Sometimes the pleasure an author has taken in researching a novel adds a kind of radiance to the text. Wise Children is such a book. Despite being a magnificently vivid and funny first-person narrative delivered by Dora Chance (a 75-year-old ex-chorus girl, daughter of a famous Shakespearian actor), Wise Children is yet haunted by an image of the author herself, having a bloody good time. One imagines her striding purposefully around libraries and archives, loudly whistling Cole Porter’s ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’; or leading a sing-song in a South London pub, high-kicking like a Tiller Girl with a band of thickly painted old troupers. Perhaps she did neither, of course. But reading this exuberant book, there is an undeniable sensation that there was good sport at its making.