Book review

What a coincidence

12 October 2013 9:00 am

If you are going to read a novel that plays with literary conventions you want it written with aplomb. In…

A youthful portrait of the Dowager Empress

The Empress Dowager was a moderniser, not a minx. But does China care?

12 October 2013 9:00 am

For susceptible Englishmen of a certain inclination — like Sir Edmund Backhouse or George Macdonald Fraser — the Empress Dowager…

Basil Bunting, 1980
(Photo: Jonathan Williams/
Basil Bunting Poetry Archive, Durham University Library)

A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

How minor is minor? ‘Rings a bell’ was more or less the response of two English literature graduates, now successful…

Diana Cooper,with her son John Julius Norwich in London, 1944

Darling Monster, edited by John Julius Norwich - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

It must have been awful for Diana and Duff Cooper to be separated from their only child during the war,…

Ullswater towards Helvellyn, where Wordsworth wandered lonely as a cloud

England’s 100 best Views, by Simon Jenkins - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

Sam Leith is transported by the finest scenery in England

‘Fourteen Sunflowers’, 
 the version 
in the Neue

The Sunflowers Are Mine, by Martin Bailey - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

‘How could a man who has loved light and flowers so much and has rendered them so well, how could…

Colonel Georges Picquart

An Officer and a Gentleman, by Robert Harris - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

The Dreyfus Affair, the furore caused by a miscarriage of justice in France in 1894, is a source of perennial…

Christmas Day truce of 1914

Meeting the Enemy, by Richard Van Emden; 1914, by Allan Mallinson - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

The Great War was an obscene and futile conflict laying waste a generation and toppling emperors. Yet here are two…

(Image: Getty)

Guido Fawkes to Damian McBride: Who's spinning now?

5 October 2013 9:00 am

When Gordon Brown eventually became aware that his Downing Street was about to be engulfed in the Smeargate scandal, he…

In it together? Matthew d'Ancona's book on the coalition is a huge letdown, says Peter Oborne

5 October 2013 9:00 am

There are two ways of being a political journalist. One is to stay on the outside and try to avoid…

Robert Southey with his daughters was considered  the most responsible of the Lake Poets.

Anorexia, addiction, child-swapping — the Lake Poets would have alarmed social services

5 October 2013 9:00 am

The last time the general reader was inveigled into the domestic intensities of the Wordsworth circle was by Frances Wilson…

Stephen King isn't as scary as he used to be, but 'Doctor Sleep' is still a cracker

5 October 2013 9:00 am

Though alcohol withdrawal is potentially fatal, booze has none of the media-confected glitz of heroin (imagine Will Self boasting of…

Licensed to feel: The new James Bond fusses over furnishings and sprinkles talc

5 October 2013 9:00 am

First, an appalling admission: I have never read any of Ian Fleming’s Bond books. Nor have I read any of…

Making It Happen, by Iain Martin - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

Fred Goodwin’s descent from golden boy of British banking to ‘pariah of the decade’ would be the stuff of tragedy…

Ruin near Kelso, Mojave Desert, California

Walking in Ruins, by Geoff Nicholson - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

Geoff Nicholson is the Maharajah of Melancholy. The quality was there in his novels, it was there in his non-fiction…

Portrait of the author
 Colette’s ‘L’Entrave’ in her flat in Paris, by André Dignimont

Colette’s France, by Jane Gilmour - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Richard Davenport-Hines on the charmed, dizzy world of the multi-talented Colette

Mary Evans picture library

Music at Midnight, by John Drury - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

When John Drury, himself an Anglican divine, told James Fenton (the son of a canon of Christ Church) that he…

Monsieur le Commandant, by Romain Slocombe - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

There can be few characters in modern fiction more unpleasant than Paul-Jean Husson, the narrator in Romain Slocombe’s Monsieur le…

Six Bad Poets, by Christopher Reid - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Is poetry in good enough health to be made fun of in this way? The irony is that this long,…

Move Along, Please, by Mark Mason - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Mrs Thatcher was widely believed to have said that ‘any man over the age of 26 who finds himself on…

One Night in Winter, by Simon Sebag Montefiore - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s One Night in Winter begins in the hours immediately following the solemn victory parade that marked the…

After their daring feat in Washington, the Royal Navy bombarded Fort McHenry
 at Baltimore in November 1812, but failed to take it

When Britain Burned the White House, by Peter Snow - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Peter Snow explains that he decided to look into this extraordinary story when he realised how few people knew about…

Derek Jacobi in the title role of Becket at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1991

As Luck Would Have It, by Derek Jacobi - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Alan Bennett once overheard an old lady say, ‘I think a knighthood was wasted on Derek Jacobi,’ and I know…

Did the Spice Girls really know what they 'really, really' wanted? Image: Getty

Do women want what they say they want?

28 September 2013 9:00 am

What do women want? You might have thought the Wife of Bath had got this one sorted, but Daniel Bergner…

Britney Spears doesn't have time to sit down and write songs (Picture: Getty)

Britain's best one-liners, from Oxford's 2013 edition

21 September 2013 9:00 am

A selection from the latest edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, edited by Gyles Brandreth