Here’s a roundup of what I’ve had my nose stuck in lately:
Ned gave me this book about ‘Private Eye’ for Christmas, and I’ve loved reading it. More than the story of the magazine, it’s social history, political commentary, full of brilliant anecdotes and jokes – and underlines the need for satire and the important role a cheap-looking, poorly-printed fortnightly magazine can have in keeping the establishment in line.
There’s so much to love in ‘His Last Duchess’. A heroine who is unashamedly sexual. A baddie who makes perfect psychological sense. Drama, detail, art. (And, knitting-fact fans, a small appearance by the woman who, in the scarlet stockings she was buried in, provides the first known instance of a deliberate purl stitch. Unaccountably, the author did not weave this crucial historical fact into the narrative.)
After seeing Jane Austen’s writing desk at the British Library, I went back to (possibly) my favourite, ‘Mansfield Park.’ This book never ceases to amaze me: the brilliance of the way poverty and wealth, man and woman, love and lust, reality and artifice, come up against each other at every turn. Plus, you’ve got to love a bit of business in a ha-ha.
And finally, here we have a feminist polemic with a lot of jokes about knickers. What’s not to like? Nothing. Caitlin Moran is funny, intelligent, and spot-on in her observations. (Women are not letting the side down if they hire a cleaner because women did not invent dust. Yes, it’s that simple.) Even if you don’t think you need to read a feminist book… even if you think you’ve got it all sorted… there will be a gem in here, somewhere, for you.