The Difficulty in Portraying the Truly Good Hero and Heroine – Examples from Classic Novels

The literary critic Graham Handley writes of the difficulty of creating a character who is very good: ‘It is a strange but true fact that the truly good person is difficult to portray convincingly in fiction, and Hester Rose (a sort of secondary heroine in Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’) may be compared with Diana Morris … Continue reading The Difficulty in Portraying the Truly Good Hero and Heroine – Examples from Classic Novels

Review of ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells: the First Time Travel Novel

I first read HG Well’s ‘The Time Machine’  in my early twenties, more years ago than I care to admit. My impression of it then was that it was an intriguing but dated curiosity. Recently, reading a review of a Goodreads friend of mine, who was dismayed by the relationship between ‘The Time Traveller’ and … Continue reading Review of ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells: the First Time Travel Novel

Germinal: Émile Zola’s Masterpiece

Germinal is Émile Zola’s masterpiece, and I am fairly typical in thinking (and I have only read it in translation) that it contains his most brilliant writing, with exceptionally evocative passages of lyrical strength, and brilliant word pictures. It depicts a miner’s strike – with unsparing realism and remarkable sympathy. When  my daughter asked me … Continue reading Germinal: Émile Zola’s Masterpiece

Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’: A Harrowing Depiction of Poverty in the UK of the Early Industrial Revolution.

I have recently been re-reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’. I thought I had long since written a review of it; it seems not. This is, of course, Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, published in 1847. It established her reputation as a writer who sympathized with the poor and oppressed, the workers in industrial Lancashire who were … Continue reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Mary Barton’: A Harrowing Depiction of Poverty in the UK of the Early Industrial Revolution.

Celebrated Writers Whose Names Have Become Synonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part Two: Georgette Heyer’s Depiction of the Regency UK and ‘Life in London’ by Pierce Egan: ‘Corinthian Tom’ and his ‘Coz Jerry’ as the Original Source of Heyer’s Regency World and Sporting Heroes

  In my last post, I wrote about the influence of Mary Renault, whose fictional interpretation of Ancient Greece has become so famous.  I commented on how the writer’s particular treatment of Bronze Age Greece and of the rise of patriarchy, which necessarily reflected the views of her own age, sixty years ago, have been … Continue reading Celebrated Writers Whose Names Have Become Synonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part Two: Georgette Heyer’s Depiction of the Regency UK and ‘Life in London’ by Pierce Egan: ‘Corinthian Tom’ and his ‘Coz Jerry’ as the Original Source of Heyer’s Regency World and Sporting Heroes

Historical Fiction: Celebrated Writers whose Names are Syonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part I: Mary Renault and the Bronze Age.

There are some writers of historical fiction on particular historical epochs who acquire such widespread  fame that they are often described as having ‘Made that era their own’. One of these is Mary Renault, famed for her strong writing and thorough historical research. Born in 1905 in a middle class home, strongly influenced by her … Continue reading Historical Fiction: Celebrated Writers whose Names are Syonymous with the Fictional Depiction of an Age: Part I: Mary Renault and the Bronze Age.

Wilbur Smith’s ‘Shout at the Devil’: A Book Where Comedy Turns to Tragedy

I have been getting cold feet (very appropriate given the recent icy weather) about my short novel based round the 1819 Peterloo Massacre .  Of course, mine will be only one obscure publication out  of many books, articles, plays or whatever that will surely be released to mark the bicentenary  – I know there’s a … Continue reading Wilbur Smith’s ‘Shout at the Devil’: A Book Where Comedy Turns to Tragedy

Those Necessary Sympathetic, Rounded Characters: A Classic Novel Without Them

'Sylvia's Lovers' by Elizabeth Gaskell in one sentence: 'Philip Hepburn worships Sylvia Robson, and finds dishonour; Sylvia Robson worships Charley Kinraid, and finds disillusionment; Charley Kinraid worships himself, and finds a wife who agrees with him and a career in the Royal Navy.’

Planning the Structure of Your Novel and Writers’ New Year Resolutions

A Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog. I hope that this year you all get your heart's desire, whatever that may be, as it's unlikely to be: A. Taking Over the World B. Banning tea drinking or C. Making the wearing of black socks, white trainers and check trousers obligatory. This … Continue reading Planning the Structure of Your Novel and Writers’ New Year Resolutions

Some Thoughts on a Forgotten Classic: ‘This is the Schoolroom’ by Nicholas Monsarrat.

I have just finished reading Nicholas Monsarrat’s ‘This is the Schoolroom.’  It’s just under 450 pages long in the version I read – no short read. No guesses for where I first saw it – back as a teenager,  on my parents’ bookshelves – though this was a book deliberately bought, not one come by … Continue reading Some Thoughts on a Forgotten Classic: ‘This is the Schoolroom’ by Nicholas Monsarrat.