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Thomas Jones: Blurbs and puffs, 20 July 2006

... is easiest when X, Y and Z have been written by the same person. You see The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, remember how much you enjoyed Sarah Waters’s other books – it’s a no-brainer. And just in case you’re the kind of person who remembers the titles of novels more easily than the names of ...

Charging about in Brogues

Jenny Turner: Sarah Waters, 23 February 2006

The Night Watch 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 472 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 1 84408 246 6
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... of those muddy, confused old photographs has come alive and started to talk. The Night Watch is Sarah Waters’s fourth novel, her first to abandon the ‘frissony’, ‘pastiche’, ‘lesbo-Victorian’ theme developed, to great popular and critical success, in Tipping the Velvet (1998), Affinity (1999) and Fingersmith ...

Plottergeist

Thomas Jones: Sarah Waters, 9 July 2009

The Little Stranger 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 501 pp., £16.99, June 2009, 978 1 84408 601 6
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... other than a normal way for the patriarchs of a respectable middle-class family to behave. Sarah Waters’s novels – the first three set in the Victorian era, the more recent two in the 1940s – have always been interested in the ways in which English society has disposed of its more awkward or inconvenient members by locking them away in ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels, 31 October 2002

Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... Have you ever tried to write a Victorian novel? Here’s a beginning, with apologies to Sarah Waters and Michel Faber (and a nod to George MacDonald Fraser): London, 1860. November. A pea-souper billowing up from the flotsam bobbing in the Thames. The gas lamps already blearing. Good things of day begin to drowse ...

A Perfect Eel

Elaine Showalter: ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’, 21 June 2012

Lady Audley’s Secret 
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, edited by Lyn Pykett.
Oxford, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2012, 978 0 19 957703 3
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... or sometimes ‘neo-sensationalism’, whose exponents include A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters and Michel Faber. M.E. Braddon’s secrets would make a sensational novel of their own. Brought up and educated by her mother, she was ‘a keen, precocious and eclectic reader’ of Shakespeare, Scott, Byron, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray and ...

‘The Meeting of the Waters

John Barrell, 27 July 2017

... of a year beginning in late 2013, I found myself at five separate places called the Meeting of the Waters. The first was the confluence of the Greta and the Tees on the Rokeby estate in Teesdale, thought to have been named by Walter Scott after the song of that title by the Irish Romantic poet Thomas Moore. This was then the only place I knew of so named. Next ...

Joinedupwritingwithavengeance

Danny Karlin, 7 January 1993

Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West 
by M.B. Parkes.
Scolar, 327 pp., £55, September 1992, 0 85967 742 7
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... The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters; And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters. A roman numeral designates the stanza and initial capitals mark the beginnings of each line; other capitals (litterae notabiliores) highlight and personalise the names of the birds, in contrast to the other nouns, which describe the weather or organic ...

A good God is hard to find

James Francken: Jenny Diski, 4 January 2001

Only Human: A Divine Comedy 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 215 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 1 86049 839 6
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... Only Human rattles through the lives of Adam, Cain and Noah and retells the story of Abraham and Sarah. But the omniscient third-person narrative is interrupted; the novel’s central character is God and Diski lets her deity have a point of view. In extended monologues, God looks down on the world, judging the ‘happy, human family’: ‘What ...

Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire 
by Jessica Howell.
Cambridge, 238 pp., £75, October 2018, 978 1 108 48468 8
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... it was an atavistic fear then, and remains so now, despite its locus moving from pestilential waters, or the ‘bad air’ which gives the disease its name, to the bite of an infected anopheles mosquito. In 2009, at a conference in California, Bill Gates released a swarm of mosquitoes into the audience. ‘There is no reason,’ he said, ‘only poorer ...

Period Pain

Patricia Beer, 9 June 1994

Aristocrats 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 462 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7011 5933 2
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... many inferences about aristocracy as we can or wish to. The women are Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox, daughters of the second Duke of Richmond, the grandson of Charles II and his mistress Louise de Kéroualle. The main story starts with the birth of Caroline in 1723 and ends with the death of Sarah in 1826. About ...

At the tent flap sin crouches

James Wood: The Fleshpots of Egypt, 23 February 2006

The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 1064 pp., £34, November 2004, 0 393 01955 1
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... in the second verse of the opening of Genesis. ‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.’ Two uses of ‘face’ in one verse, and a third implied face, surely: God’s own, hovering over the face of his still uncreated world. The Almighty, looking into the face of his ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested WatersThe Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... make lists. In favour of ‘contemporary art’: Nicholas Serota (at the Tate), Charles Saatchi, Sarah Kent (Time Out), Richard Dorment (Daily Telegraph, oddly enough). Against: Modern Painters, Brian Sewell (Evening Standard), Giles Auty (Spectator), Glynn Williams (at the RCA) and any number of Johnsonian or Waugh-like commentators who throw themselves ...

Hogged

E.S. Turner, 22 January 1998

Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras 
by Terence Grocott.
Chatham, 430 pp., £30, November 1997, 1 86176 030 2
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... Men of the merchantman Hercules, wrecked off South Africa, decided to abandon business in great waters and signed on with Dutch farmers, leaving their captain to walk 150 miles to Cape Town. In waters nearer to home a friendly reception for the shipwrecked was by no means guaranteed. There are two accounts of American ...

Mary Swann’s Way

Danny Karlin, 27 September 1990

Jane Fairfax 
by Joan Aiken.
Gollancz, 252 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 575 04889 1
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Lady’s Maid 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 536 pp., £13.95, July 1990, 0 7011 3574 3
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Mary Swann 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 313 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 1 872180 02 7
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... would have been much greater: but then this novel has already been written – it is called Esther Waters. In its scenic aspects – its depiction of Victorian landscapes and interiors, of social and private life in both England and Italy – the novel is a deep disappointment. It is no good saying that Wilson was an ordinary person and so her fictionalised ...

Figures in Rooms, Rooms with Figures

Peter Campbell: Bonnard, 19 March 1998

Bonnard 
by Timothy Hyman.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, February 1998, 0 500 20310 5
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Bonnard 
by Sarah Whitfield and John Elderfield.
Tate Gallery, 272 pp., £35, June 1998, 1 85437 243 2
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... about on very high heels like some bright-plumaged bird’. It is not that Hyman’s Bonnard or Sarah Whitfield’s essay in the Tate catalogue – both excellent, and usefully complementing each other – gives a very different account of the relationship from the one that limited anecdotal evidence had built up in the years since Bonnard’s death ...

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