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So, despite Christmas and birthday gifts I still apparently felt that there wasn’t enough to read -n the house and got involved in a little retail therapy when things got a bit tense at work this week, coupled with a late birthday present and a freebie from a publisher.

Confession time:

  • Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War edited by Peter J Conradi – combining two of my favourite things, diaries/letters and digging into the background of favourite authors; didn’t even know this was coming out
  • Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages in Literary London 1910-1939 by Katie Roiphe – sticking my nose into private matters once again, this includes amongst others the Bells, the Morrells and the Wells’s – almost rhymed too
  • Barking by Tom Holt – a present from Silvery Dude, not an author I’ve read before, this has a cast including (apparently) unicorns, vampires, werewolves and lawyers…..
  • The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge by Patricia Duncker – a free book from the lovely people at Bloomsbury, religious sects and death in France

And with this on order, I couldn’t be happier!

So this is the book that reminds us what the 1970s were really like.

I have to declare an interest here; I was born in January 1962 (I know, I know, who would have thought it), which of course means that I was 8 when the 70s began, and 17 in 1979. My views of the decade are obviously coloured by my own personal experiences, and recently, when people have been a bit sniffy about the era, I’ve rushed to defend it as I remember as a kid having a lot of fun.

And falling in love with Donny Osmond, but let’s leave that for another day…

So I was really looking forward to this, both because of the subject matter (duh) but also because I really, really like Francis Wheen – don’t always agree with him, but he is thoughtful and measured and also incredibly funny. I pestered the Book God to get this for me and devoured it as soon as I could. And it did make me look at my childhood in a very different light.

His theory about the seventies is that it was a time of mass paranoia. The politics of the time were affected by it (thinking of the whole Nixon/Watergate thing as well as what was happening politically here in the UK); there was economic crisis all over the place – and I do remember having to do my homework by paraffin lamp and being in school only every second day for a while because of problems with heating (and actually I’m sure I remember often not being in our school building at all but in a local church hall because it didn’t have oil-fired heating.)

And then there’s what was happening in some African countries (Amin in Uganda in particular, the number of military coups across the continent).

And Wheen’s own bête noire, Uri Geller.

So it did make me revisit my childhood and teenage years, and realise how much effort my parents had put in to make sure my younger brothers and I weren’t affected by what was going on, though looking back from my current position I can see how worried they must have been.


I still think that, for all that went on, the 1970s in western Europe was a pretty good place to grow up and I look back on the fashions with fondness (so much better than the 80s IMHO) and still listen to the music.

But this book sheds light on what was going on in the background, and for that alone can be recommended.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday


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February 2010