Non-Fiction

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Cover image for Went to London, Took the Dog by Nina Stibbe

Went to London, Took the Dog by Nina Stibbe: Diary of a sabbatical

My last review for 2023 is an uncharacteristic one for me: it’s not fiction. Nina Stibbe’s Went to London, Took the Dog is a delightfully easy read, a world away from my usual non-fiction diet of politics or history. It’s her diary of her year lodging with novelist Deborah Moggach, along with her cockerpoo, Peggy,

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Cover image for Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder

Blurb Your Enthusiasm: The A-Z of Literary Persuasion by Louise Willder: ‘Words matter’

I couldn’t resist Louise Willder’s Blurb Your Enthusiasm when it popped up on NetGalley many months ahead of publication. That wordplay, of course, only added to the attraction. Willder’s book is all about those 100 or so words, so important in persuading us whether to read a book or not. She should know, she’s been

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Cover image for Small Fires by Rebecca May Johnson

Small Fires by Rebecca May Johnson: Much spattering in the kitchen

Almost everything I review on here that’s not fiction is about travel, food or books which tells you something, I guess. Journalist and essayist Rebecca May Johnson’s Small Fires is about cooking and the kitchen – very appropriate given that I’ve recently undergone the upheaval of having our kitchen completely renovated after thirty years –

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Cover image for In Love by Amy Bloom

In Love by Amy Bloom: ‘He is a strong, determined man of mettle and courage’

I’ve been a fan of Amy Bloom’s writing for many years. Both her short stories, collected together in Rowing to Eden, and her novels are marked by clarity, elegance and insight. It’s been over four years since White Houses was published and In Love, her memoir, explains the saddest of reasons why. In 2019, Bloom’s

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Cover image for A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa: ‘This is a female text’

This is my penultimate review for 2021 and it’s an unusual one. Recently published in paperback, Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat made quite a splash back in 2020, winning three awards and shortlisted for several others. Having read it, I can see why. A memoir of obsession, literary detection and motherhood, it’s

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Cover image for The Utopians by Anna Neima

The Utopians by Anna Neima: ‘Absurdity, possibility and hope’  

I became interested in utopian societies as an idealistic teenager when I learnt about Welsh philanthropist Robert Owen‘s experimental socialist community in New Harmony, Indiana. Then I read about the Whiteway Colony in Gloucestershire whose original owners burnt their deeds in the name of egalitarianism. Anna Neima’s The Utopians explores six such communities, their aspirations,

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