It was the memory of a memory by now—the hallmark of happiness, that scene

Review: In a Summer Season, by Elizabeth Taylor

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In the mood for some Victober

Hello, lovely readers, Victober is a challenge hosted by Kate Howe, Katie from Books and Things, Ange from Beyond the Pages, and Lucy the Reader. Their goal is to read as much Victorian literature as they can in the month of October – by that they understand any book published from 1837-1901 in the UK. There are five ‘challenges,’ which can be mixed,…

We don’t have the more refined illnesses here

Dear Sofia, Reading your novel City Folk and Country Folk, translated by Nora Seligman Favorov (Городские и деревенские, 1863), feels like following a deceptively simple pattern with the tip of our fingers: we can cherish it for its softness to the touch; or we can look further into its intricacy, and admire the way the…

Sofia Khvoshchinskaya

Sofia Khvoshchinskaya (Софья Дмитриевна Хвощинская, 1824–1865) was a Russian writer, translator and painter. She studied at St. Catherine Moscow Institute. Sofia published fiction and social commentary, and wrote under the pseudonym Ivan Vesenev. Books City Folk and Country Folk, tr.  Nora Seligman Favorov, 2017 (Городские и деревенские, 1863)  

We are more porous than we know

Dear Emily, Although centred around a murder, your debut novel Idaho (2017) does not revolve around the questions of who might have done it or why; yours is much more a book about atmosphere; a collection of first impressions and lost tracks, crossed through by the motif of loss. In the middle of summer, on…

Emily Ruskovich

Emily Ruskovich is an American writer. She graduated from the University of Montana and received an MA in English from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was the 2011–2012 James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope, One Story, and The…

Trespassing on one’s own ground

Dear Monica, The atmosphere in your novel Mariana (1940) feels like a bright surface tinted by an added layer of nostalgia, and a pervading sense of loss. Like a moss-covered surface, damp to the touch, but, for that very reason, very much alive. When the book opens, Mary Shannon is spending a weekend alone with…

Monica Dickens

Monica Enid Dickens (10 May 1915 – 25 December 1992) was an English writer. After being expelled from St Paul’s Girls’ School, in London, she went into domestic service, and worked as cook and general servant. She then worked as a nurse and in an aircraft factory. Later, she became a regular columnist for the local newspaper Hertfordshire Express and for the British…

The girl is a peasant warrior

Dear Xiaolu, Your book Nine Continents (2017, also published in the UK with the title Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up) is less a memoir than a collection of your personal myths. And it is a book about the transformative nature of art; about art as a means to escape,…

Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo (simplified Chinese: 郭小橹; traditional Chinese: 郭小櫓; pinyin: Guō Xiǎolǔ, 1973) is a British-Chinese novelist and film-maker. She studied at the Beijing Film Academy, and moved to London in 2002. Books Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up (memoir, 2017) Also published in the United States with the title Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China (2017) I am China (novel, 2014) Lovers…

A product of the interplay of traveled hearts

The Heart of a Woman The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn, As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on, Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home. The heart of a woman falls back with the night, And enters…

Georgia Douglas Johnson

Georgia Douglas Johnson (Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp Johnson, September 10, 1880 – May 14, 1966) was an African-American poet and playwright. She graduated from Atlanta University’s Normal School, and attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and the Cleveland College of Music. She wrote music from 1898 until 1959, and worked as assistant principal in a public school in Atlanta. In 1965,…