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‘What a man this is, with his crowd of women around him!’

Hilary Mantel: Springtime for Robespierre, 30 March 2000

Robespierre 
edited by Colin Haydon and William Doyle.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £35, July 1999, 0 521 59116 3
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... For a time, early last year, there was no trace of Robespierre to be found on the street where he lived in the days of his fame. The restaurant called Le Robespierre had closed its doors, and after a while its portrait sign was removed from above the entrance of the house on the rue Saint-Honoré. Once again, the plaque on the wall had been smashed ...

Resentment

John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

Francesca 
by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... sometimes calls himself. Francesca recalls Great Expectations. The grammar-school boy hero, Colin Ferguson, is the son of a self-improved, atheist, socialist, environmentalist schoolmaster father. The characterisations are as easy to take apart as lego, each piece a pet Scruton peeve. A sensitive youth, given to swooning when his problems press, ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré, 3 December 2015

John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... it seems le Carré toned his father down. Ronnie Cornwell was, according to Alan Clark’s brother Colin (one of his many victims), ‘the best conman ever’: I had never seen anyone who looked so trustworthy in my life. He was your favourite uncle, your family doctor, Bob Boothby and Father Christmas all rolled into one. He was stout and beaming with white ...

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