The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From is a ‘cli-fi’ novel, set in Britain as flood waters close over London, and written from the perspective of a woman who has just given birth to her first child. Most parents will concede that the first year of parenthood is the hardest year of one’s life, its balm being…

Kurt Cobain: 25 years on

It’s hard to believe that it was twenty five years ago that I ran out of my parents’ bedroom crying melodramatically that ‘Kurt Cobain’s dead!!!’ after emergency tele-communications from a school friend on a Spring Sunday morning (oh for the days pre-internet/mobile phones, when such shattering news could be delivered so personally).  At 13, my tribute…

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

In 21st century England, 70% of the land is still owned by less than 1% of the population; the second most unequal rate of land ownership on the planet, after Brazil.  It is questionable whether this would  be the case had the Normans not concentrated all of it in the hands of the King and…

Armistice 2018: Beyond the Glass by Antonia White (1954)

Set in the twenties and the last in the ‘Frost in May’ series, Antonia White’s semi-autobiographical account of a young woman’s descent into madness after an intense love affair with a soldier too swiftly follows a failed marriage includes the following haunting scene appropriate for this poignant Sunday. During High Mass, requiem is being sung…

Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I began reading Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe with low expectations. Can a woman who voluntarily renames herself Fannie Flagg be trusted to write a great work of literature? Can a book which inspires a film starring Chris O’Donnell be anything other than pure schmaltz? I won’t fannie about (sorry). Yes, Fried…

The Blunders of Our Governments by Anthony King & Ivor Crewe

A significant proportion of maternity leave involves navigating Rufus’s perilous bowel activities –  flying poos*, ‘poonamis’, and good old-fashioned leakage – and, although prompting Conradian cries of  ‘L’horreur! L’horreur!’ and constant fear of having undetected baby poo about my person, I optimistically maintain that such vicissitudes keep me limber for a return to Her Majesty’s…

Mothers and Shadows by Marta Traba (1981)

Mothers and Shadows centres on a group of women involved in the movement to quash civil-military dictatorships in Latin America’s Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) during the 1970s/80s. Traba – who died in a plane crash alongside her husband and other prominent Latin America authors in 1983 – opens her tale with a meeting between…

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018!

Following our posts to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2016 and 2017, we’re back again for #IWD2018 with a bounty of books to explore woman’s place in the world. Set in Rosenau, an isolated alpine farming community in Austria, Homestead by Rosina Lippi begins with a mysterious love letter – its intended recipient potentially being…

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…