Author Archives: lifelonglearner

About lifelonglearner

Teacher in Southern England enthusiastic about exploring ways to learn and teach, and evangelistic about sharing them. Specialism is Physics, but that's just a useful starting point.

What makes a character engaging? A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

We meet Harry, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s novel, as he endures horrific psychiatric ‘therapy’ in an asylum. Why then, for almost the first third of the book, do I find it so hard to care about Harry? However, this changes, by the middle of the novel I was gripped by the story, and cared a great deal about what happened to Harry, and to his friends. The story unfolds against a convincing background of hostility to homosexuals, emigration from Europe to ‘the colonies’, persecution of Native Americans, WW1, Spanish flu, and (at-the -time) novel psychiatric treatments Continue reading

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What will I find re-reading To Kill a Mocking-Bird immediately after reading A Thousand Moons?

After I’d spent a few days inside Winona’s head I wondered how To Kill a Mocking-Bird would stand up to a re-reading. The links and differences between A Thousand Moons and To Kill a Mocking-Bird jumped out at me as I wondered what to read to follow Sebastian Barry’s work. What did I find different in the experience of re-reading To Kill a Mocking-Bird, written in the 1950s by a woman from Alabama, and that of reading A Thousand Moons written in the 2020s by an Irishman? Continue reading

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Walking in another’s shoes A Thousand Moons Sebastian Barry

Cultural appreciation or appropriation? There is so much discussion about when admirable cultural appreciation shades into inappropriate appropriation. In A Thousand Moons the author Sebastian Barry, a white, sixty-five-year-old Irish family man writes in the voice of a Native American seventeen-year-old orphan girl, and from the first sentence Winona-Ojinjintka is present, a person with a complex history and a compelling, convincing voice. Continue reading

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Reading a play like a novel. Hamlet (Shakespeare) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Tom Stoppard)

Is it possible to read a playscript as one reads a novel? Does reading a play’s script improve the experience of watching it? And if it does, is it better to read a script before or after seeing the play? In Hamnet Maggie O’Farrell contends that Shakespeare gave his dead son fresh life in the character of Hamlet, as well as creating a memorial to Hamnet. Is this reasonable? On reading Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Continue reading

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Is a writer’s world basically evil or fundamentally sound? Death at the Dolphin Ngaio Marsh

Some crime writers write as if evil is omnipresent and lurks below the most innocuous surface, everyone is capable of crime, and nearly everyone has a secret in their past that they would commit a crime to conceal. Others write as if they feel the world is fundamentally okay, people of goodwill are in the majority, crimes are unusual and happen as an outcome of unusual circumstances Continue reading

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Why do I re-read a book? Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Discussion of reasons to re-read a book, and review of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
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Fresh thoughts in January – Butternut squash rissoles

  Something to use up a small butternut squash? This one seemed to have been dropped or (of course) squashed. There’s a squished bit on the side. A veggie main or a carnivorous husband’s side dish. Slightly spicy so it … Continue reading

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Avoiding gluttony in an Autumn glut

                Ironic that successful crops bring such mixed emotions.  Through summer and autumn I rejoice and enjoy raspberries, salads, courgettes and beans, and more beans, and more beans (how many recipes do you know for beans?).  And apples, so many … Continue reading

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Cabbages or Butterflies?

Into the vegetable garden for a cabbage to make spicy cabbage and rice.  And yee-uch! My beautiful row of savoys is no more. I’ve been gloating over them for weeks, perfect tight globes securely swelling inside dark green, wavy edged, … Continue reading

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You can’t blame the white chocolate and lemon curd wedding cake

A glorious summer afternoon, on my way to a river walk before tea and cake with my brother (I always bring the cake).  Spaniel and I enjoying the breeze with the top down for the swooping drive beside the South … Continue reading

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