“Always a tea-drinker”? You’re in for a spooky night with Bram Stoker

As a dedicated lover of Gothic fiction (as I’m sure you’ve found out if you are a regular reader), my favourite time of year is when I get to read spooky short stories to my students. Stories such as Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Wells’s “The Red Room” should always be read aloud and as dramatically as possible in order to build up tension and … Continue reading “Always a tea-drinker”? You’re in for a spooky night with Bram Stoker

North and/or South?: Coffee and Cake in William Styron’s “Lie Down in Darkness” (1951)

Let’s face it – who ever really remembers or values a novel that is easily digested and doesn’t demand at least some wrangling to get straight? It has taken me (Amy) quite a while to read this month’s novel. I think I started with good intentions during the 2017 Christmas holidays, and it is only now that I am pulling my thoughts together on this, … Continue reading North and/or South?: Coffee and Cake in William Styron’s “Lie Down in Darkness” (1951)

Happy Christmas from Milan: Dino Buzzati’s Il panettone non bastò (Panettone Was Not Enough, 2004)

  This December I stumbled across a collection of short stories by a twentieth-century Italian author, which immediately intrigued me for its title: Il panettone non bastò e altri scritti natalizi, or Panettone Was Not Enough, and Other Christmas Writings. Being a fan of food in literature, I was attracted to that “panettone” in the title and was eager to read the story. This month … Continue reading Happy Christmas from Milan: Dino Buzzati’s Il panettone non bastò (Panettone Was Not Enough, 2004)

Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

Max Barry’s novel “Jennifer Government” (2003) is one of the best novels I have read recently. Similar in style to Huxley’s dystopian, satirical “Brave New World”, Barry’s comic exploration of modern society is full of brilliantly humorous moments and scarily possible (or probable?) predictions about the future. According to this account of the not-so-distant fate of the USA, the balance between the power of the … Continue reading Time to go veggie? Max Barry’s “Jennifer Government”

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)

Anyone for a take-away?: Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’

My favourite bookshop in England is Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland (http://www.barterbooks.co.uk/). It is a magical emporium of second hand books, which are stashed in every nook and cranny of a converted railway station. My love for this shop may have something to do with the copy of Louis MacNeice’s poem, ‘Posterity’, emblazoned on one of the walls (!!!) and the lines from T.S. Eliot … Continue reading Anyone for a take-away?: Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’

‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Until last month, I had never been to the Caribbean. Or the Tropics. Or something that could be vaguely classified as either, except perhaps the North-East of Australia. Then, a few weeks ago I had the chance to go to one of the Canary Islands for a short holiday and its beauty struck me with the strength of a long-awaited revelation. I have to say, … Continue reading ‘There is Always The Other Side’: Fried Plantains in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’

Last year I wrote a blogpost about fruit tart in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White which you can read here. Now, it’s time to retrace my footsteps with apple tart in Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Although the title and genre of Hill’s novel is a nod to Collins’s gothic romance, the narrative of The Woman in Black is significantly pared-back compared to … Continue reading Revisiting Fruit Tart: ‘The Woman in Black’