on 28 June 2001
Martina Cole writes crime like Danielle Steele writes love stories. The writing may not be the best in the world and she does tend to go a bit OTT on the violence and abuse aspect and I should say the general level of bad language (wot must everyone fink of us East Londoners! A bunch of 'oring, feeving *"$%s!) but, if you're not after a particularly intellectual read and just want something that's not that taxing on the brain, then she's ideal. I loved The Ladykiller which was the first book I read. Since then, I don't think she's really equalled it in my reckoning. However, at least there is a bit of mystery and suspense in Broken which does keep you hooked to the end. Personally, I welcomed the return of Kate Burrows and have to admit to being so engrossed that I've nearly missed my stop on the tube, on more than one occasion. Read it and enjoy it for what it is.
on 8 August 2000
.. From the begining of the book, you felt that there were parts you could relate to, although some of the incidents were just so horific, you pittied Susan right from the start, yet also held a torch for her and others who in real life had been treated that way. The more you read, the more hostile your feelings got to her Husband, Father and Mother and like another reviewer had written, you were willing Susan not to stay. This is the first Martina Cole book I have ever read, or heard of, and it would certainly not be one that I would have chosen as I prefer Science Fiction - but in reading this..., I found myself transported into the underbelly of Londons East End, and believe me, Ian Beale and Dot Cotton were nowhere to be found! Read it, Weep and promise yourself it would never happen to you! This book is one that you pick up and read from start to finish in one go - you will not be able to put it down!
on 11 June 2002
A fantastic book with a great twist in plot towards the end. However, just one criticism - the title "Two Women" is really misleading as is the synopsis which states "when Sue Dalston is celled up with murderess Matilda Enderby their fates become inextricably linked". Actually, their fates do not become inextricably linked. The protaganist, Sue Dalston, doesn't meet Matilda Enderby until two thirds of the way through the book, and even then the only way their lives interlink is that they briefly share a prison cell and also share the same barrister for a while - hardly "inextricably" linked.
Sue Dalston is a fantastic characterisation - I don't doubt there are plenty of real life Sue Dalston's out there. Martina writes about her with such clarity and realism that I really feel she must personally know a Sue Dalston. You get drawn into Sue's life and realise how she is trapped. You really end up understanding why she behaves as she does.
One more slight criticism of this otherwise five star read is that all through the book Sue's mother is a total scumbag, yet towards the end of the book she miraculously discovers maternal feelings. It's as though Martina wants to tie up all the loose ends nicely and provide a nice happy ending. The family party towards the end of the book - with all the family members getting along and enjoying themselves together just seems unreal and spoils it a bit. Memo to Martina : your books are based on realism, real life doesn't have happy endings all the time.
The book is definately a page turner and Martina knows how to work the reader. Agripping read to the end and you won't be disapointed by the twist in the tale as you really feel that it could happen. Very cleverly written.
on 19 July 2009
Two Women I enjoyed this book as I used to be a mini cab driver in London & came across a few of the characters described in it! However, after reading several of Martina Cole's books I'm afraid that I am finding them rather similar. There always seem to be an Irish father who is violent towards the women in the family when he's had a few too many, a young girl who is abused by other family members or men their Mother (who is always rather generous with her sexual favours) is associated with and a young thug with ambitions to become a 'face' in the East End who comes to a violent demise! Therefore, I am finding that the plot is more or less the same just written in a slightly different way.
on 12 December 2012
The first I've read by Cole. And the last. It's all the things the one star reviewers say. And in between all that violence and sex are little passages to tell us what the characters should be thinking or doing if they were 'proper' people. I don't need the moral of the story spelling out. Leave well alone! Loads of great books out there.
on 5 April 2008
I enjoyed this book so much that i decided to put cole on my list of favourite authors. However, she wasn`t there long because every book of hers that i read after that was like a re-run - loads of sex, violence, ill-gotten wealth,glamour, `gangsters`, drugs, prostitutes, beaten wives etc etc. You can only read the same stuff a couple of times before you get tired. I think it`s time cole either changed the record or put away the type writer for good.I give this book 5 stars as it deserves it - but she can`t expect to keep selling the same story under a different title and a different front cover.
on 12 August 2012
I watched 'the take' on TV & found it gripping so decided to try her writing. The first 3/4 of the book are un-put-downable! I was hooked on the book (finished this in 4days) I really got into the story & characters, I could relate with Susan and some times made me re-think my own childhood, this aside the last part of the book seriously went down hill fast, I could tell what was coming, everyone saw the error of there ways, it was very happy and even a wee bit twee in my humble opinion. I felt the writer was a bit lazy in the writing towards the end it was all summed up in short character sentences- I had a Kathy Burke voice in my head for the voices 'it will all be aright mate, chin up mate, miss him I do mate etc... was a real shame as I did get very engrossed in the book and the end I felt Susan would not of lived her life with whom she let back in etc & the MAJOR turn around of certain characters in the book had me shaking my head in disbelief! But I will try another of her books and see how it goes, she is a very interesting writer and did have a way with detail for characters.
on 13 March 2001
Once again, Martina Cole has excelled in yet another story of the seamy side of life in Essex and East London, bringing back the unforgettable D.I. Kate Burrows and her gangster-with-a heart-of-gold lover Patrick Kelly, whom we first met in one of her earlier novels, "The Ladykiller". "Broken" is a well-told story, certainly not for the squeamish, involving paedophiles, serial killers, corrupt policemen and other assorted villains of every description. However, in my opinion the story was spoilt somewhat because there were too many characters, not all of whom were vital to the story, all of whom were named and seemed to pop up on every other page. Also surprising was the fact that the book appeared to be set in 1992, yet everybody was well into using the Internet, mobile phones, etc. These points may not seem important, but should have been sorted out by the editors.
This was my first go at a Martina Cole novel and I was very impressed. Slightly feminist in its overall style (there’s hardly a decent man to be found among the dozens of characters) and basically a tale of one woman’s rise from the depths of abuse and despair to a happy-ever-after mother hen proudly tending her chicks.
But this is an uncompromisingly violent and unpleasant observation of life in London’s East End covering a forty-year time span and focusing principally on Susan Dalston, at first the unattractively plump pubescent daughter of an underworld gangster/paedophile, later the wife of another underworld gangster/paedophile, and ends up as the devoted mother of four children who become the centre of her life. As the title suggests there are in fact two women, but the second one, Matilda ‘Matty’ Enderby, is really no more significant a character within the novel than any of the dozen or so other females (good and bad) who feature along the way. I think this book should really gave been called One Woman, because Susan is the undoubted heroine and the main bad-guy in the tale is her extremely dislikeable husband. Since it is written on the back cover, I am giving nothing away by mentioning the fact that Susan clubs him over the head with a hammer and her resulting imprisonment brings about her meeting with ‘the other woman’, Matty which, we are led to believe in the back-cover summary, will bring unforeseeable consequences upon Susan. To be honest this is a build-up that never fulfils such a premise, but it matters little because the 400-odd pages preceding this prison-cell meeting are so relentlessly full of emotion and tragedy that there is more than enough to satisfy the soap-opera-loving reader. It’s very vaguely like TV’s ‘EastEnders’ on steroids and consequently it is immensely more entertaining and realistic.
The language is profane throughout but necessarily so to achieve any sense of credibility. The sexual activity is depressing from the outset, limited almost exclusively to father/daughter rape, prostitution, abortion, miscarriages and sexually transmitted diseases. There is a love vacuum throughout as far as marital relations are concerned, with most of the key husbands or male partners being aggressive, violent and verbally humiliating.
Character development is one of Martina Cole’s strengths along with her ability to pull on the heartstrings of her readers. The vocabulary is generally simplistic but no less powerful for that, and there can be little doubt that the author has a genuine take on the lifestyles she portrays and gives me the impression that she might have been close to living such experiences herself in times past.
It would be easy to pick holes in the authenticity of this tale (such as the willingness of the police to turn a blind eye to extreme violence and even murder within this sub-culture) but for me I buy books for entertainment and Martina Cole delivers that many times over. I’ve already bought another of her books and I expect to build up a collection – she’s good!
on 5 January 2008
Having enjoyed Cole's The Runaway and The Ladykiller, I had high hopes for Broken. While Cole is no literary genius, the other two books had been enjoyable page-turners with interesting characters, but having said that, they were still full of anachromisms and sloppy mistakes (a Gerry and the Pacemakers song is memorably credited to Freddie and the Dreamers in The Runaway, for example). Broken, however, is a mess. What begins as an interesting mystery of children disappearing, apparently being dumped by mothers who appear to be innocent of the crime, degenerates into a farce. The side story of Patric Kelly and Boris is tediius, and the ease with which Willy disposes of the Russian and his henchman is laughable. There are also incomplete sentences and poorly punctuated sections which opens up the question of what good Cole's proof reader/editor is. Also, the leading character Kate Burrows has degenerated from the feasible, likeable character of The Ladykiller into a two-dimentional, hard-nosed and yet overtly sentimental foul-mouthed thug. We are forever being reminded of how beautiul Kelly and Kate are, and how big a heart Willy has - pass the sick bag. Kate's mother is a boring cariceture of down-to-earth Irish "good sense", and Kate's daughter, who may have added some much needed complexity (as she did in The Ladykiller) has been all but written out and despatched to Australia. Also, there is way too much unbelievable and over-long dialogue, which demonstrates a lack of confidence in describing plot nuances by the author.
I have given the book two stars rather than one as the fist 200-or-so pages are compelling. And talking of the pages, while there are over 600 of them, there are not many words per page, perhaps an average of six or seven per sparse line. So, rather than 600-plus pages, this book could easily have been half that, or even less.
In conclusion, Broken isn't a terrible book - it IS readable, but well before the end I realised that in this case at least, Martina Cole has given the novel an appropriate title. She might also want to consider branching out and away from the London Irish community, as she has done it to death.