Milly-Molly-Mandy meets What Katy Did

Today I’ll share a couple of short passages from books I’ve been reading recently with my children. Both made me laugh, though I guess the context also helps. The first is from Susan M. Coolidge’s What Katy Did: “Imogen was a bright girl naturally, but she had so read so many novels that her brain wasContinue reading “Milly-Molly-Mandy meets What Katy Did”

The Jesuits in China

  The first Jesuit missionaries to China were a really fascinating group and Liam Matthew Brockey’s Journey to the East provides many new insights into their mission. Whereas previous accounts tended to emphasise the Jesuit mission to the imperial court, Brockey conclusively shows that they also made a big impact in the countryside among ordinary folk too.Continue reading “The Jesuits in China”

‘The Two Fiddlers’ by George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown, as I have suggested elsewhere, is one of my favourite modern authors. Standing apart from the mainstream, he wrote fiction (and poetry) that was powerful, haunting and evocative. This is also true of his books for young readers, such as The Two Fiddlers, which was first published in 1974. In this short review,Continue reading “‘The Two Fiddlers’ by George Mackay Brown”

C S Lewis and the spirit of Adlestrop

Something of the spirit of ‘Adlestrop’ can be found in C.S. Lewis’s wonderful novel, That Hideous Strength. As her husband drives off to destruction in a fast car, Jane Studdock takes a very slow train towards her redemption: “The smoke which our imaginary observer might have seen to the east of Edgestow would have indicated theContinue reading “C S Lewis and the spirit of Adlestrop”

Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims

Clyde Robert Bulla has done a fine job of making the story of Squanto, the “Indian boy” who became a great friend to the Pilgrim Fathers, accessible to young readers. The book is intended, I guess, for children aged roughly 6-10 and so both the vocabulary and the structure are kept relatively simple. Nonetheless, theContinue reading “Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims”

Jérôme Ferrari’s ‘The Sermon on the Fall of Rome’

Jérôme Ferrari’s novel, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2012, opens with a quotation from one of St. Augustine’s sermons: “Are you surprised that the end of the world is upon us? You might rather be surprised that the world has grown so old.” In a novel about a village bar, this opening is,Continue reading “Jérôme Ferrari’s ‘The Sermon on the Fall of Rome’”

Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Officers and Gentlemen’ – a surprising discovery

Browsing in a secondhand bookshop yesterday, I found a lovely first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen, the second book in his Sword of Honour trilogy. Except, to my great surprise, I discovered that the trilogy might never have been written: