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3 December 1992
Jesus 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 269 pp., £15, September 1992, 1 85619 114 1
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... he makes no attempt to stampede or manhandle the readers into agnosticism. The style is light, to the point of sprightliness sometimes, but without becoming facetious. Even when, for example, Wilson speaks of Jesus in the same breath and tone as he speaks of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, he is making a serious point about the traditional techniques of rhetoric as used by St Luke, who ...
3 December 1981
Who was Oswald Fish? 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 314 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 436 57606 6
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... the benefit of the doubt, which is perhaps as it should be: but the success of his delicate literary experiment remains in question. From several points of view, then, it was interesting to see how Wilson’s career would develop. His talents seemed likely to pull him in different directions. He had a gift for satirical comedy, but could offer a sensitive account of painful feelings; his formal ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks

21 November 1985
Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... A.N.Wilson is something of an anachronism, and it was timely of him to make anachronism the nub of his new novel about the old days, Gentlemen in England. The title itself, in the England of 1985 where the new ...

It’s Mummie

Jenny Diski

16 December 1993
TheLittle Princesses 
by Marion Crawford, introduced by A.N. Wilson.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 7156 2497 0
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... It was not ever thus in England,’ says A.N.Wilson, stilting his prose in deference to the text he’s introducing. He’s speaking of the deluge of intimacies we can expect these days in the press about the Royal Family. The ‘mystique of kingship ...

Trounced

C.H. Sisson

22 February 1990
C.S.Lewis: A Biography 
by A.N. Wilson.
Collins, 334 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 00 215137 5
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... to a chair in Cambridge. He seems hardly to have set foot on the European mainland, after his wartime excursion, and indeed to have seen remarkably little of England. He died in 1963. The story A.N.Wilson has to tell is more complicated than that. Empson thought Lewis ‘the best read man of his generation, one who had read everything and remembered everything he read’. He was indeed a man of words ...

Mockmen

Stephen Wall

27 September 1990
Brazzaville Beach 
by William Boyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 314 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 026 9
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A Bottle in the Smoke 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 279 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 019 6
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Temples of Delight 
by Barbara Trapido.
Joseph, 318 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7181 3467 2
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... is sometimes no more than serviceable, the feeling for and description of the African landscape carry conviction. It’s William Boyd’s strongest performance so far. The narrator of A.N.Wilson’s The Bottle in the Smoke is also engaged in retrospect and revaluation, as any hero of a roman fleuve is likely to be. It’s the second novel in a sequence begun with Incline our hearts (1988 ...
15 September 1983
Shame 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 287 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02952 5
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Scandal 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 233 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 241 11101 3
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Love and Glory 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Secker, 252 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 06716 1
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The Complete Knowledge of Sally Fry 
by Sylvia Murphy.
Gollancz, 172 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03353 3
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... desire to tell all possible stories in the best of all possible fictional modes. Still, the novel confirms his astonishing gifts of eloquence, verbal energy and narrative imagination. A.N.Wilson had raised the issue of political scandal in an earlier book, Who was Oswald Fish? (1977). But he got put of the situation by ensuring that his Honourable Member was too dim to be dishonourable, so ...
19 August 1993
The End of the House of Windsor: Birth of a British Republic 
by Stephen Haseler.
Tauris, 208 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 1 85043 735 1
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 211 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 1 85619 354 3
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Royal Throne: The Future of the Monarchy 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Hodder, 189 pp., £16.99, April 1993, 0 340 58587 0
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Diana v. Charles 
by James Whitaker.
Signet, 237 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 670 85245 7
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The Tarnished Crown 
by Anthony Holden.
Bantam, 400 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 593 02472 9
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Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family 
by Dennis Friedman.
Sidgwick, 212 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 283 06124 3
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Raine​ and Johnnie: The Spencers and the Scandal of Althorp 
by Angela Levin.
Weidenfeld, 297 pp., £17.99, July 1993, 0 297 81325 0
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... soon become a republic (though, for their own and not for British reasons, New Zealand and Canada may not). Even worse, as far as the present Queen is concerned, most Britons don’t care. As A.N.Wilson cruelly remarks, ‘it is possible that the Queen is the only person in the British Isles who is interested in the British Commonwealth. Most of her subjects have some difficulty in remembering what ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul

13 May 1999
Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... I have been trying to explain to myself how such a book as this held my uninterrupted attention from first to last. I read it almost at a sitting. This was certainly not because of any previous obsession with either V.S. Naipaul or Paul Theroux. True, I regard Naipaul as one of the most enthralling writers of our time, even though the subjects he has covered – India, Africa, the putrefaction of the ...
16 March 2000
Prince Charming: A Memoir 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 340 pp., £20, September 1999, 9780571197682
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... ! Receive him into the kingdom of light!’ ‘At which point, rather to my own surprise, I shouted out: “Rubbish!”... The cast froze. The chanting died away. Then, in the silence, the voice of Anne, the author’s wife, rang out with: “Christopher Logue, get out of this theatre,” which got the only laugh of the evening.’ Later, poor Mrs Holroyd came running into the King’s Arms, where ...

That Old Thing

A.N. Wilson

30 January 1992
God’s Politician: John Paul at the Vatican 
by David Willey.
Faber, 249 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 571 16180 4
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... The Pope is the most interesting public figure in the Western world, because, among all the presidents and premiers who exercise power from Washington to the borders of the old Russian Empire, he seems to be the only figure guided by a sense of history. The Euro-ideals of Kohl, Mitterrand, Major and the rest are based on the presumption that it is more polite to behave as if the past had never happened ...

Sisterly

A.N. Wilson

21 October 1993
Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 538 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 340 53784 1
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... My great new friend is Noël Coward’, Nancy Mitford confided to a correspondent in 1949. ‘Bliss. He shakes like a jelly at one’s jokes, I adore that.’ It was laughs Nancy Mitford wanted, much more than grandeur. She longs to make people laugh, and sometimes, almost in the manner of a nervous stand-up comedienne, interrupts her letters to make sure that the audience is suitably convulsed ...
19 June 1997
Paul: A Critical Life 
by Jerome Murphy O’Connor.
Oxford, 416 pp., £35, June 1996, 0 19 826749 5
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Paul: The Mind of the Apostle 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 274 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 1 85619 542 2
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... Among Protestants, St Paul ranks almost as the co-founder of Christianity, whereas Catholics have tended to favour St Peter, the rock of apostolic succession. Indeed, the main message of A.N.Wilson’s book is that it was Paul, not Jesus, who founded Christianity (‘if anyone did’). Paul is the earliest surviving Christian writer, a radical Jewish thinker and, for many Protestants, the ...

Clive’s Clio

Hugh Tulloch

8 February 1990
Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History 
by John Clive.
Collins Harvill, 334 pp., £15, October 1989, 0 00 272041 8
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... we have all become Victorians again. Mrs Thatcher pursues strict economies with a single-mindedness Gladstone would have envied and calls us back to traditional values, while on television Mr A.N.Wilson approaches the eminent Victorians in a manner far different from that of Lytton Strachey seventy years ago. In 1918 Strachey intended to blow up, once and for all, the stale and inhibiting pieties of ...

Literary Man

J.I.M. Stewart

7 June 1984
Hilaire Belloc 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 398 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 241 11176 5
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... entertain in company or to demolish an opponent in historical or political controversy. That anything he recorded of himself is liable to be full of fibs is disadvantageous to a biographer, and A.N.Wilson shows himself adequately aware of the fact. But there is a further hazard. Belloc was ceaselessly sociable and loquacious, and ceaselessly – by the standards of his time – outrageous to the point ...

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