Book Review: So Much to Tell by Valerie Grove

First published on 5th September, 2010 in StarMag

kaye 1
Kaye Webb, from

Author: Valerie Grove
Publisher: Viking Books, 302 pages

WHEN I was a child growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in Segamat and Batu Pahat in Johor, I often received books as gifts. Many of them were Puffins, but I wasn’t really conscious of the publisher’s name then. What I did notice after a while was the name Kaye Webb. It appeared on the synopsis page, above the book’s title – Editor: Kaye Webb.

I didn’t then know what an editor was or did, but I supposed she must be quite important to have her name appear even before the author’s. So I decided that Kaye Webb was the name that guaranteed a good read – not Puffin Books, but Kaye Webb.Read More »

Book Review: Elegy for Iris by John Bayley

First published on 14th June, 2002 in StarTwo

Review by DAPHNE LEE


By John Bayley

Publisher: Picador, 288 pages

WHETHER you are of the opinion that Iris Murdoch’s novels are full of subtle wisdom, graceful prose and illuminating insight or that her style is deliberately, snobbishly pedantic and ponderous, you still can’t deny that her writing reflects a mind that is at once complicated and lucid, vigorous and tranquil – to be sure, a beguiling if somewhat daunting combination of qualities.

That such a brain, teeming with ideas and bristling with life, should be destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease is something that would strike most of us as particularly unfair, tragic and ironic.

Murdoch was diagnosed with the mentally debilitating condition in the mid 1990s. Prior to her illness she was a scholar and philosopher, an admired and respected essayist, poet and playwright, and the author of 26 critically acclaimed novels. She was also a beloved wife and this fact remained unchanged until her death in 1999.

Elegy For Iris – also available as Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (Abacus) – allows us a close-up view of the woman, her work, her life and marriage. It is a personal viewpoint – her husband, teacher and critic, John Bayley, is the author and he presents Murdoch as he knew her and saw her.

Read More »