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The Noise of Time

The Noise of Time

on Feb 26, 2017

What does it mean to have integrity? What is cowardice? These are the questions that Julian Barnes explores in his novel about the life of the composer Shostakovich. The Noise of Time draws on material from several biographies about  Shostakovich and his struggle to maintain his sense of who he was in the middle of Soviet Russia. The novel focuses on three points in...

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Books 2016

Books 2016

on Dec 31, 2016

In the last year I’ve read quite a few books that for various reasons I never got round to writing about on here. So here are a few that I thought were worth a mention: Red Moon Rising by Matthew Brezezinski This is the story of the USA/USSR rivalry that fuelled the space race. Given real depth from background interviews with Krushchev’s son (himself a...

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Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago

on Jun 9, 2016

So you’re in the mood for a romantic novel, and you think to yourself: “I’ve never read Doctor Zhivago, isn’t that supposed to be one of the greatest romances of all time? I think I’ll give it a go.” Don’t. Stop. Put the book down. Pick up something else instead because Doctor Zhivago is not a romance. Yes, there’s a...

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CCCP Cookbook

CCCP Cookbook

on Mar 17, 2016

I’ve been reading some fairly heavyweight books lately, so this month I took a break and decided to go for one that might only be tough on the waistline! The CCCP Cookbook by Olga and Pavel Syutkin is a lovely little treasure trove of the stories behind popular recipes from the Soviet Union. My husband was very pleased to discover that the book includes the...

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Hope Against Hope

Hope Against Hope

on Feb 14, 2016

In 1934 the poet Osip Mandelstam was arrested for his explosive poem in which he described Stalin’s fingers as “fat grubs” and his moustache as “cockroach whiskers”. The poem was clearly too dangerous to write down but Mandelstam had recited it to a number of trusted individuals whose job was to commit it to memory until such time as...

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Just Send Me Word

Just Send Me Word

on Dec 13, 2015

A few years ago I was having dinner with a group of friends and somehow we started chatting about the best places in London to take visitors. Without hesitation I said that my favourite museum was the Imperial War Museum. Most people seemed surprised, and someone asked what I particularly liked about it. So I explained that the museum does an amazing job of telling...

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