I was at a very entertaining dinner party recently. As my fellow diners included, inter alia, someone who works for the IMF and a banker, there was an explicit agreement to steer clear of the bailout. Instead, we talked about books which was quite lovely. At one point our hostess went round the table asking us to recommend a really, really good book that was worth reading (if you care, I said “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson) and not one but two people recommended “La Bête Humaine” by Zola. Our hostess, naturally interested, asked what it was about. There was a horrified silence. It was a long time ago. I did sympathise as I often only retain the vaguest impression of what I have read but still. Vaguely reminiscent of David Lodge’s “humiliation“.