Bookworm: Feline forgiving

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Last week it was Graham Greene’s sex fetishes (cigarette burns, remember?), this week it’s the most languid acceptance of marital infidelity – and they’re both from the same book, Lara Feigel’s The Love-charm of Bombs, her scintillating account of the lives of London litterateurs during the Blitz.

In it, Goronwy Rees’s daughter Jenny asks her mother why she puts up with his affairs. Husbands, Jenny is told, are rather like cats: “You see, with a cat you like to see it go out in the garden and enjoy itself and are very pleased to see it again when it comes in “


Still on the wartime home front, this week sees the publication of Peter Bradshaw’s Night of Triumph (Duckworth, £12.99), which takes as its starting point the fact that the two princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, were allowed to leave Buckingham Palace incognito on VE Night in 1945. Although nothing untoward actually happened in real life, what if, Bradshaw imagines, they had a close encounter with London’s underworld ...

All of which makes Bookworm think back to a conversation last year in which a Great Irish Novelist revealed he was thinking of writing a novel about the two princesses’ wartime holiday in Co Tipperary. “It’s a great subject,” he said, “and the best thing is that the Brits don’t even know about it.”


Which Scottish book festival is the best at drawing tourists? Bookworm’s money would be on Ullapool. Look at the facts. Last year, 49.5 per cent of the audience came from outside the Highland region and a full 75 per cent of attendees stayed overnight in the town. So good is festival chair Joan Michael’s reputation for putting together a great programme that this year two dozen people – all non-locals, incidentally – paid £75 for a weekend ticket without even knowing who was on the bill.

They won’t be disappointed. The 2013 programme has Ian Rankin, James Robertson, Raja Shehadeh, Kathleen Jamie and many more.

The only non-writer among them is Anthony Baxter, director of You’ve Been Trumped!, who didn’t need much persuading, having already been told by Andy Wightman that Ullapool was one of the best book festivals around. He’s right. It is.