When reading Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, I was reminded of something. I couldn’t think what it was when I was reading it, but later I realised: I was reminded of Robert Harris’ Fatherland. Granted, one was in Germany and one in Soviet Russia in the Cold War, but there were striking similarities. The main characters are good guys in a bad world, they live in authoritarian dictatorial nations, but don’t worry, they’re both good guys (that was sarcastic if it didn’t carry). Smith’s first novel reads exactly like Harris, and I’m not convinced if that’s a good thing.
Michael Bond’s immortal classic character Paddington has brightened the childhoods of thousands of children. I’m not sure how well known he is abroad from the UK, but if he isn’t that well known elsewhere, he should be. This lovable character was introduced to us in A Bear Called Paddington in 1958. I hadn’t read the books in years, but I recently saw the film (an excellent supplement to his legacy), and was spurred to pick up the first book. If someone who has not heard of Paddington wants to know who he is, let me say this: he was the subject of twenty-four books. Three television shows. A music album (?). And now an excellent film. He has entertained generations of school children, and is as iconic a figure as Harry Potter. There are few books that can raise a chuckle in me, but Paddington is one. If you’ve never read it, it doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s a quirky piece that everyone will love.