Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Growing up, I became used to the covers of Sebastian Faulks’ novels, which were frequently strewn over our living room coffee table, or lay on the back seat of the car during our long summer drives across Europe. The face of the “Girl at the Lion D’Or” particularly haunts my memory; the cover photographer captured that sense of “lostness”, isolation and emotional intensity which Faulks … Continue reading Failed visionaries?: Sebastian Faulks’s “Human Traces” (2005)

Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

This month the Literary Kitchen is taking an alcoholic turn: it is that time of the year when many of us would like to be outside and enjoy a perfectly cold beer or cocktail; and for me (Nico – but maybe Amy too), when that time comes, it has to be a gin and tonic. Gin and tonic was not at all a popular choice … Continue reading Come Rain or Shine: Gin and Tonic in Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’ (1974)

Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

Straight after the usual exuberance and abundance of the festive season one feels the urgency of going on some sort of detox diet, and my January has been particularly frugal. This month’s frugality has given new importance to breakfast in my daily routine and made me more creative in my re-thinking morning porridge: oats, rye flakes, quinoa, or buckwheat, are all the rage in my … Continue reading Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

Enduring classic?: Sweetmeats in ‘Pamela’

Although it’s December 21st, this isn’t exactly a Christmas post; but I do think that today’s recipe is a good one for the festive season! This post actually marks a first at the Literary Kitchen: I am writing about a novel I didn’t enjoy reading. In fact, I found that wading through Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded (1740) by Samuel Richardson is not a good way to spend … Continue reading Enduring classic?: Sweetmeats in ‘Pamela’

Updating Miss Havisham

Summer is the time when my (Amy’s) social media feeds fill up with pictures of weddings and everyone seems to be talking about the bride & groom’s choice of venue, colours, food, music… This summer the theme seems to be DIY weddings involving hand-crafted invitations, favours, decorations and – of course – cakes. I can now write that I have made my first cake for … Continue reading Updating Miss Havisham

Not Quite Scones, Not Quite Biscuits: Welsh Cakes! From Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood (1954)

I (Nico) have never been to Wales. So far, my only points of “contact” with Wales have been: Dylan Thomas a few Welsh people met in England (mainly students) the 1995 film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain (which may or may not have been popular in Italy during my childhood because of a very young and very charming … Continue reading Not Quite Scones, Not Quite Biscuits: Welsh Cakes! From Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood (1954)

Celebrating Summer?: William Atkins’s ‘The Moor’

Now that spring has arrived (despite the rain and cold in Durham over the past week or so I am defiantly eating ice-cream and refusing to wear my coat), your thoughts, like mine, may be turning to the outdoors. Of course, my plans to undertake an expedition to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall will probably remain just that – plans – for quite a … Continue reading Celebrating Summer?: William Atkins’s ‘The Moor’

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

Today – the 23rd April 2016 – is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Recently, I went to see the amazing National Theatre Live performance of As You Like It (starring Rosalie Craig as Rosalind). The imaginative and daring staging of the forest did full justice to the ambiguity of Shakespeare’s vision of the Forest of Arden. The dim lighting, the sharp angles of … Continue reading Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

The crème de la crème of afternoon tea: Chester cakes in Muriel Spark’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1961)

I came to Muriel Spark by a rather odd route: through the poetry of Louis MacNeice. If you follow this blog regularly you will probably be slightly bored of the fact that I frequently mention my absolute passion for MacNeice’s writing. If you feel that thought brimming up inside your mind, just go and read MacNeice’s Autumn Journal and hopefully you will understand why my … Continue reading The crème de la crème of afternoon tea: Chester cakes in Muriel Spark’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1961)

The Flavour of Scotland: Haggis, neeps & tatties, and Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ (1786)

It is Monday, 25 January, and the weather is not the greatest in Edinburgh, Scotland: it is all one grey air, the colour of the houses running out to the sky, and becoming one with it. And yet, one can feel a vague excitement around town. Today, in Scotland (in fact, all around the U.K.) people are celebrating the 257th anniversary of a rather special … Continue reading The Flavour of Scotland: Haggis, neeps & tatties, and Robert Burns’ ‘Address to a Haggis’ (1786)