July 1, 2021 // 0 Comments

Quartered but safe/George MacDonald Fraser

Pursuing my interest in the less well known theatres of conflict of World War Two, I received this enthusiastic recommendation from a solicitor friend of mine. It’s a personal account by the author of the Flashman series of the Burma Campaign of 1946 and is extremely good. It dispelled many [...]

June 23, 2021 // 0 Comments

Operation Pedestal/Max Hastings

Pursuing my interest in the lesser known theatres of war in World War Two I read Max Hastings’ account of the fleet that battled to Malta in 1942 with great interest and enjoyment as it’s well researched and most readable. After significant defeats at Singapore and Tobruk in 1942, [...]

June 1, 2021 // 0 Comments

The Rock Pool (Cyril Connolly) and The Shot (Philip Kerr)

I am an enthusiast and when I review a book it’s generally  in the hope that it will be read. However in the above two I have no such aspirations. I must have read The Rock Pool at least 40 years ago when I had a greater interest in writers of the 1930s. It struck me as a louche account of [...]

May 15, 2021 // 0 Comments

Spring cannot be cancelled

This is a joyful, uplifting book particularly during the pandemic and lockdown. David Hockney chronicles with art historian and writer Martin Gayford the former’s decision aged 83 to move to Normandy to depict the spring by drawing this on his iPad. To make such a decision at that age and to [...]

April 11, 2021 // 0 Comments

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