An Art Critic Unravels a Decades-Old Family Mystery

Book review: Five Days Gone, by Laura Cumming (Amazon / Book Depository) When she was three years old, in 1929, a young girl was kidnapped from a beach in Lincolnshire, on the eastern coast of England. She was returned to her family after those five days, and didn’t even learn that this had happened to her until much later in her life. She was the … Continue reading An Art Critic Unravels a Decades-Old Family Mystery

Vignettes Both Light and Dark from a Food Writer’s Childhood

Book review: Toast, by Nigel Slater (Amazon / Book Depository) “If you really want to, dear,’ was my mother’s answer for anything I wanted to do that she would rather I didn’t. This was her stock answer to my question: Can I make a fruit sundae? By make I meant assemble. My fruit sundae was a gloriously over-the-top mess of strawberry ice cream, tinned fruit … Continue reading Vignettes Both Light and Dark from a Food Writer’s Childhood

A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

American Identity As Seen Through Food

Book review: Fed, White, and Blue, by Simon Majumdar (Amazon / Book Depository) Food writer and “food expert,” whatever that means, Simon Majumdar relocated from his beloved England to Los Angeles to be with his girlfriend. Some time after their marriage, he was faced with the decision of becoming a US citizen. This unleashes a torrent of silly non-issues, like does he have to give … Continue reading American Identity As Seen Through Food

Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

Book review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading a footnote briefly referencing the murder of a young English expat in Peking (now Beijing), author Paul French woke up the next morning with the strong conviction that there was a deep and strange story behind it that needed telling. Midnight in Peking is the ominously suspenseful historical true crime account that … Continue reading Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

Book review: The Lady in the Cellar, by Sinclair McKay Book Depository Number 4, Euston Square, seemingly so prosperous, well-run and attractive, was a boarding house filled with unease; a house that was restless at night; a house with secrets. Soon it would seem like a gigantic doll’s house, open to examination by the entire nation. In Victorian London in 1879, a macabre discovery was … Continue reading A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

A Family’s Life After A Cult

Book review: In the Days of Rain, by Rebecca Stott “No one would guess that I was raised in a Christian fundamentalist cult or that my father and grandfather were ministering brothers in one of the most reclusive and savage Protestant sects in British history.” Rebecca Stott is the daughter of Roger Stott, a minister turned defector of the Exclusive Brethren, England’s branch of a separatist Christian … Continue reading A Family’s Life After A Cult

All About Eddie

Book review: Believe Me, by Eddie Izzard “I was a bit bonkers. But good bonkers. There is a difference.” Eddie Izzard is a beloved British comedian, actor, activist and marathon runner. He’s also known, for better or for worse, for being a proud transvestite. I say for better or for worse because as he explains in his new memoir Believe Me, whatever he chooses to wear is only a … Continue reading All About Eddie

Life at the Bottom of the Glass

Book review: Pour Me a Life, by A.A. Gill (Amazon / Book Depository) Surprised by how much I liked this! I picked it initially because earlier this year I read and loved Sarah Hepola’s excellent memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, about drinking too much for too long, so I was open to something I thought would be similar. These are quite different … Continue reading Life at the Bottom of the Glass

Best Notes for the Grand Tour

Book review: Leading the Blind, by Alan Sillitoe (Amazon / Book Depository) Leading the Blind is Alan Sillitoe’s witty compilation of some of the most interesting, bizarre, quirky or hilariously biased and outdated bits from 19th century guide books to continental Europe, with a select few parts of the Middle East thrown in for good measure. These guide books were tailored to wealthy British travelers doing trendy Grand Tours … Continue reading Best Notes for the Grand Tour