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I have been devoted to your podcast for over a year; it could be improved only by being more frequent. Every book I have ordered from you has been a delight; nothing disappoints. I receive your emails with pleasure, and that’s saying a lot. Slightly Foxed is a source of content . . . ’
K. Nichols, Washington, USA

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Heroes and Haberdashers || Present ideas for Father’s Day and other occasions

Heroes and Haberdashers || Present ideas for Father’s Day and other occasions

With Father’s Day approaching we thought some of you may appreciate a few present ideas for the father figures in your lives. All presents can be wrapped in handsome brown paper and tied up with a suave and understated cream ribbon and sent off to the recipient, or to you to hand over in person, in good time for Sunday 16 June. Gifts may be sent all over the world and should arrive at far-flung destinations in good time but if you’re worried about delivery times, you can always request an e-mailable or printable gift card during the checkout process to tide you over.

‘I have so enjoyed your podcast . . .’

‘I have so enjoyed your podcast, it is like being in the room with you, and it is a very nice room - and good company to be in.’
4th June 2019

‘I love your magazine. . .’

‘I love your magazine and settle down for a good read when it arrives. The June edition was full of interesting and amusing essays which my friends and I love. Sorry I forgot the time difference between Brisbane Australia and London, so I sent off my subscription while our morning sun is shining into my sitting room on a cold and windy day. Hope you are all fast asleep and have a very good day when you wake up. All the very best and you are keeping up a wonderful standard of writing for us to read.’
- B. Wintringham, Brisbane, Australia
From readers
Ire and Irritability

Ire and Irritability

I am having another stab at Jane Austen. Friends beg me to keep trying, anxious for me not to miss what they tell me is an unrivalled view of a luminous literary landscape. I have made efforts on and off over the years and never found her to my taste. Somewhere along the line at school I passed through Northanger Abbey without retaining much impression of it. But now I have made a pledge with a friend who works at the Royal Society of Literature. I must endeavour to read some Austen and my friend will attempt to read Wuthering Heights, a book she has heretofore avoided. She suggested I start with Sense and Sensibility, so I did.
SF magazine subscribers only

‘I feel I’m getting to know you all quite well . . .’

‘My husband bought me a subscription to Slightly Foxed for Christmas. I absolutely love everything about it. How could I not, when my first issue included three (three!) of my favourite books? The Quincunx, The Uncommon Reader, and the under-rated Barnaby Rudge. I'm not sure whether the thing I enjoy most is finding new titles or discovering that some of your contributors are fans of my own discoveries. Due to the podcasts I feel I'm getting to know you all quite well. I particularly liked the feature recently on independent bookshops. As a retired librarian from the humanities department of a major city library, I always valued the opportunities I had to provide a specialist service to readers. Over the past decade the profession has almost disappeared. Your feature gave me hope that just as bookshops are rediscovering their true role, so one day libraries might do the same.’

A Burning Issue

This is the tale of a baby, a book and a candle. The setting is the Sudan, the baby is our first-born, two-month-old Natasha, and the book is a great twentieth-century Italian novel. As for the candle . . . One may as well begin with the baby. Natasha Su-ming Sakina Plowright was born on 22 February 1966 in Omdurman, a stone’s throw from the Mahdi’s tomb, to my wife Poh Sim and me. She weighed 8lbs 6oz and was bright blue. Her nearest neighbour in the nun-run hospital was a Greek grocer’s baby weighing in at over 10lbs. We carried ours home in triumph and a Moses basket to our eccentric, edge-of-desert house, set in a garden full of mongooses.
SF magazine subscribers only

Not Your Average Englishwoman

I first encountered Rosita Forbes atop a camel in the middle of the Rabiana Sand Sea in southern Libya. There was probably no finer way of making this unusual writer’s acquaintance. Here, deep in the Sahara, she was in her element, disguised as an Arab woman and with only a few camels and human companions between her and a nasty, lingering death. In fact it was worse than that. Apart from the natural dangers of the desert, she was passing through the territory of tribesmen who regarded this motley expedition of an Englishwoman and the Egyptian Olympic-fencer-cum-spy-cum-explorer Ahmed Hassanein Bey with profound suspicion, if not downright hostility.
SF magazine subscribers only

Extremely Likable People

In the kind of house where books are handed down the generations, the chances are that on a spare bedroom bookshelf, squeezed between Guy Mannering and Roses, Their Culture and Management, you will find a copy of one of the eleven novels written by O. Douglas. Take it to bed to read and you will quickly become immersed in the cultured, if circumscribed, Scottish middle-class life of three generations ago. Whether that appeals to you will probably depend both on your attitude to Scotland and Scottishness and on whether you enjoy a well-told if old-fashioned story where only rarely does anything very startling happen.
SF magazine subscribers only

Hoofing It

Unable to pedal but still able to walk, I had found inspiration in a battered copy of Eight Feet in the Andes wedged between the clothes and the spare tubes in my pannier. In the early 1980s, its author Dervla Murphy flew to Cajamarca in Peru with her 9-year-old daughter Rachel. Already a veteran of odysseys on foot, mule, donkey and bicycle, the Irish travel writer needed no justification for what came next. Putting the local grapevine to good use, she and Rachel purchased a lively young mule named Juana . . .
SF magazine subscribers only
Mood Music

Mood Music

Until I read the bit in Rebecca West’s This Real Night where one of the main characters dies, I’d never cried properly on a plane. I’ll admit to a bit of panicky sobbing during a bout of bad turbulence, but never before had I abandoned myself to full-on, uncontrollable weeping at 33,000 feet. I won’t tell you which of the characters dies, because that would be a cruel spoiler, and I am hoping to persuade you to spend time with this strange, wonderful trilogy and the eccentric Aubrey family who live in its pages. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because This Real Night is the second book in the series and – like the unfinished third, Cousin Rosamund – was published posthumously (1984 and 1985 respectively).
SF magazine subscribers only
Small Is Beautiful

Small Is Beautiful

Among the books I’d assembled to help steer me through the boundless subject of trees and woodlands for a recent commission, H. E. Bates’s Through the Woods – a month-by-month account of a small copse in Kent – looked unassuming. Recommended via some unnerving algorithm of online commerce, it sat for many weeks among the accumulating pile beneath my desk. When at last I glanced through it, however, one passage brought it suddenly alive. . .
SF magazine subscribers only

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