Notes from a Book Addict

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

Companion Guide – Nancy Mitford & ‘Love in a Cold Climate’

Nancy Mitford Love in a Cold Climate

Come with me to Mitford-land and the amusing, entertaining and madly eccentric world of Love in a Cold Climate. There you will find many weird and wonderful ways of loving, Read more

Chopin’s Piano and George Sand

Stylized rendition of joint portrait of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand by Eugène Delacroix

I am writing this with Chopin’s Preludes playing in the background. The reason, apart from the music being utterly beautiful … ? Well, I recently read Chopin’s Piano: In Search of the Instrument that Transformed Music by Paul Kildea, which I found a most interesting book. Read more

Poem of the Month, August 2018 – ‘Even Such is Time’

Sir Walter Raleigh taking leave of his family

Even Such is Time by Sir Walter Raleigh

400 years ago this year poet, courtier, explorer, soldier and politician, Sir Walter Raleigh, was beheaded in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. He had been charged with treason against King James I. He asked to see the axe and remarked, “This is a sharp medicine, but it is a Physician for all Diseases.” Read more

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