A Mind of Winter: Chronicling Seasonal Darkness

Book review: The Light in the Dark, by Horatio Clare (Amazon / Book Depository) The struggle is intensifying. It is like being sealed into a grey snowball which keeps gathering defeats. However much I wash, I seem to smell of dirty winter trains and exhaust… Winter is a miser at the moment, giving nothing but bills. The result is inarticulacy… The words and the lightness … Continue reading A Mind of Winter: Chronicling Seasonal Darkness

They All Love Jack: The Ripper as Conspiracy Theory, Not Mystery

Book review: They All Love Jack, by Bruce Robinson (Amazon / Book Depository) … there was nothing illaudable about being a Victorian Mason, any more than it was improper to enjoy membership of a tricycle club. But … this narrative is about the bad guys, and about one in particular who went rotten, and what that did to the rest of the barrel. Beyond that, … Continue reading They All Love Jack: The Ripper as Conspiracy Theory, Not Mystery

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”

David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

Book review: Calypso, by David Sedaris Amazon His most recent publications have been a bit of a diversion for David Sedaris. Last year, he published the first part of his diaries, Theft by Finding, which showed the genesis of some of his well known works, as well as being an unconventional glimpse into his early life and bizarre, often hilarious thought processes. I absolutely loved it, but … Continue reading David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

Book review: Lost at Sea, by Jon Ronson Amazon So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is one of those books that I haven’t been able to decide if I should read. But I knew as soon as I heard comedian Karen Kilgariff describe another of British journalist Jon Ronson’s books, Lost at Sea, that I had to read this one immediately. I love journalistic essays, especially ones dealing … Continue reading Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

You Can’t Go Home Again

Book review: Educated, by Tara Westover (Amazon / Book Depository) Not knowing my birthday had never seemed strange. I knew I’d been born near the end of September, and each year I picked a day, one that didn’t fall on a Sunday because it’s no fun spending your birthday in church…”I have a birthday, same as you,” I wanted to tell [bureaucrats struggling to understand her … Continue reading You Can’t Go Home Again

Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

Book review: Feel Free, by Zadie Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) Novelist Zadie Smith has got to be one of the most brilliant minds writing today. She burst onto the literary scene with the novel White Teeth in 2000 and has been a heavyweight presence ever since. I read that book and only retained from it that I liked it a lot – when it … Continue reading Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

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

Stop Romanticizing Victorian London

Book review: The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London, by Gilda O’Neill (Amazon / Book Depository) Author and historian Gilda O’Neill, well-known for her social history books exploring the changing face of London’s East End, examines the problems that plagued the “good old days” of the Victorian era, using the thesis that problems of the present day really aren’t all that different from the past, … Continue reading Stop Romanticizing Victorian London