Saturday 07 October 1995
Ellen Gilchrist's women live the American dream to the max. When they're not screwing cowboys, they're visiting therapists; when they're not snacking on fried chicken, they're drowning their talent in Chivas Regal. Gilchrist's latest update on the lives of the Manning and Hand families is a ride through familiar territory, but it lacks some of the edge which, in her previous books, made her such an astute chronicler of the rich bitch.
A Period of Adjustment by Dirk Bogarde (Penguin, pounds 5.99)
As the author is almost a fictional character himself, it's hard not to read a Dirk Bogart novel without picturing him in the leading role. In this, his fifth novel, he appears as William Caldicott, an uptight Englishman who, when faced with the death of his youngest brother from Aids and his own imminent divorce, falls in love. The resulting drama is played out against a suitably charming backdrop of Provencal farmhouses and Riviera hotels.
Virginia Woolf by James King
(Penguin, pounds 9.99)
The greatest achivement of Virginia Woolf's life, according to this sympathetic biography, was to stay alive as long as she did. Each day was a battle for survival, and she felt more confident writing her books than living her life. Her favourite topics - the destructiveness of men, the burdens of the past, and the fragility of life - not only cheered her up, but bought her enough time to become what she always wanted to be ... the Grand Old Woman of English Letters.
The Rape of Europa by Lynn H Nicholas (Papermac, pounds 12)
With the exception of modernist works (despised as "degenerate"), Nazi bosses were obsessed by art. In occupied Europe, they indulged their avarice on a massive scale. Goering gathered over a thousand old masters (gratifyingly, the most valued were fakes), while the museum in Linz, Hitler's childhood home, received 8,000 works. Despite careful detective work, many items have never been recovered. A tremendous story, enthrallingly told.
Unsent Letters by Malcolm Bradbury (Penguin, pounds 6.99)
Mannered epistolary squibs, whose forced humour (eg "The Golden Bowel by Henry James") is reminiscent of Punch at its creakiest. Bradbury's choice of targets - academic conferences, foreign researchers - is tired, and his tone annoyingly superior. Autobiographical fragments, such as making the front row ill by nervously twiddling with the gas taps when lecturing in a science hall, hint at the book that might have been.
Shadows of the Mind by Roger Penrose (Vintage, pounds 7.99)
Hawking's Law of Scientific Bestsellers (sales halve for every equation included) is boldly ignored by his fellow mathematician. The first indigestible chunk of algebra occurs on page 28 and it soon gets worse. This work on the gulf between mind and computer makes scant concession to the non-scientist. And Penrose allows a distressing number of exclamation marks to escape from his formulae into his prose.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre