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Going up to Heaven

Susan Pedersen: Before the Pill

28 May 2009
Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain 1918-60 
by Kate Fisher.
Oxford, 294 pp., £24, May 2008, 978 0 19 954460 8
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For Their Own Good: The Transformation of English Working-Class Health Culture, 1880-1970 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Ohio State, 409 pp., £64.95, October 2008, 978 0 8142 1094 9
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... hundreds of pre-coital scenes any post-1960s moviegoer would have seen, how many include breathless last-minute exchanges about birth control? When Angelina and Brad lurch towards the bed, when Kate and Leo sink to the floor, they never, ever, stop to say: ‘Let me put the thing in’ – or ‘on’. The 193 elderly, mostly working-class English women and men whose recollections form the raw ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Reynolds’s theatrical portraits

7 July 2005
... Lucian Freud (who in his prices, subjects and reputation is the closest thing we have to a dominant face-painter of Reynolds’s calibre) paints the Queen (as Reynolds painted the Prince of Wales) or Kate Moss undressed (as Reynolds painted Kitty Fisher), it is not the power of his canvases to match the glamour evoked by the written and spoken word which first strikes us, but their resemblance or lack ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson

22 October 2014
Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... create a religious or a non-secular protagonist in a novel without making a dog’s dinner out of the book? Some people, such as Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Chinua Achebe, Georges Bernanos, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Gee, Brian Moore and Andrew O’Hagan, have made a big effort. Others, such as James Joyce, have managed to weave religion into a larger fabric, with all the sheer drama of faith ...

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