Books

Aleister Crowley was even more beastly than we’d imagined

20 August 2022 9:00 am

I have never had much time for Aleister Crowley. Magic(k) is nonsense; the mystical societies he founded were simply pretexts…

Cosy crime flourishes in the pick of the summer’s thrillers

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Cosy crime was once the literary world’s guilty secret, a refuge for any reader seeking entirely unchallenging entertainment – like…

The diary of a tortured man: Deceit, by Yuri Felsen, reviewed

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Yuri Felsen, born in St Petersburg, was an exile in Riga, Berlin and Paris and died at Auschwitz in 1943.…

Rocked by rebellion: the short, unhappy reign of Edward VI

20 August 2022 9:00 am

As Tory writers reflected on the safe passage of the Stuart dynasty through the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81, an anonymous…

Joy, fear and regret in contemporary Britain

20 August 2022 9:00 am

For two and a half years, as Britain adjusted from normality to the most disorienting collective trauma of our lifetimes,…

Harpo Marx – genius, idiot savant or lovable overgrown child?

20 August 2022 9:00 am

It’s hard (if not impossible) to imagine a world worth living in that doesn’t include the Marx Brothers; and equally…

In search of the peripatetic philosopher Theophrastus

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Publishers lately seem to have got the idea that otherwise uncommercial subjects might be rendered sexy if presented with a…

An angry poltergeist: Long Shadows, by Abigail Cutter, reviewed

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Long Shadows, a powerful novel set mainly in the American civil war, is very unlike Gone with the Wind. The…

Why was Henrietta Maria, Charles I’s beautiful wife, so reviled?

20 August 2022 9:00 am

On 15 June 1645, as Thomas Fairfax’s soldiers picked over the scattered debris on the Naseby battlefield, they made a…

Adrift in Berlin: Sojourn, by Amit Chaudhuri, reviewed

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Feelings of dislocation are at the heart of Amit Chaudhuri’s award-winning novels. Friend of My Youth (2017) followed a writer’s…

A shaggy drug story: Industry of Magic & Light, by David Keenan, reviewed

20 August 2022 9:00 am

The Scottish writer David Keenan has published five novels in five years: This is Memorial Device (2017), For the Good…

Seize the moment: Undercurrent, by Barney Norris, reviewed

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Barney Norris’s third novel opens with a wedding in April. The couple tying the knot don’t matter; it’s the occasion…

Nothing is certain in Russia, where the past is constantly rewritten

20 August 2022 9:00 am

Nothing is certain in a country where the past is constantly rewritten, says Owen Matthews

Preparing for war

13 August 2022 9:00 am

This is not a book for anyone complacent about the China challenge, yet it should be compulsory reading for everyone…

How the travel industry convinced us we needed holidays

13 August 2022 9:00 am

In September 2019, Thomas Cook filed for compulsory liquidation, leaving 600,000 customers stranded abroad. It was a sorry end to…

The bizarre history of London’s private members’ clubs

13 August 2022 9:00 am

At the height of the IRA’s terrorist campaign on mainland Britain in December 1974, a bomb was lobbed through the…

Our long, vulnerable childhoods may be the key to our success

13 August 2022 9:00 am

Could our long journey to adulthood actually be the key to our success, wonders Sam Leith

Propaganda from the Russian Front: The People Immortal, by Vasily Grossman, reviewed

13 August 2022 9:00 am

On its posthumous publication in 1980, Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate was widely compared with War and Peace. For all…

How Alice Prin conquered bohemian Paris

13 August 2022 9:00 am

This book is about two people who reinvented themselves in 1920s Paris. Mark Braude focuses on Kiki de Montparnasse and…

Three men on a pilgrimage: Haven, by Emma Donoghue, reviewed

13 August 2022 9:00 am

I used to envy Catholic novelists – Graham Greene, Muriel Spark, François Mauriac – as having that extra point of…

We do love to be beside the seaside

13 August 2022 9:00 am

In the garden of my house in Cornwall there is a smooth granite stone about the size and shape of…

Fleeing paradise: eden, by Jim Crace, reviewed

13 August 2022 9:00 am

Since announcing his retirement in 2013, Jim Crace has had more comebacks than Kanye West, something for which we should…

It’s thrilling to learn that the rebellious Urien actually existed

13 August 2022 9:00 am

Once, when we shared the same history teacher in our teens, my older brother Dominic handed in an essay about…

More stirring stories of little ships

13 August 2022 9:00 am

‘I found this story by accident,’ begins Julia Jones’s Uncommon Courage, referring to documents belonging to her late father that…

The invisible man: The Glass Pearls, by Emeric Pressburger, reviewed

13 August 2022 9:00 am

Not all Germans were swayed by Hitler, but the majority were. Karl Braun, the fugitive Nazi doctor at the heart…