Shylock Is My Name


Read 24/04/2016-26/04/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness challenge.

I haven’t read The Merchant of Venice. I suppose this might have put me at a disadvantage in reading Howard Jacobson’s retelling of the play.

I’ve also not read any Howard Jacobson before. When I opened the book, I didn’t know what his style would be. I ended up enjoying it, despite initial misgivings. It’s a cheeky chappy style, but with depth. He put me in mind of Michael Frayn. I enjoyed the way he peeled away the layers of the issues with which he concerned himself in the book. Continue reading


Random thought: Una Stubbs loves Crime and Punishment too

I love Una Stubbs. Forget those silly boys dashing about London solving mysteries, she makes Sherlock for me.

She’s more than Mrs Hudson, though. She’s the cheeky foil to Cliff Richard who knows how to dance. She’s an expert at charades. Her episode of Who Do You Think You Are is one of the best they’ve ever done.

She’s in The Guardian today doing the Q&A. Quite aside from learning she despises Tony Blair, I love her even more today because she knows that you don’t need a fancy pants education to read Crime and Punishment (have I mentioned that it’s my favourite book in the world? Oh, I have?).


The Pursuit of Love


Read 19/04/2016-21/04/2016

Rating: 4 stars

At first, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy The Pursuit of Love as much as I did Love in a Cold Climate. It seemed very frivolous and silly, even bearing in mind it’s by Nancy Mitford. Although I already knew the characters from the second book in the series, I felt they weren’t very well fleshed out at the start of this book. I think I was expecting them to be more clearly defined as characters, as this was the book in which Mitford introduces them. Continue reading

Book Review: Japanese Society by Chie Nakane

I was reminded of this book today, while discussing Colourless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage over on The Reader’s Room. Here’s a review I wrote on my Japanophile blog.


Japanese Society by Professor Chie Nakane was a ground breaking book when first published in 1972, and has been cited in many books that followed it. It needs updating to take into account the changes in Japan that have happened over the past 40+ years, but its scope and anthropological investigative style means it’s still worth reading today.

I read the Pelican edition, which came out in 1973. I picked it up because I was interested in the perception that the Japanese are different to Westerners, and in how popular Western tropes of Japanese people being hard working, company loyal, and socially rigid in behaviour and levels of language had become so entrenched in Western thinking. I found the book to be full of interesting background to the development of Japanese society and why the Japanese behave the way they do in comparison to other nations, and found the social anthropology…

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Sons and Lovers


Read 07/04/2016-16/04/2016

Rating: 3 stars

LibraryThing review

Oh my good lord, that took longer than it should have. I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half flowed well, but the second half got bogged down in self-indulgent twaddle, with only the odd chink of light to relieve the monotony of Paul Morel’s inner ruminations. I found myself easily distracted over the past week or so, as I ploughed my way through the second half of the book.

My first encounter with D H Lawrence was in sixth form, oh so many years ago, when I read The Rainbow. I remember very little about it, other than that I didn’t really enjoy it, get it, see the point, whatever. Perhaps I was too young and inexperienced in life. Whatever it was I didn’t grasp about the book, it left me with the idea that Lawrence was boring. Oh, the teenage dismissal of everything not understood as boring! Continue reading

3 Days, 3 Quotes: Day 2 – The Edible Woman

This is my second post in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes series that came out of a nomination by Weezelle.

Today’s quote is from The Edible Woman.

She felt them, their identities, almost their substance, pass over her head like a wave. At some time she would be — or no, already she was like that too; she was one of them, her body the same, identical, merged with that other flesh that choked the air in the flowered room with its sweet organic scent; she felt suffocated by this thick sargasso-sea of femininity.

The Edible Woman is the first book I read by Margaret Atwood. It was a life changing book for me, because I felt recognised. I think it was the first time I experienced that with a work of literature. It was a new experience of reading for me.

Continue reading