Review of ‘My Lady Ludlow’ by Elizabeth Gaskell.

‘My Lady Ludlow’ could be classed among Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels, being over 60,000 words long. Still, it's a good deal shorter than the three volumes that were considered a respectable length for a novel by Victorians, and is included among her shorter and more minor works. Besides, the structure is frankly faulty; or anyway, the … Continue reading Review of ‘My Lady Ludlow’ by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Inspired Endings – That State of Transendence

I have written before about the inspired ending to Patrick Hamilton’s ‘The Slaves of Solitude’, which is, along with ‘Hangover Square’ considered to be his masterpiece. I won’t do it justice here,  unless I explain something of the story, which is essentially a dark comedy. It concerns the grim – and often ludicrous – experiences … Continue reading Inspired Endings – That State of Transendence

Jane Austen’s Unfinished Work ‘The Watsons’

To my shame, I never had got round to reading Jane Austen’s unfinished work, ‘The Watsons’ until now. Well, that’s not quite true. I began to read it in my early twenties, and got distracted by something else and never got back to it. In a way, it’s a comfort remembering that, because since then … Continue reading Jane Austen’s Unfinished Work ‘The Watsons’

Review of ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne du Maurier: Not Up to Her Usual Standard With an Obnoxious Heroine and an Animus for a Hero

I have read several books by Daphne du Maurier and have admired her writing style, her evocative descriptions, her clever plotting, clarity of vision and her exploration of the darker passions. ‘Jamaica Inn’ was less of a favourite with me, as I didn’t take to the male lead Jem Merlin. For all that, I liked … Continue reading Review of ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne du Maurier: Not Up to Her Usual Standard With an Obnoxious Heroine and an Animus for a Hero

Review of Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier: Vivid Atmoshere: A Shame About the Male Lead…

The atmosphere and the descriptions of the scenery were really good. The idea was original. It was well plotted overall. Generally, the characterisation is cleverly done. I also liked the heroine, who shows herself as generally brave and having integrity. I also liked the fact that the story was about ordinary people - well, they're … Continue reading Review of Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier: Vivid Atmoshere: A Shame About the Male Lead…

Re-Reading ‘The Go Between’ by LP Hartley

I have just started re-reading ‘The Go Between’ by L P Hartley. I last read it longer ago than I care to admit – in my early twenties. It made a big impression on me then. I was struck by the vivid writing, brilliant use of a string of connected images and the striking ability … Continue reading Re-Reading ‘The Go Between’ by LP Hartley

Patrick Hamilton’s Dark Humour: ‘The Slaves of Solitude’.

I was delighted to discover recently that the works of Patrick Hamilton, one of my long favourite writers, have come back into fashion.  In fact, my favourite work by him 'The Slaves of Solitude' - generally regarded as one of his masterpieces - is currently ranking at 70,000 in the Kindle store. How far this … Continue reading Patrick Hamilton’s Dark Humour: ‘The Slaves of Solitude’.

Some Thoughts on the Careers of Agnes Grey and Becky Sharp as Early Nineteenth Century Governesses

  In my last post, I wrote about the realistic – and fairly dismal – depiction of a governess’ life in the England of the first part of the nineteenth century to be found in Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’ , and contrasted her dismal life with the wild and harrowing adventures that are Jane Eyre’s … Continue reading Some Thoughts on the Careers of Agnes Grey and Becky Sharp as Early Nineteenth Century Governesses

Stonehenge as a Backdrop for Novels

Just before Whitsun I went to see Stonehenge, staying a couple of miles away in Amesbury.  Oddly, although I have always lived towards the west of the UK, I had never got round to visiting. It was wonderful weather when we went. I had not expected there to be much atmosphere, given that if you … Continue reading Stonehenge as a Backdrop for Novels

Disappointing Reader Expectations and Pushkin’s ‘The Queen of Spades’

Most books about successful novel writing emphasize that above everything, the writer who wants to sell well and avoid bad reviews must at all costs respect the  tropes of a genre, and particularly avoid ‘disappointing reader expectations’. In fact, Chris Fox in his well argued and generally witty book  ‘Write to Market’ emphasizes this to … Continue reading Disappointing Reader Expectations and Pushkin’s ‘The Queen of Spades’