The Novelist as Illusionist

I’m currently reading John le Carré’s book Our Game. It has all the classic le Carré elements: spies, questions of loyalty, isolated figures with murky pasts and a constant sense of moral ambiguity. Reading the book has reminded me of how good a novelist le Carré was. His attention to detail when it comes toContinue reading “The Novelist as Illusionist”

Reading With the Seasons

One of the most pleasurable and escapist reading experiences I’ve had in recent years is Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April. It opens on a “miserable” February afternoon in an “uncomfortable” London club. Mrs Wilkins reads an advert in the newspaper: “a mediaeval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean” is available to rentContinue reading “Reading With the Seasons”

Three Reasons to Love Poetry

For every hundred conversations I have about some great new Netflix series, I probably have one about poetry. And yet poetry is something I read, enjoy and think about. It’s sad that there seem to be few readers of poetry. And yet I believe it will always be written and read, because it is necessary.Continue reading “Three Reasons to Love Poetry”

Christmas Books

For the past few years, I’ve taken great pleasure in choosing a Christmas-themed book to read on cold December evenings. In the depths of winter, on foggy evenings when the streets are glistening with frost, curling up with a book is one of the great cold-weather comforts. The white Christmas lights are blinking on andContinue reading “Christmas Books”

The Ghost Stories of Susan Hill

The Fortune Theatre in London’s West End is a small Edwardian building, a short walk from Covent Garden, and just around the corner from the monumental Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Tucked away on Russell Street, one could be forgiven for not knowing of its existence. However, since 1989 it has been home to oneContinue reading “The Ghost Stories of Susan Hill”

The Unpainted Veil

One morning in 1956, almost a year after the publication of Moonraker, Ian Fleming received a letter from a stranger. Fleming had written three James Bond novels, but they weren’t yet as successful as he had hoped. The author of the letter was Geoffrey Boothroyd, a Glaswegian who wrote to point out how poor Bond’sContinue reading “The Unpainted Veil”