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Eclipse of Europe

Brian Bond, 3 June 1982

End of the Affair: The Collapse of the Anglo-French Alliance 1939-40 
by Eleanor Gates.
Allen and Unwin, 630 pp., £15, February 1982, 0 04 940063 0
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The Strategy of Phoney War: Britain, Sweden and the Iron Ore Question 1939-1940 
by Thomas Munch-Petersen.
Militärhistoriska Forlaget, 296 pp., £8, October 1981, 91 85266 17 5
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... scholars such as John C. Cairns, Philip Bankwitz, Telford Taylor and Robert O. Paxton. Eleanor M. Gates might modestly disclaim inclusion in such distinguished company. But she has produced a splendid book which is both instructive and moving. She is not much interested in the military operations per se, but ...

Angela and the Beast

Patricia Craig, 5 December 1985

Black Venus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 121 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3964 1
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Come unto these yellow sands 
by Angela Carter.
Bloodaxe, 158 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 906427 66 5
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Mainland 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11643 0
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The Accidental Tourist 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 355 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2986 7
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Arrows of Longing 
by Virginia Moriconi.
Duckworth, 252 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780715620694
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... Her mind refuses admittance to that word: affair ... ‘You are not a sexual affair,’ Eleanor tells it. It rattles its bones at her. It makes motions as if it were washing its hands. Eleanor, who’s given to holding conversations with her dead mother and grandmother, attributing to the two of them a poor view ...

Raised Eyebrows

Eleanor Birne: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 5 October 2006

Half of a Yellow Sun 
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Fourth Estate, 433 pp., £14.99, August 2006, 0 00 720027 7
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... never seen anything like the streets that appeared after they went past the university gates, streets so smooth and tarred that he itched to lay his cheek down on them.’ After his first meal at his new master’s house he turns on the tap in the kitchen, then turns it off then on again, ‘laughing at the magic of the running water and the ...

Men with Saffron Smiles

Eleanor Birne: Arundhati Roy, 26 July 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness 
by Arundhati Roy.
Hamish Hamilton, 445 pp., £18.99, June 2017, 978 0 241 30397 9
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... inside: ‘He entered that ordinary, broken-down home as though he were walking through the gates of paradise.’ At the age of 15, he moves in and becomes Anjum, living ‘in the Khwabgah with her patched-together body and her partially realised dreams’. ‘Partially realised’ is the point: there is freedom among the hijras but they are both ...

Old Verities

Brian Harrison, 19 June 1986

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 320 pp., £23.25, September 1985, 0 226 27932 4
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Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 
by Philip Priestley.
Methuen, 311 pp., £14.85, October 1985, 0 416 34770 3
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The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers and Vivisection in Edwardian England 
by Coral Lansbury.
University of Wisconsin Press, 212 pp., £23.50, November 1985, 0 299 10250 5
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‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English Working-Class Radicalism 
by John Belchem.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 19 822759 0
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... efficacy of individual attack’ is the quality Mary Stocks assigns to that very late Victorian, Eleanor Rathbone, and what Rathbone said of her father applied not only to herself but to many of her father’s contemporaries: ‘anything that savoured of irony and cynicism was repulsive to him.’ It was an outlook that owed much to Nonconformist and ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... went on all day to get the plane up again: dry stone walls were taken down, trees felled and gates widened, and the plane was stripped out and refuelled. If it was a miracle that the plane had got down it was even more so that it got up again, taking off in the late afternoon and just clearing the trees at the end of the field. A plane crash might have ...

The Groom Stripped Bare by His Suitor

Jeremy Harding: John Lennon, 4 January 2001

Lennon Remembers 
by Jann Wenner.
Verso, 151 pp., £20, October 2000, 1 85984 600 9
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... the issue is mediation, a lack of feeling or veracity in the fanciful little narratives – ‘Eleanor Rigby’ comes to mind – that stormed up the charts but had nothing to do with the business of speaking one’s mind and singing one’s soul. From this morass of trivia, apparently, the new, discerning Lennon rescues his best songs, his ...

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