Review | The Story of Langford Grove School 1923-62 | Blue Horizon Press

The story of Langford Grove School is a period piece. It is the story of the remarkable headmistress and sole proprietor, Elizabeth Curtis. Whether it was gin and scallops for lunch with Frank Auerbach; a fireside chat with David Wynne; Sir Thomas Beecham holding up his orchestra until Curty took her seat; driving Vanessa Bell’s daughter Angelica to Blakeney Point; encouraging early orienteering on Bodmin Moor; caring for and educating Basque children escaping Franco’s cruelty; deciding at the drop of a hat that all lessons one particular term should be learnt in French; or following the Wartime exploits of her Naval Officer son, on whom Ian Fleming was said to have based some James Bond characteristics –  this was “Curty”. Curty was a progressive educationalist who wanted the very best in artistic experiences in beautiful surroundings for the sixty or so pupils in her care at Langford Grove,” from the Preface by Lucinda Curtis, grand-daughter of “Curty”

A century ago, being an educated and intelligent woman meant learning a European language, singing, dancing and music. Women who wanted to go to university were referred to as “blue stockings” (from the group of women who in the 1750s held “conversations” to which they invited men of letters and members of the aristocracy with literary interests.) Continue reading Review | The Story of Langford Grove School 1923-62 | Blue Horizon Press

Review | Thirsty Sea, Erica Mou trs. Clarissa Botsford | Héloïse Press

Héloïse Press champions world-wide female talent by giving voice to emerging and well-established female writers from home and abroad.
Erica Mou (b. 1990) studied Literature, Publishing and Journalism at the University of Bari. She is an Italian singer-songwriter and the recipient of numerous international awards. Thirsty Sea, winner of the Readers’ Award of the Lungano Literary Festival 2020, is her debut novel. Erica wrote this book at the kitchen table of her rented accommodation in London.

The image maybe be near-perfect but what lies behind it? Inside a person is like inside the sea: all that lies beneath the surface is not immediately visible.

BePresent

Nicola is an aeroplane pilot, a very good cook and the ideal son-in-law. He is “the kind of person who doesn’t kill spiders but catches them in jars and frees them out of the window”. He is a perfect catch for Maria who runs an oddball eco-friendly business. As a gift-buying consultant, she is paid by clients to come up with ideas for presents. So her shop is just a big empty space with a table, a chair and a phallic sculpture in the corner reminiscent of Rocking Machine, the art piece created by Dutch sculptor and artist Herman Makkink for Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange. There is “nothing on sale, no shelves, just brilliant ideas.”

Continue reading Review | Thirsty Sea, Erica Mou trs. Clarissa Botsford | Héloïse Press

Review | My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women | MacLehose Press

Afghan women have been in the news again since the Taliban have banned Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle after women students and teachers protested peacefully in response to secondary schools for girls being shut down. Writing in Afghanistan is once again a taboo craft for women.

As a schoolteacher put it: “The Taliban are scared of an educated girl. When a girl is educated, a family will be educated. And when a family is educated, a nation will be educated. Ultimately, an educated nation will never, ever nourish the motives of terrorists.” www.democracynow.org

Continue reading Review | My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women | MacLehose Press

Review | The Last One, Fatima Daas, trs. Lara Vergnaud | HopeRoad Publishing

My name is Fatima Daas. The name of a girl from Clichy who crosses the tracks to get to school.”

An autobiographical first novel, The Last One tells the story of Fatima and her family. The confusing polarities between different worlds and cultures that are portrayed sparked an intense Media debate in France. Although based on true events and experiences, Fatima Daas changed certain aspects in order to be free to write what she wanted, and convey her feelings about specific events.  Continue reading Review | The Last One, Fatima Daas, trs. Lara Vergnaud | HopeRoad Publishing

Guest Review | Vladimir Sharov, Be As Children (trs. Oliver Ready) | Dedalus Books

Poetry and fiction by Vladimir Sharov, a medieval historian by education, was first published in the late 1970s. Be Like Children was a finalist for the Russian Booker and Big Book awards.

“My own experience has taught me that being at the centre of events makes you the worst possible witness,” writes the main character of Be As Children (p. 39), introducing a sense of uncertainty and improbability that permeates this long, rambling, immersive novel. Continue reading Guest Review | Vladimir Sharov, Be As Children (trs. Oliver Ready) | Dedalus Books

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