October 16, 2020
Charlotte Fairbairn
English Pastoral – An Inheritance By James Rebanks Penguin, 283pp, £20 It opens with a young boy sitting with his grandfather on a tractor which is pulling a plough through a small field, in the great wide heartbreaking beauty that is the Lake District. Above and behind them, black-headed gulls clamour for the grubs that
October 15, 2020
Emilie Morrison
The Lying Lives of Adults By Elena Ferrante (tr by Ann Goldstein) Europa Editions, 322pp, £20/$26 “One April afternoon, right after lunch, my husband announced that he wanted to leave me.” So begins Elena Ferrante’s 2004 novel The Days of Abandonment, plunging the reader into a domestic drama with a perfectly understated first line. In
October 14, 2020
Gareth Russell
The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream By Charles Spencer Harper Collins, 352pp, £20 It is difficult to imagine a disaster more well-intentioned, or complete, than Stephen, the king who ruled England for 19 catastrophic years between 1135 and 1154. His reign proved sufficiently wretched that a chronicler recalled: “To
October 14, 2020
Anthony Kenny
Herbert McCabe: Recollecting a Fragmented Legacy By Franco Manni Cascade Books, 282pp, £50/$36 This book is the first systematic treatment of the thought of a highly gifted philosopher who deserves to be much better known. Born to a Catholic family in Middlesbrough in 1926 and baptised John Ignatius, McCabe studied philosophy at Manchester University in
October 14, 2020
Andrew Cusack
I suppose everyone has their own Paris, and “everyone” includes Curzio Malaparte. He would have liked nothing more than to be considered the bad boy of 20th-century Italian letters, though there were many who were far worse than him. Performance was in Malaparte’s nature, never more so than in his delicious writings. Even his name
October 08, 2020
Francis Phillips
I have just been reading a most inspiring book: uplifting both in the honest stories of the search for meaning and faith that fill its pages and in the superb photographs that accompany them. Titled Another Life is Possible (Plough Publishing House, £28.99), it has been created by Clare Stober, with photography by Danny Burrows.
October 05, 2020
Francis Phillips
Angelico Press has published another imaginative work from their unconventional list of authors. This time it is The Gentle Traditionalist Returns, by Roger Buck. Described by its author as “a comic book without pictures”, it is designed as a fable, to show how New Age thinking in all its subtle and seductive forms is waging
October 02, 2020
Francis Phillips
Sophia Institute Press has collected a sparkling collection of the occasional essays written recently for Crisis Magazine by New York’s most well-read priest. Our Peculiar Times: Catholic Wisdom for Times of Crisis by Fr George Rutler is a pleasure to read by all those who value Fr Rutler’s distinctive blend of humour, irony and erudition.
September 25, 2020
David Platzer
Conan Doyle’s Wide World: Sherlock Holmes and Beyond By Andrew Lycett Bloomsbury, 336pp, £18 Part of the magic of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal Sherlock Holmes stories derives from the author’s sense of atmosphere and place. Now Andrew Lycett, the author of a definitive biography on Conan Doyle, has gathered together the crime writer’s travelogues.
September 25, 2020
Michael Duggan
The Enchantments of Mammon By Eugene McCarraher Elknap Harvard, £31.95 Eugene McCarraher detests capitalism. Yet, to his immense credit, and to the great benefit of his book, he keeps polemic and manifesto-making largely at bay until the epilogue of a 700-page exploration subtitled “How capitalism became the religion of modernity”. Then, while twice approvingly quoting
September 25, 2020
Fr Ryan Service
Reading English at Warwick University, I understood that poetry inspires and moves but I did not immediately recognise it as prayerful. Yet a brief scan of the breviary reveals how the Daily Office is bookmarked with poetic gems from George Herbert, John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001) would be a welcome female
September 24, 2020
Harry Mount
An Elephant in Rome: Bernini, The Pope and The Making of the Eternal City By Loyd Grossman Pallas Athene, £19.99 Loyd Grossman, presenter of Through the Keyhole and Master-Chef, writing about Bernini, the 17th-century baroque magician who could turn stone into flesh? Surely that’s like listening to Simon Cowell on Tiepolo? Well, no. Dr Grossman,