Tuesday, December 26, 2006

King Lear

Today may be the 400th anniversary of the first performance of King Lear, in front of King James. This afternoon BBC Radio 4 featured an excellent programme on the play, its cultural context and its performance history, which can be heard here for the next week. It features actors, directors, scholars, musicians and even a food historian.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Christmas ...

... to our visitors. Last night in the BSR we put on our pantomime, Up the Hill, starring a variety of pupils and staff. Pictured left, Jill (Anamaria Halip) and Jack (Johnny Cooper) talk to their pensionable donkey/ass Eeyore (Daron Higgins). Right, the Three Airheads, Ashley Sherwood, Tarka Russell and Alisa Bowen, like totally, roish?

Next term starts on Monday January 8th, when posting will resume.

Coetzee, Shriver, Murakami

Crispin Maenpaa has been awarded a Commendation for his Transition Year Extended Essay (click here) on three very different novels with the common theme of Parenthood :

"The three books I chose for my extended essay are the disturbing and eye-opening novel We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, the award-winning novel Disgrace by J.M.Coetzee and the intriguing and surreal novel Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. We Need to Talk about Kevin is about the dangerous distance that can exist between a mother and a daughter and it discusses the ultimate taboo - can a mother hate her son?"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another extended essay

Another commendation this year for her Transition Year extended essay went to Rebecca Feeney-Barry for this piece on Suffering in literature, which analyses Jennifer Johnston's How Many Miles to Babylon, Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Iain M.Banks's Consider Phlebas.

Up the Hill

Tonight, our Drama Department presents its annual Christmas pantomime, billed as allegedly an 'entertainment' in the BSR at 8.30 pm after the Christmas Dinners. This year, Up the Hill is a bodice-ripping tale of adventure through Sherwood Forest on the way to a strangely familiar boarding school near a new nursing home, run by Headmaster Scenario and Dean of Decorum Hamish McSpanknasty. Click here for the programme.

III form book reports

Two more book reports from the Junior Certificate reading project for III form. Here, Anna Traill writes about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, and here Jasper Mathews writes about Robert Swindells's Stone Cold and Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Extended Essays

The Transition Year Extended Essay projects this term produced an impressive level of literary analysis. Click here for Joseph Millar's essay on war fiction, analysing Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Pat Barker's Regeneration, and Iain Lawrence's Lord of the Nutcracker Men. A second outstanding essay is by Celeste Guinness (here), on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, and Anne Frank's Diary. Both Joseph's and Celeste's essays have received Commendations.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Terry Dolan

Pictured : the distinguished academic and broadcaster Professor Terry Dolan of UCD talking to senior pupils on Saturday evening in the Lower Argyle about the origins of words. Terry has been coming to us for many years, and again his talk was much appreciated by those present. At the end of the talk Terry impressively explained the etymology of almost every word the audience asked about. Right, Professor Dolan with our Senior Prefect Ben Dunne and Second Prefect Emma Mallon.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The School for Scandal

The cast and crew from our November production of Twelfth Night are going on Monday evening to the new Abbey Theatre production of Sheridan's The School for Scandal, which has had very good notices in the press - called 'sparkling' by the Irish Times and 'nothing short of a triumph' by the Irish Independent. An introduction and the full text can be seen by clicking here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Marriage Proposal

Ronan Swift recently held auditions for our entry to the St Andrew's College one-act drama festival in February, in which we often take part. The three parts in the short farce A Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekhov (pictured) go to Ben Russell, Ben Armstrong and Ellie Russell. The play was written in 1888. More on the production next term.

Mitchell, Ahern, Sebold

Another example of the III book reports which have recently been completed for the Junior Certificate course. This is Kate Haslett's essay comparing three books, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Cecelia Ahern's P.S.I Love You, and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

'The Year of the Hiker' reviews

Last week the Transition Year went to the Druid production of John B.Keane's The Year of the Hiker at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. We now post two reviews by IV formers - Celeste Guinness (click here) and David Beresford (click here). This outing was part of our ongoing Transition Year programme; we like to take our pupils to interesting professional productions in Dublin, and at the end of the year the form takes part in its own drama production, in the form of a 'showbuild' with the Actiontrack Performance Company.

Teaching English report

The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science has just published a 56-page report 'Looking at English : teaching and learning English'. Click here (PDF file, opened with Adobe Acrobat).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Professor T.P. Dolan

On Saturday evening we welcome back to the College a good friend, Professor Terry Dolan of UCD, who for many years has been visiting us and speaking to senior pupils on a variety of topics, such as Chaucer's Knight, the origins and use of 'bad' language and Hiberno-English, on which topic he is the world expert. He is the co-author with Terry Jones of Who Murdered Chaucer? Terry is also well-known to many Irish radio listeners for his talks with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk 106 on Monday afternoons, and you can subscribe to his podcast from the station.

On Saturday he will be talking to VI and V form pupils in the Lower Argyle about the origins of words in English - an occasion to look forward to, since his talks are always most appreciated here, combining as they do erudition, scholarship and entertainment. Terry is also Director of the fascinating Hiberno-English website, which features in our recommended links on the right sidebar.

English prizes

Last night there was a large turn-out of pupils for the first special subject prize exam of the academic year, the Junior English Prize. The Senior Prize will be held on Friday evening.

Monday, December 04, 2006

1000 visitors

We've just had our 1000th visitor in this, our first blogging term. About 65% of visitors come from Ireland. The UK, USA, Spain and Germany come next, followed by about 40 other countries all over the world, ranging from Australia to Greenland to Costa Rica to Canada. Pictured, our earth-bound site in Whitechurch, Co Dublin.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

'Book of the Year'

At the moment the newspapers are full of book recommendations for Christmas presents. This is an open invitation to any of our readers associated with the College - pupils, teachers, parents, friends, Old Columbans - to send along your own 'Book of the Year', and we'll post a selection before the end of term. Anything read during 2006 which you'd like to share with others (it doesn't have to have been published recently). Please email 5/6 lines to us at the address in the right sidebar.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

III form book reports

Our Junior Certificate pupils have just completed their school exams. 25% of their final mark this term is given to their book reports, completed prior to the exams. Rebecca Scott has written on Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses, Maeve Binchy's Night of Rain and Stars, and Elizabeth Laird's Red Sky in the Morning (here). More reports to be posted here in due course.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Javier Marias

John Fanagan writes : "I have just finished my third novel this year by Javier Marias, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me. The translation (like the others, from Spanish, by the same translator) is excellent and makes his unusual style (immensely long paragraphs and frequent digressions) very accessible. It opens with the married lover of the narrator dying suddenly in his arms as her young child is asleep in an adjoining room.

The story is not all gloom, though, and there is one hilarious chapter which features a meeting with the King who is referred to by a series of nicknames (Only the Lonely, The Lone Ranger...). Marias is a writer unlike most others and is well worth trying."

See his website here, including an English section.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Twelfth Night review

Rebecca Feeney-Barry and Emily Plunket, from Transition Year, who were also two of the production's prompters, here review Twelfth Night.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Year of the Hiker

Tomorrow night, all our Transition Year go to Druid Theatre's fine production of John B.Keane's The Year of the Hiker at the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire (we also took last year's TY to it at the Gaiety). Visits to challenging and enjoyable drama productions are part of our TY programme; earlier this term we went to The Importance of Being Earnest at the Abbey, and more visits are planned in the next two terms.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

McCarthy and Dillon

Two recommendations from recent reading, both coincidentally about memory and the ways our minds work. A novel, Remainder by Tom McCarthy, starts : "About the accident itself I can say very little. Almost nothing. It involved something falling from the sky. Technology, Parts, bits. That's it, really: all I can divulge. Not much, I know." The narrator's memory has been wiped out by this mysterious catastrophe, and thereafter the story takes an intriguing, funny and eventually demented turn. Constantly interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking.

Then a form of a biography : In the Dark Room- a journey in memory, by Brian Dillon. The author meditates about his home, his childhood and the ways we remember and forget. A touch of W.G.Sebald about this. Again, always absorbing. Much of the best work we receive in our Work Portfolios in the Transition Year is driven by memories of childhood; Dillon writes about our first homes that 'in the furrows and expanses of the house, we uncover for the first time the surfaces on which memory and imagination can be sent in motion, safely sliding from room to room ... to remember such a place is to reconnect with our most solitary sense of ourselves.'

JMG, English Department

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Yeats Exhibition

We've added a new link in our Poetry categories in the sidebar on the right to the truly outstanding National Library of Ireland Yeats exhibition. The Library has now created a micro-site on Yeats and has started putting on some of the material from the exhibition, including, for instance, Luca Crispi's video masterclass on 'Sailing to Byzantium', and will be developing the site further. We highly recommend the exhibition itself to all our readers; it is difficult to imagine any poet presented better. There are also excellent free tours conducted by expert guides.

VI formers, studying Yeats for the Leaving Certificate, will also shortly each receive a copy of this week's Irish Independent supplement on Yeats, and we will be organising trips to the Library. The four films shown in the exhibition are now available on DVD, which we have bought for use in class. The exhibition is long-term, and expected to last three years.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Twelfth Night photo album

Click here for a selection of over 120 photos of rehearsals and other moments from the recent Twelfth Night production. Then click on 'View Slideshow'.

'Leaves', by Rowland Cooper

Our first posted poem by a pupil - the first of what we hope will eventually be a large Creative Writing section on this site. This is 'Leaves', by VI former Rowland Cooper :-

'Autumn's pale sun shimmers
In the crisp, clear sky.
The last butterfly helplessly
Beats against a pane of glass ...'

For the full poem, click here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Twelfth Night

Our production of Twelfth Night featured last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and was tremendously well-received - great reward for all after more than two months' hard work. Shortly we will post a pupil-review here, and an album of photos.

Transition Year pupils have now completed their major project, the Extended Essays. These will also feature here within the next fortnight.

Exams start tomorrow, followed by an Exodus weekend off.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Twelfth Night performances

Above, the huge cast of our production of Twelfth Night, which had its preview last night, and opens tonight in the BSR at 7pm.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Vanishing Ireland

A plug for a new book by an Old Columban, photographer James Fennell (together with writer Turtle Bunbury), which is now in our Library - Vanishing Ireland, published recently by Hodder Headline. This is a stunning collection of portraits, with James's beautiful pictures vividly bringing alive an Ireland which is being rapidly overtaken by a very different society. To see some of these photographs, click here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Twelfth Night week

Pictured is a general dance practice for the end of Twelfth Night, this year's Senior Play, which is performed this week on Thursday (preview), Friday and Saturday. The production ends with the whole cast dancing to Charles Trenet's 'Hop! Hop!'

For those attending, here is a link to a page from the programme, describing the set-up for the plot, and commenting on the play.

Next week, we will post a review of the production by Sophie Haslett, V form.

Below, Ben Russell in full flow preparing for the part of Malvolio, Olivia's steward.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wilfred Owen

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day for victims of war. So, an appropriate time to add a new link to our Poetry section (look down the right sidebar) for Wilfred Owen - the superb Oxford University Wilfred Owen Multimedia Digital Archive. Click on Browse the Archive and you can look through the full manuscripts of the poems. A fascinating and valuable resource.

Today the London Independent books section featured an article about Owen's early life by the poet Paul Harley, and this is Wilfred Owen Week on BBC Radio 3.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Paul Auster

In a September post, Deirdre Gannon recommended Paul Auster's novel The Music of Chance. Recently, an essay by Auster in the Guardian passionately explained the necessity of writing and the power of fiction :-

'To do something for the pure pleasure and beauty of doing it. Think of the effort involved, the long hours of practice and discipline required to become an accomplished pianist or dancer. All the suffering and hard work, all the sacrifices in order to achieve something that is utterly and magnificently ... useless.

Fiction, however, exists in a somewhat different realm from the other arts. Its medium is language, and language is something we share with others, that is common to us all. From the moment we learn to talk, we begin to develop a hunger for stories. Those of us who can remember our childhoods will recall how ardently we relished the moment of the bedtime story, when our mother or father would sit down beside us in the semi-dark and read from a book of fairy tales.

Numbers don't count where books are concerned, for there is only one reader, each and every time only one reader. That explains the particular power of the novel and why, in my opinion, it will never die as a form. Every novel is an equal collaboration between the writer and the reader and it is the only place in the world where two strangers can meet on terms of absolute intimacy.'

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

E-mail subscription & RSS

We have now added an option to have e-mail notification of posts from SCC English - go to the end of the links section on the right, and fill in your address in the box (it won't be used for any other purpose, and you can easily unsubscribe). For more tech-minded visitors, there's also now an RSS feed button there ...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Twelfth Night poster

Term resumes this morning. Congratulations to Gabriella von Bulow, the VI form artist who has won the poster competition for our Twelfth Night production next week.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Creative Writing course

Tomorrow, we go on half-term. Posting will resume after that. Meanwhile, Dylan Stewart (V Form) is one of seven pupils attending creative writing classes in Ballyroan and says:

'The creative writing classes that I have been attending every Wednesday for the last three weeks have been held in the seminar room of a local public library. Our teacher is a young guy (I think he's a novelist) who says that he's worth about ten cent. But don't let that fool you: these classes have been good fun and have been beneficial to me and the others who have been attending them.

We take part in such activities as learning how to develop characters and their conflicts and resolutions through a story using diagrams. We listen to each other's work and critique it and we also read out our own work to the group.The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. We are a small group, about 16, doing the course, so the small numbers make it easy to communicate and listen. There are some really talented writers there (including me, of course) and some talented poets, though the classes focus on fiction writing mostly. I'll finish by saying that the course is very worthwhile for anyone who enjoys and takes pride in their writing.'

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

TY Extended Essay books

Apart from the books recommended in earlier posts, these are some of the other books being read and for the IV form Extended Essays:-

Dermot Bolger's The Family on Paradise Pier, Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong, Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Today - an African childhood, Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, Hunter S.Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Hans Peter Richter's Friedrich, Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, Jennifer Johnston's Shadows on our Skin, Jonathan Saffran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Stuart Hill's Blade of Fire, Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke, Michael Mullen's The Last Days of the Romanovs, and many many more ...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Form Plays

Last night we had the first drama events of the school year, the Primary, I and II form plays in the BSR. These give younger (and often new) pupils the chance to perform early on in the year. Primary and I put on an entertaining version of Cinderella (directed by Jane Bustard) with many performers, including Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi as Cinderella, Lucy Mantle as the Fairy Godmother and Molly Shea as mother of the Ugly Sisters. Then II form performed a brief and distinctly 'loose' version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (directed by Peter McCarthy), featuring a chorus line in togas, a female Caesar (Miriam Poulton), and the memorably unShakespearean line by Robbie Hollis 'Come on Caesar, give us a kiss.'

Saturday, October 21, 2006

TY Extended Essay

The Transition Year are close now to writing their major project, the Extended Essay. Early next week they have special classes to plan and structure these essays, and technical guidelines about layout.

Another book recommendation. Celeste Guinness is reading Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. 'This is a novel set in South Africa during the 1940s when apartheid was at its most separatist. The main character is Kumalo, a holy man or 'umfundisi'. After his son has left Johannesburg, and fails to reply to any of his father's letters, Kumalo goes to the city to find him, and also to bring home his sister Gertrude, who has fallen on the wrong side of the tracks.

The writing style in this novel is very different to anything I have read. There are no inverted commas at all, to help the reader identify when someone is speaking, or listening. Without these, the reader has to decipher what is speech and what is thought. I am thoroughly enjoying the book.'

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Twelfth Night update

Rehearsals in the BSR for our forthcoming Shakespeare Society production of Twelfth Night on 17/18 November have been underway for over a month now. Yesterday our costume director, Jann Robinson, arrived from England to start seeing actors and the many 'extras' (including the choir). Choir practices with have been progressing in parallel with the acting rehearsals ; Mrs Malone-Brady has composed some lovely music for Shakespeare's lyrics, and the famous song 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' will open the production. After half-term the BSR will be transformed by the art and design team, led by Katie Terres. Patrick Ussher is designing the programme. Our Head of Drama, Jeremy Stone, apart from being lighting director, will also direct the final wedding party dance, to the music of French crooner Charles Trenet.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 5

Two IV formers are reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Hanne Grainger : 'This is an extremely well-written book about an autistic boy called Christopher Boon. He is very intelligent, but people do not think so because of his autism. He is keen on becoming a detective, and when a dog is killed mysteriously next door, his adventure begins. It is a great book because you get to understand the way his mind works, and what problems autistic people have. It's brilliant!'
And Sarah Wilson : 'I thought this brilliant, because it shows you what it would be like to be an autistic boy, and the problems you would have to face. It was very entertaining, enjoyable and interesting.'

Woo Jin Jung : Holes, by Louis Sacher. 'I have enjoyed this book. It shows how the main character, Stanley Yelnats, lives in an approved school. He starts to make relationships, and to live in a strange place. I think this book tells us about relationships, and that's why I liked it.'

Allen Crampton : Regeneration, by Pat Barker. 'This novel is set in the Great War, and has many real-life encounters, based on Craiglockhart Hospital. Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, the famous war poets, feature. It gives us an insight into the trauma and after-effects of war, and shows what it does to people. It is quite heavy reading, but is very descriptive.'

Friday, October 13, 2006

Twelfth Night poster competition

We are again running a poster competition for the forthcoming Shakespeare Society production of Twelfth Night. The 'theme' of this production is 1920/30s Mediterranean beach society, with setting, costumes and music all reflecting this. Art pupils are invited to take part, and can see here evocative French pictures of the time to inspire them. Please see Mr Watts or Miss Cullen for further details. Entries are due in by half-term (Friday 27th October).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 4

More books being read by Transition Year for their Extended Essays :-

Poppy Law : To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (pictured). "It was a really gripping book, and I read it in two days over the summer. I really enjoyed it and was constantly wondering about the whole Boo Radley situation. I loved Atticus - he is a bit like my Dad, so I really loved the character. Overall, I loved the book."

Serge Bauvet : Crazy, by Benjamin Lebert. "This novel is about a 16 year-old boy in a German secondary school. He is like any other boy - drinking, chasing after girls, doing stupid stuff. He has been thrown out of four other schools and he is starting in a new one. The only difference he has from others is that he is paralysed down his left side. I like this book because I can relate to the adolescent side, and it interests me to see how a handicapped person copes with everyday life."

Hal Downer : The Killing of Yesterday's Children, by M.S. Power. "I have recently finished this, and I found it quite deep. The characters were quite unusual, but I think this is why I liked it. It is set in Northern Ireland in the late 1970s, and is about several different characters with completely opposite political views."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

House Speech competition review

Here is Hanne Grainger's review of the recent Transition Year House Speech competition.

TY Extended Essay Reading 3

More books being read by Transition Year pupils for their Extended Essay projects:-

Joseph Millar : All Quiet on the Western Front, by Eric Maria Remarque - "One thing that immediately sets this apart from other war books is that it is brutally, almost uncomfortably, honest about war. The author, being a soldier in WWI, tells it from the heart. Reading the book seems almost like reading the author's personal thoughts - it is as if he is writing from the war itself. It is an amazing, shocking book, and on many occasions it breaks your heart."

Rachael Roden : Poppy Shakespeare, by Clare Allen :- "This is a novel seen through the eyes of a psychiatric patient at a mental hospital in London. The writing style is original, probably because it is seen through the eyes of a patient who doesn't have perfect English and gives amusing names to the different aspects of the hospital. It is written by an author who spent ten years herself in a psychiatric home. I would strongly recommend this novel, as it is both amusing, and provides an insight into psychiatric practices."

Isobel Hunter : Ithaka, by Adele Geras :- "A modern interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, set in the royal household. It is told from the perspective of Queen Penelope and some servants. This book gives an honest interpretation of life in Ancient Greece. It's a heartwarming novel, with characters you can relate to."

More recommendations over the next week or so. The Extended Essays have to be completed by mid-November, and later in term we will post some completed ones here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Importance of Being Earnest reviews

Recently the Transition Year went on an outing to the Abbey production of Oscar Wilde's masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. Here are two reviews by pupils - Celeste Guinness and Rebecca Roe.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 2

As we head into our weekend 'Exodus' break, some more books recommended by IV pupils preparing their Extended Essays ...

Mikeila Cameron : 'Blood Sisters, by Stephanie and Barbara Keating : I highly recommend this to those who enjoy reading about people who have lived in Africa, and their experiences. It is set in the 1940s, and follows the lives of three girls and how they cope with Independence and the Emergency in Kenya.'

David Cooper : 'Star of the Sea, by Joseph O'Connor : I have almost finished reading this. It's a gripping book with a lot of twists and surprises. I like it because it's based on fact and there are a lot of eyewitness accounts in it. The book is about the struggles of unfortunate poor Irish citizens who dare to venture on the journey to America in an aptly named "coffin ship".'

Rebecca Feeney-Barry : 'How Many Miles to Babylon? by Jennifer Johnston : I would encourage everyone to read this book. It is a very captivating story of a friendship that must survive every obstacle. The suspense is present up to the very last line. It is beautifully written in everyday simple language that describes scenes of war, sadness and love. It is very difficult to stop reading once you have started it. I really enjoyed it and think that anybody else would too.'

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

III form book reports

For many years, pupils in III form have written substantial book reports in this term. These reports must be on at least two books, which must contain an element of comparison. The report will count as 20% of their end of term Michaelmas examination and will be huge help in guiding/directing them to prepare for the Fiction element of their Junior Certificate examination. When they are completed in two months' time, we will post some of the work here. Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

TY Extended Essay Reading 1

Over the next few days we will post some reading recommendations from Transition Year pupils who are currently researching their Extended Essays.

Jane Quigley : "Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracey Chevalier : Having read most of Chevalier's novels, I find this one most interesting mainly because of all her protagonists, the girl in this book is the closest in age to me, and therefore I can almost feel a connection with Griet. The novel features love, both forbidden and unrequited, and change in many ways. I like it because it shows people maturing over a short period of time. So far little has happened in the large scale of things, but small hints have been given as to how (maybe) this love story might end."

Crispin Maenpaa : "Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami, is an excellent novel, which is one of the best Far Eastern novels I have ever read. Murakami portrays the struggle of a boy in an emphatic way. The novel is a little surreal on occasion, but he writes in such a flowing style that it doesn't matter. This is a truly stunning novel."

Victoria Cooper : "I'm reading The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve (pictured), and so far I find it very gripping. It makes me want to keep reading. It's about love, but it's also quite sad and depressing. Sometimes sad books make you want to read on."