Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957
by Matt Houlbrook
Published by University of Chicago Press
In August 1934, young Cyril L. wrote to his friend Billy about all the exciting men he had met, the swinging nightclubs he had visited, and the vibrant new life he had forged for himself in the big city. He wrote, "I have only been queer since I came to London about two years ago, before then I knew nothing about it." London, for Cyril, meant boundless opportunities to explore his newfound sexuality. But his freedom was limite: he was soon arrested, simply for being in a club frequented by queer men. Cyril's story is Matt Houlbrook's point of entry into the queer worlds of early twentieth-century London. Drawing on previously unknown sources, from police reports and newspaper exposes to personal letters, diaries, and the first queer guidebook ever written, Houlbrook here explores the relationship between queer sexualities and modern urban culture that we take for granted today. He revisits the diverse queer lives that took hold in London's parks and streets; its restaurants, pubs, and dancehalls; and its Turkish bathhouses and hotels--as well as attempts by municipal authorities to control and crack down on those worlds. He also describes how London shaped the culture and politics of queer life--and how London was in turn shaped by the lives of queer men. Ultimately, Houlbrook unveils the complex ways in which men made sense of their desires and who they were. In so doing, he mounts a sustained challenge to conventional understandings of the city as a place of sexual liberation and a unified queer culture.
This reads very much like a PhD thesis adapted into a book. As such its depth is incredible, but it also suffers a little from having a narrow remit and occasionally showing up authorial biases. I'd been warned about the lack of queer women when I was lent the book, but what irked me and nearly made me stop reading multiple times was the almost complete denial of bisexuality (not necessarily as an identity, but certainly as a concept that could be mapped onto some behaviours). A useful reference, but not one I'll necessarily be revisiting.
by Jane Austen
Published by Arcturus Publishing Ltd
Northanger Abbey is both a perfectly aimed literary parody and a withering satire of the commercial aspects of marriage among the English gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century. But most of all, it is the story of the initiation into life of its naive but sweetly appealing heroine, Catherine Morland, a willing victim of the contemporary craze for Gothic literature who is determined to see herself as the heroine of a dark and thrilling romance.
Splendidly read by Joanna Lumley, this abridged version was an excellent reminder of why I love the story. I definitely be rereading the book itself soon.
Writing Crime Novels
by John Paxton Sheriff
Published by ROBERT HALE LTD
Would you like to write a thrilling crime novel that is filled with tension and suspense, poses a number of intriguing questions as detectives strive to unravel an intricate web of deceit, and is full of authentic information on methods of murder and investigation? With over thirty-five years' writing experience, John Paxton Sheriff is able to give polished, professional advice. Writing Crime Novels is unique in that it not only assists writers in storytelling techniques, but also offers detailed technical information that is absolutely essential to the modern crime novel. Storytelling begins with ideas and, after giving practical advice on how to find the right ideas for a crime novel, the author looks at various methods of committing murder and the techniques used by detectives in their investigation of the crime. Suitably armed, the budding crime writer is then taken in easy stages through the development of the novel and the shaping of its plot, leams how to create flesh-and-blood villains, victims and investigators, and is shown how a crime novel's tension and interest can be increased by the incorporation of one of more sub-plots. Finally, detailed advice is given on revision of the finished novel, and there are some useful tips on presentation, finding a publisher, and on writing the second novel. In Writing Crime Novels, John Paxton Sheriff has written a book packed with knowledge gained from many years of writing crime fiction. It will be indispensable to beginners and experienced authors alike.
This was sadly outdated already (the speed of progress!) and very much geared towards a small subset of writers in the crime genre. It also felt a little like 'you've realised that crime fiction sells, how can you cash in too?' rather than being written for authors who already love crime fiction and want to incorporate a mystery plot into their own work.
Vicar's Daughter to Viscount's Lady
by Louise Allen
Published by Mills & Boon
From prim church mouse...Seduced, abandoned and pregnant, Arabella Shelley is determined her baby's father will support them. Horrified to discover his death, she is shocked at the demand of his brother, the handsome, inscrutable Viscount Hadleigh. To legitimise her unborn child, she must marry him instead! ...to being pleasured by the Viscount! As Bella struggles with her unfamiliar, luxurious new lifestyle, and her scandalous desire for her stranger-husband, will she find a love that matches the passion of their marriage bed?
Second book in a series, which started out reasonably well. This one was much better than the first, and appealed to my love of external incidents creating tension by having two of my favourite disasters in one chapter. Now to track down the third part of the trilogy...