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Book Review: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

Last October 1st, I was fortunate enough to be among the audience at Waterstones, Tottenham Court Road, for the Northern Fiction Alliance’s first London Roadshow. I say ‘fortunate’ because sometimes – whether by fluke, luck or some divine intervention – you find yourself witness to the beginning of something special. Something that has the power…
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Not Forgetting the Art of Storytelling

A Review of Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger

Some people will say that the recently dramatisation of Poldark has put Cornwall back on the map. I disagree. For me, it is John Ironmonger’s wonderful Not Forgetting The Whale. This may seem strange because the setting of the novel is an imagined place. Population 307, St Piran is so far removed from the City of…
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Musings on Sweet Caress by William Boyd

How much should an author leave to the reader's imagination?

I loved the idea of William Boyd’s new novel, Sweet Caress. Who doesn’t look at a ‘found photo’ and wonder about the person pictured? And as for the idea of novel that charts the century through the eyes of a single photographer? Lartique got there first with his Album of a Century. Opening the book for…
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To Kill a Mocking Bird 50 Years On

In this year of anniversaries, one that shouldn’t escape attention is the 50-year anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, a story of small-town life in the South that captured worldwide imagination, selling half a million copies in its first year and winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Its enormous success, both critically and commercially, drove its…
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For those with limited time for reading

With a few weekday afternoons on my hands, one of the things that I really enjoy doing is attending recordings of James Naughtie’s Bookclub at the BBC. For the price of a book and a train ticket, you are given something quite priceless: the opportunity to be part of an select studio audience and put your questions directly to the…
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Praise for Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

From a writer’s perspective, this is one scary book, so intricately plotted, making use of historical references and yet remaining intensely personal. It took me a long time to get round to reading Burnt Shadows, mainly because I had been told that I could expect a  very ‘heavy read’. I saw Kamila speak at last year’s Wimbledon…
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