Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose : A Memoir of Love, Exile and Crosswords, Paperback

Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose : A Memoir of Love, Exile and Crosswords Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Half a million people a day do it in the Telegraph.

The Times claims almost as many, and the Guardian 300,000.

Most people remember their first time, and everyone has a favourite.

You can do it in bed, standing up, or on a train. You can do it alone, with a loved one or in groups. The Queen does it in the bath. It is not illegal, immoral or fattening. In fact it tops the Home Office list of approved entertainments for prison inmates.

Crosswords are a very British obsession. 'An extraordinary memoir...a positive page turner...A mesh of journeys and destinations, politics and romance, it touches what is beyond words.' Sophie Ratcliffe, The Times 'You don't have to be a crossword nut to appreciate Sandy Balfour's tremendously beguiling Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8).' John Walsh, Independent 'A little gem of a memoir...The book adds up to more than a sum of its parts and lingers in the memory long after the final page' Val Gilbert, Sunday Telegraph 'Charming, knowledgeable and gripping' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian 'A touching tribute to his close it feeling you have encountered a modest man of humour, compassion and common sense, who wears his wisdom lightly' Economist 'A real charmer. ..this reviewer's verdict on Balfour's book: Touching success when foils clash at Elsinore (1,8,3) - A PALPABLE HIT' Kevin Jackson, Spectator 'A book to make writers curse themselves for not having thought of the idea first, but to make readers hug themselves that Sandy Balfour did.

A delight' Alan Coren'Sandy Balfour's memoir Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8) is like a great crossword clue - I couldn't put it down until I'd worked it out.' Clive James


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9781843540892



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is a brilliant book, combining his passion for the uniquely British crosswords with his wonderings about cultural identity and sense of self. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned a lot about puns, anagrams and clues.

Review by

This is a clever, quirky little book. The cover says it is a memoir of love, exile and crosswords, but it actually defies categorisation. It isn't really a memoir - the writer is quite selective about which doors of his life are opened to the reader. We know he becomes a crossword afficianado and has a deep fondness for his adopted country (England, he is an ex pat South African) and for his "girlfriend", a title that becomes somewhat grating as the book progresses and she becomes central to his life and the mother of his chidren. But along with a few snippets about his professional life, that's about all he gives away about himself. The story is more a series of recollections of moments in time which he describes for their life importance and for their association with where he was at the same time, in his development as a crypiic crossword afficianado. The originality and cleverness of the book is in the way it is a history of the development of cryptic crosswords and and their setters, and a "how to do them" guide, (arguably a fairly dry subject) which is flavoured up with human interest by being embedded in some important events in the writer's life. Definitely recommended for those who love doing cryptic crosswords and those who aspire to do them. Probably of less interest to those who consider crosswords to be only for nerdy types who need to get a real life. (Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose - answer, rebelled - if you can't work it out and are itching to know why, buy the book!!)

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