What are you reading? – 12 November 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 12, 2015
Pile of books

Carina Buckley, learning skills tutor, Southampton Solent University, is reading Doris Lessing’s The Sun Between Their Feet (Flamingo, 2003). “Each of these 19 short stories, originally collected in 1973, is a jewel of hard African sunlight, their characters formed from the red clay that also shaped Lessing. Whether about the predicament of women isolated on their farms or two dung beetles battling to climb a steep rock, her beautiful details render these miniature worlds intensely and immediately real.”

Avril Goodwin, campus librarian, Dumfries, University of the West of Scotland, is reading Neil Oliver’s Master of Shadows (Orion, 2015). “I’m no historian, but the current BBC TV series The Celts is dull and literally pedestrian: Neil Oliver and Alice Roberts pounding the ancient pathways and looking wistfully off to the horizon. Thank goodness, then, that Oliver’s first novel is full of life and colour. A high-energy tale of 15th-century Europe and the Siege of Constantinople. Stick with the books, Neil!”

Judith Adler Hellman, professor of political and social science, York University, Toronto, is reading Maude Bracke’s Women and the Reinvention of the Political: Feminism in Italy, 1968-1983 (Routledge, 2014). “Drawing on both archives and the historical memory of participants, Maude Bracke deftly traces the remarkable trajectory of Italian feminism, which flourished in the years of mass mobilisation in the 1970s, expanded and survived the period of Red Brigade terrorism, only to fragment and decline in the 1990s, even before Italians lived through the deadening political impact of the Berlusconi years.”

Richard Joyner, professor emeritus of chemistry, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Jehane Ragai’s The Scientist and the Forger: Insights into the Scientific Detection of Forgery in Paintings (Imperial College Press, 2015). “Modern analytical science has much to offer those interested in exposing fine art forgery or who are hoping to authenticate a disputed work of art. This book, by a distinguished scientist, describes the more important analytical techniques and offers extensive examples of their application. Most analytical methods are those that a chemist would expect. Some, such as dendrochronology, are surprising.”

Nigel Rodenhurst, part-time lecturer in English, Aberystwyth University, is reading Pat Barker’s Liza’s England (Picador, 2001). “This politically charged novel left me with mixed feelings. The life of the female protagonist is so emotionally conveyed that I felt that I ‘knew’ her. The inner life of the gay, male protagonist, by contrast, came across as somewhat flat and sterile. A failure on Barker’s part or a matter of perspective? Perhaps a second reading will illuminate this.”

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