The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child.
Memoirs have dominated the literary scene now for ten or 20 or even 30 years: most of them seem to use the conventions of fiction and it's astonishing how in so many of these books people seem to be able to remember conversations that took place when they were five years old and give three pages of coherent dialogue, which is utterly impossible.
A first novel of astonishing force, craft and beauty, The Headmaster's Wager conjures up a dizzyingly evocative wartime Saigon in the story of Percival Chen, a Chinese schoolmaster in Vietnam. This extraordinary book made me weep. Read it.
Many fantasy novels - 'Lord of the Rings', for instance, or 'Lavondyss' by Robert Holdstock - are beautifully written. Geoff Ryman's 'The Child Garden' is exquisite and utterly beguiling. Mervyn Peake's 'Gormenghast' trilogy is an astonishing piece of multi-faceted storytelling. So quality of writing does not condemn the genre.
For woman's chief want is to feel that she is wanted. Therefore it is that with women, cruelty is more easily borne than coldness. Indeed, It is astonishing how much downright cruelty a woman will stand from the man she loves or has loved. What women admire is a subtle combination of forcefulness and gentleness. If a woman has to choose between forcefulness and gentleness, always she will sacrifice the latter.
It is far more probable that our senses should deceive us, than that an old woman should be carried up a chimney on a broom stick; and that it is far less astonishing that witnesses should lie, than that witches should perform the acts that were alleged.