John Carey
Home Books Art Essays Reviews TV & Radio About Contact

Reviews I have written recently, appearing in the Sunday Times.

The Well-Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith - why nature is the best cure: From First World War trenches to urban streets, how gardens help keep us human  (5 April 2020)

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World by Jonathan Bate: Did years of celibacy power Wordsworth’s period of greatest poetic creativity?  (22 March 2020)

Shakespeare in a Divided America by James Shapiro - the new book from the author of 1599: America is so passionate about the Bard, he’s even been the cause of deadly protests  (8 March 2020)

Eileen: The Making of George Orwell by Sylvia Topp - Orwell was no saint: This biography of his first wife paints an uncomplimentary picture of the writer as selfish, inconsiderate and unfaithful  (16 February 2020)

A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus - behind the fiction: The Librarian of Auschwitz was a 2019 bestseller, but Dita Kraus’s real story is much tougher than the novel - hers is a tale of resilience  (2 February 2020)

Short Life in a Strange World: Birth to Death in 42 Panels by Toby Ferris - in search of Bruegel: A quixotic global quest to see all of the master’s 42 paintings  (19 January 2020)

A Scheme of Heaven - Astrology and the Birth of Science by Alexander Boxer - your future written in the stars: Is astrology true? Our forebears thought so, and created an exact science to explain it  (12 January 2020)

London’s Great Theatres by Simon Callow and Derry Moore - palaces of excess: Simon Callow is just the man to celebrate the lavish grandeur of London’s theatres  (22 December 2019)

Winterlust: Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season by Bernd Brunner trans Mary Catherine Lawler - why we love winter: An exploration of the season in all its beauty and harshness proves a fascinating read  (15 December 2019)

The Reinvention of Humanity by Charles King review - Margaret Mead and the birth of anthropology: The early female anthropologists who redefined our assumptions about race, gender and sexuality  (17 November 2019)

Down in the Valley by Laurie Lee review - the world of Cider with Rosie: Previously unpublished scripts by Laurie Lee take us back to the village and harsh life that inspired his most famous novel  (10 November 2019)

The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes review - when Paris was at its peak: Julian Barnes immerses himself in the belle époque and the colourful life of the free-thinking surgeon Samuel Pozzi  (27 October 2019)

The Land of the White Horse by David Miles review - the mysteries of the Uffington chalk figure revealed: The origins of the Uffington White Horse are explored in an intriguing book  (29 September 2019)

The Europeans by Orlando Figes review - love among the artists: Europe’s dynamic culture comes to life in the tumultuous story of singer Pauline Viardot, her husband, and her lover, Turgenev  (22 September 2019)

Lost Girls by DJ Taylor review - the lives of four spirited women and their literary lovers: An inspired study of mid-20th-century literary life through love and sex  (18 August 2019)

Harvest by Edward Posnett - spinning gold from nature: Eider down, bird’s nest soup, coats of vicuna - how money is made from the most precious products  (4 August 2019)

The Garden Jungle: Or Gardening to Save the Planet by Dave Goulson - time to dig up your lawn and eat roadkill: A biology professor leads by example in his look at what gardeners can do to try to help save the planet  (14 July 2019)

On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming - a modern masterpiece of a memoir: Cumming’s tale of pictures, secrets and the strange disappearance of her mother is an outstanding achievement  (16 June 2019)

Witcraft by Jonathan Rée - do the English have a genius for philosophy?: A vast study celebrates philosophy in English, from the Pilgrims on  (9 June 2019)

The Ministry of Truth by Dorian Lynskey review - why 1984 is not as good as Animal Farm: A fascinating study of one of the most influential novels of the 20th century  (19 May 2019)

L.E.L. by Lucasta Miller - the scandalous life, and puzzling end, of ‘the female Byron’: A gripping piece of detective work that scrutinises the mysterious death of the risqué 19th-century poet known as L.E.L. (12 May 2019)

Underland by Robert Macfarlane — has the cult writer taken a wrong turn in this book about caves and tunnels?: The much-admired writer strays off track in his descent into Earth’s underworlds (5 May 2019)

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps by Ursula Buchan: John Buchan was so much more than just a thriller writer: From lowly beginnings to lunch with the King, the incident-packed life of the Scottish author (7 April 2019)

The Forager’s Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright: How to find food for free from buckthorn to beech leaves: an engaging guide for foragers (17 March 2019)