A Moveable Feast




“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

A Moveable Feast was written during the last years of Hemingway’s life. In it he reflects back on his days as a young, unknown writer living in Paris between 1921-1926. His recollections of that time are really brought to life in this excellent memoir. It is a short book but a fine example of his brilliant writing.

I devoured the entire book in one sitting (home ill on the sofa!) and felt totally immersed in Parisian, literary, 1920s life. Hemingway with his cafes, bookshops and booze conjured up romantic imagery of the daily routine of a writer. He may have been poor and hungry (after quitting journalism and having a wife and young baby to support) but he was happy writing in coffee shops and sharing his Paris life with some of the greatest writers, poets and painters in history – James Joyce, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso to name just a few.

His anecdotes on Ford Madox Ford interrupting his writing and another about his road trip with Scott Fitzgerald to fetch an abandoned car are particularly entertaining to read.

I adored every word on every page and just wish there had been a hundred pages more.






Flappers compiles the fascinating stories of 6 women who spectacularly came of age in the roaring 1920s. Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Limpicka transcended class and background to become the new women of the world. Dance writer Judith Mackrell is an engaging storyteller who pushes the cliches of this era aside to show us how these ‘Flappers’ did a lot more than just dance the Charleston.

The exceptional young girls, some from privileged families, others from poor, were talented artists, dancers and actresses who blazed a trail for women to choose their own lifestyles – from haircuts to sexual relationships – for the first time with varying consequences. They decided on their own sexual conquests (often many and of either sex), they earned their own livings, shortened their hairstyles and their skirts and let loose smoking, drinking, flirting and cussing in public. The “narrow-hipped, flat-chested flapper silhouette” became the desired look of the time though most admirers could only have dared dream about emulating their raucous behaviour as well as their style.

Marriages, affairs, lovers lost at war, drink, drugs, art, acting and dancing…oh and lots and lots of sex! Then there’s the jazz, art deco, Coco Chanel, the Left Bank cafe culture and monied luxury. These audacious women were on the fringes of society, equally at home in a palace or the gutter and throughout this book their stories seem to flutter as such. Rags to riches, riches to rags and back again.

The locations are exotic –  London, New York, Paris, Monte Carlo – and their lifestyles are lavish and the opulence extreme making this a fantastic piece of escapist reading. The Flappers took risks, political and sexual, that leave you breathless at their daring.

When the Jazz era is swallowed up by depression, political and racial shifts and another war, the Flappers’ days of homosexuality, nudity and drunken dancing are numbered….

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The psychology of willpower



 marshmallow test book

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later?

This is the iconic experiment that renowned psychologist, Walter Mischel, is famed for and one of the most important in the history of psychology. In his fascinating new book he uses this simple test to explain to us what self-control is and how we can master it.

Years of studying the outcomes of The Marshmallow Test has allowed him to develop proof that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life. Mischel describes how self-control not only predicts higher grades in school, better social functioning and a greater sense of self-worth but it also helps us manage stress, pursue our goals and cope with painful emotions.

I bought this book as I have very little resistance to temptations such as flapjacks and vodka whereas I can delay gratification quite easily if the consequences affect my future self financially. I wanted to know whether willpower is prewired or can it be learned?


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