PositiveSydney Morning Herald (AUS)O’Farrell has very little to go on so she invents her own story, giving Lucrezia an inner life and unusual artistic perception and execution ... O’Farrell and Hilary Mantel have used fiction as their own idiosyncratic James Webb telescope, enabling them to peer into the past and bring it fully illuminated back to us. Both are superior and unsentimental in their recreations of the past; they have an intellectual exactness about their intentions. They make their characters exceptional now and exceptional in their time, yet – mysteriously – perfectly of their time ... Sometimes O’Farrell’s detail, the excess of the background tapestry is too much, despite its constant poetic beauty ... We are all central in our own lives, so why shouldn’t historical figures be central in theirs, at least for a while. This is a thoughtful and chilly tale.
RaveThe Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)Malcolm is on the case and the crackle of her intelligence creates The Zone. Every pip, creak, twang is whipped into her handbag to be taken out later and re-examined under what? A microscope begged from NASA? ... The essay on Yuja Wang is a fascinating, over-detailed portrait of a child prodigy and her ascent into world fame ... Malcolm is in thrall to high-culture and cleverness, her own and others. When she forgets herself, the beauty of her perception flourishes and it is the best company ... She also writes gloriously about literature ... her vivid essay [on Norman Podhoretz] made me buy the book [Making It]. For that alone I kiss her tiny well-maintained hand.