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Household Sounds

Michael Irwin, 22 November 1979

The Old Jest 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp., £4.95
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The Goosefeather Bed 
by Diana Melly.
Duckworth, 139 pp., £5.95
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The Snow Man 
by Valerie Kershaw.
Duckworth, 159 pp., £5.95
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Spring Sonata 
by Bernice Rubens.
W.H. Allen, 215 pp., £4.94
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... case, it also gives a preliminary hint as to the scale of the task that the novelist has taken on. Jennifer Johnston has to provide sufficient information, directly or indirectly, to make accessible a locality, a period, and a political situation that many of her readers might take to be remote. She is also concerned – this does not emerge in the ...


John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... called for. Scruton and Wilson are teachers at the University of London and occasional novelists. Jennifer Johnston is a full-time professional who has won, or come close to winning, her profession’s highest prizes (though not the mass readership that sometimes goes with them). The Invisible Worm is a skilled exercise in narrative economy. It must be ...

Chonkin’s Vicissitudes

Graham Hough, 1 October 1981

Pretender to the Throne: The Further Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin 
by Vladimir Voinovich, translated by Richard Lourie.
Cape, 358 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 9780224019668
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The Temptation of Eileen Hughes 
by Brian Moore.
Cape, 224 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 224 01936 8
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Silver’s City 
by Maurice Leitch.
Secker, 181 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 436 24413 6
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The Christmas Tree 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 0 241 10673 7
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... the scene of a repressive childhood, somewhere to escape from. But this is incidental: it is not Jennifer Johnston’s theme. Her theme is a daunting one, from which it is hard to preserve a decent detachment, and it makes claims that by most readers will only grudgingly be acknowledged. Constance Keating, a woman of 40, finds she is dying of ...


Patricia Craig, 23 April 1987

A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... on the loose, and Republicans in trench coats resorting to extreme expedients. Fool’s Sanctuary, Jennifer Johnston’s new novel, or novella, rehearses these familiar elements, but imposes a new, somewhat wavering outline on them, as they float into the mind of an old woman savouring for the last time the poignancy of her past. Like Minnie McMahon in ...

Mythology in Bits

Tim Whitmarsh: Ancient Greek ‘Religion’, 20 December 2018

The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion 
edited by Esther Eidinow and Julia Kindt.
Oxford, 736 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 19 881017 9
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... Edmonds), passage rites (Sarah Hitch), household cults (Matthew Dillon) and magic (Sarah Iles Johnston). There are also signs of frustration with the old idea that ancient religions consisted solely of ritual acts and lacked any reflective dimension. Like many caricatures of the pre-Christian world, this misapprehension was rooted in a schematic ...


Adam Mars-Jones: Olga Tokarczuk, 5 October 2017

by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
Fitzcarraldo, 400 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 910695 43 2
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... opens with the potent introitus of take-off and closes with an amen descending into landing.’ Jennifer Croft​ ’s translation is exceptionally adventurous, as that passage shows, even if there are occasional awkwardnesses of word order and clashes of register. (To say, of Peter the First’s interest in anatomical specimens, that the tsar ‘got ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... here and there one can find contemporary poets tending the Duncan flame (Nathanial Mackey, Devin Johnston and Jennifer Moxley are three of them), theirs is a slender coterie. Jarnot begins her book with the warning that she has ‘refrained from deeper interpretations of the work in my interest to shape the book as ...

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