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Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose
 
 

Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose [Kindle Edition]

Sandy Balfour
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Print List Price: 7.99
Kindle Price: 4.19 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description

Amazon Review

In Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8), award-winning documentary filmmaker Sandy Balfour traces the history of his longstanding fascination with the construction and solving of crosswords, and searches deeper, into the multiplicity of languages, and the relationship between setter and solver that at first appears cruel and combative, but establishes itself as empathetic and playful.

On the way, he reflects on matters less cerebral: his early life in Apartheid-era South Africa, his transplantation to Britain, the travels and tribulations of international filmmaking, and a personal journey to fatherhood; all the time both burdened and enabled by the seemingly conflicting modes of thinking--unfettered and rebellious, pedantic and disciplined--that characterise the successful cryptic crossword. The book is studded with cryptic clues (thankfully, and instructively solved later), and culminates in a crossword set by the author's chief tormentor, and hero, Araucaria, of the Guardian, which appeared in the newspaper to celebrate Balfour's 40th birthday.

Balfour writes in an easy, discursive style, and while it's doubtful that complete newcomers to cryptic puzzles will find him an entirely suitable tutor (try instead How To Do The Times Crossword), he is at least blessed with a wonderful capacity to enthuse. Crossword regulars should seek no more elaborate invitation than the challenge of the book's title. --Alex Hankin

Review

‘A charming book...some of us have a new ambition – to be the next Sandy Balfour’ -- Sunday Times

‘A little gem...lingers in the memory long after the final page’ -- Val Gilbert, Sunday Telegraph

‘An extraordinary memoir… A mesh of journeys and destinations, politics and romance, it touches what is beyond words’ -- Sophie Ratcliffe, The Times

‘This beautiful book is as enigmatic and pleasurable as a perfect crossword clue' -- Francis Wheen

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 469 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (7 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G8NX33O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,271 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cryptic Love Story 18 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
My expectations of this book were guarded as I had been urged to read it by my crossword-addicted father as he believed it would finally break down my resistance to what has always appeared to me to an unfathomably tedious pastime. I had no idea that I would be immediately and so wholly entranced by Balfour's candid yet enigmatic tale of falling in love with this country and its sensibilities through the seemingly innocuous cryptic crossword puzzle. And that's the magic of this superbly written and totally original memoir - the reader discovers that clues, solutions and grids serve a far more intriguing purpose than merely filling up endless commuter time. Crosswords, Balfour seems to suggest, both illuminate and throw fresh shadows upon the big and small issues that perplex us all and tell us far more about Britain and Britishness then any other comment or feature article that a broadsheet newspaper may include. But that is, as they say, only half the story. By far the real substance of this book - and it is what makes it so compelling - is the story of a man's travels across continents and towards identity and true home. Balfour tells with warmth, wit and disarming honesty how he left his native South Africa in the 1980s to avoid military conscription and headed towards an uncertain future with his girlfriend. This beautifully balanced relationship is the actual axis of the book and imperceptibly welds together the twin aspects of Balfour's obsessions: puzzles and love. Has the author inspired me into a new and beautiful phase of paternal bonding? Probably not because one still requires the right kind of brain matter to slove my father's beloved crosswords. But more importantly he has written a book to keep and cherish.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating memoir 21 Aug 2007
By hiljean VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I had been intrigued by cryptic crosswords but had no idea how to solve them when I came across this book, which unlocked some of the unwritten rules and revealed the other side - the crossword setters. Balfour's growing passion for cryptic crosswords provoked a desire in me to learn how to master them myself. I duly attended a one-week course and the art of a the cryptic crossword has now become a passion of mine. What more can you ask of a book, but that it inspires you to take on new challenges?

The fact that the book is also a journey of self-discovery for the author is an added bonus and altogether I felt it made for a really unusual and interesting memoir.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playful structure for very readable memoir 25 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This short - one might say handy - little book would make an excellent travelling companion. It's an agreeable memoir of various (mainly quite recent) foreign travels, built around a strong interest in crosswords. Indeed the overall effect is a bit like a crossword, with intersecting experiences and connections that slowly build into a recognizable thematic whole. The writing is pleasant, and the author's personality comes over as both intelligent and likable. Certainly one does not have to like crosswords to enjoy it (although it probably helps).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fanscinating book 17 July 2009
Format:Paperback
I found out about this author through his very good book on cricket 'What I love about cricket' and discovered I had alot in common with him (ex-South African, draft-dodger, etc, etc).
His writing style is very effective with a lovely flow. The book, I found, really comes alive when he writes about his family but I found myself floundering with the crossword references (as I have never been a fan).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book - you won't regret it. 29 May 2008
Format:Paperback
You don't have to enjoy crosswords to think this is a book quite out of the ordinary: at times touching and at times it had me laughing out loud. But if you are interested in crosswords - or more particularly the people who compile them and the people who solve them - then this is a book you should already have read.
And no, I'm not a relation of Mr Balfour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read with great insights 26 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback
I'm not a crossword person myself though I've had a few people try to explain them to me in the past and this book suceeds where they've all failed. Part memoir part exploration of the art of the cryptic crossword this book is beautifully written and recommended to all.
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