Non-Fiction

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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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Cover image for White Spines by Nicholas Royle

White Spines by Nicholas Royle: Confessions of a Book Collector

I’m a reader rather than a collector which is probably a good thing, keeping my book acquisitions clear of duplicates (or worse) bought because I couldn’t resist a new edition’s cover. Nicholas Royle is both but his collecting habits are very particular: his imprint of choice is Picador, the white spined variety although he has …

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Cover image for Ex-Libris by Michiko Kakutani

Ex-Libris by Michiko Kakutani (illustrated by Dana Tanamachi): A life in books

You might be forgiven for thinking that’s a self-referential subtitle but the life it refers to is Michiko Kakutani’s, the New York Times’ book critic from 1983 to her retirement in 2017, renowned for her incisive criticism and knowledge. The beautifully presented Ex-Libris is a testament to her consuming passion for literature, listing over one …

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Cover image for Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour

Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour: Of birds and fathers

I suspect I wouldn’t have read Charlie Gilmour’s memoir had it not been for the persuasive, clearly heartfelt enthusiasm of its editor coupled with a great quote in the letter which accompanied the proof. Gilmour’s name may be familiar to many through his stepfather, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, or his brief period of notoriety …

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Be My Guest by Priya Basil: Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity

When I spotted Priya Basil’s beautifully jacketed Be My Guest it was the third word in its subtitle that caught my eye. Food is pretty high up my agenda, mixing well with that other passion, travel. Basil’s book looked like the sort of comfort reading that would restore my faith in human nature which has …

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