Latest Issue: 13 December 2014
13 December 2014
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Books

11 December 2014 by Austen Ivereigh, reviewed by Michael Walsh

At the back of this substantial volume there is a list of biographies of Pope Francis. Nine are mentioned, five by Argentinian journalists. Also named are other recollections of Francis, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan’s reminiscences of the 2013 conclave and one, by a fellow novice of the Pope’s, intriguingly entitled Bergoglio and Me: lives almost in parallel.

11 December 2014 by Wendy Cope

When a child named Janet came to play with little Wendy Cope, she brought a cushion with her, from which she drew snippets of beautiful fabrics. “It was”, the older Wendy remembers, “wonderful.”

11 December 2014 by Peter Carey, reviewed by Suzi Feay

The opening is striking. A virus has released the computerised locks of Australia’s prisons, releasing their inmates. Because the security systems were mostly designed by American companies, the virus affects their jails too. A female hacker is apprehended, with echoes of the Julian Assange affair:

11 December 2014 by Robert Montagu, reviewed by Michael Estorick

Having spent much of his adult life turning the grim raw material of his childhood into fiction, Robert Montagu was recently persuaded by the publisher Naim Attallah to tell his story straight. The result, written in just a few months, is as gripping as a thriller.

Previous issues

04 December 2014

The long nights of winter are perfect for catching up on reading. Here some of our regular reviewers look back at books they have enjoyed over the past 12 months and select their favourites

27 November 2014 by Lee Jackson, reviewed by Jonathan Wright

Only a lunatic could enjoy strolling along Oxford Street in 2014. The bird-pecked remnants of kebabs, the chewing gum underfoot and the petrol-choked air add up to misery. Things could be worse, however. Spare a thought for our Victorian forebears.

27 November 2014 by Elif Shafak, reviewed by Amanda Hopkinson

Five years ago, The Elephant’s Journey by Portuguese Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, appeared. It told of the Indian beast’s overland travels from Lisbon to Vienna, centre of the Habsburg empire in the sixteenth century.

27 November 2014 by William M. Morris, reviewed by Christopher Lamb

It’s hard not to see the case of the Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, as a David and Goliath battle between a plucky pastor of the outback and the implacable might of the Roman Curia.

27 November 2014 by Atul Gawande, reviewed by James Le Fanu

“After 70 years,” wrote Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy, “all is trouble and sorrow.” But not any more. Rather, most of us can reasonably anticipate an extra decade at least, digging the garden, travelling to exotic places and playing with the grandchildren.

20 November 2014 by Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama will doubtless be remembered by posterity as the author of The End of History and the Last Man, which, shortly after the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, proposed that the world had achieved a final Hegelian synthesis in the form of free markets and liberal democracy.

20 November 2014 by David Kynaston, reviewed by Brian Morton

So here we are, then, between the Chatterley band and the Beatles’ first LP, at the very moment when sexual intercourse was invented. It wasn’t, actually, the sexiest moment in our collective history: it was a time marked by periods of what was unironically called “restraint”, and by town planners,

20 November 2014 by Jessie Burton, reviewed by Sarah Lawson

Nella, a country girl, comes to Amsterdam in 1686 to live with her new husband, a wealthy merchant. The household is not what she expected. The husband is kind but distant, his sister is a menacing and drearily Calvinistic Mrs Danvers; the servants – an ex-orphan and a black ex-slave from Dahomey – are enigmatic.

20 November 2014 by Gavin D’Costa, reviewed by Michael L. Fitzgerald

Nostra Aetate (NA), the Declaration on the relations of the Church with people of other religions, was a surprise result of the Second Vatican Council, not foreseen in the original agenda. Interfaith relations were not a major concern for the Church at that time.

13 November 2014 by Rowan Williams, reviewed by Anthony Kenny

Rowan williams stood down as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012; 11 months later he delivered the Gifford Lectures that form the substance of this book. Like several of his predecessors as lecturer, he is not totally at ease with Lord Gifford’s call to expound a natural theology.

13 November 2014 by R.J.B. Bosworth, reviewed by Robert Carver

Few of its many observers, analysts, and visitors have remained indifferent to the Serenissima. To John Ruskin it was “the paradise of cities”; to D.H. Lawrence, “an abhorrent, green, slippery city”; and for the Italian Futurist poet Marinetti, “a magnificent sore from the past” whose canals he would have had filled with the rubble of the demolished palazzi and museums.

13 November 2014 by Richard Flanagan, reviewed by Harriet Paterson

Immaculately kept yet heartbreaking, the Death Railway war graves in Thailand and Burma mark one of the worst atrocities of the Second World War. In 1943 the Japanese drove a quarter of a million slave labourers to establish a supply route from Bangkok to Burma. Around half perished.

13 November 2014 by R.F. Foster, reviewed by Robin Blake

W.B. Yeats was out of the country on the warm Easter Monday in 1916 when armed rebels took over Dublin’s General Post Office and proclaimed Ireland’s freedom. By the end of the week their fledgling republic was snuffed out, and the summary trials and executions began. Yeats was shocked but also powerfully, if rather reluctantly, moved.