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Who is Laura?

Susannah Clapp, 3 December 1981

Olivia 
by Olivia.
Hogarth, 109 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 7012 0177 0
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... in London. Rosamond Lehmann had praised it; Leonard Woolf wanted to publish it. The story was Olivia; the author, anonymous on publication in 1949, was Dorothy Strachey Bussy, Lytton Strachey’s sister. Olivia is a piece of spirited homage, by a woman both spirited and prone to homage. Dorothy Strachey had ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... wide-ranging study since Holbrook Jackson’s The Eighteen Nineties. John Harwood’s biography of Olivia Shakespear is elegant and thorough. She was one of that aspiring multitude whose fate it was and is to add to the unthinkably vast piles of unread, unremembered novels; hers are discussed here, but it is for her association with Yeats that she is now ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning, 9 February 2006

Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... novels nowadays are just travel books,’ Ivy Compton-Burnett grumbled to Barbara Pym in 1960. ‘Olivia has just published one about Bulgaria.’ She hadn’t noticed that the setting of The Great Fortune is in fact Romania. But she had a point. Journeys, voluntary and enforced, are big in Olivia Manning’s ...

Diary

Michael Taussig: In Colombia, 5 October 2006

... All that is left of a person is their name,’ Olivia Mostacilla told me during my month in Colombia, the first time I’d been back in two years. She wasn’t referring to the paramilitary massacres, which have stopped in the past few months because of the on-going ‘demobilisation’ of the paras organised by President Uribe’s government, but to the craze for plastic surgery, especially the variety known as lipo-escultura or ‘fat sculpture ...

Lobsters do not have eyelashes!

Joanna Biggs: Nell Freudenberger, 8 February 2007

The Dissident 
by Nell Freudenberger.
Picador, 427 pp., £14.99, March 2007, 978 0 330 49343 7
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... of the car he was driving. Max had told the police that he wanted to kill himself. The daughter, Olivia, has come back from a school trip to France thinner and with a new best friend, Emily. ‘At school some people think we’re bitches,’ Olivia explains to Cece, ‘but we’re not. It’s that we don’t like to be ...

Cityscape with Figures

Julian Symons, 21 August 1980

The Great Fortune, The Spoilt City, Friends and Heroes 
by Olivia Manning.
Penguin, 287 pp., £1.25, March 1980, 0 14 003543 5
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... but in the end Waugh’s work belongs within the realistic tradition of the English novel. So does Olivia Manning’s Balkan trilogy, which is the only other lengthy attempt by an English novelist to handle part of World War Two as a theme. (Anthony Powell’s three relevant volumes in The Music of Time are too closely woven into the rest of the series to be ...

Fortunes of War

Graham Hough, 6 November 1980

The Sum of Things 
by Olivia Manning.
Weidenfeld, 203 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 297 77816 1
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The Viceroy of Ouidah 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01820 5
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The Sooting Party 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 241 10473 4
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An Ancient Castle 
by Robert Graves.
Owen, 69 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 7206 0567 9
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... The title of Olivia Manning’s last book, from Housman’s heroic-ironic epitaph on an earlier war, announces a summing-up: the last volume of a trilogy, the trilogy itself the continuation of a previous one; the final flowing out to sea of a roman-fleuve of six volumes, completed just before the author’s death ...

Lost Daughters

Tessa Hadley: Kate Atkinson’s latest, 23 September 2004

Case Histories: A Novel 
by Kate Atkinson.
Doubleday, 304 pp., £16.99, September 2004, 0 385 60799 7
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... in the end. Perhaps the strongest story is of the Land family, whose youngest child, Olivia, disappeared one summer’s morning from a tent in the garden, leaving no clue. Jackson is consulted thirty years later by two of Olivia’s sisters; Blue Mouse, a stuffed toy in whom ...

Simplicity

Marilyn Butler: What Jane Austen Read, 5 March 1998

Jane Austen: A Life 
by David Nokes.
Fourth Estate, 578 pp., £20, September 1997, 1 85702 419 2
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Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 341 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 670 86528 1
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... Maria Edgeworth’s epistolary novel Leonora (1806). In Edgeworth the Lady Susan character is Lady Olivia, a sophisticated Englishwoman long domiciled in France, who has separated from her husband, acquired a lover and left her daughter while she visits an old schoolfriend in England. Though advised that she is a ‘coquette’, Leonora and her husband take ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... increases with the arrival of Francesca (Miles’s sister) to recuperate after her illness, and of Olivia (Benjy’s sister), who has been invited to spend the summer at Bly before going up to Cambridge. The screw turns and after 33 years of unblemished bookishness Miles turns to screwing. He sleeps with Benjy, which proves a revelation, and one night, when ...

I like you

Hermione Lee: Boston Marriage, 24 May 2007

Between Women: Friendship, Desire and Marriage in Victorian England 
by Sharon Marcus.
Princeton, 356 pp., £12.95, March 2007, 978 0 691 12835 1
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... a perfect example.) Marcus ends by quoting from A Room of One’s Own the sentence, ‘Chloe liked Olivia,’ which Virginia Woolf gave as an example of the kind of sentence she wanted to see more of in women’s fiction, for so long dominated by women only ‘in their relation to men’. It’s a sentence, Marcus observes, that has been milked for lesbian ...

She wore Isabel Marant

Joanna Biggs: Literary London, 2 August 2018

Crudo 
by Olivia Laing.
Picador, 140 pp., £12.99, June 2018, 978 1 5098 9283 9
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... it may be the only way of getting things done. The existence of Crudo, the first novel by Olivia Laing, who has written three books of non-fiction, was first announced on Twitter on 1 August 2017: Tipsy over dinner, I have come up with a quartet of novels which I am going to write in the first year of the next four decades. Or forget entirely by ...

Working under Covers

Paul Laity: Mata Hari, 8 January 2004

Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War 
by Tammy Proctor.
New York, 205 pp., $27, June 2003, 0 8147 6693 5
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... is rumoured to be portraying Mata Hari in a Robert Altman TV film, and Helen Fielding has created Olivia Joules, in her Bond-parody follow-up to Bridget Jones, Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination.† There’s nothing of the Amazon about Olivia: she’s a curvy blonde, wears ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’, 6 August 2009

Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... turns out, is betrothed to another, the Quakerish, quivering and ever sincere Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). For the rest of the film, although she marries three other men (the first out of pique, the second out of necessity), Scarlett nurses her ardour for Ashley, convinced that he feels the same way about her, and is restrained only by his sense ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... into the air and write their lyrics. ‘Writers, even the most socially gifted and established,’ Olivia Laing writes in The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink (Canongate, £20), ‘must be outsiders of some sort, if only because their job is that of scrutiniser and witness.’ Her book is an elegant rumination on what it is that leads writers to take up ...

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