Latest Issue: 20 September 2014
20 September 2014
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Books

18 September 2014 by Karen Armstrong, reviewed by Scott Appleby

“Religion is the cause of today’s most vexing social problems, not least the plague of deadly violence gripping the planet.”

18 September 2014 by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine

In an interview with an Italian newspaper in 2003, Muriel Spark observed: “It is my aim always to give pleasure.” And she did: is there anyone who isn’t captivated by her first (and best) novel, The Comforters?

18 September 2014 by Rowan Williams, reviewed by Graham Kings

Although Rowan Williams is sometimes accused of being “never knowingly understood”, this introduction to the basics of Christianity, drawn from talks given during Holy Week 2013 in Canterbury Cathedral, is crisp and lucid.

18 September 2014 by Martin Amis, reviewed by Emma Hughes

Even his staunchest admirers would concede that Martin Amis has dropped some clangers over the years. But Time’s Arrow, his novel exploring the Final Solution, wasn’t one of them.

Previous issues

11 September 2014 by Christopher Allmand

It is hard to deny that the Christian community’s view of itself as “Christendom”, now transformed into “Europe”, altered radically between the appearance of Luther in 1517 and the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648.

11 September 2014 by Hilary Davies

Feminism, ah, there you have me. Hydra-headed, it can seem that it has as many manifestations as there are commentators about it, or women who live it.

11 September 2014 by Lucy Popescu

“I was never going to get out on my own,” says the narrator in Hanne Ørstavik’s searing portrait of a young woman’s sexual awakening. “

11 September 2014 by Nick Spencer

During the Darwin-mania of 2009, the think tank Theos (for which I work) conducted research into anti-evolutionary beliefs.

04 September 2014 by Hugh Thomas, reviewed by Andrew Breeze

In his earlier two books, Rivers of Gold: the rise of the Spanish empire and The Golden Age: the Spanish empire of Charles V, Hugh Thomas staked a claim to match Fernand Braudel for narrative drive, detail, breadth and ambition.

04 September 2014 by Tom McLeish, reviewed by Rodney Holder

Tom Mcleish relishes the earlier name for science, “natural philosphy” – in other words, “loving wisdom about nature”. In this fascinating book McLeish, professor of physics at Durham University, presents a rich and positive alternative to the sterile thesis of the “New Atheists” that science and faith are in perpetual conflict.

04 September 2014 by Harry Bucknall, reviewed by Christopher Howse

The defining moment in Harry Bucknall’s 1,411-mile walk to Rome came three weeks in, when he was suddenly confronted with Laon Cathedral. He had seen it growing larger on its hilltop as he snaked his way through the countryside on foot, then he turned a corner and was “assaulted by its sheer size … its beauty stopping me in my tracks”.

04 September 2014 by Carys Bray, reviewed by Sarah Hayes

Novels about families in the stranglehold of religion have a way of ending badly. Madness, dysfunction, and apostasy are often followed by death. In Carys Bray’s touching first novel the usual order is reversed. A death precedes the collapse of a family, bringing in its wake madness, dysfunction and so forth.

28 August 2014 by G.K. Chesterton, reviewed by Raymond Edwards

Chesterton’s Father Brown holds an unexamined but stubborn place among the Great Detectives; the reissue of the five collections of stories featuring him is a chance to ask the embarrassing question, Is he, are they, any good?

28 August 2014 by Ben Shepfard, reviewed by Chris Nancollas

Psychology, the science of the mind, only really began to coalesce into a respectable discipline towards the end of the Victorian era. It aimed to free our understanding of the mind from the shackles of superstition, and bring tidy scientific methodology to mystical speculation.

28 August 2014 by Patricia Ferguson, reviewed by Clarissa Burden

ONCE AGAIN Patricia Ferguson has set a novel in Cornwall. Many of the characters from her last book, The Midwife’s Daughter, reappear here, along with plenty of new ones, as Ferguson continues to trace the changing lives of women between the two world wars.

28 August 2014 by Karen Bartlett

If you were a fan of pop music in the Sixties, you will remember Dusty Springfield. Born Mary O’Brien, a Catholic girl born in West Hampstead, her haunting voice was often to be heard on transistor radios, while her striking peroxide blonde hair and heavy eye make-up made her a symbol of Swinging London.

21 August 2014 by Nicholas King, reviewed by Richard Bauckham

Very few people have singlehandedly translated the whole Bible into English. Even William Tyndale did not manage to complete the task. So Nicholas King’s translation is a remarkable achievement. It is also distinctive in that the Old Testament (which includes the “deuterocanonical” books) is translated from the ancient Greek version (the Septuagint), rather than from the Hebrew.

21 August 2014 by James Hall, reviewed by Marina Vaizey

We live in the age of the selfie. Everybody can do it, and everybody does. It is hardly, however, the “examined life”. James Hall’s cultural history examines a different kind of looking at our selves, that of the professional visual narrator of both the inner and the outer life.

21 August 2014 by Teresa Whitfield

Mystery surrounds the Basques, their language and their history. Much of this is because their tongue is older than the Indo-European from which all the other languages of Europe descended, and because the earliest Basque written texts do not emerge till the late Middle Ages, having been passed on orally from successive generations for millennia.

21 August 2014 by Philip Hensher, reviewed by Caroline Jackson

Of all the qualities required to write a novel, confidence is one of the most vital. Philip Hensher has confidence in spades, not only in his reach but in his readers’ stamina. His self-assurance and brio invests The Emperor Waltz with quasi-Victorian breadth and length, and with stylish authority.