Sunday 31 August 1997
! The Boys by Martin Gilbert, Phoenix pounds 7.99. In June 1945, the British Central Fund, a Jewish charity, won temporary British residency for 1,000 young survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. Only 732 were found to take up the offer, and only 80 of those were girls. It was assumed that "the boys" would soon move on to the US and Palestine. Those who said they'd like to study medicine or art in this country were told to think again. Gilbert skates gingerly over some interesting moments - the boys who refused to do their work-quota, complaining that they had already done enough labouring for the Nazis, for example. This is perhaps because his book is sourced mainly by the survivors' own voices, and they do not want to tell an overly distressing tale. Pretty well all the boys, by the way, did end up staying in Britain. Among them, the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn has a prominent and lively voice.
! Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, Virago pounds 6.99. Grace, a beautiful young serving-wench, has been imprisoned for murdering her employer and his live-in lover. She was convicted on the testimony of her supposed accomplice, who has already swung. And then, a bright young doctor turns up at the prison to ask her about her life ... Although the to-ing and fro-ing structure is clumsy, this novel is as good as all the hardback reviewers claimed. Based on a notorious Canadian case of the 1840s, it evokes telling historical details in an uncannily empathetic way. The voice of Grace herself, acutely intelligent while ignorant of so much, is triumphant. And the doctor's tale is pretty good also, as he discovers himself exploiting a vulnerable woman in exactly the way he would help poor Grace to avoid. As easy to read as a classic page-turner - and with a trio of sharp tricks for the blase reader hidden up its skirts.
! The End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the Millennium by Damian Thompson, Minerva 6.99. "Which comes first - the sense of millennial anxiety, or the sense of an approaching end?" It's a false dichotomy, of course, as Thompson argues, and it's our discomfort with our own mortality that has been causing all the trouble from the start. A history of millennarian belief may sound rather an obvious topic at the moment, but Thompson's arguments are unusually high-powered and wittily put. There's a brilliant chapter about how the current Pope is preparing for the year 2,000, to which he apparently looks forward as a uniquely Catholic Jubilee. And there's a terse postscript on the appallingly kitschy Heaven's Gate business, complete with Web sites and Nike trainers and whole-cult trips to the local drive-in to worship at Star Wars - "It is difficult to banish the thought," as Thompson grim-facedly puts it, "that they died not just for their beliefs, but for our amusement."
Rush-gatherer (c1908) dressed in deer hide, from the Arikara tribe, whose women farmed the banks of the Missouri in pre-reservation days. In Heart of the Circle: Photographs of Native American Women by Edward S Curtis (Library of Congress, ISBN 0-7649-0006-4)
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
- 3 Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
The 1975 leave social-media after cryptic comic strip tweet hinting at possible break up
Britain's Got Talent producers apologise for not making Matisse dog double stunt 'clearer'
Britain's Got Talent 2015 final: Jules and Matisse used secret dog double for winning tightrope act
Netflix is testing out adverts
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9: 'The Dance of Dragons' sees Jon Snow return to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history