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WATCHING SWIFTS [Kindle Edition]

R. J. Askew
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £1.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description

Product Description

Jaded war photographer Emma Saywell wanders through the dappled beauty of London's Kew Gardens, 'Broken', her hack-about old Nikon, hanging around her neck.

Her second book, 'THE EYES OF WAR', is selling well. Yet after a decade looking into hollow eyes, capturing men at their worst, her personal focus is a micron out.

She watches a woman with two young girls. One, the younger, trips, falls, screws up her tiny face, crys silently. Then she sees him. 'Broken' glides to her eye in one instinctive movement.

Click, click. Nailed him. Click.

Why is he smiling so inanely? Why smile like that, selling ice-cream to tourists from a cafe with a few tables? And what's with all the glancing at the sky?'

She looks up herself, half expecting to see an American drone stooging around. Nothing but fat dreamliners heading for Heathrow. She's drawn to the ice-cream seller, has to find out...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 311 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #241,318 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real depths 3 May 2012
By Ignite TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This book tells the story of a relationship which takes place over a few summer months. A woman who is a war photographer meets a man selling ice-cream in Kew Gardens and he starts to draw her. Over the months she returns and he continues. As he draws, he talks, initially about the swifts he constantly watches. Most of the book is his words and a scattering of poems as his own life story comes out. He also tell us about some of the other workers and some of the visitors.

If you love creative language you will warm to this book very quickly. Tom, known to his fellow workers as Leonardo because of his drawings, gradually lets his own story come through and we see how he has coped with a life full of problems. He has become a rounded person unlike some of those he tells us about. The gardener, Parker, an angry and dissatisfied person, finds an equilibrium in a surprising manner.

There are real depths to ponder here; redemption after disastrous failings; the difference between 'real' and 'perfect' love, for example. It is a book that will stay with me and I loved reading it. It's one of those you don't want to finish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heady 22 Dec 2011
By ana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Heady writing for lovers of language. A genre-slipping prose poem. From a swift's point of view publishers are ants scrabbling for the next sleb bestsellaz. This book sits above them in an unpolluted ether. You won't read it, you'll dance with it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting 8 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I find this small gem of a novella energising and compelling. The lilting rhythm of the language sweeps me up
and carries me along with it, until I am no longer able to take my eyes from the screen. I am thus addicted.
All summer long, in Kew Gardens, London, Leonardo - ice-cream seller, artist, ex-jailbird and savant- watches swifts from the small square window of his vending van. During this particular summer he is drawing Emma, a war photographer, back from Afghanistan. And through his side of their conversation and relationship the reader discovers truths of Leonardo's life, of the Londoners and tourists who pass daily through his patch of the great park, and of the swifts. Soar with the swifts and breathe the oxygen. This allegory, along with its accompanying sonnets, will aerate your mind. I mean it. It's wonderful!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Poetic Creative Story 29 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is well worth reading, but as I said before, in my review that this one is replacing, you will have to open your heart and soul to truly enjoy the experience of Watching Swifts. Read it slowly, savor every word, feel every emotion.

The setting is in Kew Garden in London, a place overrun by the Swift, a sleek winged bird that makes the sky come alive with their antics and theatrical ballet from the time they arrive in May until they fly away to Africa in the fall. Leonardo, the main character, loves the Swift and uses the bird to relate to Emma, a war photographer, the joy of watching and exploring what the Swift shows about the thrill of the moment, the freedom of movement and the sweet experience of love.

Leonardo is a man who sees what others don't. A simple ice cream vendor with a love for drawing and a savant ability to know more about the people around him then they do about themselves. He speaks through himself, a man tortured, hurting from within at what his life was, trying to find some redemption and trying to help those he meets explore and open up their souls to what they are trying to hold hostage deep inside of themselves. Leonardo is a very alluring character, and, as rough as he is around the edges, I was driven to continue to read in order to pull back the multiple layers of the onion that is his personality.

The book is told entirely from his POV (with this exception - I liked how the author used the prologue and epilogue to allow the reader to see Leonardo through Emma's eyes and give a glimpse of who she is). There is no dialogue except when he talks with Mr. Parker, the Kew Garden tree keeper. Leonardo and Mr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic Of An Author's Mind 28 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I read most of Ron Askew's book on my Kindle, sitting in the courtyard of our home here in the French Pyrenees, with swifts zooming and screaming around the house - there seem to have been more of these amazing aeronauts around this year than ever.

The book is a poetic tour de force. There is plenty of verse breaking up the narrative, but the prose itself is of a poetic bent. Excellent use of words and rhythm.

Most of those words issue from the mouth of one person, but they reveal plenty about his relationship with his listener, also with characters from his troubled past and his current life. We learn about the people he works with and their relationships, about others more tangential but who impact on his soul and his and interests. We learn about the birds he loves. We see into his heart and those of the people around him.

We wonder, or at least I do, where stuff like this comes from, to land in an author's mind. But we admire the product greatly and we look forward to Ron's next voyage into print.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won Over 19 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a little sceptical as to whether I would enjoy this. The plot is summarised in other reviews,so I'll keep quiet about it.
As a veteran reader of all sorts of writers,from Henty to Haggard to Chekhov, I think I know a good thing when I see it. This is a good thing.
It is a poem,a thriller and a comedy all in one. The main character is a collection of birds-the swifts of the title, but there is human interest,too.
The book is a delight and the most notable piece of work I've read in years. It stands above most,and I recommend it to all who love great writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by the cover
This book has a lot going for it and deserves a wide audience. Creative and imaginative, evocative and atmospheric. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bridget
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, shocking, and better than chocolate....
I honestly preferred reading Watching Swifts to staying in with a Bridget Jones DVD and a box of chocolates. Read more
Published 4 months ago by London Lass
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky
Quirky characters and a good story. I couldn't wait to find out what would happened to everyone. I liked the Non-Hollywood ending
Published 6 months ago by R. Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic novella that captures the essence of a lost summer
Emma meets Leonardo in Kew Gardens, where he sells ice-cream. She photographs him, he draws her, and through their pictures they each manage to capture the other for who they... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ruth
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected, Thought-Provoking - Not your average book!
Watching Swifts is one of the most unusual books I've ever read simply because of the way the story progresses. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Serena Akeroyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching swifts
A delightful and insightful poetic Novella. The writing is not only creative but evoking. The story and poetry flows in a way that matches the title perfectly. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jes
5.0 out of 5 stars Roy A Higgins
To be honest I never expected to like this novella and only read it because I was asked to review it. I usually go for action packed novels, murder, explosions, that kind of thing. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Author Roy A Higgins
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose and verse which unlocks emotions
Watching Swifts by R.J. Askew
Reviewed by Lucy Pireel

This book is one of those that keeps popping back in your mind. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lucy Pireel
5.0 out of 5 stars A Singular Read
Literature is a diverse field, blossoming with the flowers of wildly divergent creators. In Watching Swifts, by R.J. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Stuart Aken
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Story With Imagination
Those expecting the commonplace or prosaic from R.J. Askew's Watching Swifts - a love story set in contemporary London - will find something much deeper, and ultimately more... Read more
Published 14 months ago by David Spencer
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