Category Archives: Book Review

blog book reviews

Move Like Water, Daily Mail

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe (Granta £16.99, 272pp), review by Natasha Poliszczuk

‘An elegant, enthralling memoir that will do for the ocean what Katherine May did for winter (Wintering) and Alice Vincent did for gardening (Rootbound).’



Palatine, Daily Mail, Roman Emperors from Augustus to Vespasian

Review of Palatine by Peter Stothard, former editor of The Times, in the  Daily Mail:

‘Palatine tells the story of Rome between Augustus, the first Roman emperor who died in 14 AD, and the military hero Vespasian, whose rule from 69 to 79 AD brought a long period of political stability and financial expansion. With vivid prose in short, dynamic chapters, Stothard also covers the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero, Jewish unrest at the time of Christ and the invasion of Britain, but this extraordinarily well-researched, exciting book is more a tale of increasing wealth and prosperity rather than war, as well as corruption, greed, gluttony and desire.’

Link to review:

George Orwell Daily Mail

Review of a revised biography of George Orwell by D.J. Taylor in the Daily Mail:

‘Taylor was already the acknowledged expert on George Orwell, thanks to his Whitbread Award-winning Orwell: The Life in 2003. Since then, he has discovered new letters written by Orwell and his first wife, Eileen, stashed away in various attics, hinting at previously unknown interludes, such as his possible extra-marital love affairs with his old flame Brenda Salkeld, to whom he continued to write passionately long after his marriage, and with the novelist Inez Holden — hence this New Life, 120 pages longer than the first one.’

Self isolation

Self isolation and writing sound almost like a tautology but writers are among the most gregarious of creatures. A couple of hours intense concentration then down the pub or the cafe or some other location where we can meet people. Perhaps the solution, now that a solitary life is imposed on us, is to have two books on the go, one a novel or some such very creative endeavour and another that depends more on research and organisation of the material. Here at YouCaxton we’ll be happy to offer advice and support.


Ian Flintoff


An excellent review in the Oxford Times, 18 January 2018 by Christopher Gray of Ian Flintoff’s novel, Gatsby at Trinity, production and distribution by YouCaxton Publications:

‘THE television showing over Christmas of the excellent 2013 film version of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio (and an even better Tobey Maguire) prompted me to take out a book that had languished some months in my ‘waiting to read’ pile. This was Gatsby at Trinity (Pitchfork Production, £9.99) by the Oxford-based actor, writer and director Ian Flintoff – and what a delight it proved. Impeccably researched and elegantly written, the novel traces the mysterious millionaire’s formative years, after First World War service in the US army, as an undergraduate at Oxford University. His student days are, of course, alluded to in The Great Gatsby, though it is never entirely clear whether they were pure invention. Gatsby certainly convinced the sinister character Meyer Wolfsheim. Who can forget his observation: “He’s an Oggsford man. He went to Oggsford College in England. You know Oggsford College?” The college in fact was Trinity, alma mater to Ian Flintoff too. Tom Buchanan, supercilious about Gatsby’s claim in The Great Gatsby, is shown a photograph of Jay in Trinity Quad – “the man on my left is now the Earl of Doncaster”. We get to meet the aristocrat as Lord Cusworth, one of Gatsby’s college companions, in Gatsby at Trinity. It turns out that it was his expression “old sport” that came to be borrowed by Gatsby. “Where’d you pick that up?” Tom asked him in The Great Gatsby, but answer came there none.

In the prequel we learn from Lord Cusworth that he employs the device as a means of disguising the fact that he has forgotten someone’s name. “Nobody’s offended and the old memory gets a decent break for a change.” Highlights of the novel (and Gatsby’s Oxford social life) include a ball at Blenheim where guests include Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward and Edward Elgar.

Great stuff.’