William Palmer's wise, witty and empathetic account of the tug 'o war - and the complicity - between alcohol and the frailties of talent lines up brilliant and boozy biographies of eleven celebrated writers, each of whom was propelled by the grip of the bottle, the allure of the bar and pub, the terrors of the blank page, and the destructive perils of both failure and fame. It is outstanding.
An enjoyable exploration of an enduringly fascinating subject . . . [Palmer] is above all a dispassionate critic, and is always attentive to, and unwaveringly perceptive about the art of his subjects as well as their relationship with alcohol . . . [his] treatment is even-handed and largely without judgement. He tries to understand, without either condoning or censuring, the impulses behind often reprehensible behaviour.
Praise for Leporello: [A]n extraordinarily skilful novel.
Praise for The Contract: A beautifully written exploration of a once famous case that has uncomfortable relevance to our own times.
The India House builds on its somewhat dusty foundations to altogether dazzling effect.
A vastly absorbing and entertaining study of this ever-interesting subject.
Praise for The Contract: A flawless and intelligent study of sex, politics and the abuse of power. It is both subtle and shocking: that is a rare and potent combination.
A fascinating treatment of the age-old problem of writers and drink which displays the same subtle qualities as William Palmer's own undervalued novels.
It is an achievement to take on this subject and succumb to neither puritanism nor romanticising. In Love with Hell will send you not to the drinks cabinet but back to your bookshelves to rediscover the brilliance that Palmer's writers couldn't quite drown.
Praise for The India House: [T]he mood of gentle regret and a sense of living in a time out of place resembles no writer so much as Chekhov.
Praise for Four Last Things: The depth and eloquence of this fine collection . . . might surprise even the most ardent admirers of his novels.
In Love with Hell is a fascinating and beautifully written account of the lives of eleven British and American authors whose addiction to alcohol may have been a necessary adjunct to their writing but ruined their lives. Palmer's succinct biographies contain fine descriptions of the writers, their work and the times they lived in; and there are convincing insights into what led so many authors to take to drink.
Sympathetic and wonderfully perceptive biographies of eleven novelists and poets . . . Palmer is too wise a writer to pretend that novelists are a race apart . . . a heartbreaking read if you have learned to love the writers Palmer covers . . . By the end of this humane book, you are not falling into the sentimentality of the maudlin drunk if you wish the writers whom Palmer so tenderly examines had seen through alcohol's false promises before it was too late.
Praise for The Pardon of Saint Anne: Palmer's beautifully crafted novel convincingly unfolds for us a story of inadvertent complicity in acts of unspeakable evil.
Praise for The Pardon of Saint Anne: [A] haunting work over which one wants simultaneously to hurry and to linger.
Praise for The Good Republic: Mr Palmer's book set a standard for an east European historical novel that has yet to be matched - an especially impressive feat for an outsider . . . It is a tribute to his novelist's skills that anyone reading the book has the feeling of complete authenticity in both history and geography. Readers are left longing for a sequel.