PositiveFinancial Times (UK)... enjoyable ... an often very funny chronicle of fiendishly complicated and rackety love lives ... Sometimes even Taylor’s enthusiasm for the arcana of the higher literary life falters as the unglamorous evidence of office life stacks up ... the parties of the past, like charm, charisma, conversation and what Taylor refers to as \'stupendous good looks\' are difficult, if not impossible, to recreate for those who weren’t there. Although Taylor’s wry fascination with this moment of British social and intellectual history is infectious and mostly deliciously readable, it does occasionally feel as if he is peering through a grimy wartime window, trying in vain to lip-read the clever chatter of the partygoers inside.
PositiveThe Financial TimesSuffragettes went about their campaign with a furious inventiveness chronicled in historian Diane Atkinson’s compendious, multi-biographical Rise up Women! ... The prisons overflowed with Suffragettes on hunger strike and Atkinson gives us grim accounts of tied hands and legs, the horribly painful forced insertion of nasal and throat tubes, vomiting, forced enemas and steel gags ... For all these terrors, the struggle could be exciting for women whose lives had up till then been circumscribed by social expectations.
RaveThe Financial Times\"After a pithy introduction that divides the movement into various styles and its members into a number of sub-divisions—official, temporary, antagonistic, expelled, rejected and natural—that helpfully include practically anyone, Morris concentrates on the richly varied personal idiosyncrasies of his protagonists. It’s a hoot ...
the voyeuristic reader can concentrate...on their eye-poppingly rococo private lives. Through the rapidly revolving doors of the Surrealists’ sexual partnerships some names regularly come round again and again ... Dalí, who was horrified by sex. Duchamp was appalled by pubic hair; Roland Penrose liked handcuffs ...
These are accounts of both churning creativity and epic human silliness. The moments of bathos may be unintentional but they only add to the richness of the picture ... Morris has all the scrupulousness of a scientist but he also has the eye of a novelist.\
RaveThe Financial TimesLizzie Collingham’s fascinating new book demonstrates that a cup of tea is never just a cup of tea — it is a history of trade, exchange, land-grab, agricultural innovation and economic change ... This is a marvellously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections.
PositiveThe Financial TimesThis book tells a gripping tale of scientific and medical endeavour — but the squeamish reader should be warned in advance that Lindsey Fitzharris does not stint on the gory details ... In fact, as Fitzharris’s painstakingly detailed descriptions of life in hospitals and industrial cities make clear, germ-harbouring dirt and waste were a permanent feature of everyday life. She paints a vivid picture of the stench and horror of the London that Lister knew as a medical student ... Lister, described by a contemporary as 'modest, unmasterful, unassuming' doesn’t exactly leap off the page of this otherwise eye-popping book. But his achievements echo down the years in all sorts of unlikely ways.
RaveThe Financial TimesHughes has prodded and probed at the official record, looking at letters, diaries, notebooks, newspapers and archives. All the way through, she challenges the assumptions that over the years harden around lives in the telling of them, pointing out that early biographers are as much part of the story as their subject. In at least two chapters, she finds evidence that dramatically changes the story, that reclothes the myth in flesh and blood. Victorians Undone is a work of formidable scholarship, but Hughes has a fluid, jaunty style that propels the reader from idea to idea. Reading it is like unravelling the bandages on a mummy to find the face of the past staring back in all its terrible and poignant humanity.
RaveThe Financial TimesMillard has taken a well-known piece of Churchilliana and skilfully turned it into a large historical narrative. Using many unpublished sources, she weaves into a nail-biting escape story a larger picture of Africa at the cusp of the 20th century. Her eye for humanising detail, her vivid topographical descriptions and her keen awareness of the realities (and surrealities) of war come together in a truly fascinating book.