Monthly Archives: December 2019

Combining crafting and cooking in appealing guise

Review: Myrna Robins
All Fired Up – Vegetarian recipes and reflections fron a country kitchen and pottery, by Nina Shand (Millstone Pottery, McGregor)
Open this intriguing softback and enter the mesmerising world of potters and their wood-fired pots and dishes. Add a garden of locally grown ingredients which, when cooked, will fill those pots with appetising feasts.
The relationship is timeless and as inspiring now as it has been for aeons. It is one that merges seamlessly in this collection of recipes both for fine fare and beautiful glazes, interspersed with tales of a potter’s day, from dawn until dusk – and sometimes on into the night. Continue reading

A race, a donkey with heart, and a lot of humour

Review: Vivien Horler

Running with Sherman, by Christopher McDougall (Profile Books/ Jonathan Ball)
This is a book about a donkey called Sherman. It’s also about burro racing – racing with donkeys; about the Pennsylvania Amish; treating depression; and how the relationship between people and animals keeps us human.
Because that’s the wonderful thing about Christopher McDougall’s writing: he has an ostensible topic, but then drifts into other areas, thinly related, in a generally fascinating way.
Readers of his bestseller Born to Run will know this. It was about ultramarathon running, a subject many of us have very little interest in. It sat on my bedside table for weeks. Then I picked it up and it was utterly brilliant. It was about a group of Mexican Indians who entered one of the toughest ultra marathons in the world, the Leadville 100, and wearing tyre-sandals, beat everyone else. Continue reading

The yachting dream that turned to nightmare

Review: Vivien Horler

Not Child’s Play, by Dave Muller (MF Books/ Jacana)

Seth Muller’s fifth birthday is a day his parents will never forget.

Living his dream, architect Dave Muller and a friend have spent 10 years building a yacht on which to sail around the world. In the Easter holidays of 1990, Dave, his wife Sandy, Seth and 8-year-old Tammy have sailed north from East London, planning to meet up with a friend on Seth’s birthday in the Bazaruto Islands of Mozambique.

It’s been a pretty good voyage so far, and with Arwen well out to sea, Dave settles down to sleep. He feels content – he’s finally achieved his dream of sailing to a tropical island.

He is woken by a thump, to realise Arwen has run aground on the beach. He starts the engine, but the yacht is heeled over at an angle of 45 degrees, and her prop spins uselessly in the air.

Continue reading

Jackie and Lee were synonymous with glamour, tragedy, and lots and lots of money

Review: Vivien Horler

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters – the tragic and glamorous lives of Jackie and Lee, by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger (Harper/ Jonathan Ball)

The reported crudity of the Donald Trump-led White House stands in stark contrast to the style in which Jack and Jackie Kennedy lived their White House years.

Elegance, beauty, appreciation of art and erudition were hallmarks of their lives (with a fair bit of bed-hopping thrown in).

Like Trump, both the Kennedy and Bouvier families were wealthy, although like Trump, Jack’s father Joe Kennedy sen was, according to the American writer Gore Vidal, “exuberantly and successfully a crook”.

Continue reading

Le Carré cashes in rivetingly on resumption of Cold War

Reviewer: Archie Henderson

Agent Running in the Field, by John le Carré (Penguin Random House UK)

Moscow Centre is up and running again, its tentacles stronger and more malicious than ever. Its agent are all over London. It has a US president in its boss’s pocket, has begun to break up a European market alliance and even undermine its greatest enemy, Nato. All the hard work done by George Smiley to turn Moscow Centre’s mastermind Karla and foreshadow the end of communism has been undone in only a few years. No wonder John le Carré is in his element.

Our greatest spy novelist never quire reached the heights of the Karla trilogy once the Cold War ended. With Agent Running in the Field, he might be touching them again. 

Except that Moscow Centre, back to its old brutal efficiency, is less of the story than Le Carré’s usual theme of betrayal, which I hope is not giving too much away in a story that is riveting from beginning to end. Continue reading