July 12, 2010 5:24 am

Howards End is on the Landing

 

Howards End is on the Landing, by Susan Hill, Profile RRP£8.99, 240 pages

After half a century of prolific and successful writing, Susan Hill settles into a year of reading the forgotten treasures she finds stacked around her house. The result is part literary memoir, part judicious reappraisal of overlooked classics in which Hill fondly recalls a salacious postcard from Dirk Bogarde or babysitting for Arnold Wesker, while pronouncing her disinclination for Proust and Joyce.

She consumed Dickens behind her great Aunt’s sofa in Southport, but is bored by Jane Austen; “I think I know a lot about Don Quixote,” Hill ventures. “I have just never read it.” This strikes a chord with my own dithering through a literary Monument Valley; one of the charms of this volume is how Hill’s opinions, always refreshingly honest and courteously proffered, set up resonances with one’s own reading.

Howards End ... is an enjoyable meander, a genial pillow book of light wit and broad reading whose tone remains on the pleasantly whimsical side of erudition.

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