Recommended by Heywood Hill Reader David Astor
'As Stephen and Natasha Spender lived in a cottage in our garden for about ten years in the late fifties and early sixties and I knew them well, I thought I ought to read their son Matthew's book called A House in St. John's Wood which is about his parents. I never got on with Matthew and wasn't looking forward to his reminiscences. But I was wrong. It's a well written and fascinating book. The two big themes are firstly how Natasha coped with Stephen's homosexuality and secondly whether Stephen really knew that Encounter, the magazine he co-edited with Melvyn Lasky, was funded by the CIA. It's a gripping story and I thoroughly recommend it.'
On himself: 'David Astor's working life has involved small time venture capital, politics and the Arts. If he had spent less time reading books he might have been more successful.'