Rivers

The methods and the tools would have been recognisable to Gutenberg and Caxton. Slugs and leading, furniture and quoins, composing sticks, a small hand-cranked platen press for proofs, a big motor-driven one (ker-plunk, ker-plunk) for print runs.

Plot

Nothing is spared and nothing is explained. No motive, no reason. Eventually we will get there but not now, and anyway these are not really very important. What is important is that we are pitched headlong into the story. Propelled by pity and terror.

Brexit

But religion, if it is not merely private opinion, or personal feelings, or a fantasised cosmology, is fundamentally about loyalty, collective identity, boundaries, deeply engrained feeling for what is native and what is alien. It is, in short, as much of map as of mood.

Special Meetings

The women were saved to a place of emotional gratification not otherwise on offer in their lives. The men were saved from the filthiness of their natural desires. It was all about sex, really. Their disappointments they kept to themselves. Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Trusting in the Promises of God.

Squareheads

The impeccable balance between elegant design and fitness for use. Responsiveness and refinement. He calls her “dainty.” “That flower of a barque,” he says. The ship itself a living thing, the main character in a thumping good tale of seas and men and seamanship.