Author: John Updike. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Even at its finest, biography is a difficult enterprise; claims of being revelatory and insightful may often turn out to be another way of settling a (...)

Fleeing Nazism: Jews on a boat to Brazil from Hamburg in 1935. Photograph:  Roger Viollet / Getty Images

Shame, fear and the legacy of an appalling experience as lived by a father and grandfather long dead continue to haunt a man approaching middle(...)

Alan Bennett: mistaken for a Coronation Street star. Photograph: Marco Secchi/Getty

In 1982, when Nina Stibbe was 20, she moved from Leicestershire to London to take a job as nanny to two young boys. Her employer was Mary-Kay Wilmers,(...)

Jane Gardam: not as famous as Martin Amis. Photograph: Victoria Salman

Why isn’t Jane Gardam more famous? That’s what I kept wondering as I read her funny, moving new novel, Last Friends. It’s something that has baffled m(...)

Testing the Current
  • Books
  • March 9, 2013, 06:00

It is 1939 and Tommy is eight years old. His two elder brothers are almost grown up and at college. His father has a factory and makes lots of (...)