Tag Archives: Oxford

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

DATE FINISHED: June 21st, 2012 

RATED: *****

SYNOPSIS:  Ludo is a child prodigy with a voracious thirst for knowledge; his mother, Sybilla (equally gifted), is trying to earn enough money for them to get by through mind-numbing, soul-destroying work, whilst finding the energy and inspiration to feed both of their appetites for language and literature. Sybilla tries to fill the father-shaped gap in Ludo’s life with a video of the Japanese classic, The Seven Samurai. But Ludo just wants a father, and as soon as he is old enough, determines to find one.

THOUGHTS:  At first told from Sybilla’s perspective, a torrent of thoughts and ideas are unleashed resulting in a slightly fragmented narrative mirroring the distracted concentration one imagines the harried mother of a (maddeningly voracious) child might experience. Sometimes sentences are left hanging mid-flow Read more of this post

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After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold

DATE FINISHED: June 14th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Margaret is recently married to a good man who – so far – has been understanding of her reluctance to fulfil her wifely duties. Margaret discovers a long-forgotten childhood journal and she suddenly realises that a whole chunk of her childhood memories are missing. The journal takes her back to a delightful summer where she was entertained by the young Rev James Jameson, a friend and colleague of her father’s at Oxford. How could those pleasant days have led to such unpleasant adult nightmares? Margaret is determined to dig out the truth…

THOUGHTS:  Arnold has based this novel, categorically, upon the relationship between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), and his child-muse Alice Liddell. Read more of this post

Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe

DATE FINISHED: March 31st, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: When Charles Dodgson meets the Liddell family he is quickly enchanted by one of their daughters Alice – future muse for the classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.  It’s a historical fact that after many photographs and years of friendship, Dodgson’s contact with the Liddells was brought abruptly to an end, and the pages of Dodgson’s personal diary from this period were removed.  Roiphe offers an interpretation of what might have happened…

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

White Stone Day by John MacLachlan Gray

DATE FINISHED: March 15th, 2011

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS: In Oxford, a young reverend finds amusement in entertaining his colleagues daughters with riddles, stories and photography. In London, a literally down at heel journalist finds himself investigating a séance only to receive an unexpected message from his deceased brother, followed by finding himself falsely imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. These disparate & seemingly unconnected storylines intertwine into a compelling period mystery.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post