Friday, 28 May 2010


What better way to start a bank holiday weekend than skipping merrily to the tube station clutching advance copies of the four new Capuchins.

Arrived in our office this week and appearing in bookshops a few weeks hence, are:

Peking Picnic, Maurice Guest, The Man who Loved Children and The Unbearable Bassington. Of the four, I'm most excited by Peking Picnic, as the Chinese setting promises to be exotic, and the story - of intense passions and a clash of cultures - sounds as if it will make an interesting comparison to A Passage to India.

I'll write my holiday reading report next week.


Thursday, 27 May 2010


Firstly, apologies for the blogless vacuum of the past couple of weeks; I have to plead the general pressure of work as the cause. I hope you blog consumers are still out there.

I've recently read and greatly enjoyed two series of children's books written by Christopher Priestley. The 'Tales of Terror' books are supernatural gothic (albeit somewhat ironically so) stories in the grand tradition, featuring grisly murders, unquiet spirits and mysterious narrators, while the books starring Tom Marlowe are delicious 18th century murder mysteries in which young Tom and his Sherlock Holmes-like mentor track down the perpetrators of ingenious crimes. The Marlowe books are full of wonderful period detail, very stylishly written and imaginatively plotted. The elegant, concise illustrations that enhance the experience of reading these stories are also the work of the author.

One often reads somewhat pompous comments by literary reviewers condemning the practice of adults reading books for younger readers (these pronouncements were especially prevalent when a new Harry Potter came out), but I have always, and will, as far as I can tell, continue to derive great pleasure from books of all types for all ages.

I've reverted to grown-up reading now, and will tell you all about it next time.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010


In April 2009 I wrote about a new publisher who was exhibiting at the London Book Fair, Peirene Press. This publisher, dedicated to producing beautiful English language editions of modern European literature, is now launching their second book, Stone in a Landslide, by Maria Barbal, translated from the Catalan.

Apart from being attracted to the design and content of Peirene's books, I feel an affinity with their mission to shed light on great writing which fashion and circumstance have obscured, and wish them the best of fortune in their enterprise.


Monday, 10 May 2010


Having nearly finished Herbert Read's Green Child, I'm struck by the resonances it has with the recent national ballot, of which you may have heard.

Half of the book describes how, having been mistaken for a political agent, the narrator plans and executes the downfall of a fictitious South American régime and replaces it with a benevolent dictatorship, albeit one guided by highly idealistic moral principles. Here's a passage with which, I would guess, not all politicians of the various hues would agree:
The state must be incorruptible, or, as we might say, armed against sedition. Sedition is only provoked by injustice, but injustice implies not only the failure to administer the laws established for the common good, but also the existence of unimpeachable injustices, chief of which is the inequality of wealth.

Politics is of course not a stranger to works of literary fiction, from Anthony Trollope's epic Palliser chronicles through to, for example, Michael Dobbs' satirical novels, so brilliantly televised in the 1990's. We're very pleased to have re-introduced Mr. Read's classic novel to this genre.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Thanks again to Val Hennessy and her splendid Retro Reads column in The Daily Mail. On April 30th Val featured our newly released edition of The Knot of Vipers, by François Mauriac. In this novel the author - a Nobel Prize winner from 1952 - explores the family and the Catholic soul with profound and moving insight, telling the story of an embittered man setting out to leave a poisonous letter to his family as his legacy, and examining and revising his feelings in the process.

Although most of the Capuchin books are by British authors, we're keen to include suitable titles from foreign writers who deserve a wider audience in English. Several publishers have carried out very fine work in recent years to produce attractive new editions of such literature, helping to coax British readers into a better awareness of writing from other countries.