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

Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

Book review: The Five, by Hallie Rubenhold (Amazon / Book Depository) Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. The truth of these women’s lives was not … Continue reading Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

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

Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think

Book review: If Only They Didn’t Speak English, by Jon Sopel (Amazon / Book Depository) BBC journalist Jon Sopel, the network’s North America editor, writes about US history, politics, culture and personal impressions through a UK-US comparative lens while working in both Obama’s and Trump’s America. Sopel got called out by Trump at a press conference in early 2017 while asking a question about the … Continue reading Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think

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

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