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Jocelin’s Folly

Jocelin’s Folly

Across the east end of the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, where I was a volunteer guide for over a decade, there is a stone strainer arch erected by Prior Thomas Goldstone 500 years ago. It is a kind of tiebar, one of six which bind together the columns that support Bell Harry Tower, the cathedral’s dominant feature. The arch is essential to the integrity of the building’s central structure and is decorated with flowered designs and an inscription. On either side of the Prior’s initials and his rebus – three golden pebbles, a visual pun on his surname – there is the first verse of the psalm that begins Non nobis Domine (‘Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name give glory . . .’).
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Last Waltz in Vienna | From the Slightly Foxed Bookshelves

Last Waltz in Vienna | From the Slightly Foxed Bookshelves

Introducing the latest addition to the Slightly Foxed Editions list, No. 56: George Clare, Last Waltz in Vienna. Published 1 September. In February 1938, the grand Konzerthaus in Vienna was in full, glorious swing; bands were playing, there was dancing and singing and plenty of beer. It was the first ball ever attended by the 17-year-old Georg Klaar, and he stayed until the very last waltz. But on 11 March, lorries began thundering into the streets, filled with uniformed men waving swastikas and shouting ‘Death to Jews’. Austria was now betrayed and had been annexed by the German Third Reich. Barely four years later, Georg Klaar had become George Clare and was serving in the British army, and his parents had been rounded up and taken to Auschwitz. Only with hindsight can George discern the complex reasons for his family’s destruction, and for the whole appalling waste of war. This is a profoundly moving, honest and compassionate memoir, remarkably devoid of self-pity, though not of anger.
Elegy to a Family

Elegy to a Family

I have a photo of Aunt Margaret standing outside Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, beret jauntily askew. It is 1937 and, aged 28, she is on her return with a friend from Czechoslovakia, travelling in an Austin Ruby. Margaret – think Joyce Grenfell in St Trinian’s – always maintained she crossed Central Europe without difficulty despite losing her passport. It seems improbable but maybe not impossible. Regardless, the small black-and-white image enduringly appeals because it was taken amid perilous events in Austria of which Margaret, in her artless exuberance for life, was probably unaware. I wanted to know more of that time.
Hilary Mantel | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Hilary Mantel | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

‘I was so glad to hear An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel praised . . . Hilary Mantel’s early novels get overlooked now and it is one of the joys of Slightly Foxed that it highlights areas like this.’ As you know, dear readers, Slightly Foxed is the literary magazine for people who don’t want to read only what the big publishers are hyping and the newspapers are reviewing. We hope to introduce, or reintroduce, you to all those wonderful books that languish on publishers’ backlists. Hilary Mantel is now best known for her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, but we’d like to put the spotlight on a selection of other riches from her writing life. We published her powerful and haunting memoir, Giving up the Ghost, in our series of SF Editions and, in Episode 31 of the Slightly Foxed podcast, we recommended her darkly inventive novel, An Experiment in Love. Please read on for details of The Hilary Mantel Bundle, together with links to single titles by this author. You’ll also find news of our forthcoming weekend wayzgoose – and amended office hours – as well as a special Summer Holiday offer for all readers to enjoy.
Travel the world with Slightly Foxed

Travel the world with Slightly Foxed

‘The two weeks in Washington seemed to last an age, for travel makes time stand still, like a dream which takes one through a long series of adventures while actually lasting only a few moments.’ Jessica Mitford, SF Edition No. 52: Hons and Rebels Greetings from Hoxton Square, where we offer a series of adventures across the globe through our Slightly Foxed Editions. Guided by intrepid and entertaining travel companions, we traverse the United States with Jessica Mitford, Italian mountain ranges with Eric Newby, East Africa with Roald Dahl and blistering Spain with Laurie Lee. These are just a few of the far-flung destinations we visit in our series of classic memoirs – each edition brings alive a particular place and invites you into someone else’s world.
Episode 34: Sybille Bedford’s Appetite for Life

Episode 34: Sybille Bedford’s Appetite for Life

‘I wondered for a time who this brilliant “Mrs Bedford” could be,’ wrote Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford on reading Sybille Bedford’s first novel, A Legacy. The twentieth-century European writer Sybille Bedford could be many things: traveller, gourmand, oenophile, court reporter, Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist. In this month’s literary podcast the Slightly Foxed team discover the pleasures and landscapes of Bedford’s life, loves and writing with her biographer, Selina Hastings. The daughter of a German Baron, from childhood Bedford travelled endlessly, living in Germany, Italy, France, Portugal and Britain. Claiming to suffer from sloth and love of life, she deified her friend Aldous Huxley, had assets frozen by the Nazi regime, was funded by Martha Gellhorn and was known for her many lovers, all while experiencing the ‘tearing, crushing, defeating agony’ of writing. From a delicious account of a visit to Don Otavio in Mexico and vivid reportage of the Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial to the autobiographical novel Jigsaw, we see the world through Bedford’s observant eye and voracious appetite.
44 minutes
‘Ring of Bright Water caught me off guard’ | Jim Crumley on Gavin Maxwell

‘Ring of Bright Water caught me off guard’ | Jim Crumley on Gavin Maxwell

Greetings from Hoxton Square where, this summer, we’re travelling to far-flung destinations through the pages of Slightly Foxed. The latest issue of the magazine takes us far and wide, from language-hunting in the Karakorum and climbing Mount Kenya to Anthony Burgess’s Malaya and Robert Graves’s Ancient Rome . . . However, today we’re heading to the West Highlands of Scotland with Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water, with the Scottish nature writer Jim Crumley as our guide.
Hand-grenade Practice in Peking | Model Revolutionary Life

Hand-grenade Practice in Peking | Model Revolutionary Life

Like pain, the memory of the boredom of much of my visit in 1971, and of those interminable meetings with revolutionary committees, had faded with time and in 1975 I had applied to join the third group of British exchange students to go and study for a year in Peking. Though I could read Chinese and had a good job in a university library, working with Chinese books, I wanted to speak the language better. So now I was, once again, on my way to Peking. What follows is an account, based on letters home, of my year in China.
S is for Sagan, Françoise | From the Slightly Foxed archives

S is for Sagan, Françoise | From the Slightly Foxed archives

‘My love of pleasure seems to be the only consistent side of my character. Is it because I have not read enough?’ Françoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse Greetings from Hoxton Square, where we’re once again travelling through the magazine’s archives to provide some welcome weekend reading. Charlie Lee-Potter’s piece on Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse appeared in Slightly Foxed Issue 14 and transports us to a summer spent on the French Riviera.
Escape from France | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

Escape from France | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves

‘Revisiting the Carey novels today, I am struck by how fresh and magnetizing they have remained, and by how much there is in these books – as there is in all good children’s literature – that can be enjoyed by adults. It is common for readers of Welch to credit him with sparking a love of history . . .’ We thought it timely to travel back to June 1791 through the pages of Escape from France, a Carey adventure set in the midst of the French Revolution.
Escape from France | The news from Paris was brief and startling . . .

Escape from France | The news from Paris was brief and startling . . .

The news from Paris was brief and startling. King Louis, the Queen and all the Royal family had escaped from Paris and were believed to be making for the German frontier. Already a petition had been submitted to the Assembly for the proclamation of a Republic. Richard whistled softly. He might sleep through lectures on the constitution of Athens, though he had read far more widely on that subject than many of his friends suspected, but he followed the politics of Europe with an intelligent and well-informed interest. Well, this would put the cat among the pigeons, he thought.

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