Author Archives: Timothy

November 10

Great Narrative Poems of the Nineteenth Century

I know I’m pushing the ball uphill to convince people to try narrative poetry, but let’s give it a shot! In the 19th Century, the way of showing you were a wordsmith on the modern pop hit level was to write long poems, with stories in them, about passionate people doing foolish things. Many them […]

November 03

Nostalgic for Eighties crime, racism and sexism? Les Norton might be the hero you want.

The Les Norton books by Robert G. Barrett remind me of the early Bond novels, in that they are basically about a reactionary guy who can punch people who represent social change, and then have sex with their girlfriends. Those of you who are Bond fans may object: but in the movies he’s a lot […]

October 20

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote comedies of manners, and the material for Cranford was originally serialized. This means that each chapter is self-contained, much like a short story, and so the book has clear stopping points for light reading. Gaskell also had a side line in ghost stories. She and Dickens even collaborated on a mosaic novel. […]

October 13

How to have a good day by Caroline Webb

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, so why not try to make working nicer? Caroline Webb’s book on the psychology of workplace contentment is appealing, because many writers in this field come from a spiritual direction, offering vapid affirmations. Webb is more practical. Webb tries, with far great rigor than is usual, […]

October 06

Acerbic cosy murder

One of the wonderful things about the sudden boom in audiobooks is that series which have previously filled little literary niches can find a new audience. MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin stories have been made into BBC Radio plays, which are available through one of our audiobook suppliers, and into single-narrator readings, which are available through […]

September 29

The bravest, handsomest man in Napoleon’s army. Only his modesty prevents him from telling you so.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, but he has another hero. A dashing hero. A man unmatched with the blade. A man of unparalleled attraction to the ladies. A man whose modesty is unsurpassed. Brigadier Etienne Gerard! Brigadier Gerard is tremendously conceited. That’s his charm. He may be brave, […]

September 22

Can you write a comedy where all of the characters are toffee-nosed Nazis? Nancy Mitford gives it a go.

Well, that was unexpected… Nancy Mitford was an English satirist during the interwar years, who wrote comedies of manners. She’s best known today for Love in a Cold Climate, which mentally I always tangle with Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, so I was bound to be surprised. I went into Wigs on the Green […]

September 07

Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris

I hesitated to listen to these stories: I’d heard they were racist. I’m OK with working through that sort of material, but was looking for something lighter, so it floated down my listening stack. It’s more complicated than that though… Joel Chandler Harris was a white guy who collected stories in the antebellum South of […]

Revolution cover crop July 19

Podcasters with books

I’ve been deep diving on podcasts recently, so that means I have less to say about books than is usual at my turn.  That being said, many of my favorite podcasters have books in our collection. Let’s work through some of my favorite podcasts with tie-in books, and please add yours in the comments. Dear […]

June 09

Frostiana: a curio for history fans and Doctor Who completists

Recently I watched Thin Ice, a Doctor Who episode set during the final Thames Frost Fair. I knew a book had been printed on the ice, and wanted to track it down. Frostiana is the sort of short, thrown together work you get when someone desperately wants to cash in on a sudden burst of […]