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Right-ons

Jenny Turner, 24 October 1991

Gaudi Afternoon 
by Barbara Wilson.
Virago, 172 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 1 85381 264 1
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The players come again 
by Amanda Cross.
Virago, 229 pp., £12.99, August 1991, 1 85381 306 0
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Poetic Justice 
by Amanda Cross.
Virago, 176 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 1 85381 025 8
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Birth Marks 
by Sarah Dunant.
Joseph, 230 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 7181 3511 3
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Burn Marks 
by Sara Paretsky.
Virago, 340 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 9781853812798
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Deep Sleep 
by Frances Fyfield.
Heinemann, 198 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 0 434 27426 7
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... with politics and little, come to that, to do with crime. The four right-ons under review – two Amanda Crosses, a Sarah Dunant and a Barbara Wilson – have only two murders to rub between them. And neither of the murders which actually happen, and none of the feeble misdemeanours used as plot-devices in murder’s place, have anything to do with money. If ...

Diary

Elaine Showalter: Even Lolita must have read Nancy Drew, 7 September 1995

... really happened to the girl sleuth is that she’s become a woman, the feminist detective of Amanda Cross, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Joan Smith or Sarah Dunant. The crimes are now drugs, rape and murder, but the fantasies are the same: ‘no thugs and smugglers can dwell in their grungy hideouts for long when a girl sleuth is ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... the new Methuen volume includes a marvellous parody of the second act of Private Lives in which Amanda and Elyot’s jagged banter is rewritten for the ‘poorer and less cultured’ Fred and Floss, who retain all of the original’s interactive energy, in considerably fewer words. What is absent from the political plays is that organic relationship between ...

Nothing Fits

Nick Richardson: Amanda Knox, 24 October 2013

Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir 
by Amanda Knox.
Harper, 463 pp., £28.99, April 2013, 978 0 06 221720 2
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Meredith: Our Daughter’s Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth 
by John Kercher.
Hodder, 291 pp., £8.99, April 2013, 978 1 4447 4278 7
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... the internet for details: every piece of evidence that came before the court in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009, and in their successful appeal in 2011, has been scrutinised. Almost everything that has been written about the case has been disputed. It seems unlikely that Knox, a twenty-year-old American student at the University ...

Do Not Scribble

Amanda Vickery: Letter-Writing, 4 November 2010

The Pen and the People: English Letter-Writers 1660-1800 
by Susan Whyman.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 19 953244 5
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Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters 
by Dena Goodman.
Cornell, 408 pp., £24.50, June 2009, 978 0 8014 7545 0
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... posted at 8 a.m. could be delivered by 10). At mid-century, Ralph Allen of Bath introduced the cross posts and provincial post offices (no longer did a letter from York to Shrewsbury have to make a costly trip via London), creating a truly national system. In the 1780s came John Palmer’s high-speed mail coaches: toll gates stood open, fresh horses ...

Poets and Pretenders

John Sutherland, 2 April 1987

The Great Pretender 
by James Atlas.
Viking, 239 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 9780670814619
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The Position of the Body 
by Richard Stern.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $21.95, November 1986, 0 8101 0730 9
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The Setting Sun and the Rolling World 
by Charles Mungoshi.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 434 48166 1
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Conversations with Lord Byron on Perversion, 162 Years after his Lordship’s Death 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 9780224024235
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... to keep the party going. The story ends with bitter enlightenment for the young hero. Expecting to cross one threshold of his life, he finds himself at another: ‘he would always remember that something very violent had been done to him and that is when he had begun not to care very much for his brother Magufu ... except that they had the same parents.’ We ...

Female Relationships

Stephen Bann, 1 July 1982

When things of the spirit come first 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Patrick O’Brian.
Deutsch, 212 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 0 233 97462 8
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Union Street 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 266 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 9780860682820
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Lady Oracle 
by Margaret Atwood.
Virago, 346 pp., £3.50, June 1982, 0 86068 303 6
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Bodily Harm 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 302 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02016 1
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Hearts: A Novel 
by Hilma Wolitzer.
Harvester, 324 pp., £6.95, June 1982, 9780710804754
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Pzyche 
by Amanda Hemingway.
Faber, 236 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 571 11875 5
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December Flower 
by Judy Allen.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 7156 1644 7
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... Joan’s own literary work, both as a Gothic novelist and as a poet, memorably epitomised as ‘a cross between Kahlil Gibran and Rod McKuen’. Extracts from Gothic novels in course of composition pepper the narrative, parodying the genre delightfully but also tracing the author’s growing inability to sublimate her sexual role through fantasies such as ...

A Girl’s Right to Have Fun

Susan Pedersen: Young Women at Work Between the Wars, 5 October 2006

Young Women, Work and Family in England 1918-50 
by Selina Todd.
Oxford, 272 pp., £50, September 2005, 0 19 928275 7
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... indeed, no sooner had gender history’s notion of ‘the rise of separate spheres’ emerged than Amanda Vickery, in a landmark article in Historical Journal, saw it off. Doorstop social histories vanished from students’ bags, and were replaced by the more depressing works of Michel Foucault. But social history never went away, and the destruction of its ...

Diary

Stephanie Burt: My Life as Stephanie, 11 April 2013

... DIY manga artist, a costume jewellery maker and an organiser for the state’s LGBT Democrats. Amanda Simpson, the US government’s first out transgender appointee, gave the keynote address: a former test pilot, Simpson is now Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, Acquisition and Technology. I went to watch and to ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody, 23 July 1992

Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... I might suggest ... oh, never mind. Harvard seems bound to fulfil the prophetic title of the Amanda Cross murder mystery, Death in a Tenured Position, and to prove as true Cross’s implicit contention that anti-feminism among academics is not only destructive but positively lethal. French is very clear on the ...

Spot the Mistakes

Thomas Jones: Ann Patchett, 25 August 2011

State of Wonder 
by Ann Patchett.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 1 4088 1859 6
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... Russians, overemotional Italians and amorous, gourmet Frenchmen, while a meticulous Swiss Red Cross official conducts the negotiations with the authorities. For many of them, Coss’s singing conjures up a moment from childhood, a seminal early encounter with art. Hosokawa remembers the first time his father took him to the opera. One of the tragic ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... he has been busy working on this book, which started out as a ‘love letter’ to his wife, Amanda – ‘the Bitch of War as she now likes to call herself’ – while he was in jail. Mann’s account doesn’t add much to what we know about the attempted coup; in some respects it tells us less than Adam Roberts’s excellent The Wonga Coup.* Roberts ...

Every Slightest Pebble

Clarence Brown, 25 May 1995

The Akhmatova Journals. Vol. I: 1938-1941 
by Lydia Chukovskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova.
Harvill, 310 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 00 216391 8
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Remembering Anna Akhmatova 
by Anatoly Nayman, translated by Wendy Rosslyn.
Halban, 240 pp., £18, June 1991, 9781870015417
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Anna Akhmatova and Her Circle 
edited by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina.
Arkansas, 281 pp., $32, January 1994, 1 55728 308 7
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Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet 
by Roberta Reeder.
Allison and Busby, 592 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 85031 998 6
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Women’s Works in Stalin’s Time: On Lidia Chukovskaia and Nadezhda Mandelstam 
by Beth Holmgren.
Indiana, 225 pp., £25, September 1993, 0 253 33860 3
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... who accompanied her everywhere in her last years, was present, and so was the late Amanda Haight, the author of the first and still best English biography. I continued to ply Akhmatova with questions and she answered with as much interest and amusement as before. I had not had a tape-recorder in Komarovo, but now I had. Would I like her to read ...

Whig Dreams

Margaret Anne Doody, 27 February 1992

A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain 
by Daniel Defoe, edited by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 423 pp., £19.95, July 1991, 0 300 04980 3
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James Thomson: A Life 
by James Sambrook.
Oxford, 332 pp., £40, October 1991, 0 19 811788 4
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... Continent: ‘should you enquire after my Muse, all that I can answer is that I belive she did not cross the channel with me.’ If he had wanted to recharge his Muse, Thomson would have done better to return to Scotland, to travel over the craggy hills where he had early gathered his own immortal honey. But he did not like to go back to Scotland. The Grand ...

The Killing of Blair Peach

David Renton, 22 May 2014

... the Broadway and turned into Beachcroft Avenue, which was not blocked by the police. Peach and Amanda Leon, who had agreed to stick together, were behind the others. Leon told the inquest that she heard police sirens and saw a row of police officers with shields and truncheons. She then saw a police officer hit Peach on the head from behind with a ...

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