Americanah is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel – I did read her previous two novels some time ago, and have her collection of short stories waiting tbr.

Set in London, the US and Adichie’s native Nigeria Americanah is a wonderfully compelling novel exploring issues of race, and the immigrant experience.

As the novel opens Ifemelu has been living in the US for thirteen years and is contemplating a return to Nigeria. As Ifemelu goes to a hair salon to get her hair braided correctly, she begins to contemplate what her return will mean for her.

“…there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”

Ifemelu’s life in America has not always been easy, she made choices she later became ashamed of – and which led her to turn her back on the great love of her life. Initially living with her aunt and cousin Dike, Ifemelu soon strikes out on her own. Finishing her studies, while working as a child-minder, Ifemelu later starts a blog, a blog about race, taking an uncompromising look at US life from the point of view of “the non-American Black.” Her blog is an astounding success; she even manages to make money from it. During these years Ifemelu has relationships with both white and black men, and even this informs her opinion on race.

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”

Told in flashback is the story of Ifemelu and her teenage lover Obinze. In their youth Nigeria had been governed by a military dictatorship, and as Ifemelu and Obinze who had been drawn together in secondary school, begin their university education, a series of strikes brings enormous disruption to the university. Ifemelu’s aunt; the mistress of “the general” a government man – takes his child and leaves, to begin again in America following the death of her protector. Suddenly Ifemelu has the chance to go to America too, and so when her visa is granted she decides to continue her studies in the US, well away from the strikes and power cuts. However Obinze is unable to gain entry to the US, and so following Ifemelu’s departure he leaves for England, where he eventually enters the shadowy world of the illegal immigrant in London.

Back in Nigeria years later, Obinze is a wealthy man, married with a young daughter, when suddenly Ifemelu gets in touch to say she is coming back. Ifemelu’s return to Nigeria is delayed by a family crisis. Fearing for her young cousin’s sense of identity, nervous of leaving him behind in an America that has so many different categories of race, and seemingly so little understanding of what that means, it is months before Ifemelu is again driving through Lagos. Once she is back in Nigeria Ifemelu begins working for a magazine, and begins a new blog, but it is quite some time before she plucks up the courage to contact her old boyfriend. When the two meet again, their old feelings for each other are re-ignited, and the two have some difficult decisions to make about their futures.

Adichie is a brilliant story-teller and in this novel she allows her characters, particularly Ifemelu to voice the issues of race, identity and politics that must affect so many people who migrate to other nations. Ifemelu is a character I came to love – she’s not perfect – she makes some frustrating decisions along the way – but she is a brave, outspoken and passionate young woman. Obinze was a harder character to understand, his rise from illegal immigrant in London to a wealthy man in newly democratic Nigeria is mysterious and fascinating, and I was willing him to come through for Ifemelu and be worthy of the faith I had in him. Aside from its exploration of race and identity Americanah is also a love story. Adichie’s sense of place, whether it’s Lagos, London or the US is strong, and as Ifemelu returns and falls in love again with her native Nigeria – so the reader can’t help but love it too.

chimamanda ngozi Adichie

classicclub meme

I haven’t answered a Classic Club question for a couple of months – and really it is time I did.

So in July the Classic Club is asking:

“Have you ever read a biography on a classic author? If so, tell us about it. If you had already read works by this author, did reading a biography of his/her life change your perspective on the author’s writing? Why or why not? Or, if you’ve never read a biography of a classic author, would you? Why or why not?”

time torn manIn 2011 I read a superb biography of Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin. The Time Torn Man is a really a must for any Hardy fans I think. Regular readers will know I love my Hardy. When I read A Time Torn man – I was preparing to start my Hardy reading challenge. The challenge undertaken by myself and a few friends was to read the fiction (novels and short stories) of Hardy in publication order. I had already read almost everything at least once – there were just two volumes of short stories I hadn’t read before. Reading one book every two months the project beginning in July 2011 officially finished last month with A Changed Man and other Stories. Back in 2011 then, I already knew a lot of Hardy’s writing, but a lot of it had been read many years earlier, and my memories of those books, although fond had naturally faded with time.

In reading The Time Torn Man, I met Hardy as a child and young man, born into a fairly humble family; he was very much a part of the rural landscape he is so famed for writing about. Thomas Hardy a man who grew up appreciating music, who started out as an architect, who had to work hard to marry his Emma who was his social superior. The echoes of all these things are present throughout his writing. Hardy’s first marriage, starting off happy, didn’t really remain so, in their middle age, the two lived largely separate lives, Emma Hardy religious and traditional, Hardy himself critical of religion, feeling more and more trapped by the conventions of Victorian marriage. Again, throughout Hardy’s writing he returns again and again to themes of marriage. After Emma’s death, Hardy married Florence, a much younger woman, and wrote love poetry to the memory of Emma. He was an often conflicted and complex man, and reading this biography highlights this wonderfully. Claire Tomalin is a superb biographer – I also read her book about Jane Austen – excellent too!

Claire Tomalin obviously appreciates Hardy even more as a poet than a novelist – and the one thing I took away from this book – was the feeling that I had a better understanding of Hardy the novelist, the story teller and in a small way as a man, but I really needed to acquaint myself better with Hardy the poet. That remains something I am working on.

When I set out for Lyonnesse,
A hundred miles away,
The rime was on the spray,
And starlight lit my lonesomeness
When I set out for Lyonnesse
A hundred miles away.

What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there
No prophet durst declare,
Nor did the wisest wizard guess
What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there.

When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes,
All marked with mute surmise
My radiance rare and fathomless,
When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes!

blogger award

I admit I don’t often take part in these kinds of things that frequently appear all over the blogosphere – but this time I have been inspired to do so. Celebrating the many wonderful book blogs that are out there is something I am happy to do.

Nancy at Ipsofactodotme
Claire at Word by Word
Karen at Kaggsy’s bookish ramblings;
have all nominated me for The Very Inspiring Book Blogger award. Thank you all, I was very chuffed – and always enjoy interacting with you all on my own blog and yours. I naturally would nominate you all back : ) – but I presume I’m not allowed to do that.

The award has the following rules:
• Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
• List the rules and display the award.
• Share seven facts about yourself.
• Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
• Optional: display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

A small confession before I go on – my blog reading the last few weeks has been a bit hit and miss – so I am probably re-nominating people who have already been nominated – but I am sure it doesn’t matter.

Here are my fifteen, there were lots more I could have chosen though.

1 Stuck in a book – Simon is definitely an inspiration – his blog must surely be on the top of many readers and bloggers best of lists
2. Fleur in her World – Jane a friend from the Librarything Virago Group, whose reviews always so bring the books she loves to life, was one of the first blogs I began reading when I moved my blog to WordPress and tried to start blogging more seriously.
3. Thinking in Fragments – Alex’s brilliant thoughtful reviews covers a mix of crime fiction and literary fiction who came to blogging after working in the academic world.
4. Past Offences – I love these reviews of vintage crime fiction, finding out about many authors I have never heard of.
5 Winston’s Dad –Stu writes about translated fiction, I enjoy discovering things I have never heard about before.
6 The writes of Women – Naomi writes brilliantly about women writers, reviewing both contemporary fiction and non-fiction, and frequently prompting me to read more new things.
7. Brona’s books – an Aussie and fellow classic clubber who reviews a mix of interesting contemporary fiction and Classic books.
8. The Captive Reader – Claire, a Canadian reader and blogger who often writes about just the kind of things I love.
9. Booker Talk – Karen reviews literary fiction and is a big fan of Booker winning novels.
10 Lizzy’s Literary Life – A blog that has introduced me to a lot of German literature.
11 Adventures in reading, writing and working from home – Liz is a good friend who I have known about 8eight years. An editor and proof-reader she undertook the challenge of working full time for herself a couple of years ago – and also blogs about many of the kinds of books I love as well as introducing me to other things – particularly non-fiction which I am so bad at reading.

12 My Book strings – a blog I only discovered quite recently – reviews of a variety of books including literary and historical fiction and classics.
13 Jacquiwine’s journal – another blog I only recently discovered, a brilliant mix of wine and books – and we all know how well they go together.
14 A Penguin a week – I have to be careful with this blog – I often think I would like to collect all these old penguins – but that would be crazy – I know. Karyn reviews of lots of wonderful old vintage books, lots of obscure titles too.
15 Beauty is a Sleeping Cat – Another blog I only recently discovered. Lots of great reviews – recently Beauty is a Sleeping Cat has introduced me to some books I hadn’t heard of – always dangerous!


If you don’t already know these blogs – please check them out.

So then seven things about me, not wanting to get too serious or say too much about my very ordinary life will keep it simple, seven things I love.
1. The English seaside
2. Tea
3. Thomas Hardy
4. The Theatre
5. Weight watches chocolate mini rolls
6. Women Writers especially pre 1960
7. Canals and railways


a capote readerHaving always meant to read more Truman Capote, I decided to join the summer readathon hosted by The Literary Sisters and These little words. I bought the book, A Capote Reader – though I was slightly disappointed that the cover of my edition wasn’t that pictured on the Waterstone’s website – the picture I am stubbornly using to make myself feel better – and I was all set. I have decided to read the entire book – not just the pieces for the readathon, but as it’s over 700 pages of fairly small print and contains a variety of pieces, I am going to review it in sections. Therefore I will be having a truly Truman Capote summer –as I don’t expect to get through all of it before the end of August if I am dipping in and out of it.

July’s readathon pieces are:
Novella – The Grass Harp
Short stories – ‘Miriam’, ‘My Side of the Matter’, ‘A Tree of Night’, ‘Jug of Silver’, ‘The Headless Hawk’, ‘Shut a Final Door’

I will be reading The Grass Harp in the next week or so. I started with the first six of the short stories and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Miriam’ was one of Capote’s first published short stories in 1945; it won him the O. Henry Award in the category Best First-Published Story. ‘Miriam’ has a dreamlike quality about it, taking as its central theme a psychological double personality. Lonely 61 year old widow Miriam goes to a movie one snowy evening and meets a young girl, also called Miriam. When the girl turns up at Miriam’s apartment it quickly becomes apparent that things are not as they first appeared.

‘My Side of the matter’ – concerns a desperately young married couple, narrated by the young husband, his being the side of the matter in question. This is the story of what happens when his young wife takes him to meet her two very odd and combative aunts. These characters are dysfunctional and immature – a trait they share with other characters in these first six stories of A Capote Reader.

‘A Tree of Night’ – was probably my favourite of the six, deliciously chilling it tells the story of a young woman travelling back to college aboard a train, forced into company with two deeply sinister people, isolated in a compartment with them she seems incapable of helping herself.

“And then, without warning, a strange thing happened: the man reached out and gently stroked Kay’s cheek. Despite the breathtaking delicacy of this movement, it was a bold gesture Kay was at first too startled to know what to make of it: her thoughts shot in three or four fantastic directions. He leaned forward till his queer eyes were very near her own; the reek of his perfume was sickening. The guitar was silent while they exchanged a searching gaze.”
(A Tree of Night – 1945)

A Jug of Silver – a drug store owner drums up business with a jug of silver – guess the amount and win the money – in the run up to Christmas. A strange young boy; Appleseed and his sister appear – with Appleseed determined to win the money – for days Appleseed comes to the shop to sit and gaze at the jar – before finally the day before the result is announced – taking his guess.

“He turned into a side street leading toward the East River; it was quiet here, hushed like Sunday: a sailor-stroller munching an Eskimo Pie, energetic twins skipping rope, an old velvet lady with gardenia-white hair lifting aside lace curtains and peering listlessly into rain-dark space – a city landscape in July”
(The Headless Hawk -1946)

Both ‘The headless hawk’ and ‘Shut a final door’ involve damaging and unsatisfactory relationships of varying kinds. In The Headless Hawk, a very young damaged girl meets Victor in the art gallery where he works. He is quite a lot older, she brings in a picture, and the two embark on a relationship. However the girl seems convinced that every man she encounters is the mysterious Mr Destronelli for whom she has a pathological hatred and fear. In ‘Shut a final door’ – Walter; a writer hides out in a hotel room, seemingly hiding from his former friends and lovers. A series of events leads Walter to be shunned by everyone he once knew.

I really loved the atmospheric nature of these stories, snowy New York streets, lonely apartments, train compartments, small town drug stores, hotel rooms, and the strange and damaged people who are found there. Capote’s themes are complex, his stories seem laden with imagery and I can’t help but think I may have missed things. Here are so many emotionally damaged, isolated people – existing within landscapes that mirror their insecurities in some way.



Having so loved Drawn from Memory the first volume of E H Shepard’s memoires recently I had to quickly acquire the second volume, and once it arrived I wanted to read it. Drawn from Memory; carries on the story of the young Ernest’s life from the time of his mother’s death, when he was a young boy, until he marries. Illustrated by author – the man famous for his illustrations of children’s literary classics like The Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh – this book is every bit as lovely as the first volume.

“Mother always encouraged my drawing and, although she had little talent herself, would show me how to use my paints. We made plans together for when I grew up and became an artist myself. She, almost more than Father, inspired me to persevere. After her death I missed her companionship terribly and determined to justify her faith in my talent.”

A young Ernest accompanied his elder brother Cyril to St. Johns Wood preparatory school ‘Oliver’s’ for a while before transferring his education to St. Pauls public school where Ernest’s Uncle Willie was a schoolmaster. Here Ernest tries hard to not stand out too much, enjoys playing rugger, and seems to have not really encountered many problems, at St. Paul’s Ernest was unsurprisingly already doing well in the drawing class. By the time he was fifteen Ernest education was focussed mainly on his artist studies; when he began, while technically still a schoolboy, to spend some of his time at Heatherley’s art school. Later he became a student at the Royal Academy art schools. During these years Ernest meets Florence Chaplin herself a gifted art student – who he is later to marry – while making lifelong friends among his other fellow students.

“The prize distribution at the Academy Schools that winter was really happy event for me. I had won a medal for a painted figure and ten pounds for a set of life drawings. But what pleased me even more was that Florence Chaplin had won the £40 prize for a mural. The subject was ‘The Procession of the Hours’ and she treated it by showing the Horae as female figures. It was lovely both in colour and design and the award was a most popular one, all agreeing that it was by far the best. She was later commissioned to carry out the design for the nurses’ dining-room at Guy’s Hospital. It was a big undertaking, measuring twenty-five feet in length, and took her over a year to paint. Many years later I was able to buy back the original drawing, and it hangs in my drawing room today”

drawnfromlife1Ernest’s relationship with his family, his brother Cyril, sister Ethel, his father and a collection of aunts, is close, and described with quite obvious affection. Ernest’s architect father is supportive of his youngest son’s artistic ambitions and despite not having an awful lot of money – gives his children some wonderfully memorable holidays in Devon, Wales and Germany. In Kingswear, Devon, Ernest and his siblings are re-introduced to Gussie Rogers, an old friend of their mother’s; spending some very happy times with Gussie and her husband Groby to whom Ernest particularly took to.

Shepard’s writing style is a fairly simple one, there’s a definite nostalgia about his recollections without any unnecessary sentimentality. Set against a backdrop of late Victorian life, remembering Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, and her death a few years later which plunged the entire country into silent mourning, ‘Drawn from Life’ is a wonderful evocation of a time long gone. I think so often we think of people living in late Victorian society as being really rather dour, and unlike ourselves. Yet the people in E H Shepard’s memoires certainly don’t come across like that. Whether it’s playing hockey among the antique school’s statuary casts or attempting to cycle from London to Bristol, Ernest’s memories of fun, friendship family and love are enormously engaging, and the people we meet in his company are portrayed with real warmth and are every bit as likeable as Ernest himself.
As we bid a fond farewell to young Ernest at the end of this volume, he is just twenty four years old, has just sold a painting in the Royal Academy summer exhibition. On his wedding day as he moves into a small country cottage with his dear Pie (Florence), has seventy pounds in the bank and is looking forward to the future with optimism.



I suppose it could be said that I was fairly late to the Mapp and Lucia party, and although I really enjoyed the first three books, I didn’t quite fall in love with them as wholeheartedly as I had expected. Fans of Mapp and Lucia are indeed so enthusiastic about these novels that I began to wonder if I hadn’t missed something. While reading each of the first three novels I found myself by turns, amused, charmed and irritated by the characters and their exploits, I wanted desperately to feel about these books what almost everyone else seemed to. Finally I think I do. With the fourth of E. F Benson’s six Mapp and Lucia novels everything has fallen into place for me. While I really enjoyed the first three, I absolutely loved this fourth instalment.

As Mapp and Lucia opens – Lucia is almost a year into her widowhood. Having retreated a little from Riseholme society, she is starting to plot her return as Daisy Quantock prepares to host an Elizabethan pageant. Daisy is planning on playing Elizabeth I herself, and Lucia is soon back to her old self, as she manages bit by bit to wheedle the part away from a hapless Daisy. Needing a break away from Riseholme, Lucia decides to spend some time in the coastal town of Tilling. She arranges to rent Elizabeth Mapp’s house for a couple of months, while Elizabeth in turn decamps to another house in Tilling, in what is a quite bizarre game of house swap that several of the other Tillingites also take part. Georgie Pillson of course accompanies Lucia to Tilling, himself arranging to take a neighbouring cottage, Georgie’s cook Foljambe accompanies Georgie, though news of her engagement to Lucia’s chauffer causes Georgie more than a little disquiet.

There is a little social power struggle to be got underway as Lucia and Elizabeth Mapp vie for social supremacy in Tilling. Soon things heat up deliciously as the sparring between the queen of Riseholme and the queen of Tilling really gets going. Elizabeth is soon deeply suspicious of Lucia’s apparent ability to speak Italian and sets out to expose her with hilarious results. Elizabeth Mapp’s plotting however seems little match for Lucia’s sly cleverness and Georgie’s unstinting support.

“Lucia stalked about the lawn with a high prancing motion when she had finished her skipping. Then she skipped again, and then she made some odd jerks, as if she was being electrocuted. She took long deep breaths, she lifted her arms high above her head as if to dive, she lay down on the grass and kicked, she walked on tiptoe like a ballerina, she swung her body round from the hips. All this had for Miss Mapp the fascination that flavours strong disgust and contempt.”

The other residents of Tilling are a fabulous collection of slightly ridiculous characters, Major Benjy, Diva, Quaint Irene and the Wyses are swift to form their allegiances amid much plotting, gossiping and bitchyness. As the summer fades into autumn Lucia and Georgie extend their stay in Tilling with neither of seeming very willing to return to Riseholme. Soon they have both sold up and elected to stay in Tilling – much to Elizabeth’s chagrin. As Christmas comes to Tilling, Lucia is firmly settled in her new cottage on the edge of the town. Meanwhile Elizabeth is desperate to steal the recipe for Lucia’s Lobster a la Riseholme. The denouement when it comes is highly improbably, wonderfully hilarious and definitely memorable.

“There is a certain amount which I shan’t mention publicly,” Elizabeth said. “Things about Lucia which I should never dream of stating openly.
“Those are just the ones I should like to hear about most,” said Diva. “Just a few little titbits.” “

Mapp and Lucia is a delightful feast of snobbish bitchiness, sly plottings and strange friendships. I just adore the relationship between Lucia and Georgie; they are so fabulously well matched. E F Benson’s wit and sense of the ridiculous is absolutely faultless and immensely engaging – more so in this novel I think than the previous three, and now I am looking forward to the next two even more than I was.

E F Benson


My first ever Doris Lessing novel, I had seen reviews of this novel a few months ago and it has been on my radar to read, so I was quick to grab this bookcrossing copy when it came my way. I think I have been rather scared of Doris Lessing, someone I used to work with gave me a copy of The Golden Notebook a few years ago. It remains on the highest shelf in the living room unread; I try to pretend I have forgotten I have it. I thoroughly enjoyed The Grass is Singing, Doris Lessing’s first novel, but I remain a little afraid of The Golden Notebook.

Drawing heavily in her own experiences of growing up in Rhodesia, Doris Lessing’s first novel is a dark social commentary of that delicately balanced society, and a bleak portrayal of the unravelling of a damaged woman. The novel opens with the news report of a murder, a white woman; the wife of a poor farmer has been apparently attacked and killed by her black houseboy Moses. In the immediate aftermath of the murder, we meet Tony Marston an English assistant recently arrived at the farm, Charlie Slatter – their nearest neighbour and the bereaved husband Dick Turner, behaving erratically in the face of his wife’s slaughter. Slatter and Marston both seem peculiarly unmoved by Mary’s death; appearing to regard her as something hateful. The remainder of the novel tells the story of that woman, Mary Turner and her husband Dick in the long dull years of disappointment and frustration that lead up to Mary’s death.

If she had been left alone she would have gone on, in her own way, enjoying herself thoroughly, until people found one day that she had turned imperceptibly into one of those women who have become old without ever having been middle aged: a little withered, a little acid, hard as nails, sentimentally kindhearted, and addicted to religion or small dogs.”

In the years before her marriage – when she is already over thirty, Mary lives a happy independent life in town, working in an office, living in a women’s hostel where she enjoys the gossipy camaraderie of other younger women, going out to the cinema and sundowner parties. Mary is a troubled young woman, as a thirty year old woman she still feels and dresses very much like a young girl, she seems desperate to retain some vestige of her vanishing youth, unaware of the ridiculous figure she is becoming. Devastated when she overhears friends talking about her, Mary is given a harsh wake up call. Persuaded that she should marry someone despite her aversion to sex, Mary meets Dick Turner, a poor, ineffectual farmer himself keen to settle down.

In marrying Dick, Mary swaps her old life for a small shabbily furnished house boiling under a metal roof, on a failing farm, miles from nowhere. Having had an unhappy childhood in a small isolated house alongside the railway, living on the farm soon seems to Mary that she has slipped back to those unhappy days that she had once fled. That farm life is not the life for Mary becomes quickly apparent, while her ineffectual and overly optimistic husband loves his land, Mary has no interest in the farm, and the long hot tedium soon begins to tell.

“Loneliness, she thought, was craving for other people’s company. But she did not know that loneliness can be an unnoticed cramping of the spirit for lack of companionship.”

Neither Dick nor Mary are able to fit themselves into the local white community, Mary doesn’t even want to try. Dick is quietly despised by his neighbour Slatter who covets his land, and nicknamed Jonah by the local community for his recurrent bad luck on the farm, whatever he plants fails, whatever livestock he experiments with fails too, if other farmers get rain, the rain misses his land. For the whites in Africa the black community are another species – they barely acknowledge the farm workers as human, and Mary’s treatment of her husband’s workers is particularly dreadful, her mismanagement of the servants leading to them leaving quickly. When Dick starts falling ill with bouts of malaria, Mary is reluctantly forced to step in to keep an eye on things, looking into the accounts she begins to see just how bad things are on the farm, and what a mess they are in financially. However Mary is simply unable to manage the workers, she tries to control them with shouting and docking their measly pay, but she is just simply very frightened of them, and the workers know it. It is during this time, when Mary first encounters Moses, a meeting which ends with Mary striking him with a whip.

Trying to take more of an interest in the farm, with suggestions and making money from raising chickens, Mary hopes that one day she can escape the misery of the farm. When Moses turns up at the house, as Mary’s new houseboy, he slowly starts to have a strange and disturbing effect on Mary. Mary has always seemed to be teetering on the brink of a dark depression, but now with the enigmatic presence of Moses in the house Mary starts to unravel. She is both strangely repelled and attracted to Moses, terrified of him; he haunts her dreams, and silently compels her to draw closer to him as he helps her care for Dick in his latest malaria episode. This very odd relationship is peculiarly disturbing, and difficult to describe, with Mary seemingly able to almost prophesy her tragic end.

I found Doris Lessing’s writing to be wonderfully evocative; the characterisation is strong, complex, very believable and truly remarkable for a first novel. In The Grass is Singing Lessing lifts the lid on the deeply unpleasant society of white supremacy that existed in Rhodesia and South Africa at this time, set against an unforgiving African agricultural landscape. However the novel is also an intense psychological study of people trapped by their lives. I can’t really say that any of the characters in this novel are in any way likeable, yet maybe they are more interesting for that, certainly the novel is very compelling. I well have to read more Doris Lessing one day – including the dreaded The Golden Notebook.



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