Page 101. " The East End called to her, Brick Lane "
Brick Lane
Creative Commons AttributionBrick Lane - Credit: James Cridland

In Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, is the street known famously as Brick Lane.

It has long been a home to immigrants: first Irish, then Jews, now Bangladeshis.  Monica Ali named her controversial first novel after the street.


Page 106. " Is there a bird called a baldicoot? "


Creative Commons AttributionBandicoot - Credit: Chen Wu

Creative Commons AttributionCoot - Credit: dipfan, Flickr
A bandicoot is a marsupial mammal found in Australia and New Guinea.  About the size of a cat with a  pointy snout and rabbit-like ears, it is quite unlike a coot, whose defining characteristic is the featherless frontal shield above the eyes.


Page 117. " After a timeless minute or two my sprawling maja drew in her leg "
La maja desnuda
Public DomainLa maja desnuda - Credit: Francisco Goya

  La maja desnuda, or Naked Maja, is a painting by Francisco Goya (1746–1828). It hangs in the Prado in Madrid.  Next to it is the clothed version, La maja vestida

The paintings were originally hung one in front of the other, with the more decent picture on a pulley system allowing it to be raised to expose its naughtier pair.

Maja in Spanish refers to a woman from the lower classes of Madrid society.


La maja vestida
Public DomainLa maja vestida - Credit: Francisco Goya







The paintings play a central role in Jostein Gaarder's novel, Maya.

Page 119. " At the time of my First Communion "


First Communion
Creative Commons AttributionFirst Communion - Credit: Joe Zachs


First Holy Communion is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, marking the moment when a child, usually eight years old, first receives the Eucharist commemorating Christ's Last Supper.




Page 125. " two barefoot maenads "


Maenads, also known as Bacchantes, were female servants of Dionysus who loved wine, dance and song.  Their name means "raving ones", and they were characterized by ecstatic sexuality, frenzied violence and loss of control.

A modern-day Bacchic ritual lies at the heart of Donna Tartt's first novel, The Secret History.