Hi, I’m Simon.

I live and work in London, where I read books and visit art exhibitions. This blog is a diary of the thoughts arising from these activities.

This blog includes quotes and images. Wherever possible I’ve contacted copyright holders to obtain permission to include their material (for example, almost all the reviews of art exhibitions are done in co-operation with the press offices of the relevant gallery, who have given me full permission to use their images). But if I have inadvertently used your copyright material, please contact me and I will either remove it or credit it correctly, as you wish.

That said, this is a non-commercial blog which aims solely to analyse and review interesting books and art, so all copyright material is used in accordance with ‘fair use’ principles i.e. solely for the purposes of review and criticism.

A number of people have contacted me for my personal details so the blog can be cited in essays. Although it doesn’t show up in the list below, I’ve replied to all these requests, and am happy to supply whatever information you need.

Leave a comment


  1. Interesting time exploring your blog. We had set out to do some Forest Reviews when we started blogging so good to see your exploration of St Leonards Forest but we havent had time since we started our business. Oh well we will do soon!

  2. Ps: loved the picture of ‘you’!

  3. Angie

     /  March 30, 2014

    Hi, i’m currently writing my bachelor thesis on the prose of George Martin in Game of thrones and i would like to quote one of your article. Would it be possible to send me your name in a mail, so i can quote you ? thank you so much !

    • Sure Angie, will be my pleasure. I’ll email you my details and also some other thoughts about GRRM which I never completed enough to publish.

      • Angie

         /  April 14, 2014

        That’s really kind of you, thank you so much !

      • Enzo

         /  October 14, 2017

        Hi, I’m also a student writing a report on GRRM. Could you possibly mail me your name so that i can reference your article properly. Thanks!

  4. Hi Simon:
    I came upon your blog by accident a few weeks ago while searching the Internet for commentary on a Joseph Conrad short story. I was immediately drawn to your extensive criticism of Alistair MacLean, and chuckled when you said he was an author you had read years ago as a young man. Me too!
    Your blog made think back to when I was a young man, living here in Canada, with lots of time on my hands (and no video games, smartphones or 500-channel TV universe to distract me) and an interest in the thrillers of writers like MacLean and Hammond Innes.
    Well, imagine my surprise when I came back to your website today and saw an extensive writeup on Desmond Bagley’s work. He too was one of my favourites back then. Ditto for Len Deighton, though I think I only read 2-3 of his novels (and was just recently tempted to buy a whole series that had been re-published in an eye-catching format and at an affordable price).
    Along with analysis of Conrad and MacLean, I was also taken by your comments on George RR Martin and his Fire and Ice series. I’ve seen Game of Thrones on TV occasionally but I haven’t read any of the five books. My son, who is living in Vancouver, is a big fan and I recommended that he check out what you have to say.
    I’m curious as to your background, because I find your analysis to be detailed and insightful. As a career newspaper man with a literary bent, I appreciate the style and accessibility of your work, which is thorough but never crosses the line into obscure academia or pedantic puffery.
    If you wish to write to me, you can email me at: juliohgomes@hotmail.com
    If you wish to post this missive to your Comments section, by all means do so.
    Again, wonderful work! Keep it up!

  5. Daisy Startup

     /  May 5, 2015

    Hi Simon,

    I really enjoyed your piece about Greek art, I was hoping to quote you in my finals essay on the Parthenon metopes. Would you be able to send me your full name in an email?

    Thanks so much!


  6. Hi Simon,
    I just stumbled upon your great articles on GRRM’s style of writing. As I’m writing my Bachelor’s thesis on the language of fantasy literature (the focus is on A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter), I would like to include some of your thoughts – it would be great if you could send me your full name for my bibliography!
    All the best,

  7. Hi Simon,
    I want to reference your Botticelli article on twitter. DO you have a twitter name I can use?

  8. Molly

     /  November 26, 2017

    I would like to reference your review of Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’ please could you email me your details? Thanks!

  9. E

     /  March 25, 2018

    Hi, Simon!
    I would like to reference your review of Out of the Shelter by David Lodge if that is ok by you.
    Is it possible for you to email me your name?

  10. mark justin

     /  August 26, 2018

    Over the last fifteen days I read through all of your posts to the present. I was strongly impressed by the penetration and independence of your judgment. The strength and concentrated thought of your “technical/aesthetic” insight into language, plot construction, character creation makes you one of the very few critics that I have enjoyed reading.

    However I have read only a handful of the novels that you discuss. I have read very few twentieth century English novels, and almost none of these have been “genre” novels (adventure, espionage, mystery, fantasy, comedy, etc). Reading about these (In your reviews) has sharpened my interest in them.

    May I ask you to list the ten or so novels that you have most enjoyed (or maybe those that you consider the best). Perhaps you could post the list on your blog or email them to me.

    Thank you

    • David Attenborough was once asked, ‘What’s your favourite animal?’ and he couldn’t given an answer. He said that he was not sure he really ‘liked’ animals; he just found them all equally fascinating, in their different ways.

      I feel the same way about books. People’s tastes are so different, and your reaction to a book depends on so many factors – how old you are, where you are in your life, your interests and personality, what other books you’ve just read – that it’s difficult if not impossible to really recommend books to other people.

      As soon as I try to make a short list I find myself including books because they’re famous, or worthy, or good examples of this or that author, or genre, and soon it’s growing to beyond ten to become twenty or thirty or forty titles. Also, I write about thrillers and adventure stories, but also about political and military history, and about art, and derive pleasure from all of them, but in different ways, some very visceral, some very intellectual, most somewhere in between.

      So that the easiest and most honest thing for me to do is just leave the blog as it is. It isn’t a definitive list or canon of anything. It is just a diary or record of the books I’ve read, and what I noticed and thought about their content and style as I read them. I think it’s for each reader to surf through the reviews, agree or disagree with me, and find their own likes and dislikes.

  11. mark justin

     /  August 27, 2018

    I should have written the ten or so twentieth (and twenty-first century) English novels that you have most enjoyed (or maybe those that you consider the best). Reading them and comparing them with you commentary on them will give me a clearer sense of your point of view.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: