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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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... because one experiences no wish to do either of these things. The arguments are presented in mannerly fashion; though the writer is currently agnostic, he makes no attempt to stampede or manhandle the readers into agnosticism. The style is light, to the point of sprightliness ...
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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... It moved well. The light, fluent, shapely narrative encompassed with equal facility episodes of mannered comedy and passages of simple feeling. Here, plainly, was a writer who combined imagination and literary intelligence: but his prospects were difficult to assess because he was working in a mode which, while fashionable ...

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 right spits even more zealously than the old left on the grave of the gentlemanly ideal, pushes anachronism and dislocation to the point of oxymoron ...

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’, Wilson explains, was restored in the late Thirties by George VI and Elizabeth, who, even before they moved into Buckingham Palace, erected a wall of silence around the House of Windsor, as soundproof as the walls of all those castles they processed around ...

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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... when he was appointed 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 ...

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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... so, since the questions it raises are more searching than before. They’re pursued with a narrative fluency and clarity of design that rewards and deserves attention. In a beach house on the Congolese coast a woman is taking to heart Socrates’s remark (which is also the novel’s epigraph) that the unexamined life is not worth living. She’s ...
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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... is a real operative concept, indeed a kind of virtue insistently contrasted with shamelessness. A.N. Wilsons term is more ironic and oblique, suggestive of the British public in a fit of morality: you get the sense that maybe too much of a fuss is about to be made of something. Sylvia Murphy’s knowledge is, to start with, not abstract at all, since ...
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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... Few wanted to know it, however. Now, as autumn approaches, many of these volumes are on the remaindered shelves, and some have been pulped. So what are they for? And what did they mean? At one level, the thinking behind them was clear enough. However bad the recession, British publishers believe firmly and mistakenly that books about the monarchy always ...

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 post-colonial world – are not ones which engage my interest or my imagination ...

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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... that it is more polite to behave as if the past had never happened: the Third Reich, the Pétain regime in France and the near-anarchy which followed it; the forty years when Spain kowtowed to the Generalisimo; the equally long period of happy fascism in Portugal; the ups and downs of Italy before, during and after the ...

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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... 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. ‘Are you shrieking?’ she implores her sister Diana, in the middle of relaying some mildly amusing malice ...
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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... Paul performed were so impressive that some Christians even wondered whether he was Christ, come again. Paul told them that he would come flying through the sky and arrive at the seventh hour at the city gate. At the seventh hour, a great crowd collected and lo, in the distance, a cloud of dust, like smoke with fiery rays, was seen in the sky. When it came ...

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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... The world’s great age begins anew, and 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 ...

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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... he landed near Antibes on 1 March 1815 indeed looked rompu historians may have determined: but certainly not with the help of Belloc’s mother, an Englishwoman who was born a little more than fourteen years later. In The Cruise of the Nona, however, Belloc declares that ‘time and again’ in childhood he was told the ...

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