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World’s End

John Sutherland, 1 October 1987

The Day of Creation 
by J.G. Ballard.
Gollancz, 254 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 575 04152 8
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The Playmaker 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 310 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 340 34154 8
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In the Skin of a Lion 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Secker, 244 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 436 34009 7
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The House of Hospitalities 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 184 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 670 81501 2
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... detract from the book’s extraordinary sensitivity and sure touch in historical reconstruction. Emma Tennant is the least predictable of novelists. Her last effort, The Adventures of Robina, recalled the perils of adolescence and sexual initiation in the late 1950s (a decade in which the author is clearly very interested) using the antique burlesque of ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland, 18 December 1980

Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... forest again, to fall down ‘the red hole in the earth’. Regeneration is obscurely forecast. Tennant clearly shares with Malcolm Bradbury the belief that 1957 marks the fall in recent British history. She could also be taken to bear out Bradbury’s other, more controversial contention: that there is a Modernist tradition which matters in post-war ...

Mythic Elements

Stephen Bann, 30 December 1982

Queen of Stones 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 160 pp., £6.95, November 1982, 0 224 02601 1
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 
by William Kotzwinkle, based on a screenplay by Melissa Mathison.
Arthur Barker, 246 pp., £6.95, November 1982, 0 213 16848 0
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Tales of Afghanistan 
by Amina Shah.
Octagon Press, 128 pp., £6.50, November 1982, 0 900860 94 4
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The Masque of St Eadmundsburg 
by Humphrey Morrison.
Blond and Briggs, 228 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 85634 127 4
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A Villa in France 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 575 03103 4
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Collected Stories: Vol. III 
by Sean O’Faolain.
Constable, 422 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 09 463920 5
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Work Suspended and Other Stories 
by Evelyn Waugh.
Penguin, 318 pp., £2.75, November 1982, 0 14 006518 0
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... In order to envisage the curious achievement of Emma Tennant’s Queen of Stones, you must first imagine that Virginia Woolf has rewritten Lord of the Flies. Interior monologues and painfully acute perceptions of a seaside landscape combine to colour in what is essentially a tale of a group of girls wrecked on a desert island ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: It's a size thing, 19 September 1985

... V.S. Pritchett is encountered in ‘a handsome terrace to the north of Regent’s Park’, and Emma Tennant in ‘a comfortably and attractively bruised Victorian house off Ladbroke Grove’. Russell Hoban’s ‘terraced house’ is also ‘comfortable’ but it seems to be a shade down-market, ‘fronting Eel Brook Common’. Salman Rushdie’s ...

Landlocked

Lorna Sage: Henry Green, 25 January 2001

Romancing: The Life and Work of Henry Green 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 340 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 571 16898 1
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... with the help. Loving, for instance, reverses the Maud/ Mabel set-up, with Anglo-Irish nobs Mrs Tennant and her careless, adulterous daughter-in-law Mrs Jack playing bit parts in the lives of their servants. The plot stages an ingenious double-take: Mrs Jack is caught in flagrante by the maid bringing in her breakfast, because what the servants see ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... that he was a genius, that he had built an ark and saved the world.’ Ted Hughes, as quoted by Emma Tennant, weighs in on ‘Nappies’: ‘“I can’t change nappies,” Ted said. It was clear that this wasn’t a failure of skills which he regretted; he was saying he can’t and won’t; and yet I’ve not asked him to do this, nor – if he had ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric Shepherd: A Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... farm mentioned in the poem was later the site of a castle, and that ‘the 20th-century novelist Emma Tennant’ spent some of her childhood there. Miller reads the work in a similar way. Hogg’s early dramatic tales have ‘the interest of their anticipations’; All-Hallow Eve ‘is predictive of what he went on to write’. What he went on to ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... of his complex juggling of simultaneous affairs, a number of which had already been revealed by Emma Tennant in her memoir, Burnt Diaries (1999), and by Elaine Feinstein in her biography of Hughes from 2001. Like his hero Robert Graves, Hughes tirelessly pursued the White Goddess, or the Goddess of Complete Being as he called her in his study of ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen Koss, 5 July 1984

Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... Christened Emma after her mother, whose later influence upon her was slight, the 11th of Sir Charles Tennant’s 15 children – three were born after he had remarried at the age of 75 – was to become famous and indeed notorious as Margot. W.E. Gladstone, allegedly more captivated by the challenge of the rhyme than by the personality of the 25-year-old woman who visited him at Hawarden in 1889, composed four stanzas of decidedly un-Homeric verse, each revolving around her name: ‘Though young and though fair, who can hold such a cargo/Of all the good qualities going as Margot?’ George Curzon, a Soulmate nearer her own age, was moved that same year to proclaim that, however ‘wide you may wander and far go ...

Oh! – only Oh!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Burne-Jones, 9 February 2012

The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 629 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 571 22861 4
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... tapestries after Ned’s designs, for example, and to teach George Du Maurier’s wife, Emma, how to join her in cutting woodblocks from which their husbands’ illustrations could be printed. But these efforts amounted to little. Though the Memorials make clear that Georgie regretted her exclusion from the studio, it isn’t clear how much this ...

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