• Let Me Go – Helga Schneider (2005)

    When Helga Schneider was four years old, her mother, a member of the SS, left her husband and two children to follow her career. Helga would not see her mother, Traudi, for decades. A single meeting in the early 1970s revealed that Traudi, a former concentration camp guard, was utterly unrepentant about her involvement in […]

  • Stasiland – Anna Funder (2003, 2011)

    I wrote this review in 2003. The present edition of the book is from 2011. Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Anna Funder’s Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall is a fascinating series of accounts of life in the former German Democratic Republic. […]

  • Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith – Andrew Wilson (2004)

    In this Whitbread-shortlisted biography by Andrew Wilson, Patricia Highsmith is shown to be a woman who never found true happiness. Condemned by her own psychology to seek out inappropriate and often unavailable women, she never had a relationship that lasted longer than a few years. An almost life-long alcoholic, Highsmith’s happiest moments came from writing. […]

  • The Duel (1780) – Giacomo Casanova

    After escaping from prison only to learn he was about to be released anyway, and now a fugitive, Giacomo Casanova wandered around Europe and ended up at the Polish court. This location would become the scene of his short book, The Duel. Il duello was first published in 1780 and is a fictionalised account of […]