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Notes from a Book Addict

Companion Guide – Thomas Hardy & ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’

Thomas Hardy Far From The Madding Crowd

Come with me to the beautiful county of Dorset – Thomas Hardy country – to enjoy the company of a spirited heroine, a variety of heroes, comic yokels, and a plot packed with drama. I love Thomas Hardy’s novels, though they often make me cry. Read more

Literary Statues

Characters from the ‘Narnia’ books of CS Lewis in a Belfast square

On my travels I love to see statues of favourite literary characters. In Philadelphia recently I sought out a statue of Dickens with Little Nell at his side, I love the one of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (it was erected overnight so that children would think it had appeared by magic), and one of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh near the spot where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born. Read more

Poem of the Month, July 2018 – ‘Macavity: The Mystery Cat’

Macavity The Mystery Cat

Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there! Read more

Companion Guide – Gerald Durrell & ‘My Family and Other Animals’

Gerald Durrell My Family & Other Animals

Gerald Durrell wrote many books, but none has ever enjoyed the popularity of My Family and Other Animals. It is such a happy book, if you are ever feeling a bit down, this book will cheer you up. Read more

Book Towns

In 1961 a man called Richard Booth opened a second hand bookshop in the unused fire station in a little Welsh town named Hay-on-Wye. He hoped to fill the town with book shops and he even crowned himself King of Hay and in 1977 proclaimed Hay an independent kingdom. He bought the ruined castle on a hill overlooking the town, and got a great deal of publicity for his eccentric ways. Read more

Children of the Nazis

Hitler with staff, May or June 1940

In 2016 the Baillie Gifford Prize for a non-fiction book was awarded to East West Street by Philippe Sands. I read it recently after my sister had recommended it (thanks Rache) and found it absolutely fascinating. Philippe Sands is a lawyer and was invited to lecture on international law in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. Read more

Poem of the Month, June 2018 – ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Woods on a snowy evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

My favourite American poet is Robert Frost, who was born in San Francisco in 1874 but who spent most of his life in New England, writing about the rhythms of life on a farm – mending the stone wall, picking apples, sawing wood, walking through the woods and needing to decide which path to follow. Read more

Companion Guide – Gustave Flaubert & ‘Madame Bovary’

Gustave Flaubert Madam Bovar

Adultery is such a fabulous subject for a book – lies, deceit, punishment and betrayal can all follow in its wake. It was Gustave Flaubert who was the first to explore adultery from the point of view of female desire and sexuality. In doing so, he broke new ground. Read more

David Lodge

I recently enjoyed an audio version of Thinks by David Lodge – a rather quirky, unusual novel about academics who have an affair. I have been enjoying David Lodge’s books for years. His Nice Work, a modern version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s superb North and South, is a funny and excellent read (there’s also a TV version available on DVD), and Changing Places is a delight too. Read more

Poem of the Month, May 2018 – ‘In Flanders Fields’

Inscription of In Flanders Fields in a bronze

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

The name John McCrae might not immediately ring any bells with you, but I bet you know his poem. Everyone knows his poem! In Flanders Fields is one of the most famous poems of WWI, and is remembered by all who buy poppies to commemorate the war. Read more