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Notes from a Book Addict

Great Reading Continues

Girl reading, 1879, by Charles Edward Perugini

Early this year I launched my Year of Great Reading course, and many of you have been receiving a Literary Readers Guide each month as part of your annual subscription. Many thanks for all the wonderful comments showing how much you have been enjoying it. Read more

More about Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott's desk

Did you know that this year Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women turns 150? She was a remarkable woman, who didn’t really want to become famous for a book about girls (she preferred boys, or writing Gothic thrillers), and yet her novel about four sisters growing up in the American Civil War has been much loved by generations of readers. Read more

Poem of the Month, November 2018 – Nursery Rhymes

Arabella reading a book

I have been reciting nursery rhymes to my gorgeous granddaughter, Arabella (this is her above, enjoying a book), and it’s made me think about the intriguing origins of some of them. So instead of one poem this month, I am going to tell you about some of these often rather disturbing rhymes so familiar from childhood. Read more

Companion Guide – Muriel Spark & ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

First published in 1961, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie brought Muriel Spark international fame. Time magazine chose it in 2005 as one of the 100 best novels in English from 1923 to the present, and the Modern Library ranked it 76th in its ‘100 Best Novels of the 20thC’. Read more

Literary Readers Guides for 2019

Come with me on a literary journey through 2019. Together we will explore a fabulous selection of 19th and 20th C classics.

Each month you’ll receive a reading guide covering the life of an author and one of their most popular or important works. I’ll reveal intriguing stories about the author behind the book, analyse the themes and characters in the book, tempt you with film versions to watch, and challenge you with thoughtful discussion questions. Read more

Poem of the Month, October 2018 – ‘An Arundel Tomb’

Arundel Tomb in Chichester Cathedral,

English cathedrals often have grave memorials of great beauty and artistic ability. One of my favourites is a tomb in Chichester Cathedral with effigies believed to represent Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and his wife Eleanor of Lancaster, Read more

Companion Guide – George Eliot & ‘Middlemarch’

George Eliot & Middlemarch

Virginia Woolf described George Eliot’s Middlemarch as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people”. Do you agree? I think Woolf is being too simplistic, but I strongly feel that no intelligent person should go through life without reading this extraordinary book. Read more

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks

As someone who struggled with science classes at school, I rarely read books about science, but was recently fascinated by The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks, who I had never even heard of, seems to have been one of the world’s most influential women. Read more

Have you met Maisie Dobbs?

Maisie Dodds books by Jacqueline Winspear

Have you met Maisie Dobbs? She is the character created by novelist Jacqueline Winspear in a series of crime novels set in London between WWI and WWII. Maisie sets up as a private investigator with a Cockney assistant named Billy Beale. Read more

Poem of the Month, September 2018 – ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’

Bronte Sisters statue, Haworth Parsonage.

It was Emily Brontë’s 200th birthday recently. She was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, and soon afterwards her parents moved to Haworth, where the Brontë Museum is today. (The picture above is of a sculpture of the three Brontë sisters at Haworth Museum). Read more