White King: The Tragedy of Charles I by Leanda de Lisle

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a book that in many ways reads like a novel. That said, it is also a non- fiction history book, well presented with at least some of the hallmarks of a scholarly book: extensive notes on the chapters with bibliographic details and full index. As with her previous book…

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Reviewed by Julie Barham There are some books which are so good that I struggle to find words to suggest how much I appreciate them, and this is one of them. A novel with a big agenda in some ways, yet carefully controlled as the story of a few women who are struggling in a…

Vocations by Gerald O’Donovan

Reviewed by Julie Barham This Irish novel, originally published in 1921, reprinted by Handheld Press, is a tremendously engaging read. Dealing with the fates of two girls in Catholic Ireland, it is a searing picture of the way that the established church worked in small communities dominated by priests and the local convent. Moreover, it…

The Town Major of Miraucourt by J.B. Priestley

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a small book, covering the only writing published by the well – known author and broadcaster J.B. Priestley concerning his service as a soldier in the First World War. He volunteered as soon as possible, suffered many life threatening situations, and was finally injured by gas in the summer…

Desire by Una Silberrad

Reviewed by Julie Barham This book by the seemingly prolific writer, Silberrad, is an excellent read not only for its time, 1908, but a relevant read for today. Seen as a ‘New Woman’ novel for its depiction of Desire, the female protagonist, as a strong, independently minded woman who rises above her varying situations, it is…

The Runagates Club by John Buchan

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a splendid book for all those who revel in the scary, the heroic and the unusual. Anyone familiar with John Buchan’s best known novel, The 39 Steps, will know that it contains a lot of chasing around Scotland and unusual events, combining humour and the fear that capture and…

A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow

Reviewed by Julie Barham I received a review copy of this book from Honno Press, the Welsh Women’s Press, as I was intrigued by the idea of a book which swept through so much history through the eyes of one woman. Winifred lives and works in a shop in a grim mining town in 1911.…

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Reviewed by Julie Barham The inevitable question is, do we need a new edition of one of Austen’s books? Well, on the evidence of this super book, sent to me by Oxford University Press, I would say that the answer is a resounding yes. A lovely hardback, it has come out as part of a…

Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett

Reviewed by Julie Barham Vintage books have produced a new edition of possibly the best known of Bennett’s novels featuring the story of Edwin Clayhanger. It is very much more than a biography of one man, as the reader sees Edwin’s reactions to those around him as well as his setting in his home and…

Five Fascinating Facts About … Arnold Bennett.

Compiled by Julie Barham 1. Bennett was an ardent Francophile, frequently looking to France as a source of literary inspiration. He would moor his yacht and paint views from peaceful French coastal beauty spots, and his 1918 bestseller The Pretty Lady portrays a French prostitute. 2. He wrote many stories about the idea of New…

Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett

Reviewed by Julie Barham I think that the overwhelming sense or atmosphere of this book is sadness. Nevertheless, it is a faithful picture of life in a town of the turn of the century. This is of course the story of the towns of Stoke on Trent, and there are those who would dispute exactly…