Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Quadrant (magazine) Book and Film Reviews, 1996 - 2011

Blameless yet talented
R J Stove, Cesar Franck: his life and times, Scarecrow Press, 2012.
July-August 2012

[Featuring a happily married composer, the Prussian Army, and a very large box of chocolates. Quadrant subscriber access only.]
Jan Gothard, Greater Expectations: living with Down Syndrome in the 21st century, Fremantle Press, 2011.
June 2011

[Featuring a bitchy obstetrician’s nurse, devious Education Departments, and the triumph of the human spirit. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

A.G. Evans, William Wardell: Building with Conviction, Connor Court, 2010.
November 2010

In June 1865, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney burnt to the ground. When Archbishop Polding heard the news, he was almost as flattened as the cathedral, but he was sensible enough to approach a really good architect—a proven cathedral-builder and a man who clearly knew his onions. And so he commissioned William Wardell to design the new St Mary’s.

Juno-esque in Saffron [review of Claire McCarthy’s The Waiting City, 2010)
September 2010

[Featuring a collapsing marriage, a bout of food poisoning, and the supreme warrior-mother goddess Durga. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Linda Himelstein, The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire, HarperCollins, 2009.
May 2010

This is where the story of Pyotr Smirnov enthrals, because he overcame the constant obstacles, maximised his opportunities, and, importantly, never allowed a setback to reduce him to sitting on the stove all day and complaining like someone out of Chekhov.

Adrian Goldsworthy, The Fall of the West: The Death of the Roman Superpower, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2009
April 2010

[Featuring global warming, the fall of Kevin Rudd, and some slitty-eyed Huns. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Eamon Duffy, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, Yale University Press, 2009
October 2009

[Featuring the original Vicar of Bray, a scandalised Quadrant editor, and an archiepiscopal slipper. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Tilar J. Mazzeo, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, HarperCollins, 2008
May 2009

Madame Clicquot was plain, tough and sharp-tongued, and like a lot of plain, tough and sharp-tongued women in trying circumstances, seemed to have a penchant for handsome young men with promise.

Stephan Talty, Empire of Blue Water: Henry Morgan and the Pirates Who Ruled the Caribbean Waves, Simon & Schuster, 2008
March 2009

[Featuring my speculations about (a) what would have happened if Oliver Cromwell had joined the Mayflower voyage, and (b) Burt Lancaster in tights. Quadrant subscriber access only.]

Virginia Nicholson, Singled Out: how two million women survived without men after the First World War, Penguin, 2008
January-February 2009

I especially liked the Irish-born French scholar Enid Starkie, the blue-trousered scandal of the Senior Common Room.

Civilised disagreement
Peter Coleman (ed), Double take: Six incorrect essays, Mandarin, 1996
May 1996: 80-81

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