‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith

Novel, 1962 Terrific psychological thriller, in which a deranged cast of characters get involved and wound up with each other’s affairs. Every one of them ends up in a much worse place than when they started. A terrific piece of storytelling, in which tragic and almost comedically escalating situations involving stalking, ex-wives and vengeful lovers are played out against a backdrop of respectable small town … Continue reading ‘The Cry of the Owl,’ by Patricia Highsmith

‘The Ipcress File,’ by Len Deighton

Novel, 1962 Cold War spy novel, in which an unnamed operative charges around the world, getting sucked into plots, counter plots and chasing scientists, exotic cuisine, and heavy hints of boredom and sexual intrigue. the book falters between scenes and rapid changes in tempo and the situations of its main character, and is a little distracting. A jovial tone – again, a little distracting – … Continue reading ‘The Ipcress File,’ by Len Deighton

“Crooks Anonymous”, directed by Ken Annakin

Movie, 1962 Early 1960s comedy, starring a slightly undercharged Leslie Phillips, trying to go straight and win over his fiance, with the help of a reforming, crusading agency, Crooks Anonymous. A gentle romp which looks and to some extent holds up power and social structures for review, while showing how individuals struggle against them. The film feels formulaic in places, and while the characters and … Continue reading “Crooks Anonymous”, directed by Ken Annakin

“The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer

Novel, 1962 Tale of a mother of a number of children and a procession of husbands and partners, the latest of whom, Jake, is keen to concentrate on his film career. From fairly early on, it seems quite evident that all is not well with the nameless narrator. The first chapter is set in a psychiatrist or counsellor’s office, and while domestic scenes are punctuated … Continue reading “The Pumpkin Eater”, by Penelope Mortimer

“The Golden Notebook,” by Doris Lessing

Novel, 1962 Sprawling work exploring gender, power, politics and narrative in the 1960s. The broken up nature of this book and the fragmented, highly subjective approach lend an experimental feel, but also push the reader out to some extent. The graphic nature of some of the scenes and the political struggle also seem oddly dated, but also fairly prescient in these retrogressive times. A difficult … Continue reading “The Golden Notebook,” by Doris Lessing

"We Have Always Lived in the Castle", by Shirley Jackson

Novel, 1962 Terrific Gothic tale of two sisters and a deranged uncle living in an unfriendly village which marginalises them due to the belief the elder sister poisoned and killed the rest of the family. This is a story focusing on Merricat, the younger sister, a fiercely independent, disturbing narrator who brings a very focused view on unfolding events. There’s a real tension in this … Continue reading "We Have Always Lived in the Castle", by Shirley Jackson