thu 26/04/2018

fiction

The Woman in White, BBC One review - camp Victoriana

The BBC excels at a very particular kind of drama, namely one where production values overawe dramatic content. Its version of The Woman in White (BBC One) proves no exception. Our hero is Walter, a bemused sappy painter played by ex-Eastender Ben...

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Listed: The 10 Best Biblical Novels

From the myths of the Old Testament to the miracles of the New, the Bible has been as much a source of inspiration to writers, artists and composers as it has to theologians and priests. One of the most infamous yet influential of all Old Testament...

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'In order to write my book I had to kill Jane Austen'

My heroine would not have appeared in a Jane Austen novel. Brilliant, arch and incisive though Austen was – as deft in dissecting the economics of romance as in laying bare the lies told by the human heart – for better or worse, she still sent all...

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Lisa Halliday: Asymmetry review - unconventional and brilliant

Lisa Halliday’s striking debut novel consists of three parts. The first follows the blooming relationship between Alice and Ezra (respectively an Assistant Editor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer) in New York; the middle section comprises a...

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Rhidian Brook on The Killing of Butterfly Joe

When I was 23 I had a job selling butterflies in glass cases in America. I worked for a guy who, as well as being a butterfly salesman, had ambitions to be America’s first Pope (an ambition he ditched on account of him wanting to marry). I drove all...

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Joe Dunthorne: The Adulterants review - a richly illuminating comedy of disappointment

Joe Dunthorne's debut novel Submarine (2008) burrowed plausibly inside the head of a teenager worrying about sex and his parents’ marriage. Richard Ayaode latched onto its quizzical appeal in his film adaptation. Dunthorne’s longer and more...

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Julian Barnes: The Only Story review - passion, pain and sorrow in Surrey

From his debut Metroland, right up to the Man Booker-winning The Sense of an Ending, the prospect of a road not taken has haunted the mild and mediocre narrators of Julian Barnes’s novels. Like Tony Webster in The Sense of an Ending, “average at...

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Jonathan Coe: The Broken Mirror review - potent, crystalline, but rather small

Novelist Jonathan Coe has, for some time, been assuming the role of an Evelyn Waugh of the left. Brilliant early comedies about education, journalism, and power have made way for longer, deeper, but arguably somewhat lugubrious, almost mystical...

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Susie Boyt: Love & Fame review - as highly strung as a violin factory

At first glance, Susie Boyt’s sixth novel seems in danger of echoing her half-sister Esther Freud’s Lucky Break, another story about actors. But how unfair – of course Love and Fame has its own distinctive, witty brilliance. Eve Swift comes...

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Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage review - not quite equal

La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of Philip Pullman’s eagerly-awaited new trilogy The Book of Dust, opens in the Trout, a rambling Thames-side pub on the outskirts of Port Meadow, north of Oxford. Here all kinds drink: scholars, labourers,...

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Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair - pictures at an exhibition, with telling gaps

Television has paid its dues to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act - rather feebly, with some rotten acting, in Man in an Orange Shirt; brilliantly, with mostly superb performances, in the monologue sequence Queers, surely due a second...

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Orhan Pamuk: Istanbul, Memories and the City review – a masterpiece upgraded

Along with Balzac’s Paris and Dickens’s London, Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul now ranks as one of the most illustrious author-trademarked cities in literary history. Yet, as Turkey’s Nobel laureate told me during a Southbank Centre interview last month, he...

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