SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Cristina Odone

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September 12, 2019
Charles Moore’s third volume on the life of Margaret Thatcher is published next month, and the Iron Lady’s fans are in a frenzy. This gigantic biography has captured her every quality (and those ultimately fatal flaws) so truthfully. I wouldn’t have expected any less of Charles, who is a superb prose stylist. He is also
September 12, 2019
Once a year, in January, I sit around a table with an eclectic group that includes Chris Bryant, the Labour MP, Anna Sapir Abulafia, professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at Oxford University, and a smattering of religious publishers. The setting is a modest room at Oxford University, the occasion is the meeting
July 11, 2019
My first visit to Paris, when I was 17, was with my school, St Clare’s Hall. Our group included a dozen French students and four very rowdy American rowers. The latter spent most of the Channel ferry crossing downing beers, so by the time we arrived in the City of Lights, they were loud and
May 09, 2019
We are visiting Thessaloniki, following in the footsteps of St Paul. The Epistles may not be our compass point (we are using Mark Mazower’s Salonika: City of Ghosts, a history-cum-travelogue, as guide) but the figure of the burly and hot-tempered martyr casts a long shadow over this city. It was in Macedonia that Christianity first
April 11, 2019
They say he is responsible for a surge in church attendance and sales of Marks & Spencer canned G&T (up by 24 per cent since he pulled the ring tab at 11 am in an episode). His legion of Twitter and Instagram fans have dubbed him “HP” for “hot priest”. There’s no denying it: Andrew Scott’s
February 14, 2019
The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon Piatkus, 304pp, £13.99/$26.99 My earliest memory is of my mother laying a rug over our kitchen table and inviting my brother and me to crawl into the makeshift cave. Once we were settled, wide-eyed and excited, she would read to us about the Little Mermaid, or the Ugly
January 17, 2019
I spent January 7 in Oxford, arriving as the church bells rang out at midday. It was “0th week”, so only a few students were about, cycling past, woollen scarves flying behind them, disappearing through college courtyards, as if through a CS Lewis cupboard. Despite the many new modern buildings, and despite the tourist busloads,
May 17, 2018
The Catholic aesthetic is beguiling to even the most implacable atheists. That thought came to me when I heard that the extraordinary Jill, Duchess of Hamilton, a long-standing Catholic Herald contributor, had died. For 78 years Jill led a life uncomplicated by faith – yet she was indefatigable in her exploration of Catholic sites and
April 19, 2018
What We Talk About when We Talk About Faith by Peter Stanford, Hodder, 256pp, £15 The British, my Italian father warned me when he waved me off to boarding school in north Oxford, do not talk about money or religion. It wasn’t so much a lesson in etiquette as an introduction to an alien culture.
May 04, 2017
Strong families make for happy people. I always subscribed to this sentiment, even though, or maybe because, my own parents had divorced. But ask me how to strengthen a “troubled” or dysfunctional family and I would have been at a loss. I was absolutely sure, however, of what wouldn’t work: parenting classes. They were unacceptable
February 18, 2016
Quicksilver by Princess Michael of Kent Constable, £20 This is the last volume in Princess Michael of Kent’s Anjou Trilogy. It is also the best, for the royal historian has added another layer to her chronicle of 16th century France: a detective story. An earlier popular historian and Golden Age crime novelist, Josephine Tey, turned
January 28, 2016
Please forgive the name-dropping, but when I met Angela Merkel she was not the German chancellor, but an unassuming politician with a degree in chemistry. She was guest of honour at a dinner of the great and good – when no one understood why they were paying homage to this softly spoken German lady. The