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Richard Jenkyn's Book Recommendations

Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

A novel untypical of this increasingly appreciated writer. It is the life story of an atrocious but very popular novelist. Angel is a monster, but she is also oddly piteous and even sympathetic. A genuinely original conception, comic and painful.

An Annotated Anthology of Hymns by J. R. Watson

A companion to Watson’s heavyweight study, The English Hymn. Watson takes the words of hymns seriously, and this is a fascinating book to browse in, describing the backgrounds of hymns and their authors, and guiding one to hearing familiar words afresh.

The Dynasts by Thomas Hardy

One of the famously unread classics, Hardy’s epic drama of the Napoleonic Wars. I finally buckled down to it, expecting hard work in ploughing through hundreds of pages of mixed verse and prose. The first surprise was that it is such a good read. The second is that it is, in part, a work of history: for example, Hardy recreates the big battles accurately. If it were not so long, it would be more widely read and studied.


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