Margaret Thatcher and the books of her time

I blogged about Margaret Thatcher and the music of her time and have seen quite a few articles since then about the British pop music scene of that era. One should recall the books, too. It was a grand time for booklovers.

P.G. Wodehouse died in 1975, but one could look forward to new books by  John le Carre, Len Deighton, P.D. James, Colin Dexter, Ruth Rendell, Gerald Durrell and a phalanx of literary fiction.

[Read more...]

World War II in books and films

Here's September 1 one day late: September 1, 1939, written by WH Auden in New York when Germany invaded Poland, starting the Second World War.

The war produced epic novels and movies. Casablanca was made in 1942, the year America joined the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Brief Encounter was made in 1945, From Here to Eternity in 1953.

[Read more...]

Financial dailies’ Net readers & Booker longlist

The Financial Times had 149,047 digital subscribers at the end of June, up 27 per cent year on year and 17,000 up from January, reports the Guardian in an interview with the Financial Times' chief executive, John Ridding.

The Wall Street Journal, in contrast, had 400,000 online paid subscriptions as of March 2010, says Wikpedia, citing a New York Times report.

And now about books: The 2010 Man Booker longlist is out. Interest will pick up when the shortlist is announced on September 7. Two-time winner Peter Carey (Oscar and Lucinda, 1988; True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001) is in the race for the £50,000 prize again.

[Read more...]

Wolf Hall: A Booker winner for story lovers

 Hilary_mantel
There's nothing arty farty about Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. The 2009 Booker Prize winner is solid entertainment for anyone who loves a good story.

Set in the reign of Henry VIII, it charts the rise of Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith's son who becomes the king's most trusted adviser and the most powerful man in the kingdom.

Now why should that interest anyone except history buffs?

I was surprised by how contemporary it is.

There are no "forsooths" and "begorrahs" here, no archaisms to look up in the dictionary.

Mantel writes in modern English and yet recaptures the old England beautifully.

It's like a postcard from an exotic place. The lords and ladies wear doublets and gowns, shoot bows and arrows, and marry partners chosen by their parents before they are out of their teens — but they are no different from us in their feelings, impulses and motivations.

This is a book about politics, sex, intrigue and ambition.

Henry VIII's England is like a modern dictatorship. We see his deputy, Cromwell, draft new laws to stifle dissent and get them passed by parliament.

We see the religious persecution under Cromwell's predecessor, Sir Thomas More, who opposed the Reformation and imprisoned anyone found with an English translation of the Bible.

Yet the ruler himself, Henry VIII, wants to be loved by his people. And it is remarkable the devotion he inspires.

[Read more...]