A quest for identity

If it had been possible to listen to Howard Jacobson’s brilliant Booker Prize-short- listed novel in one sitting I would happily have done so; but even on motorways congested to the point of strangulation, a return journey from Chipping Norton to Brighton has yet to take 13 hours.


BOOKENDS: Jump! by Jilly Cooper

Never eat at restaurants where they picture the food on the menu. Steer clear of books which explain the characters in a glossary. If you have to give your customers an idea in advance of what to expect, then it follows that your cooking/narrative may not be up to scratch.

Troubled waters

This is the fifth in C. J. Sansom’s engrossing series of Tudor crime novels.

Frustrating but enjoyable

If we didn’t already know that Milan Kundera is one of Craig Raine’s literary heroes, then it wouldn’t be too hard to work it out from his first novel.


The loneliness of the long distance salesman

If only E. M. Forster hadn’t beaten him to it by exactly a century, Jonathan Coe could have coined the enigmatic phrase ‘only connect’ in this novel.

A choice of first novels

Catharine is a middle-class, married woman in her late thirties living in a genteel village an hour from London with her husband, a successful lawyer, who nicknames her ‘Catch’.


Love and vulgarity

When I was about half way through Little Hands Clapping, Dan Rhodes’s fifth published book, I started a list of the innocent characters on whom fate and their author play nasty tricks.

Engrossing obsessions

With Blood’s a Rover James Ellroy finally finishes his ‘Underworld USA’ trilogy.

New departures

For a crime writer, success comes with its dark side.