‘Hospitality is a wonderful thing. If people really want you, they’ll have you, even if the cook has just died in the house of smallpox.’ Those words come from the Notebooks of F Scott Fitzgerald, creator of Jay Gatsby, just one of the hundreds of characters, real and imaginary, who appear in this anthology. In the 350 years of writing of covered here the manners have changed but the essential components of parties have not, nor has time lessened the potential for disaster which that powerful mix of drink, sex, food and music can engender.
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'The authors do not shrink from spelling out the scale of the killings when the Rhodesians made long-distance raids on guerrilla camps in Mozambique and Zambia.'
Xan Smiley on how Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.
'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).