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John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... in this respect with the pre-Portnoy, and much more reserved, My friend says it’s bulletproof by Penelope Mortimer. But Tit for Tat has none of Roth’s or Jong’s jollity – the secrets are dirtier and much more frightening. Bargate’s narrative tone is traumatised and post-operative. What literary flourishes she offers are flattened by the ...

Adulterers’ Distress

Philip Horne, 21 July 1983

A Nail on the Head 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 135 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 241 11001 7
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New Stories 8: An Arts Council Anthology 
edited by Karl Miller.
Hutchinson, 227 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 9780091523800
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The Handyman 
by Penelope Mortimer.
Allen Lane, 199 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1364 9
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Open the Door 
by Rosemary Manning.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 224 02112 5
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A Boy’s Own Story 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 218 pp., £2.50, July 1983, 0 330 28151 8
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... of science and art’ that Dr Sacks’s conclusion hopes for, is immediately followed by Penelope Fitzgerald’s unhurried but rapid and suggestive ‘The Prescription’, an enigmatic fable set in 19th-century Istanbul which confronts traditional medicine and medical ethics with the new and ambitious ‘science’ of psychoanalysis. Both pieces are ...

What a carry-on

Seamus Perry: W.S. Graham, 18 July 2019

W.S. Graham: New Selected Poems 
edited by Matthew Francis.
Faber, 144 pp., £12.99, September 2018, 978 0 571 34844 2
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W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Hofmann.
NYRB, 152 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 1 68137 276 1
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... fact he rather looked down on it: ‘Happiness has never been one of my great aspirations.’ When Penelope Mortimer arrived to interview him for the Observer magazine in 1978, she could barely cross the threshold. Dunsmuir calmly explained that ‘the front door had been off its hinges for some time and it was difficult to get things fixed.’ Graham’s ...

Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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1990 
by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... writers.’ So into the witness-box come successively Edna O’Brien, Margaret Drabble, Penelope Mortimer, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch. In the case of three, perhaps four, of the witnesses nothing is said about how they give their evidence. In the two years that Rebecca West was contributing to the Clarion, 1912 and 1913, she seldom wrote about ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... young men or even small boys. But he had also begun to live a double life, sidelining his wife, Penelope Chetwode, a field marshal’s daughter (whom he nicknamed ‘Philth’) in favour of his mistress, the Hon. Elizabeth Cavendish, a duke’s sister (‘Phoeble’). He had met her at dinner in 1951, when she was 25, describing ‘my new friend’ to a ...

From culture to couture

Penelope Gilliatt, 21 February 1985

The ‘Vogue’ Bedside Book 
edited by Josephine Ross.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 09 158520 1
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The Art of Zandra Rhodes 
by Anne Knight and Zandra Rhodes.
Cape, 240 pp., £18, November 1984, 0 395 37940 7
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... the West finished if he had seen it. So one goes back to British Vogue. A witty piece by John Mortimer: a QC of his calibre is a born interviewer, of course, though it took editors years to cotton on to the idea. Among the short stories, I struck old memories of Brendan Behan. Before he was discovered by Joan Littlewood, he used to wander into my office ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Mrs Oliphant, 16 July 2020

... translations); she was also a regular reviewer for Blackwood’s. It was a ‘fighting life’, in Penelope Fitzgerald’s words; Oliphant called it ‘an immoral, or at least an un-moral, mode of life, dashing forward in the face of all obstacles and taking up all burdens with a kind of levity, as if my strength and resource could never fail’. Her ...

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