‘Fame Is The Spur’ by Howard Spring

★★★★

In the mid-1800s, a young working class boy is growing up in Manchester. Sixty years later, that same person is a statesman, a legendary politician and he is rewriting his own history in his diary – putting forwards a more forgiving version of his amazing rise in life. Fame Is The Spur is a fascinating and oddly riveting story for a book about an essentially dislikable main character. Although it was rather painful at the end, I could not get the story out of my head.

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‘Under The Wide And Starry Sky’ by Nancy Horan

★★★★

A nuanced and engaging portrait of the marriage between Robert Louis Stevenson and his older wife Fanny Van Der Grift. That Stevenson was such a brilliant author is mostly a side note in this book. Sure, we follow how he came up with his ideas (Treasure Island came about from playing with his stepson apparently), but the focus of this book is on a marriage and a family that somehow survived the strains of poverty, physical and mental illnesses, and developing resentments. It is a realistic and thought-full tale that I absolutely loved reading.

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