Evening Post, 12 Jan 2006

Nostromo Joseph Conrad, Penguin Modern Classics, £7.99

If you wonder why big, comfortable Victorian novels are no longer written, Nostromo is one reason. This tale of revolution and betrayal in a South American silver-mining town has the scope and confidence of any three-decker classic, and even a fairly conventional ending — four-fifths of the way through. After that, the forces that seemed to have balanced continue on their inevitable paths, and the high ideals meet the fate you fear they really would. This is not an easy read; it’s slow and tangled at the beginning, and breathtakingly grim at the end. But it will set a new test for every other book you pick up, and deepen your pleasure in those that pass.