Book review

Claire Bloom in Brideshead Revisited (Photo: ITV/REX)

The Roth of tenderness and of rage

4 January 2014 9:00 am

In the autumn of 2012, Philip Roth told a French magazine that his latest book, Nemesis, would be his last.…

To gaze at Manet’s asparagus and to see a reflection of your struggling long-term relationship might not be the best way to approach a painting

Do Manet's asparagus remind you of your struggling long-term relationship?

4 January 2014 9:00 am

In calling their book Art as Therapy Alain de Botton and John Armstrong have taken the direct route. They’re not…

The 18-year-old Anjelica Huston, directed by her father, 
makes her screen début in A Walk with Love and Death as the 
14th-century French aristocrat Claudia, fleeing the savagery of the Jacquerie

Finally, a celebrity memoir worth reading

4 January 2014 9:00 am

Unlike many celebrity memoirs, Anjelica Huston’s is worth reading. In her Prologue she writes that as a child she modeled…


The many attempts to assassinate Trotsky

4 January 2014 9:00 am

Leon Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban Volkov, is a retired chemist in his early eighties. I met him not long ago in…

Two faces of Bernard Berenson

How honest was Bernard Berenson?

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Sam Leith suspects that even such a distinguished connoisseur as Bernard Berenson did not always play a straight bat


If only Craig Raine subjected his own work to the same critical scrutiny he applies to others' 

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Debunking reputations is now out of fashion, says Philip Hensher, and Craig Raine should give it up — especially as he always misses the point

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Marianne Moore Photo: Getty

The mad, mum-fixated maiden aunt of modernism

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Marianne Moore’s poems are notoriously ‘difficult’ but her personality and the circumstances of her life are as fascinating today as…


Curtains for kitty! How to care for cats — and how to kill them

7 December 2013 9:00 am

The New Yorker has always had a peculiar affinity with cats, perhaps because they have a lot in common —…

Peter Brookes depicts the two Eds

Hugo Rifkind's My Week reminds me why it's worth getting up on Saturdays

7 December 2013 9:00 am

‘Nothing’s funny any more’ has become the daily mantra of this magazine’s cartoon editor, Michael Heath. Thanks to Leveson, political…

Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, writer and aesthetic philosopher Photo: Getty

The book that Boris should give to all seniors, along with their Freedom Passes

7 December 2013 9:00 am

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a story for the older reader. One might go so far as to suggest…

Margaret Drabble at the offices of publisher McLelland Stewart Photo: Toronto Star via Getty

Margaret Drabble tries to lose the plot

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Halfway through her new novel, Margaret Drabble tells us of Anna, the pure gold baby of the title, ‘There was…

Ann Patchett Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ann Patchett's new book will win you over, in spite of yourself

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Ann Patchett’s novels revel in the tightly constructed ecosystems imagined for their characters: an opera singer besieged among diplomats in…

Elizabeth Taylor (left) chats with Pamela Hansford Johnson, 1954 Photo: Getty

Angel, by Elizabeth Taylor - review

30 November 2013 9:00 am

‘She wrote fiction?’ Even today, with the admirable ladies at Virago nearly finished reissuing her dozen novels, Elizabeth Taylor remains…

Fans, 1924, by Georges Barbier

A book on Art Deco that's a work of art in itself — but where's the Savoy, Claridge's and the Oxo Tower? 

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Over the past 45 years, there have been two distinct and divergent approaches to Art Deco. One of them —…

Letters of Note includes letters from Elvis Presley to President Nixon Photo: Mondadori via Getty

'God has given me a new Turkish colleague called Mustapha Kunt...'

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Under normal circumstances, Simon Garfield’s chatty and informative excursion into the history of letter-writing would be a book to recommend.…

Oil on board, 1950

When Francis Davison made me judge — and burn — his art

30 November 2013 9:00 am

In 1983, Damien Hirst saw an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery of the collages of Francis Davison which ‘blew him…

Desmond Fitzgerald, the 29th Knight of Glin, alongside his French wife Louise de la Falaise, 1966 Photo: Getty

The Last Knight, by Robert O’Byrne - review

30 November 2013 9:00 am

I have to declare an interest: for many years the Knight and I were the closest of friends until a…

Left to right: Eleanor Roosevelt, King George VI, Sara Roosevelt (the President’s mother), Queen Elizabeth and FDR at Hyde Park on Hudson

A book that's inspired by a movie (for a change)

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Books become films every day of the week; more rarely does someone feel inspired to write a book after seeing…

JFK at work at his desk in the Oval Office

The wounded Kennedy – and the people who gave him strength

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Ten years ago, a determined historian transformed our picture of John F. Kennedy. Robert Dallek had finally got his hands…

The London terminus of the North Western Railyway in the 1860s, showing a busy scene in front of the Euston Arch, which was demolished a century later

The men who demolished Victorian Britain

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Anyone with a passing interest in old British buildings must get angry at the horrors inflicted on our town centres…

American beat poet Allen Ginsberg Photo: Getty

American Smoke, by Iain Sinclair - review

23 November 2013 9:00 am

If you have read Iain Sinclair’s books you will know that he is a stylist with a love of language.…


The best cookery books of 2013

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Nigel Slater’s books lead the field in cookery book design, but his latest, Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food…


The vengeance of Alex Ferguson

23 November 2013 9:00 am

For a quarter of a century Sir Alex Ferguson bestrode football’s narrow world like a colossus. Like his predecessor knight-manager,…

Top of the happiness scale: Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (English School, 15th century)

Look! Shakespeare! Wow! George Eliot! Criminy! Jane Austen!

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Among the precursors to this breezy little book are, in form, the likes of The Story of Art, Our Island…

Leonard Bernstein in 1945

Did Leonard Bernstein do too much to be a great artist?

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Nigel Simeone’s title for his edition of Leonard Bernstein’s correspondence rings compellingly, novellistically, through the force of the definite article,…