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E.S. Turner, 3 July 1980

Friends of the Earth Cookbook 
by Veronica Sekules.
Penguin, 192 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 9780140463026
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Hedgerow Cookery 
by Rosamond Richardson.
Penguin, 250 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 0 14 046358 5
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Jane Grigson’s Cookery Book 
by Jane Grigson.
Penguin, 606 pp., £2.50, April 1980, 0 14 046352 6
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Cooking with Vegetables 
by Marika Hanbury Tenison.
Cape, 284 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01597 4
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The Home Gardener’s Cookbook 
by Clare Walker.
Penguin, 362 pp., £1.75, April 1980, 0 14 046353 4
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Natural Baby Food 
by Anna Haycraft.
Fontana, 123 pp., £1, April 1980, 9780006358565
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... We are now well into the Great Vegetable Revolution. ‘For the majority of the population,’ writes Jane Grigson, ‘vegetables as a delight, to be eaten on their own, belong to this century, even to the period after the Second World War.’ She gives much of the credit for this shift in taste to Elizabeth David, who in the 1950s preached that the fruits of the earth were more than mere adjuncts to flesh ...

They roared with laughter

Amber Medland: Nella Larsen, 6 May 2021

by Nella Larsen.
Macmillan, 160 pp., £10.99, June 2020, 978 1 5290 4028 9
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... mother and a West Indian father, must pass as Black to enter Harlem society. In Passing (1929), Clare Kendry, also the product of an interracial relationship, passes as white to marry well. What sets Larsen’s novels apart from other such narratives – James Weldon-Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), for example – is their resistance ...


Philip Horne, 1 April 1983

The Slow Train to Milan 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 254 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 224 02077 3
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Holy Pictures 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 201 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 241 10926 4
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by Russell Hoban.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 224 02072 2
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September Castle: A Tale of Love 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 261 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 85634 123 1
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The Watcher 
by Charles Maclean.
Allen Lane, 343 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 7139 1559 5
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The Little Drummer Girl 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 433 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 340 32847 9
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... Lisa St Aubin de Teran’s The Slow Train to Milan and Clare Boylan’s Holy Pictures share a subject – girls growing up to a world whose language is new to them – which demands close attention to the register of words and sentences, a measure of novelty and an enactment of surprise. Many of their sentences glint with recognitions, giving back a fine pleasure out of the often painful misunderstandings and reverses they render ...

What she wasn’t

Joanna Biggs: ‘The Vanishing Half’, 13 August 2020

The Vanishing Half 
by Brit Bennett.
Dialogue, 343 pp., £14.99, June, 978 0 349 70146 2
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... they want to about her race, and pulls them into conflict. In the novella, the woman who passes, Clare Kendry, is beautiful, gorgeously dressed and reckless: she’ll introduce her racist husband to her black friends; she’ll turn up unannounced and if no one’s home, hang out with the servants; she’ll seduce her friend’s husband, as if there could be ...

White Lies

James Campbell: Nella Larsen, 5 October 2006

In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colour Line 
by George Hutchinson.
Harvard, 611 pp., £25.95, June 2006, 0 674 02180 0
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... often ‘black’ if there is a hint of Africa in his or her make-up. John Bellew, the husband of Clare Kendry in Nella Larsen’s exquisite novel Passing (1929), responds violently when he finds out that Clare, who has cheeks of ‘ivory’ and hair the colour of ‘pale gold’, is ‘black’. All those years, John had ...

A Little Electronic Dawn

James Francken: Perlman, Anderson and Heller, 24 August 2000

The Reasons I Won't Be Coming 
by Elliot Perlman.
Faber, 314 pp., £9.99, July 2000, 0 571 19699 3
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Turn of the Century 
by Kurt Anderson.
Headline, 819 pp., £7.99, February 2000, 0 7472 6800 2
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Slab Rat 
by Ted Heller.
Abacus, 332 pp., £10.99, March 2000, 0 349 11264 9
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... the consultant and they begin an affair; but it is a let-down when she starts to creep to Lloyd Walker, his hideous boss, suggesting a new corporate strategy at a breakfast meeting. And there is a twist in the story when the narrator works late at the office and checks his e-mail: ‘For all my newfound computer skills, formatting, scrolling and saving, I ...


C.K. Stead, 22 February 1996

Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... about names suggests concealment of origins and uncertainty of identity. Jane Clairmont became Clare, then Claire, sometimes Clara, and added Constantia. Her mother married William Godwin twice in an afternoon, once as ‘Jane Clairmont, widow’, a second time as ‘Mary Vial, spinster’. She brought two children to the marriage, almost certainly by ...


Elizabeth Lowry: Doris Lessing, 22 March 2001

Doris Lessing: A Biography 
by Carole Klein.
Duckworth, 283 pp., £18.99, March 2000, 0 7156 2951 4
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Ben, in the World 
by Doris Lessing.
Flamingo, 178 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 00 655229 3
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... for the pedestrian quality of her prose, and as vigorously defended. In her defence, for example, Clare Hanson argued in 1990 that the inert language of The Good Terrorist should be read in the same way that we read Joyce’s ‘tired style’ at the end of Ulysses: Lessing’s book ‘is a grey and textureless novel because it is “about”, or speaks, a ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... scuttles away, rucksack on stooped shoulders, distancing himself from his earlier disguise as wall-walker, acrobat; a workaday man of the crowd. But even with the rucksack – wrong colour, wrong shape – the man stands out: too furtive, too fiercely concentrated, fleeing the scene rather than jogging or striding like the fortunate denizens of the ...

A Hit of Rus in Urbe

Iain Sinclair: In Lea Valley, 27 June 2002

... is even better. Lea as ley, it always had that feel. A route out. A river track that walked the walker, a wet road. The Lea fed our Hackney dreaming: a water margin. On any morning when the city was squeezing too hard, you could get your hit of rus in urbe. Hackney Marshes giving way to the woodyards of Lea Bridge Road, to Springfield Park; reservoir ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder, 24 May 2012

... The vision of Pacific America from the high peaks. He was, from the start, a skier, climber, trail walker. These activities took precedence, when he was a schoolboy and young student, over academic work. At the age of 15, in 1945, he completed the ascent of Mount St Helens: ‘Step by step, breath by breath – no rush, no pain.’ The newspaper he read when ...

Who to Be

Colm Tóibín: Beckett’s Letters, 6 August 2009

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-40 
edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 782 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 521 86793 1
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... to make this landscape one of abiding importance to Beckett, who, like his father, was a great walker. These early letters make clear that, despite his lack of interest in Ireland or Irishness, he loved the Irish landscape. In 1932 he wrote to McGreevy about a trip to the west of Ireland with his brother Frank, describing Galway as a grand little magic ...

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