Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (1949)

Little Boy Lost is the tale of an Englishman’s search for his 5-year-old-son in post-WW2 France, by the excellently-named but almost-forgotten English journalist and novelist Marghanita Laski, who died 30 years ago this week. At its core is the gripping mystery of what happened to poet and intellectual Hilary Wainwright’s son after his Resistance wife disappeared…

The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100 BC)

The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered by many to be the earliest surviving work of ‘great’ literature. Even if the very readable tale of the King of Uruk’s search to the ends of the earth for greatness and eternal life is not quite your bag, the survival, discovery, and translation of the four-thousand-year-old clay tablets…

Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles (1943)

To inspire us this New Year’s Day, the very surreal tale of two genteel women who go off the rails in spectacular fashion. New Year’s Eve carries high expectations. On those rare occasions when one does not struggle home on a crowded night bus thinking ‘why the hot damn did I not stay in with…

Some (arguably-tenuously-linked-to) Christmas books! 

Following on from our Christmas countdown last year, here are some literary treats in which to seek comfort and placidity this Yuletide. The late 14th century Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight centres on a strange ‘Christmas game’ at King Arthur’s court on New Year’s Day.  The tale of a green knight presenting Arthur’s knights with…

Books ‘N’ Babies!

Upon discovering I was pregnant this time last year, my ponder of the forthcoming journey dwelled on two things: 1) ‘Wow I’m up the duff and gonna be a muvver!’ Who signed that off?’ etc and 2) ‘Finally,  some time to deal with Bertie aka my TBR book case, so monstrous it inspired a rap,…

It’s a little baby, Rodney!*

Please be presented with the reason for my recent neglect of this blog: Master Rufus Frank Turner George, born in a blaze of glory (well, an emergency c-section – I like to give things a positive spin) at 2.21am on Tuesday 18th July.  The past six weeks have been something of a twilight zone, largely…

Cities of the World by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg (1617)

Cities of the World has been described as ‘Google Earth’s ancestor’. Focusing on Europe but including important cities and landmarks in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the maps in this beautiful book were originally created and published as six volumes of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum between 1572 and 1617. Taschen’s volume includes 564  original engravings (mostly…

The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp (1968)

Today, as the biggest UK LGBT+ parade, Pride in London, promotes love, diversity and tolerance, the story of one man’s determination to proudly live his life in defiance of a society that rejected him. Quentin Crisp’s constant flow of witticisms (‘I should have guessed that she was a born murderee. She used to wear a…

Messer Marco Polo by Donn Byrne (1921)

Messer Marco Polo is one of those special finds which every bibliophile lives for: a book which can be consumed in one sitting but is unique enough for you to impress fellow bibliophiles with, thus providing the opportunity to sound well-read with very minimal effort. The conversation may go like this: ‘Yeah, read this book…

Moll: The Life & Times of Moll Flanders by Sian Rees

In The Life & Times of Moll Flanders, Sian Rees retraces the story of one of fiction’s most infamous, intriguing and oft-misrepresented heroines to reveal how thin the line between fiction and reality can really be. It’s 20 years (eek) since I read Moll Flanders during the summer holiday between GCSEs and A-levels. It has…