Today I’ll share a couple of short passages from books I’ve been reading recently with my children. Both made me laugh, though I guess the context also helps. The first is from Susan M. Coolidge’s What Katy Did: “Imogen was a bright girl naturally, but she had so read so many novels that her brain wasContinue reading “Milly-Molly-Mandy meets What Katy Did”
The first Jesuit missionaries to China were a really fascinating group and Liam Matthew Brockey’s Journey to the East provides many new insights into their mission. Whereas previous accounts tended to emphasise the Jesuit mission to the imperial court, Brockey conclusively shows that they also made a big impact in the countryside among ordinary folk too.Continue reading “The Jesuits in China”
George Mackay Brown, as I have suggested elsewhere, is one of my favourite modern authors. Standing apart from the mainstream, he wrote fiction (and poetry) that was powerful, haunting and evocative. This is also true of his books for young readers, such as The Two Fiddlers, which was first published in 1974. In this short review,Continue reading “‘The Two Fiddlers’ by George Mackay Brown”
Something of the spirit of ‘Adlestrop’ can be found in C.S. Lewis’s wonderful novel, That Hideous Strength. As her husband drives off to destruction in a fast car, Jane Studdock takes a very slow train towards her redemption: “The smoke which our imaginary observer might have seen to the east of Edgestow would have indicated theContinue reading “C S Lewis and the spirit of Adlestrop”
Clyde Robert Bulla has done a fine job of making the story of Squanto, the “Indian boy” who became a great friend to the Pilgrim Fathers, accessible to young readers. The book is intended, I guess, for children aged roughly 6-10 and so both the vocabulary and the structure are kept relatively simple. Nonetheless, theContinue reading “Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims”
Here’s a 7-minute podcast I recorded while on my morning dog walk. (The dogs didn’t seem to mind too much.) If this embedded player doesn’t work, click on this link instead.
Sight and blindness, both literal and metaphorical, are key themes in my novel, Between Darkness and Light. In this passage, for example, we see what Wang Weijun now experiences, having lost one eye in a childish game of William Tell:
In this meeting of our virtual book club, I look at the moment in Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells: Five for Victory when Miss Merryvale, the lodger, arrives and chaos ensues:
Why? To find out more have a look at my novel, Between Darkness and Light.
I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’tContinue reading “Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead’”
Would you like a free copy of my novel? Between Darkness and Light will be available as a free Kindle download from 8am on Friday 14th February for a couple of days. If you want information about the book (or a print copy), have a look here. I’d be delighted to know what you thinkContinue reading “Free book”
Jérôme Ferrari’s novel, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2012, opens with a quotation from one of St. Augustine’s sermons: “Are you surprised that the end of the world is upon us? You might rather be surprised that the world has grown so old.” In a novel about a village bar, this opening is,Continue reading “Jérôme Ferrari’s ‘The Sermon on the Fall of Rome’”
1. Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – published in 1961 so not, strictly speaking, post Waugh. A great novella about much more than a schoolmistress and her pupils: a novella about the theology of free will and predestination.
Browsing in a secondhand bookshop yesterday, I found a lovely first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen, the second book in his Sword of Honour trilogy. Except, to my great surprise, I discovered that the trilogy might never have been written:
Even though I was firmly rooted in one place as a child, I struggle to explain where I am from. I was born on the very edge of Frindsbury in Kent, but Frindsbury had been swallowed up by Strood and Strood had been swallowed by Rochester, which was itself merely one of the Medway Towns. Continue reading “A Sense of Place”
There are three important questions to be asked before buying an audiobook: is the book itself worth reading; does the reader bring the book to life; and is the book abridged?
I have just finished reading The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada and really enjoyed it. The Factory is a novel about work and, specifically, about the nature of modern work.
I’m delighted that 50 Books for Life: a concise guide to Catholic Literature has been chosen as one of Francis Phillips’ favourite books of 2019 in the Christmas issue of the Catholic Herald.
I have written elsewhere about the Slow Movement and education – see here and here, for example – but today I want to consider the Slow Movement and literature. Reading quality literature, we might argue, is now an act of counter-cultural resistance.