Emily Foster: How Not To Fall

how not to fallOnce upon a time, a woman wrote a book about vampires. It was a bit sexy and a bit problematic and quite popular, so somebody else wrote some stories based on the same characters. Then she rewrote them as a book with different names and a different setting, and this was also (by all accounts) a bit sexy and quite popular, and really quite a lot problematic.

And then yet another writer came along and said “you know what? I think I could do better. I can take away all the Problematic and make this even sexier in the process.” And she did.

(Warning: Do not be misled by the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ focus of other posts. This book is really very not suitable for children.) Continue reading “Emily Foster: How Not To Fall”


Rob Cowen: Common Ground

common ground

This is beautifully written. I’ve been trying to compare it with other novels I’ve read, but in fact it reminds me of nothing so much as the sublimely lyrical songwriting of Nancy Kerr – who, coincidentally, was the person who gave this book to me.


Continue reading “Rob Cowen: Common Ground”

Chapter XII: He was glad he had brought the compass

There’s some lovely detail again here, and also some wondrous fallibility. Warning: I may be more critical of this chapter than of its predecessors.

I used to hate writing conversation when I was at school – it all felt tedious and contrived, and seemed to take forever to communicate the important information in a way which was remotely believable, and I didn’t think my hypothetical readers would have that much patience. Had I paid more attention to passages like this, I might have given them more credit.

But then the lengthy conversation about the relative heights of the younger crew members turns out to be more important than it first appears. Yes, it reinforces messages we have already had about Roger’s status in the family, Susan’s sense of responsibility, John’s need to plan for all of them. But it also sets the context for the declaration that Roger won’t need to reach the lantern…

Continue reading “Chapter XII: He was glad he had brought the compass”

Kazuo Ishiguro: The Buried Giant

This book is beautiful and strange, and I think I need to read it again, fairly soon.

The structure feels quite classical, a journey in the manner of the Odyssey. A couple begin their quest, encountering various strange and apparently unrelated people and other creatures through whom they learn more about themselves and their mission.

Potential spoilers below the cut.
Continue reading “Kazuo Ishiguro: The Buried Giant”