Monthly Archives: December 2008

Kate Summerscale, “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher”

Here’s the subtitle, too: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective. Now here’s the final wonderful paragraph: “Perhaps this is the purpose of detective investigations, real and fictional — to transform sensation, horror and grief into … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Jane Howard, “Slipstream”

I’m a huge fan of Howard’s The Cazalet Chronicles. I also knew that she’d been married to Kingsley Amis, and that she had been very kind to his son Martin, then a surly teenager. So of course I had to … Continue reading

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Donna Leon, “The Girl of His Dreams”

They have a tightrope to walk, these writers of murder mysteries.  On the one hand, they are constrained by their genre to offer readers the conventional experience: a puzzle in the course of which damage is done and order, ultimately, … Continue reading

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Pat Barker, “Life Class”

I’m glad I don’t live in Pat Barker’s head.  If we accept that what a writer puts on the page is  tiny fraction of his or her mental furniture, Barker’s thoughts are full of the gruesome sights and sounds and … Continue reading

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Magdalen Nabb, “Vita Nuova”

I had almost forgotten about Magdalen Nabb; I’d certainly given up on her.  She was one of those mystery writers who surfaced in the 1980s – Edmund Crispin, Sarah Caudwell, Julian Barnes writing as Dan Kavanagh – who brought a … Continue reading

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Ron Hansen, “Exiles”

Often I wonder what keeps me turning the pages of a particular book. Some of it is pure curiosity: what happens next?  Many readers like to feel they’re being informed, which may  influence the current fashion for historical fiction.  (We … Continue reading

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Albert Boime, “Art and the French Commune”

I haven’t really decided what to do about books that I read for work, but Albert Boime’s Art and the French Commune proposed such an interesting idea that I thought it worth sharing.  By way of background, the French Commune … Continue reading

Posted in art history, nonfiction, scholarly | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment