In The Childhood of Jesus, the first instalment of what now, somewhat surprisingly, proves to be J M Coetzee’s series of Jesus novels, we followed a strange boy named Davíd and his adoptive guardian, Simón, who had come on a ship across Lethean waters to the land of Novilla. In the voyage they had been washed clean of all memories of their earlier lives, adopting new names along with the Spanish language, out of which their episodic philosophical dialogues were all purportedly translated. In Novilla, a benevolent if not entirely appealing utopia of mild, passionless rationality, they sought, found and joined Inés, a woman whom they deemed to be Davíd’s mother.
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'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.
'We have all twenty-nine of her Barsetshire novels, and whenever a certain longing reaches critical mass we read all twenty-nine again, straight through.'
Patricia T O'Conner on her love for Angela Thirkell. (£)