Top reads of 2009

I keep meaning to try to do justice to the books I read.  Here is a list of some of the things which rocked my world in 2009.

I really do want to jot down some stuff about the thrillers of Peter Temple, Michael Connolly and John Sandford (any one of whom is great company for some time out of time). Also about the women writers resuscitated by Persephone (the successor to Virago).

But top of the list for now are:

The Last Englishman by Roland Chambers
Arthur Ransome turns out to be a sort of Edmund Gosse (always trying to please his father), but also very brave, naive, open, thoughtful and tough.

The Mottled Lizard by Elspeth Huxley
This is an account of pre-war life in settler Kenya which is both old-fashioned and very modern. Huxley was so not bothered by being racist that she can talk about human verities which escape or embarrass us now. But she is alert, and liberal in the best sense. Also: funny, acute,

Jew made In England by Anthony Blond
I have half a feeling that Blond would be disapproved of as a self-hating Jew, but I don’t think he disliked his fellow Jews, or his own jewishness. A bit like Huxley, he writes what he sees and it’s funny, absurd and awful by turns – whether he is amongst Jews or not. Reading him makes one feel that our own time has opted for a sort of crippled puritan provinciality of mind and it’s strongly proscriptive and permissive all at once.

Shooting Leave by John Ure
An unabashed account of the British adventurer in Victorian Afghanistan.

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Publication date

24 January 2010