The news of Lynn Barber being successfully sued for ‘malicious’ libel in a “spiteful” book review has sent shock waves through those of us who are sometimes less than kind in our judgement. There’s no doubt that bad reviews come back to haunt you, whether in the form of the maligned author on your doorstep (Jeanette Winterson) or your own conscience. When Lionboy by Zizou Corder came out in 2003 I wrote a piece that was, let’s say, “cynical” rather than spiteful about the whole mother and daughter shtick. (I was probably jealous, m’lud, that Louisa Young’s daughter was earning a living while my own eleven year old was lying on the sofa watching Friends.) “How could any reviewer” I asked with a rhetorical flourish “stoop so low as to slag off the work of a ten year old…?” before proceeding to do exactly that. A few months later we got the list of my daughter’s classmates at her new secondary school. Yes, you guessed. I have spent the last seven years hiding behind the lockers at parent evenings.