Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl (Hogarth, £16.99), her modern version of The Taming of the Shrew, came as a surprise: the funniest book she has written, much funnier than Shakespeare.
Private Eye considers that I should not praise Ferdinand Mount because I was at Eton with him but we never spoke to each other there, so perhaps it is acceptable to mention his English Voices: Lives, Landscapes and Laments 1985–2015 (Chatto, £15.99): a large volume of his reviews, I think literally without a dull page.
Otherwise, I have been catching up on good books I have never got round to. I was going to say that Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet was underrated until I came across a review stating that it was Tolstoyan in scope and Proustian in detail, so I’ll settle for a huge, gripping achievement. Among Penelope Fitzgerald’s extraordinary novels, I particularly liked The Beginning of Spring (Harper Perennial, £8.99) and The Bookshop. I thought I did not care for historical novels but it seems I do.
Disappointment: Dickens thought that he was at the height of his powers when he wrote Martin Chuzzlewit. He was wrong.
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