Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.
Let’s start with a classic. Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes has delighted lorantffy:
Laura Willowes is the spinster daughter of an old county family from Somerset. Laura keeps house for her father, Everard, and when he dies, it seems only natural that ”Aunt Lolly” move in with her brother and his wife, Henry and Caroline, in London. Lolly eventually finds the courage to make a bid for her own life and moves to a country village, where she becomes a witch. The Loving Huntsman is the Devil, and the book presents an enthralling picture of the Devil and his relationship with his acolytes.
The book is remarkable for perhaps the most beautiful English prose I have ever encountered. The writing is like a piece of jewellery. Every word is chosen because it is just right for what STW is trying to say. Economical, perfect, not a word wasted, and if a word were changed it would just not be the same.
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett is “wonderful”, says fuzzywuzz:
Granny Weatherwax (cantankerous and brash but deep down does care) and Nanny Ogg (lovable but flaky) are like an old married couple. This story sees Granny, Nanny and Magrat Garlick (fairy-god-mother-in-the-making) travelling to Genua to stop a girl marrying a prince and find themselves thrown into the land of fairytales and the Land of Oz… The descriptions of Greebo the cat are particularly funny:
“Greebo turned upon Granny Weatherwax a yellow-eyed stare of self-satisfied malevolence, such as cats always reserve for people who don’t like them, and purred. Greebo was probably the only cat who could snigger in a purr.”
Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel by Peter L Winkler is entertaining writeronthestorm:
I do like a biography and this one is great so far. Easy Rider has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it as a teenager. I’ve always found Hopper to be a fascinating person: Actor, Artist, Photographer and Hellraiser. Like Hopper’s life and career, the biography rattles on at a relentless pace with plenty of anecdotes (some conflicting over the same incident) and a wide range of sources makes for an excellent insight into Hopper’s life, so far. He really got a huge break early in his career (which I’m in the middle of right now in the book, having just completed Giant), so I know I’m in for a rollercoaster ride! Fascinating book about a fascinating guy.
A request for recommendations from reddonkeyham:
I’ve been rewatching The Sopranos lately, still a glorious watch. Looking for recommendations, couple of fiction and a couple non-fiction books based on the mob.
Cape Fear by John D MacDonald has impressed dylan37:
A convicted felon, early released and bent on revenge, stalks the witness whose testimony put him down. Reading this through the lens of the brilliant 1962 film, you see Gregory Peck, upright and civilised Mr America, breaking a little bad in the hot southern night. Robert Mitchum, locked and loaded, has the whole family in his sights. A walking knock-out punch, an escaped wild animal on the loose. Tense, driven, hot and dangerous as hell. A pacy little thriller for the last of the warm summer evenings.
It’s been worth persevering with The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin says pubbore:
High fantasy based on Ancient Egypt, in which magic and healing comes from dreams. There’s a monster that’s going round ripping people’s souls from their bodies, against the backdrop of political machinations among the various city-states. It’s a well-realised world and the story moves along nicely, once you’ve got used to the language (my heart sank when I saw the glossary at the back, but it’s surprising how quickly it becomes unnecessary). It’s always a pleasure to read fantasy that’s not swords ‘n’ sorcery and generally obsessed with Medieval Europe, as Jemisin herself says in the interview at the end.
Michele Roberts’ The Looking Glass took goodyorkshirelass to Normandy in the early 20th century:
Several women, a housemaid and former orphan, a milliner, a dressmaker, and a governess among them, reveal the lives of a poet and his household, each of them in thrall to him in some way. Though the mundane realities of everyday life are not ignored, Roberts nevertheless engaged my interest with her lyrical prose and sympathetic understanding of the challenges faced by these women, and many like them in those times.
A Double Life by Charlotte Philby is a good read, says tiojo:
A spy/crime thriller by the granddaughter of Kim Philby. That’s a recommendation in itself. Did any tips, secrets or contacts get passed on from grandfather to granddaughter? Well, not really. Today’s world is very different from the Cold War. The USSR has gone to be replaced by Mr Putin’s Russia. A communist ambition to dominate the world politically is replaced by dubiously enriched oligarchs seeking even further riches. Ms Philby puts us into that context. Bang up to date.
As in any spy/crime thriller sometimes the plot gets a little stretched. Sometimes coincidence plays too big a part but it’s a good read. Moscow features but the main action takes place in London. I’m sure grandfather would have approved even if today’s Russia isn’t the sort of successor to the USSR he might have hoped for.
Finally, BaddHamster has finished Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North:
It is absolutely wonderful, awful, beautiful and terrible. I’d never heard of it and bought it on a whim, but it’ll stay with me for a long time to come, I think. It defies easy description, so I’ll just say if you haven’t read it, do. Besides Mantel, I haven’t read anything that comes close so far this year. I wish all books were this good.
If only …
Interesting links about books and reading
The US National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition of female writers. (It’s wonderful. Trigger warning: unfortunately also features Ayn Rand.)
An editor recalls the experience of working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg to bring an unpublished memoir to print.
10 Golden Age detective novelists who deserve to be better known.
If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!