Books in British Words

A. S. Byatt new book, "Children's Story" gets good marks at the WSJ and a fine review in Kentucky's Courier-Journal here. It is not a short novel, nor one with a single protagonist, but appears to be splendid, like Byatt's earlier Possession. And, it was a runner up for this year's Booker. Laura Miller's interview at Salon with Byatt is most revealing of her thoughts, and perhaps explains what drives her tangled, wonderful writing.

The New York Times review, however, is testy and tentative with praise, and suggests it is over packed with light weight literary and historical luggage. The only redeeming remark in the review is the suggestion the book is reminiscent of Middlemarch. If it is, I shall devour it gladly.


One of my favourite films, watched on my wee 15" Mac, now gone, was Gosford Park, not so much for the film itself, but for the brilliant post-production interview with Julian Fellowes, a man so well versed in class, one wonders why he hasn't chosen to write a non-fiction account.

Fellowes new book, "Past Imperfect" sounds like a juicy weekend thriller suggestive of those chatty and most catty remarks exchanged on many of my Channel Crossings by 'umble coat attendants as the ferry moved away from the Continent towards England and home. I always came away bemused, and amused by their sharp anti-Continent tongue, often sharper than their eye, as I was no Brit but rather an American with a large capacity for mimicry.

The book appears to be a combination of mystery, intrigue, friendship and place. And although the review makes me want to read this book, immediately, it is Tracy Quan's remark, "being liberated from class identity means being, in some sense, homeless" that alerted me that the book undoubtedly has considerable substance and might require more than a blink to absorb.


Karen Armstrong's new book, "The Case for God " struck gold with me when I heard the author interviewed on NPR. Sane, logical and grounded in history, the book could change some people's religious life as the former nun strikes the right cord about living a moral life, not eating the bible.

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