‘The past is a moving target’ [book review]

A review of Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how publishing – in the UK, at least – seems to have a bit of a thing for war stories at the moment. Several fine Second World War memoirs and histories have been published in recent months and years, manyContinue reading “‘The past is a moving target’ [book review]”

‘To prove that goodness could endure’ [book review]

A review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather It really is remarkable, the story of The Volunteer. Jack Fairweather’s Costa Award-winning biography, a work of impressive research, portrays the hitherto largely untold life of Witold Pilecki, a leader of the Polish resistance in World War II who in 1940 volunteered to be arrested and sentContinue reading “‘To prove that goodness could endure’ [book review]”

‘What was eternal in us was all that would last’ [book review]

A review of The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Anthea Bell My old flat in Vienna was in Stefan Zweig territory. Just around the corner, where I would stand to wait for the bus, a plaque on a stone façade announced that he had livedContinue reading “‘What was eternal in us was all that would last’ [book review]”

‘Bleeding the radiator’ [book review]

A review of What Doesn’t Kill You: Fifteen Stories of Survival edited by Elitsa Dermendzhiyska It was Cathy Rentzenbrink who put it so beautifully. After many years of struggling with immense grief and its traumatic aftermath, she has come to view crying not as something to be ashamed or scared of, but something necessary, aContinue reading “‘Bleeding the radiator’ [book review]”

‘There is no other place in the world like the Sahara.’ [book review]

A review of Stories of the Sahara by Sanmao, translated from the Chinese by Mike Fu The very first time I read about Sanmao I was smitten. Remembering her aunt in an article for Words Without Borders, Jessica Chen conjured up a character so enthralling that I found – still do find – it hardContinue reading “‘There is no other place in the world like the Sahara.’ [book review]”

‘Inheritance of storms’ [book review]

A review of The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand When I read Byron at university, I have to say that I never gave much thought to his ancestry. It’s a thing that probably few people do, with the notable exception of social historian and genealogist Emily Brand, whose new book, TheContinue reading “‘Inheritance of storms’ [book review]”

‘It is not easy to think about translation’. [book review]

A review of This Little Art by Kate Briggs As well as being the home of such literary-fiction luminaries as Olga Tokarczuk and Adam Mars-Jones, independent London-based press Fitzcarraldo Editions has made a name for itself as the publisher of brilliant essayists. One of these white-bound titles (blue covers denote fiction) that I have hadContinue reading “‘It is not easy to think about translation’. [book review]”

‘Hungry for knowledge in all its forms’. A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade

Sometimes the right book comes along at exactly the right time – and recently I’ve been lucky enough for this to happen often. The latest example is Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting, a fascinating, in-depth look at the lives of five women who lived and worked in Bloomsbury between the wars. While a couple of themContinue reading “‘Hungry for knowledge in all its forms’. A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade”

‘Sand and courage and bombs and sleep’. A review of In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

I would love to know what my eighteen-year-old self would have made of this book. At school and university I spent a while thinking that I might like to be a foreign or war correspondent, partly inspired by the work of Martha Gellhorn which I had read for my degree courses. It was a dreamContinue reading “‘Sand and courage and bombs and sleep’. A review of In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum”

‘Without families you don’t get stories.’ A review of The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

Around a year ago, Bart van Es won the 2018 Costa Book of the Year award for his family memoir, The Cut Out Girl. (Interestingly, this year’s winner was also the non-fiction category champion, Jack Fairweather’s The Volunteer, another book about the Holocaust. Given that the award is designed to honour the ‘most enjoyable’ booksContinue reading “‘Without families you don’t get stories.’ A review of The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es”

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