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Such a great disappointment occurs when a favourite author fails to grab your attention. Akin to the symptoms of withdrawal from addiction, the torment of going cold turkey. And it is not for want of trying. The compulsive reader perseveres. But without success. So they take a break, then return to tackle a few more pages. Determination rules. Ploughing on past the first chapter or two convinced that things will get better. “It’s not you, it’s me,” you murmur, adapting the time-honoured phrase of couples on the verge of a break-up. Surely a long-term relationship such as ours cannot have… Continue reading

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SUDDENLY I am delving into my memory bank, reliving how it was to take that nerve-racking walk from West to East across Berlin’s no-man’s-land of Checkpoint Charlie. An instant recall sparked after inexplicably waiting two decades to open a book fully intended to be read when it made its spectacular debut in 2003. That’s how it was with me and  Anna Funder’s Stasiland. Launched to an avalanche of plaudits at the start of the century, it stayed on the best-seller list for close to two years. But only recently has it made its way to my bedside pile, the result… Continue reading