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Strange Love

William Boyd

1 December 1983
The Africans 
by David Lamb.
Bodley Head, 363 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 370 30968 5
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African Princess 
by Princess Elizabeth of Toro.
Hamish Hamilton, 230 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 241 11002 5
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The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowsa-Brand.
Quartet, 164 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7043 2415 6
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... world-weary nostalgia, smugness? – is probably a fair indication of your attitude to the various states of affairs currently preoccupying and bedevilling the unhappy place. However, after reading DavidLamb’s The Africans these responses should be leavened with another one – despair. For this comprehensive and valuable survey of the status quo in sub-Saharan Africa is such a depressing ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb

19 May 2005
Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... There never was such a Woman!!!’ Emily Cowper (later Palmerston) wrote of her sister-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb. Lady Cowper was not being complimentary. She later described Caroline as being ‘more termagant than ever’. Such disparagement of the woman, who in 1812 had a notorious affair with Byron and was ...

A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David​ Mitchell

4 December 2014
The Bone Clocks 
by David​ Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... David Mitchell​ is a career-long genre-bender. Only with his fourth book, Black Swan Green (2006), did he raid his own store of experience to write a first-novelish novel, a charming if low-key coming-of ...
4 April 1991
To Know a Woman 
by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Chatto, 265 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3572 7
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The Smile of the Lamb 
by David​ Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 325 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 224 02639 9
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... Amos Oz and David Grossman are both political writers. This might seem an obvious statement, given that they are well-known for being politically vocal and have both written political (non-fiction) books consisting of ...
8 May 1997
Promising The Earth 
by Robert Lamb.
Routledge, 204 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 415 14443 4
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... but took root in Britain almost immediately, in an episode of very conspicuous consumption. The moment was late in 1970, at the Travellers’ Club in London, during a supper for 14 people. David Brower, the saint of eco-sanity from the Sierra Club in California, had just given a sermon, a hell-fire variant of the one geologists have used for a century or more: rocks are long, life is short ...

Foxy

Peter Campbell

21 January 1988
Running with the fox 
by David​ Macdonald.
Unwin Hyman, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 04 440084 5
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... tosser and is reputed to have tossed to death some 687 foxes in one session.’ But hunters were also early systematic observers. Edward, second Duke of York, in his Master of the Game noticed what David Macdonald’s research has confirmed: foxes eat worms. As it became a more respectable quarry the fox was pampered: its habitat was protected, its enemy, the farmer with chickens, bought off, and the ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists

26 January 2006
... to round an invention out. (There are examples of Powell’s collage pages in the exhibition.) It’s possible, for instance, to imagine Powell’s Barnby enlivening a portrait session much as Henry Lamb did when he enlisted his sister-in-law, Lady Violet Pakenham, to talk to Powell while he was being painted. Lamb’s portraits – of Powell, of Lady Violet, of Evelyn Waugh – are the most assured ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton

20 September 2001
Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... Warton, Thomas Percy and Samuel Johnson to review the grounds of their judgments. He is at the same time the lonely outsider commemorated by Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and (more cannily) Wordsworth. David Fairer maintains that their Wertherisation of Chatterton’s alleged suicide concentrated the Romantic poets’ minds on their own social isolation, on the necessary dissidence of the poet’s task ...

It makes yer head go

David​ Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge

18 February 1999
The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... was time to do or it was time to die, it was time to go for it or it was time to go home, it was time to put up or it was time to shut up, it was time to broach my subject: the subject of Troy, Danny Lamb and the mysterious – nay, extraordinary – duplicating that went by the name of Danielle. Notice that the narrative gist enveloped in these sawing, hammering repetitions and wall-to-wall clichés ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke

19 October 2016
Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... been plotting against him. He had asked Cox to organise a New Year’s house party at Lulworth in Devon. At the time, Lytton Strachey was obsessed with the heterosexual painter and philanderer Henry Lamb, whom Cox had recently met and fallen for. She asked Lytton to invite Lamb, and he happily obliged. Lamb was looking for a new mistress and Cox was well-off, generous and susceptible. The match would ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Little England

24 May 2001
... not taking the antique Englishness of Harry Potter just a little too far? But then I remember that the ‘feasts’ served up at Hogwarts boarding school are of ‘roast beef, roast chicken . . . lamb chops . . . Yorkshire puddings . . . peppermint humbugs’ and the like. All of which is, as the Daily Mail has said of Steve Thoburn, simply ‘patriotic and sensible’. Reclaiming the flag has ...
19 April 1990
Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... into a moral patter that justifies self-interest. When she steals a child’s necklace, she represents her act as ‘a just reproof’ to the parents ‘for their negligence in leaving the poor lamb to come home by itself’. When she strips a drunken old punter of his valuables, she reflects that ‘this usage may, for aught I know, do more to reform him than all the sermons that he will ever ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining

4 January 2018
... Kitchen so fantastical, in terms of the quantities and marinades and lengths of time called for, that I wondered if the whole thing was an elaborate joke I’d missed. Meades’s take on an Elizabeth David recipe for sauce au vin du Médoc, which David credited to ‘Madame Bernard, the wife of a wine-grower of Cissac-Médoc’ (Meades wonders whether David ‘emulated [the] deadpan cunning’ of the ...

Tortoises with Zips

David​ Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes

4 April 2002
The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... eloquent and physical, and his general account of them is thorough, although his assertion that these non-stop flyers mate on the wing is something for which, according to the chief authorities (David Lack and Derek Bromhall), there is no firm evidence. I have watched them for nearly sixty years, at home in North-East Scotland and Westmorland, in the Dolomites and on Gibraltar, and from high up on ...
2 October 1997
Lord Melbourne 1779-1848 
by L.G. Mitchell.
Oxford, 349 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 19 820592 9
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... to assume both that history will take them at their own estimation, and that it will be written by disinterested Solomons, free from prejudice, passion, envy and the desire for fame or money. William Lamb, second Viscount Melbourne, prime minister in 1834 and 1835-41, had no such illusions. He loved reading history because it pricked the pomposity of vain and foolish ‘great men’. But he also knew ...

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