Why was the March family so poor?

Far from being the sainted mother of Louisa May Alcott‘s LITTLE WOMEN, Marmee in Sarah Miller’s re-telling has a temper, and one sudden outburst of boiled-over fury ruined her family. What to do when your husband spends all his money on others? How I LOVED Marmee’s voice. The poor woman is so compassionate towards everyone. […]

How could a quiet bookworm become a ruthless female sniper?

A Historian-turned-Sniper Nicknamed “Lady Death” by the Nazis, Lyudmila Pavlichenko is a historian-turned-sniper who is so good at her craft that she tallies 309 Nazi deaths in the space of about 10 months. But Mila (as she is usually known) is not arrogant about this. She is only doing her duty. “I serve the Soviet […]

A Novel out of its time

North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell is a novel out of its time. Miss Margaret Hale, the Heroine Unlike most Victorian misses Margaret Hale doesn’t flutter, faint, or claim that she is unable to understand anything complicated, as does her cousin Edith (who is the perfect foil for her.) No. Miss Margaret Hale is Queenly. […]

THE LAST AMERICAN MAN, by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Patricia Kalember

This is an amazing story, written by an amazing writer. What a great stylist Liz Gilbert is! I LOVED the carefully crafted casualness of her prose style – a gossip at the local cafe with superb editing. Eustace Conway is about my age, but when he was 17, he didn’t finish his A-Levels and go […]

SECRET GERMANY: Stefan George and his Circle by Robert Edward Norton

Who was Stefan George? If you look him up, you will find out that he was born in 1868 and died in 1933, and that he was a poet. In fact, he was one of the most important and influential poets to have written in German, making him as great as Goethe, Hölderlin or Rilke. […]


Ostensibly, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES is the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, who founds an orphanage at St. Cloud Maine, and of his favorite orphan Homer Wells, who follows in his footsteps and eventually becomes a doctor. But the novel is so much more than that. During the time period of this novel, set between […]


A CASUAL VACANCY by J. K. Rowling is the story of a bitter class struggle between the smug, wealthy inhabitants of Pagford, and their much poorer neighbors who inhabit the council flats called “The Fields”. When kindly counsel member Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly, someone has to be found to fill that vacant seat. The good […]