‘Everything Under’ by Daisy Johnson (Book Review).

In the Booker Prize-nominated Everything Under, Daisy Johnson exchanges one vivid mythology for another by transplanting the Oedipus myth into a remote canal boat community in modern England. The book is mesmerising, unusual and pleasantly challenging, placing unusual trust in the reader and successfully challenging a number of literary conventions.

‘L’allée du Roi’ by Françoise Chandernagor (Book Review)

When looking back on the lives and impact of Louis XIV’s many mistresses, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Madame de Maintenon rarely makes the top of the list. In spite of her considerable political power, her sincere interest in the relief of the poor and her belief in the importance of educating…

Holmes and Watson discuss ‘Holmes and Watson’.

‘To the man who loves art for its own sake,’ remarked Sherlock Holmes, tossing aside the advertisement sheet of the Daily Telegraph, ‘it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.’ ‘My dear friend, how can you say such a thing?’ I exclaimed with some surprise,…

‘The House with the Stained Glass Window’ by Żanna Słoniowska (tr. Antonia Lloyd Jones): Book review.

History, pain and identity pile up like strata across four generations of Russian-speaking, ethnic Polish women in Żanna Słoniowska’s stunning novel of Soviet Ukraine, The House with the Stained Glass Window. The young, unnamed female narrator of The House with the Stained Glass Window (Polish title : Dom z witrażem) lives with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother in the Ukrainian city…

‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders (review).

This is a difficult novel, full of pain and agony. If you have lost a loved one, you probably shouldn’t read it, and yet probably should. In President Lincoln, you will see yourself, and Willie will become for you the spitting image of the loved one you lost.

‘The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock’ by Imogen Hermes Gowar (review).

In recent years, authors of historical fiction have become more and more innovative, from Suzanna Clark’s re-writing of English history (with magic) in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to Hilary Mantel’s vision of Tudor England in minimalistic, modern English in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Imogen Hermes Gowar continues this tradition by coaxing us down into…

‘The Weight of Ink’ is not ‘Possession”s Doppelgänger.

Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink, a novel of supreme beauty and intelligence, is accused of subjecting A.S. Byatt’s Possession to carbon copying, 3D printing and creepy stalking in the manner of Frankenstein’s monster. Her Ladyship sips some tea and raises her pinkie to the critics. Warning: Spoilers for The Weight of Ink and Possession….

‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ Made Awesome in Six Easy Steps

It isn’t difficult to imagine why Jane Austen would want to satirise a novel like The Mysteries of Udolpho, which is, despite its fine romantic imagery, the huge role it played in defining the Gothic novel and Mrs Radcliffe’s general awesomeness as a successful female novelist in nineteenth century England, a rather silly book. Its…