Harmony and Discord in Africa – Memories of Childhood in Southern Rhodesia by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

This is about a time and a childhood place not far from my own.

Harmony and Discord in Africa, despite its title, is not a political book but rather a slice of ‘home history’ about a boy, his family and their life on a farm in the young British colony of Southern Rhodesia .

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Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Here’s a book to pop your eyes. Cloaked in dust and petals it swirls through bedrooms, bazaars, bombings, palaces, shrines, caves and festivals. The pace is insistent and the tensions increasing.

Our guide is journalist Isambard Wilkinson. He takes us to Pakistan (2006 – 2009) and entices us to follow him from Baluchistan to the Khyber Pass, via a couple of pauses for kidney complications.

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Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

This post, a review of the last of Elena Ferrante’s novels about Naples, Italy, was first published on 16 January 2016. I read all four books in this series while I lived on the outskirts of Naples. Thanks to Ferrante I was shown inside the city, inside what links us all.

The Phraser

The last of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels The last of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels

This is a story about the dark places, and the fires, inside all of us.  It’s not new, it’s as old as Naples, but it’s told with the energy of possibility and through the eyes of women.

The Story of the Lost Child is the last book in a series of four – the Neapolitan novels.

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Book Review: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

A look back (first published 24 November 2015): this review is of the third of the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. I read them all whilst in and around Naples, Italy.

The Phraser

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

This book, the third in the series, has an ache in it that grows as the story lengthens.  It is about the absence of love and belonging, and the complications of motherhood.

The themes belong to us all and Ferrante intensifies them against the backdrop of Naples. She paints her story with the city’s colours, chosen for their truth from a palette that other cities struggle to match.

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Book Review: The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca

The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca

The Day Before Happiness by Erri De Luca

This little book, which I met first in the bookstore at the airport in Napoli, dropped its hero into my life like a coin into a pool.  He span so deep and so fast that he was almost lost … until, from nowhere, a sudden current pulled him out of sight.

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Book Review: The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

A look back (first published 24 September 2015): this book, the second of four, sustains the pace of the first – it’s a vivid read.

The Phraser

The cover of Elena Ferrante's: The Story of a New Name The cover of Elena Ferrante’s: The Story of a New Name

The Story of a New Name is the second book of the Neapolitan Novels.  It’s raw and brilliant, with a light that shines unblinking on its characters

Naples has always hung its washing to catch the air – it’s a city that knows its secrets … and so does Elena Ferrante.  In her novels she packs the unhidden into private lives and passes it on to us.

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Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

The last of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels

The last of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels

This is a story about the dark places, and the fires, inside all of us.  It’s not new, it’s as old as Naples, but it’s told with the energy of possibility and through the eyes of women.

The Story of the Lost Child is the last book in a series of four – the Neapolitan novels.

Continue reading