My official position on reviews is that authors shouldn’t read them. If they’re bad they can pull your confidence from under you like a rug on linoleum. If they’re good they may bathe you in an unmerited glow. I regret to say I abandon this position at the drop of an email.
So it was on Monday that my publicist alerted me to what she described as ‘an unnecessarily snippy review’ in the Sunday Times. Could I leave the file unopened? No. I just had to run, throat bared, towards the reviewer’s knife. The charge : that The Grand Duchess of Nowhere lacks rigorous rooting in historical time and place. This was all the more painful for being sandwiched between cracking reviews of books by two already hugely successful novelists.