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

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Home 1936-1977 by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth — they didn’t f*** him up, his mum and dad: Larkin’s previously unpublished letters to his family leaves us in no doubt that the poet loved his parents, and that they, in turn, worshipped him (21 October 2018)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

The Warm South: How the Mediterranean Shaped the British Imagination by Robert Holland: A fascinating study of how the British passion for all things Mediterranean has influenced our culture for centuries (12 August 2018)

Gypsies: An English History by David Cressy — an outstanding study of a much-maligned minority: A social historian, himself with Gypsy ancestors, has produced a scholarly masterpiece (22 July 2018)

City of Light: The Reinvention of Paris by Rupert Christiansen — how the city was ruthlessly rebuilt: Vivid, dramatic and tragic: a first-rate study of how the city was remade (8 July 2018)

Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England and Wales by Jill Francis — too posh to weed: The rural country gentry who altered the way that English gardens were created (1 July 2018)

In Montparnasse: The Emergence of Surrealism in Paris from Duchamp to Dali by Sue Roe — dancing naked with ocelots: The surrealists thought they were revealing dark truths — they were wrong (10 June 2018)

Making Oscar Wilde by Michèle Mendelssohn — where he got his wit from: The nightmarish 1882 US tour that turned Oscar Wilde into a master of repartee (20 May 2018)

Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall — how to be happy the philosopher’s way: The ancient philosopher Aristotle is the ideal guide to living better, says this classics professor (6 May 2018)

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray — ‘the most depressing book I have read’: None of our ideas about religion, history and humanity have any meaning, argues the bracing philosopher John Gray (22 April 2018)

Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich: Mindfulness and positive thinking are on a par with ‘magic’, claims a forceful study (1 April 2018)

In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter, Annabella Milbanke & Ada Lovelace by Miranda Seymour: A masterful portrait looks at the effect Byron had on his wife and daughter (11 March 2018)