Himalayers: revisiting and revising ‘Black Narcissus’

‘Black Narcissus’ has, like the mountain palace of Mopu itself, been haunting me for some days now, after watching both the new TV adaptation and going back to the 1947 Powell & Pressburger (‘P&P’) film. What is the allure of this strange story, and why does Rumer Godden’s original novel somehow elude both versions? *…

From Novichok to Neophyte

The horrendous poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury city centre on the 4th March 2018 was the inspiration for Sergei Lebedev’s latest novel Untraceable. Set in the opaque world of Russian Intelligence, it covers a particularly sticky period in Russian history, from the 1930s right up to the 1990s.  Three people power the story: Professor…

Vladimir Horowitz’s secret life revealed in quirky novel by Lea Singer

Vladimir Horowitz is probably the most famous concert pianist of all time. Wherever he performed, he drew legions of fans right up to his death in 1989. Audiences flocked to see the supernatural energy he brought to Chopin, Liszt, Brahms and other favourites from the romantic repertoire. There is no doubt, he was both virtuoso artist…

Venice with Turner

Like Canaletto before him, and Monet after him, J M W Turner (1775-1851) was intrigued and beguiled by Venice – the magical play of light and water, glimmering reflections of wedding cake palaces in the waters of the canals and the lagoon, the crumbling majesty of the buildings, the backstreets and alleys