Wartime observations from a German outsider – over @ShinyNewBooks :D


I’m returning to Paris today, for another review over at Shiny New Books! Having explored the subterranean world of the Parisian waiter, this book sees me travelling back to occupied wartime France, where a young German historian has been posted to Paris to work in the archives. The book is Clouds over Paris by Felix Hartlaub, translated by Simon Beattie.

Hartlaub is a fascinating writer, and the book contains his jottings in notebooks whilst observing the city and its people. He’s something of an outsider, attached to neither occupier or occupied, and that gives his thoughts a detachment which makes the book most interesting. You can read my full review here!

The dark underbelly of Parisian restaurants – over @ShinyNewBooks!


A new review from me today, up at Shiny New Books, and it’s of a fascinating recent publication which explores the harsh life of a waiter in the world of Paris’s glittering haut cuisine restaurants. The book is “A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City” by Edward Chisholm, and it’s a sobering read in places.

The restaurant life in Paris did, of course, make up a large part of Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London”; and Chisholm channels that book in his work, finding that so much has not changed over the years. The glitzy appearance of high-end restaurants belies what’s going on behind the scenes, and reading “A Waiter…” will certainly change the way you think about eating out! You can read my full review here.

Exploring a lost classic from a revered film-maker – over @ShinyNewBooks 😊 @FaberBooks


I have a new review up on Shiny New Books today which I’d like to share with you, and it’s of an excellent and neglected novel by the great film-maker Emeric Pressburger. The book is “The Glass Pearls” and it’s a stunning read.

Pressburger was a Hungarian-Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and so his choice of protagonist – a war criminal in hiding – is perhaps unexpected. I’d long wanted to read the book, and so was delighted that Faber have chosen to reissue it in a lovely new edition. It’s a gripping and unforgettable story, and you can read more about it here!

A scintillating dialogue between artists – over @ShinyNewBooks


I’m sharing today a review I have over on Shiny New Books of a beautiful, moving and thought-provoking book. It’s “Letters to Gwen John” by artist Celia Paul, and in it the latter initiates a narrative between herself and the lauded artist Gwen John in the form of letters. Despite the fact that John cannot, of course, reply, Paul sprinkles her book with extracts from writings by John and others who knew her, as well as some truly gorgeous illustrations from both artists. This is a wonderful book which illuminates the life of the woman artist, particularly when she’s so often judged in relation to the men in her life, and it’s a stunning and memorable read. I loved it, and you can read my full review here.

Exploring exile and displacement – over @ShinyNewBooks


I have a new review up at Shiny New Books today which I’d like to share with you, and it’s of a fascinating and very timely work by William Atkins – “Exiles: Three Island Journeys”.

In the book, Atkins explores the lives of three political exiles: Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, a Zulu king who was exiled to St Helena in the South Atlantic; Louise Michel, a French radical of the Commune, who was shipped off to New Caledonia in the South Pacific; and Lev Sternberg, a Ukrainian revolutionary who was sent to the notorious Sakhalin, off the coast of Siberia. Besides looking at their experiences, as Atkins retraces their journeys he considers the whole notion of exile, as well as encountering his own issues. It’s a really thought-provoking read and you can find my full review here – do take a look! 😀

Exploring a rediscovered Danish author – over @ShinyNewBooks!


I have a new review up at Shiny New Books I’d like to share with you today, and it’s from an author who’s been receiving much acclamation recently as her works have begun to be translated into English. The book is The Trouble with Happiness and Other Stories and it’s by the Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, translated by Michael Favala Goldman.

Ditlevsen’s autofictional Copenhagen Trilogy was released by Penguin in 2019, receiving extensive coverage and praise. I read and loved the first part, Childhood, and so was very keen to explore the new collection of short stories. It’s a wonderful collection of stories, ranging from the more straightforward to the experimental, and the works often cover what I refer to as the domestic tension underlying many relationships. I can highly recommend the book, and you can read my full review here!

Exploring women and crime writing – over @ShinyNewBooks #ReadIndies


I have a review up today over at Shiny New Books, and not only does it cover one of my favourite genres of writing (crime), it also manages to fit in with #ReadIndies as the publisher, Oldcastle Books, appears to be an indie outfit!

The book is called “After Agatha” and it’s by Sally Cline; and the subtitle of “Women Write Crime” should give you a good idea of what it’s about. Cline explores women authors and their writings from the classic days of Christie right up until modern times. Her approach is interesting, as she’s conducted extensive interviews with modern writers and these make up much of her narrative. You can find out more in my full review here!

More #Dostoevsky – over @ShinyNewBooks :D


2021 has been another very odd year, full of pandemic and politics and a world gone crazy. However, it’s also been a year which has seen celebrations of the 200th birthday of the wonderful Russian author, Fyodor Dostoevsky. There have inevitably been New Books about the great man, and I was happy to review a stunning one, “Dostoevsky in Love” by Alex Christofi, for Shiny New Books back in June. However, November saw the release of another intriguing title focused on Dostoevsky’s life and influences, and that is “The Sinner and the Saint” by Kevin Birmingham, which I’ve again covered for Shiny.

“Sinner…” is an intriguing work which looks at the genesis of Dostoevsky’s great work, “Crime and Punishment”, in particular through the lens of the influence of a real-life criminal, Pierre Lacenaire, a French murderer from the early part of the 1800s. The book is a fascinating read, and you can find my full review here!

A lost novella from a feminist icon – over @ShinyNewBooks! #simonedebeauvoir


I have a new review up on Shiny New Books today which I’d like to share with you, and it’s of a fascinating and moving novella which has recently surfaced from an author who’s been something of an idol of mine for much of my life – Simone de Beauvoir.

Beauvoir is of course probably best known for her “The Second Sex” and her series of memoirs, but I absolutely love her fiction too. “The Inseparables” was never published in Beauvoir’s lifetime, but it tells the story of a pivotal friendship in her life, one she also revisited in “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter”. The novella makes wonderful reading, and this edition is enhanced with some lovely additional material. Do pop over and have a look at my review – it’s here! 😀

An evocative and atmospheric look at summers past – over @ShinyNewBooks #WITMonth


After a couple of posts which moved away from #WITMonth, I want to share today a review I’ve done for Shiny New Books of a wonderful book which has been garnering a lot of love lately – “Three Summers” by Margarita Liberaki.

Set in Greece between the wars, the story follows three sisters over the summers of the title as they grow and change, make decisions which will decide the paths of their lives, love and lose, and explore family secrets. It’s a wonderful read, beloved in its native land, and the recent attention it’s been getting is much deserved. You can read my thoughts here! 😀

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