Excessively Diverted: Austen Books into Movies

By Diana Cheng To wrap up a week of Jane Austen celebration, here’s an annotated list of adaptations of her works on both the small and big screens, productions that Jane would have approved. She would have been pleased to see her writing being transposed into another art medium two hundred years later, something that…

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Reviewed by Harriet If you’re a watcher of historical TV documentaries, you won’t need introducing to Lucy Worsley, who presents history programmes for the BBC, in which she often dresses up in the costumes of the period. She’s also produced a number of popular history books, frequently tied in to the series she’s been presenting.…

Austen-ish – A Reading List of Austen-inspired fiction

Compiled by Annabel and Elaine More than any other author, including Dickens and the Brontës, Jane Austen has inspired other writers to use her characters and settings to write sequels, retellings and homages of her six novels and the handful of her other writings. We have surveyed this huge field to select our favourites plus…

The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-Leigh

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton The Incredible Crime and its author are something of a literary curiosity. Lois Austen-Leigh was the great great-grandniece of Jane Austen. She almost certainly wrote her books at the same desk her more famous ancestor used (now housed in the British Library), and that connection alone is probably enough to raise…

The Watsons – Two Endings

Reviewed by Elaine Simpson-Long I have recently read two finished versions of  Austen’s The Watsons, a novel fragment which, they say, she abandoned after her father’s death in 1805. I have found it very amusing to see how they differ and how the authors of both completions have diverged so widely in so many ways. The story…

Teenage Writings by Jane Austen

Reviewed by Karen Langley 2017 is turning out to be something of a year of anniversaries: as well as being 100 years since the Russian Revolution took place, it’s also the centenary of the birth of artist and author Leonora Carrington, (more about her here). Both of these events have been gaining considerable media coverage, exhibitions…

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Jane Austen Week at Shiny

Introduction by Harriet Jane Austen died two hundred years ago, on 18 July 1817, at the age of just 41. She had anonymously published four novels – Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published after her death, in 1818. They were all…

Portrait Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

Reviewed by Annabel Translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce French author Antoine Laurain has already got himself an army of fans (or should that be ‘armée’!) thanks to Gallic Books’ wonderful translations of his books. The first two were utterly charming, funny, yet touching and romantic novels, positioned just on the right side of…

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ReWild: The Art of Returning to Nature by Nick Baker

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Nick Baker is a well-known naturalist, writer and broadcaster, whose work here, described by the publisher as a memoir of sorts’ but really very different from a memoir, aims to help the curious and well-intentioned person who is keen to get closer to nature but is not sure how to do…

An Interview with Anne Sebba, author of Les Parisiennes

Interview by Helen Parry Helen: Hello Anne! Let me first say that I was bowled over by Les Parisiennes – it’s a real tour de force of narrative history, totally absorbing and allowing the experiences of women to shine through. Anne Sebba: How kind and thank you, I’m delighted! H: How did you become a…

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize winning debut The God Of Small Things was a sensuous, atmospheric, emotionally powerful book. India’s caste system was the motivator of the plot, and a backdrop of Keralan Communism bled through it. The book was saturated with politics, but it mainly served to inspire, sustain and contextualise…

A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor

Reviewed by Gill Davies When you were a child did you ever hunt for a lost ball among ferns and leaves and parting them quick to look … come suddenly upon a great toad, sitting there, very ugly and watchful. All the time there, though you didn’t know it, under the leaves. The shock, the…

DIS MEM BER by Joyce Carol Oates

Reviewed by Karen Langley American author Joyce Carol Oates is an astonishingly prolific writer: since the publication of her first book in 1963, she’s produced over 40 novels as well as short stories, poetry and non-fiction works. Born in New York in 1938, Oates’ long and illustrious career has seen her producing works known for…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel This novel was my first encounter with Levy and I’ll confess, I found Hot Milk a difficult book to read. Levy has an oblique style that doesn’t yield its secrets immediately. However, upon reflection, I began to comprehend at least some of the metaphors, references and themes within. With understanding, the novel grew on…

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Reviewed by Harriet It’s every parent’s nightmare – one minute your child is there, next minute they’re gone. My own three-year-old daughter once wandered off in a busy market in central London, and the hour or so before we tracked her down to a nearby police station was one of the most agonising of my…

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (pbk)

Reviewed by Ali First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale seemed to speak to the generation coming to political awareness in that decade. Back then it could be read as speculative fiction. We read it as a warning, rather than a prophecy, and it has inspired a generation of feminists. Margaret Atwood takes us to…

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

Reviewed by Annabel One thing you can say about Kunzru’s previous novels – they will always have interesting themes that connect with the zeitgeist of the day, from computer viruses in Transmissions to cults in the Californian desert in Gods Without Men. Increasingly, they include ghostly echoes from the past coming back to haunt the…

Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead

Reviewed by Karen Langley Australian-born Christina Stead led a lively and picaresque life, spending parts of her time in the USA, France, Spain and the UK. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the heroine of this entertaining and adventurous novel draws much of her experiences from the life of her author. Letty Fox: her Luck…

The Stella Prize and its 2017 winner

By Isobel Blackthorn Could there ever be enough literary prizes to satisfy the ambition of authors? For a very small literary market, Australia has a healthy complement, from the most lucrative Miles Franklin Award through to the State Premier and Prime Minister’s awards. Criteria differ, although many prizes have an appetite for distinctly Australian works…

Letters From Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson

Translated by Thomas Teal Reviewed by Kate Gardner This penultimate collection of Finnish literary giant Jansson’s short stories has taken 26 years to be published in an English translation, but that is a reflection of our literary landscape, not of the quality of the stories. Jansson was in her 70s when she wrote these, and…

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin That the Bechdel Test for movies even exists has to be one of the more depressing minor details of modern times. If you’ve never come across it, it’s a way of evaluating a film’s representation of women using these criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it,…

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Review by David Hebblethwaite Jon McGregor is a writer whose work deserves the fullest attention, which it will repay with some extraordinary reading experiences. He has an unerring ability to cast the everyday in a mysterious new light. Where McGregor’s previous work has often focused on urban environments, Reservoir 13 – his fourth novel –…