Essays and Reviews

Cover2My essays on George Eliot are now available as a collection at Kobo and Amazon. The volume includes a new introduction; some of the essays have been revised and expanded.

List of Essays and Reviews (alphabetical by publication)

3:AM Magazine

Review of Maurizio de Giovanni, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone and Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone (September 2016)

Sex, Style, and Sewage Farms: Winifred Holtby and Virginia Woolf (December 2014)


Middlemarch and the ‘Cry from Soul to Soul’ (August 2015)


Detecting Canadian Identity: Review of Detecting Canada: Essays on Canadian Crime Fiction (13:1, Spring-Summer 2015)

The British Library

Adam Bede: Realism, Research, and Religion.” Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians

The Mill on the Floss: Education, Literature, and the Bildungsroman.” Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians

Canadian Notes & Queries

Review of Emma Donoghue, Haven (No. 112)

Review of Miriam Toews, Fight Night (No. 110, Fall/Winter 2021)

Review of Anna Porter, The Appraisal and Deceptions (No. 109, Spring / Summer 2021)

Review of Emma Donoghue, Akin (January 2020)

Review of Helen Humphreys, Machine Without Horses (Fall 2018)

Review of Gillian Best, The Last Wave (No. 100, October 2017)

Review of Lesley Krueger, Mad Richard (No. 99, May 2017)

The Dublin Review of Books

Review of Sarah Moss, Summerwater (August 2020)

For Books’ Sake

10 Reasons to Love Vera Brittain (February 2015)

The Hamilton Review of Books

Interview: Behind the Scenes with Book Reviewers (March 2019)

The Kenyon Review Online

Review of Yasmine El RashidiChronicle of a Last Summer (March 2017)

The Los Angeles Review of Books

 “Martin Beck Has a Cold: On Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s Story of Crime” (August 2011)

Look No More Backward: George Eliot’s Silas Marner and Atheism” (October 2012)

Spinster, Victim, Soldier, Spy: Dick Francis and the Evolution of Women in Crime Fiction” (August 2013)

The Los Angeles Times

Op-Ed: Against Utilitarian Arguments for Majoring in English (October 22, 2017)

Numéro Cinq

“A Place of Healing”: Sarah Moss, Signs for Lost Children (June 2017)

Open Letters Monthly

OLM has recently been archived at a new site, which is still a work in progress; as a result some of these links may not work properly. In the meantime I am building my own archive of OLM essays.

“Visitations In the Night”: Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent (July 2017)

‘I Am A Woman’s Life’: George Eliot Rewrites Jane Austen (May 2017)

Over the Top: Simon Tolkien’s No Man’s Land (March 2017)

Mind the Gap: Graeme Macrea Burnet’s His Bloody Project (January 2017)

Infinitesimal Jest: Ian McEwan’s Nutshell (October 2016)

Read, Write, Love: Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words (September 2016)

Comfort and Joy: Mary Balogh’s Only Beloved (June 2016)

Occasional Fiction: Review of Tracy Chevalier, ed., Reader, I Married Him (May 2016)

Answer in Paradox: Review of Claire Harman, Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart (April 2016)

Our Editions, Ourselves: Review of the Penguin Deluxe Classics Middlemarch (January 2016)

The One Who Gets Wounded: Review of Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles (December 2015)

Pen and Tell Her: Review of Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (November 2015)

“The Truth of a Thing”: Review of Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins (July 2015)

Fatal Beauty: Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret (May 2015)

Shallow Sargasso Sea: Review of Diana Souhami, Gwendolen (March 2015)

Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage (September 2014)

Beethoven in the Soul: K. M. Peyton’s Pennington Series (July 2014)

Title Menu: Eight Novels Inspired by George Eliot (June 2014)

“Lost in Eliot”: Review of Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch (February 2014)

Bridget of Sighs: Review of Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (December 2013)

No Lesser Crime: Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (November 2013)

“An Inglorious Life”: Review of Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things (October 2013)

“No Trace of Lipstick”: Review of Deirdre David,  Olivia Manning, A Woman at War (June 2013)

“It Might Have Been”: Review of Kate Atkinson, Life After Life (May 2013)

Her Hands Full of Sugar Plums: the Morality of Middlemarch (March 2013)

Queen of the Gypsies: the Ending of George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (February 2013)

Performance Anxiety: Review of Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Two-Part Inventions (November 2012)

Review of Nancy Henry, The Life of George Eliot (September 2012)

Macaroni and Cheese: the Failure of George Eliot’s Romola (June 2012)

All the World to Nothing : Richard III in Fiction (May 2012)

Abandonment, Richness, Surprise: the Essays of Virginia Woolf (March 2012)

The Quiet One: Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  (January 2012)

“Desultory Vivacity”: Review of Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (November 2011)

Review of Marjorie Garber, The Use and Abuse of Literature (May 2011)

Ahdaf Soueif: A Novelist in Tahrir Square (April 2011)

A Woman of High Courage: Review of Sara Paretsky, Body Work (February 2011)

George Eliot for Dummies: Review of Brenda Maddox, George Eliot in Love (November 2010)

Against the Wind: Rereading Gone with the Wind (October 2010)

The Morality of Vanity Fair: It’s All About You (July 2010)

Review of Claire Harman, Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen  Conquered the World (May 2010)

Second Glance: The Radicalism of Felix Holt (January 2010)

Second Glance: Reading Anthony Trollope (October 2009)

The Quarterly Conversation (no longer online)

Review of David Constantine, The Life Writer and In Another Country (Fall 2016) (PDF)

Quill & Quire

Review of Katherine Harvey, Quiet Time (September 2022)

Review of Sina Queyras, Rooms: Women, Writing, Woolf (June 2022)

Review of Marjorie Celona, How A Woman Becomes a Lake (March 2020)

Review of Lorie Glenn Norris, Found Drowned. Quill & Quire (June 2019)

Review of Antanas Sileika, Provisionally YoursQuill & Quire (March 2019)

Review of Kathy Page, Dear EvelynQuill & Quire (October 2018)

Review of Alix Hawley, My Name Is a Knife. Quill & Quire (July 2018)

Review of Merilyn SimondsRefuge. Quill & Quire (June 2018)

Review of Katherine Ashenburg, Sofie & Cecilia. Quill & Quire (March 2018)

Review of George Fetherling, The Carpenter of Montreal (October 2017)

Review of Adam Sternbergh, The Blinds (June 2017)

Review of Jean McNeil, The Dhow House (March 2017)

Canadian Noir: David Montrose and Frances Shelley Wees (December 2016)

Review of Ami McKay, The Witches of New York (Fall 2016)

Review of Steven Price, By Gaslight (July 2016)

Review of Dan Vyleta, Smoke (May 2016)

The Reader

“At the nub of a pen”: Carol Shields’ Unless (Fall 2018)

Sarah Emsley

“Learning to Speak: Finding Inspiration in Persuasion and Jane Eyre

The Times Literary Supplement

Review of Jo Baker, The Midnight News (forthcoming May 2023)

Review of Toby Litt, A Writer’s Diary (January 27, 2023)

Review of Maggie O’FarrellThe Marriage Portrait (September 2, 2022) (Podcast interview:

Reconsidering Rosalind Brackenbury (May 27, 2022)

Not Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Winifred Holtby’s Virginia Woolf: A Critical Memoir (April 8, 2022)

Review of Michael Ignatieff, On Consolation (February 4, 2022)

Review of Mary Lawson, A Town Called Solace (December 10, 2021)

Austen in Nazi Europe: Rereading The Balkan Trilogy (June 2, 2021) (Podcast interview:

P. D. James at 100 (September 24, 2020)

In Brief: Review of Seishi Yokomizo, The Honjin Murders. (September 2020)

“It was she, and only she”: Fictive Commemorations of George Eliot (November 15, 2019)

Review of Evelyn Toynton, Inheritance (November 1, 2019)

Review of Jessica Howell, Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire (June 21, 2019)

Review of Joan Silber, Improvement (April 12, 2019)

Review of Tessa Hadley, Late in the Day (January 15, 2019)

Review of Claire Harman, Murder by the Book (December 18, 2018)

Review of Sarah Moss, Ghost Wall. (October 2, 2018)

“Reading Trollope in the Age of Trump.” TLS Online (July 19, 2018)

Review of Peter Keating, Agatha Christie and the Shrewd Miss Marple. Times Literary Supplement (June 15, 2018).

“Unusual Suspects”: Review of Martin Edwards, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books and Victoria Stewart, Crime Writing in Interwar Britain (March 2, 2018)

Review of Samantha Harvey, The Western Wind. Times Literary Supplement (March 16, 2018).

Review of Benjamin Dabby, Women as Public Moralists in Britain from the Bluestockings to Virginia Woolf (December 2017)

“The Grim Prerequisite”: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles (November 2017)

In Brief: Review of Michele Roberts, The Walworth Beauty (August 2017)

Becoming George: Philip Davis, The Transferred Life of George Eliot (June 2017)

The World Her Book: Danielle Dutton, Margaret the First (February 2017)

Fast Food: Review of Emma Donoghue, The Wonder (September 2016)

In Brief: Review of Wilkie Collins, Jezebel’s Daughter (August 2016)

Gender Setting: Review of The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Women WritersLouisa Stuart Costello: A Nineteenth-Century Writing Life, and Networking the Nation (August 2016)

Review of Dinitia Smith, The Honeymoon (July 8, 2016)

Review of Samantha Walton, Guilty But Insane: Mind and Law in Golden Age Detective Fiction (October 2015)

Tin House

Lost & Found: Daphne Marlatt’s Ana Historic (Issue 74: Winter 2018) [PDF]

Women’s Studies

Review of Elaine and English Showalter, Between Friends: Letters of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby (Virago, 2023). Forthcoming.

Interviews & Other Media

Interview: George Eliot and Middlemarch. CBC Sunday Edition with Michael Enright (December 1, 2019).

Interviewed for “The Enduring Appeal of Sherlock Holmes.” CTV Atlantic (January 22, 2015).

Twitter Q&A for English 607 (University of Calgary Graduate Seminar with Dr. Karen Bourrier) (January 2015).

Interviewed for “Downton Abbey Season 5: The triumph of period drama.” CBC News (January 3, 2015).

Interviewed by Matt Jakubowski: “What is a Critic’s Role? An Interview with Rohan Maitzen.” truce (July 21, 2014).

Twitter Q&A for The Atlantic’s #1Book140, with Stephanie Burt (Harvard University) (May 2014).

Interviewed by Colleen Shea: “Brain/Food: hot tea and wild free-born cranberries.” Jam and Idleness (June 2013).

Interviewed for “Who Was Richard III? How fiction can define history.” The Globe and Mail (February 8, 2013).

Interviewed for “Austen’s Power: 200 years of Pride and Prejudice.” CBC News (January 28, 2013).

Interviewed by Nigel Beale for Nota Bene (July 29, 2009).

Updated January 2023