Saturday 14 September 2013

Recommended summer reading

Summer is at an end, all over again for me, but I chanced upon a whole pile of The Tablet accumulating here in our parlour over the holidays. I could not resist the urge to jot down some of the recommended summer reading:

  • Lily Koppel. The Astronaut Wives Club. (Headline) The having to be perfect wives, with perfect children and perfect homes, and keeping perfectly silent when it all went wrong. 
  • Michael Arditti. The Breath of Night. (Arcadia). A well-born English missionary in the Philippines, radicalized by poverty and piety.
  • Stephanie Dalley. The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon. (Oxford U.P.) What the Assyriologist Dalley discovered about the missing Hanging Gardens.
  • Madeline Miller.The Song of Achilles. (Bloomsbury) Telling the story of the Trojan War from the viewpoint of Patroclus.
  • Denys Turner. Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait (Yale U.P.) Described by Eamon Duffy as lucid, gripping and beautifully written, so that it ousts even Chesterton's famous study.
  • D.H. Lawrence. "The Woman Who Rode Away." (Penguin Classics) A discontented Mexican wife and mother decides to visit a nearby tribe reputed to still practise human sacrifice.
  • Francis Spufford. Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense. (Faber & Faber). Wonderfully well-written and even humourous.
  • Anthony Trollope. Can You Forgive Her? (Oxford World Classics)
  • James Salter. All That Is. (Picador)
  • Penelope Fitzgerald. Human Voices. 
  • Penelope Fitzgerald. The Beginning of Spring.
  • Penelope Fitzgerald. The Blue Flower. (Flamingo) Fictional life of the German poet Novalis.
  • Eiji Yoshikawa. Musashi. (Kodansha USA) Historical novel about the early life of Japan's most famous swordsman. Written in the 1930s, translated into English 30 years ago, "a cracking read."
  • Henry Buckley. The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic. (I.B. Tauris) Eyewitness account of the Spanish Civil War.
  • Ian McEwan. Sweet Tooth. (Vintage)
  • D.H. Lawrence. Sea and Sardinia. (Penguin)
  • Jaroslav Hasek. The Good Soldier Svejk. Tr. Cecil Parrott. (Penguin) "the funniest book I've ever read" (Piers Plowright) 
  • Charles Moore. Margaret Thatcher: the authorized biography. (Allen Lane) Comprehensive, objective, illuminating, charitable. "As compelling as a novel."
  • Frederick Raphael and Joseph Epstein. Distant Intimacy: a friendship in the age of the internet. (Yale U.P.) Wicked, and wickedly enjoyable.
  • Anthony Trollope. The Duke's Children. (Oxford World Classics)
  • Antonio Pennacchi. The Mussolini Canal. (Dedalus) The story of a northern Italian peasant family intertwined with the early career of Mussolini.
  • Graham Greene. Our Man in Havana. (Vintage) James Wormold, unsuccessful vacuum cleaner salesman and accidental spy extraordinaire.
  • Matthew Green. The Wizard of the Nile. (Portobello Books) The stranger than fiction but true story of Joseph Kony, anti-hero, wanted for torture, slavery and war crimes by The Hague.
  • Ian Kershaw. The End. (Allen Lane) Why Germany continued to fight when all was lost, by Hitler's biographer.
  • Francis Spufford. The Child that Books Built. (Faber & Faber)
  • Edney Silvestre. If I Close My Eyes Now. (Doubleday) Crime fiction under the raging Rio sun.
  • Donna Leon. A Question of Belief. (Arrow)
  • Dervla Murphy. A Month by the Sea: encounters in Gaza. (Eland)  
  • L.P. Hartley. Eustace and Hilda. (Faber & Faber). The story of a boy dominated by his older, puritanical sister. "in any age and by any standards, a masterpiece" (Lord David Cecil)
  • Charlotte Rogan. The Lifeboat. (Virago)
  • George Gissing. New Grub Street. (Oxford World Classics) First published in 1891.
["Summer Reading," chosen by regular reviewers,The Tablet, 27 July 2013, 18-20.]



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