Mail review

The paperback isn’t officially released till next month, but the Daily Mail have already done a kind review


Amateurs In Eden by Joanna Hodgkin

Hodgkin’s mother Nancy, a beautiful but passive young artist, married the egotistical, jealous writer Lawrence Durrell (author of The Alexandria Quartet) and embarked upon a relationship marked by condescension and abuse.

A brief period when they lived with the eccentric Durrell clan in Corfu brought Nancy some joy, but it was short-lived, especially after the birth of their daughter.

Although Hodgkin is the child of Nancy’s second, successful, marriage, she has mined her mother’s memoirs and verbal  accounts to paint this devastating portrait of a dysfunctional partnership, with a cast list of bohemian artists and writers adding to the chaotic period drama.

Not quite sure what has happened to the side of the cover, but it is heartening. Very short reviews are harder to write than longer ones, in my experience.

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St James’s Park in snow

And just to be right up to date for once. I took these this morning in St James’s Park – Buckingham Palace looking moody, and a bunch of pigeons looking downright depressed. I know snow is inconvenient and people suffer and all the rest, but I never get tired of the way everything is transformed. Even pigeons.

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Vauxhall heli-crash

I took this picture last week, just after the helicopter hit the crane at the top of the tall building – I can see it from my work desk, but luckily did not see the actual accident, – horrific, but still amazing there were only two deaths. It’s such a busy spot.

Vauxhall tower

Vauxhall tower

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Forgetting a Revolutionary

Radio 4 have just managed to squeeze in a centenary programme about LD by putting one out just before his 101 birthday. It was on yesterday morning, with the title ‘Forgetting a revolutionary’ and was presented by Tim Marlow, who was born 7  years after Justine was published and was full of enthusiasm and good insights, some his, and others from Joanna Kavenna and Charles Sligh, though 30 minutes did not seem long enough at all. But he did track down some great quotes. One from Miller, who apparently got fed up with his ‘sexual buccaneer’ image and insisted that, ‘My books aren’t about sex, they’re about liberation.’

And LD trying to explain why sex was so important to him, to a somewhat baffled Malcolm Muggeridge: ‘Art is really the final act of love.’ But best of all was his answer to a slightly daft question from a literary interviewer who wanted to know if he thought the mid twentieth century had been a good time to be a writer. He replied a little wearily, ‘Every time is a good time to be a writer.’ A good programme with a fresh approach. And available for the next five days or so.

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My favourite Christmas shopping quote so far this year, overheard in a toy department of a big store – a French woman on her mobile phone, ‘I’ve bought Peppa Pig for Phaedre, so she’s okay … ’ (sounded even better in French) – which leads to a whole raft of possibilities: Fireman Sam for Theseus, My Little Pony for Ariadne, Lego for Hipploytus … the Classics are reborn.

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