SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Books
February 25, 2016
Francis Phillips
Only Love Remains by Attilio Stajano Clairview Books, £14.99 Attilio Stajano, a volunteer in a palliative care department of a Brussels hospital, writes that his book has been inspired by the testimonies of dying patients whom he has encountered in his work. Its subtitle is “Lessons from the Dying on the Meaning of Life: Euthanasia
February 18, 2016
Cristina Odone
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
February 18, 2016
Michael Duggan
Parish Churches of Greater London by Michael Hodges Heritage of London, £25 There are many Londons. London of the football stadiums, London of the museums and galleries. Criminal London, gastronomic London, concert hall London, and on it goes. But as Michael Hodge’s book illustrates, there is perhaps no London richer in attraction and variety than
February 18, 2016
Jonathan Wright
Migrant Hearts and the Atlantic Return by Valentina Napolitano Fordham, £18.99 During the course of her book, Valentina Napolitano mentions a host of tensions and dilemmas that apparently define the relationship between Rome and the Latin American Church. “The longstanding and unhelpful division between popular and institutional Catholicism” makes an appearance, as does the “Catholic
February 18, 2016
Staff writers
Tales from the Vatican Vaults edited by David V Barrett (Robinson, £9.99). This is a fascinating and enjoyable collection of short stories by different authors, all based on the (alternative reality) premise that Pope John Paul I did not die a month after his accession but instead reformed the Vatican and opened up its ‘‘secret
February 11, 2016
Charlie Hegarty
The Vanishing Man by Laura Cumming Chatto and Windus, £19 Laura Cumming, art critic of The Observer, has written a book full of interest and passion. The interest comes from the art world between the 17th and 19th century: a place full of neglected old masters, lost paintings, the art trade, auctions and aristocratic wills.
February 11, 2016
Staff writers
As Strangers Here by Janet McNeill (Turnpike Books, £12). First published in 1960 and now republished in a paperback edition, this novel about a 1950s Belfast clergyman, Edward Ballater, records with sensitivity and honesty the human frailties and temptations behind the public role, We discover Ballater’s doubts about his faith, frustrations in his marriage and
February 11, 2016
Jonathan Wright
Democracy, Culture, Catholicism Edited by Michael Schuck and John Crowley-Buck Fordham, £25 During the Soviet era, Lithuania’s Catholic churches were turned into cinemas and museums, priests were deported and religious symbols were banished from the public sphere. The faithful were left with a perilously “narrow space”. And yet Catholicism remained the “main social resource for
February 11, 2016
Francis Phillips
Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (trans by Julian Henry Lowenfeld) Pokrov Publications, £20 First published in Russia in 2011, this book, despite its unlikely title, has been consistently at the top of the country’s bestseller lists. This tells you something about Russia. Although officially atheist for more than 70 years following the
February 04, 2016
Staff writers
Agents of Empire by Noel Malcolm (Allen Lane, £30). This extraordinarily wide-ranging volume uses the forgotten tales of the Bruti and Bruni families to shed light on the complex relationship between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period. Members of these two families, from Venetian-held territories, served as secret agents, merchants,
February 04, 2016
James Butler
The Land of the Green Man by Carolyne Larrington IB Tauris, £20 Black Vaughan, still riding the countryside at night with his pack of howling, red-eyed hounds. Jenny Greenteeth, lurking in the weed-choked depths of ponds, on the look-out for heedless children. Fairies, knockers, bogarts and banshees. All find their place in Carolyne Larrington’s scholarly
February 04, 2016
Jonathan Wright
Ireland and Vatican II Edited by Niall Coll Columba Press, £14.99 In his introduction, editor Niall Coll observes that “many Irish Catholics are only beginning to awaken” to the full significance of Vatican II. Reception of the Council’s teachings has, he suggests, been slow: perhaps because Irish Catholics “have never stood out traditionally in terms
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