Beyond the Malachite Hills, by Jonathan Lawley; Last Man In, by John Hare - review

In post when the curtain came down on Britain’s African empire, there survives today a generation of colonial officers whose…

Straying from the Way

No sensible writer wastes good material. A couple of years ago Tim Parks published a memoir, Teach Us to Sit…


‘I told them’

No messenger bearing bad news can expect to be popular.

Looking on the bright side . . .

Anyone who thinks that a stable and loving family background is the key to a happy life had better read this book; for its protagonist, now 80 years old, was rejected as a baby by his unmarried mother, looked after by a doting and doted-on grandmother until he was four, and then, inexplicably (given that he had various relations who could have cared for him), consigned to an orphanage of Dickensian grimness from which he was finally discharged at the age of 14 with nothing but a Bible, a new suit, and a ten-shilling note.


A grief ago

The cautionary slogan ‘less is more’ has never been the American writer Joyce Carol Oates’ watchword.

Tenderness, wisdom and irony

‘Every poet describes himself, as well as his own life, in his writings,’ observed Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in one of his lectures on English literature, which he delivered twice a week to an audience of young people in his palazzo in Palermo.


BOOKENDS: Pearls before swine

The Poor Little Rich Girl memoir, popular for at least a century, nowadays slums it in the misery department. ‘One particularly annoying aspect of being sexually abused or traumatised as a child,’ writes Ivana Lowell in Why not Say what Happened? (Bloomsbury, £25), ‘is that everyone wants you to talk about it.’ Does she mean ‘everyone’, or just her agent, publisher and ‘many psychiatrists’?


Taking the long view

Christopher Meyer agrees with George W. Bush that he was a far better president than his current reputation allows

More than politics

A Fortunate Life, by Paddy Ashdown