When I started Shalom Auslander's Hope: a Tragedy (reviewed in the JC of February 10), I suggested my wife try his previous book, Foreskin's Lament. A mistake. As she read, she laughed so often and so loudly that I had trouble concentrating.
In the early 20th century, Eastern European Jews had two love affairs - with Communism and with Zionism. But the Communists betrayed them. The Hungarian intellectual, Arthur Koestler, compared his time as a Communist with the deception practised on Jacob when he slept with the ugly Leah instead of Rachel.
Jonathan Freedland's previous fictional outings in his alter ego of Sam Bourne have been set well into the 21st century. In Pantheon, however, his newest novel, we are firmly in the fervid 1940s, in the days before America entered the Second World War.
Michele Hanson's Guardian columns are a model of confessional journalism. She consistently entertains with accounts of home life with three generations and a dog living in the same house. A male figure, called Fielding, comes and goes, and a daughter, called "daughter" is a support and friend.
Alexander Masters' book is the most original biography I have read in a long time. It is relentlessly amusing, deeply complex, and far superior to its acclaimed precursor, Stuart, a Life Backwards. I am still delving into the pages, randomly selecting chuckle-worthy snatches of prose.