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

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

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)

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Teach Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal: Gestures and facial expressions show that animals have an emotional life as rich as ours, argues this combative book (3 March 2019)

Walter Gropius: Visionary Founder of the Bauhaus by Fiona MacCarthy: Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus was a vision of the future inspired by the medieval past (24 February 2019)

Henrik Ibsen: The Man and the Mask by Ivo de Figueiredo — a bully who set out to shock: Ibsen’s great tragedies are more like tabloid journalism, says a new biography (10 February 2019)

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh by Naim Attallah — courteous in person, poisonous in print: A celebration of the splenetic writer and Private Eye stalwart Auberon Waugh (13 January 2019)

The Royal Society: And the Invention of Modern Science by Adrian Tinniswood — snobbery and science: In its early days, the Royal Society let in aristocrats with no scientific knowledge (6 January 2019)

Ruskin and His Contemporaries by Robert Hewison — how the great critic shaped modern culture and politics: This bicentennial study of John Ruskin will be hard to beat (9 December 2018)

The Brief Life of Flowers by Fiona Stafford — blossoming with significance: From daisies and cowslips to rare ghost orchids, a glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers (11 November 2018)

Letters Home 1936-1977 by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth — they didn’t f*** him up, his mum and dad: Larkin’s previously unpublished letters to his family leaves us in no doubt that the poet loved his parents, and that they, in turn, worshipped him (21 October 2018)

I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux — unmasking philosophy’s superman: An outstanding life reveals the full extent of Nietzsche’s delusions of grandeur (23 September 2018)

Living with the Gods: On Beliefs and Peoples by Neil MacGregor: A mind‑expanding history of religion - the author of A History of the World in 100 Objects examines the role of religion in society since the Stone Age (16 September 2018)

The Letters of Sylvia Plath: Volume II, 1956-1963, edited by Peter K Steinberg and Karen V Kukil — dispatches from a heart in agony: Astonishing in themselves, terrible in their intensity and as raw as freshly sliced meat, the late letters of Sylvia Plath are unmatched in literature  (9 September 2018)