Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester

29 October 2011 10:00 am

Those of us who have spent an embarrassing number of hours immersed in the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer have…

A choice of first novels

30 July 2011 12:00 am

As L.P. Hartley noted, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And no more so than during the two world wars, a fact that has provided a rich seam for several debut novelists to mine this summer.

A singular voice

30 July 2011 12:00 am

Barbara Pym, now thought of as a reliable and popular novelist of the 1950s and 1960s, has almost disappeared from sight, overshadowed by the more explicit and confessional writers we are accustomed to reading today.


The revised version

23 July 2011 12:00 am

The narrator of Julian Barnes’s novella has failed disastrously to understand his first love. David Sexton admires this skilful story, but finds something missing


When the going got tough

16 July 2011 12:00 am

The acute emotional pain caused by his first wife’s infidelity was of priceless service to Evelyn Waugh as a novelist, says Paul Johnson

When more is less

25 June 2011 12:00 am

If you know anything at all about Cynthia Ozick — an officially accredited grande dame in America, less famous in Britain — you won’t be surprised to hear that her new novel is influenced by Henry James.


Morality tales

18 June 2011 12:00 am

Francis King celebrates Margaret Drabble’s distinguished career and vividly recalls their first meeting

We are the past

4 June 2011 12:00 am

Julie Myerson’s eighth novel is told by a woman who roams the City of London after an unspecified apocalypse (no power, bad weather).

All shook up

28 May 2011 12:00 am

Olivia Glazebrook’s first novel begins with a disaster.


The way to dusty death

21 May 2011 12:00 am

Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel is a haunting echo of her own final years, according to A. N. Wilson

In Di’s guise

16 April 2011 12:00 am

What if Princess Diana hadn’t died, but, aided by her besotted press secretary, had faked her death and fled to America to live under an assumed identity? Is this an interesting question? Is a novelist justified in exploring such a supposition? I believe the answer to both questions is ‘no’.


An existential hero

16 April 2011 12:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death

A choice of first novels

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Rocco LaGrassa was ‘stout around the middle . . . wee at the ankles, and girlish at his tiny feet, a man in the shape of a lightbulb’. In Salvatore Scibona’s first novel we join this lightbulb of a man on perhaps his darkest day: the day on which the police arrive at his door to tell him his son has just died of tuberculosis in a prisoner-of-war camp in North Korea.

Kill or cure

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Frederic Raphael was the first man to use a four-letter word in The Spectator: the work of his fellow playwright Stephen King-Hall, he wrote in 1957, made him ‘puke’.

Whatever next?

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers is set in Hanmouth, a small English coastal town described so thickly that it is established from the outset as effectively a character in itself.


The wisdom of youth

9 April 2011 12:00 am

‘You must write it all down’ is the age-old plea to elderly relatives about their childhood memories.


The passionate friend

2 April 2011 12:00 am

Sam Leith explores H. G. Wells’s addiction to free love, as revealed in David Lodge’s latest biographical novel

Triumph and disaster

19 March 2011 12:00 am

The title of this first novel refers to a version of childhood as a magical kingdom where evil can be overturned and heaven and earth remade at the whim of a power-crazed infant.

Desk-bound traveller

5 March 2011 12:00 am

With a new novel each year, Robert Edric cannot have much time for courting London’s literary establishment, but does he stay at home in East Yorkshire? The London Satyr is set in 1890s London and to me, a Londoner, it seems not merely researched but felt, as if its author has tramped the streets and occupied the world of his characters.

Death of the Author

5 March 2011 12:00 am

The death of the Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad is the central event of David Miller’s debut novel.

Recent crime novels

5 March 2011 12:00 am

Andrew Rosenheim is building a solid reputation for intelligent, thoughtful thrillers driven by character and theme rather than plot mechanics.

Desk-bound, needing to get out more

26 February 2011 12:00 am

Great House is an ambitious novel, if it’s a novel at all.

The call of the wild

19 February 2011 12:00 am

Annie Proulx (pronounced ‘Pru’) began her writing career — quite late, in her fifties — as E.A. Proulx, to baffle misogynist editors; then she was E. Annie Proulx, until she dropped the E and became simply Annie the Proulx.


And then there was one . . .

5 February 2011 12:00 am

The English fascination with spies is gloriously reflected in our literature, from Kim to A Question of Attribution, and while their Egyptian and Israeli counterparts remain untranslated, and the Americans unreadable, English spy novelists rule.


Names to conjure with

5 February 2011 12:00 am

Sebastian Faulks’s latest book, examining the great characters of British fiction, may be scorned by the literary establishment, but Sam Leith salutes its enthusiasm and humour