Book Review

I have just finished reading ‘Scenes from Early Life’ by Philip Hensher. The life in this novel is that of Zaved Mahmood the author’s husband. Philip was one of my tutors on the Creative Writing course I did at Exeter University. He told us that he didn’t like ‘I’ novels, those written in the first person singular and yet he has chosen to do just that in this book, and does it brilliantly. He has taken those childhood memories both real and believed as Zaved’s family have repeated them, and told a story about the war of independence that gave birth, violently, to the country of Bangal Desh. When he finds the first person singular too restrictive, Philip changes to the third person to tell the story of two musicians and their reactions to the war and to describe some of the atrocities committed. The change in perspective works and provides a lesson for aspiring writers in switching point of view.

About scribblingadvocate

Born in Lancashire, Law degree from Sheffield University and MA in Creative Writing from Exeter. A barrister for twenty five years, who appeared in the Crown Courts in and around London. When I retired we moved to live in Devon, first on Dartmoor, more recently overlooking the Exe Estuary. After twenty years I still feel an exile from London. Married, no children but own an affable Springer Spaniel. I love reading, walking and travel. I completed an MA in Creative Writing at Exeter University and have written three books, Crucial Evidence, Reluctant Consent and Legal Privilege, all set in London. You can email me

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