Category Archives: Books

The Man who was Thursday by G K Chesterton (1908)

The terrorist murders in France and Germany last year made me think more about previous eras when ordinary life was shattered by ideologically-driven violence. I recalled the IRA, Red Brigades and Baader Meinhof Gang and I wanted to read something … Continue reading

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My Life and Times by Jerome K Jerome (1926)

It was my father who recommended Three Men in a Boat to me when I was a teenager. (He also suggested P G Wodehouse, yet I never knew him to read fiction. I’m saddened now that I never thought to … Continue reading

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The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan (1978)

L’Étranger written by an affectless, acned adolescent? It does teenage indifference and self-pity very well – that sense of bewilderment, self-centredness without self-awareness, making new discoveries but not really understanding them. It’s an unsettling story, beginning with the death of the … Continue reading

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The Return by Håkan Nesser

Short sentences, short paragraphs, short chapters . . . and by reading only one word in three I managed to make short work of this formulaic Krimi. It was rubbish. I guessed whodunnit halfway through and that left nothing novel … Continue reading

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One Across, Two Down by Ruth Rendell (1971)

Ruth Rendell is always a good choice for long journeys: however far-fetched her plots or bizarre her characters, she writes well and is unputdownable. I started this on the train to Cologne yesterday, read all through dinner (Funkhaus) and stayed … Continue reading

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The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth

This is an appropriate book to dip into as I travel by train from hotel to hotel on my way to Hamburg (“The only affordable currency-reformed city in Germany” – 1924). Roth’s bustling hotels bear no resemblance to the endless … Continue reading

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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (1962)

I read a bit of mid-century American science fiction in my teens and even then found it a stranger world than that of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. I could cope with the imagined stuff, but the rest was a … Continue reading

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