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Lynrow Kernow

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Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
by Kate Hubbard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen and her Courtiers, 5 Jan 2013
What a wonderful idea: the story of the sixty something years when Queen Victoria reigned, told through the experiences of the men and women who served her. The experiences of high-ranking courtiers, who were close enough to see how the queen and her family lived, who were not overawed by the world they found themselves in, and who, of course, left letters and diaries to speak for them. And from those documents Kate Hubbard has built a wonderful story, vividly written, chock full of details, and utterly readable.

Lady Sarah Lytton was a widow with a family to support when she came, reluctantly, to court to become a lady of the bedchamber to a young, unwed Victoria, and later she would rise to become the superintendent of the royal nurseries. Charlotte Canning, a younger woman, with a fine mind and an artistic sensibility became a lady of the bedchamber some years later. Mary Bulteel was a maid of honour before she became the wife of the queen's private secretary. Henry Ponsonby was that private secretary, a job for life, and his path crossed with those of James Reid, physician in ordinary, and Randall Davidson, domestic chaplain.

Six very different characters, with different roles, and so the focus moves. From the life of the queen with her ladies; to her marriage and the raising of her children; to her homes - Windsor for duty, Balmoral for love, and Osborne for recreation - and her travels; to political crises and her varied relationships with her prime ministers; to the extended periods of mourning and seclusion that followed the death of Prince Albert; to her relationships with John Brown and Abdul Karim; to her slow decline, her death and finally to the laying out of her body.

It was all familiar to me, but the perspective made this such a very human story, with the lives of the queen's courtiers set against their clear-sighted views of her life.

The daily life of the court depended upon the Victoria's will, tempered a little by Albert while he lived, but becoming more rigid, more unthinking, and sometimes downright irrational in her later years. It might be sensible for maids of honour, single young women, to be restricted and chaperoned, but it seemed heartless that Lady Lyttleton was begrudgingly given so very little time to see her children and grandchildren, that James Reid was compelled to keep his engagement, late in life, to an eminently suitable lady-in-waiting secret ...

There was always rules, conventions, proprieties that must be kept, and when the queen became a widow, as she grew older and frailer, she became more demanding and completely oblivious to the feelings of those around her. Henry Ponsonby struggled, as her sight failed, to make his writing bigger and clearer, to find heavier paper so that the ink would not show through ...

But, in spite all of this, Victoria was an engaging human figure. She loved her husband, her home at Balmoral, her fresh air. She struggled with life as a widow. She was vulnerable, and sometimes she made bad choices, but she could never admit that she was fallible. I realised that she was a woman who knew no other life, saw very little of the world, and who maybe would have been happier if she had.

I felt as much, sometimes more, for the people around her. But I don't want to say too much. Better to notice all of the details as you read. From details of meals to the Queen's feelings about the prime minister of the day! From drunken servants to appointing bishops! And this is a book that I think will work for anyone who is interested, whether they've read everything or nothing about the period.

This is a book full of engaging characters, fascinating details of their lives, and fresh perspectives on familiar pieces of history.

The only thing it lacks are family trees and chronologies. With the shifting perspectives prime ministers, and princes, come and go, live, marry and die, and changes aren't always noted.

But that's a minor point, I was completely wrapped up in the lives of the Queen and her Court, and the story never lost its grip.

This really is a fascinating book - I could happily go back to the beginning and read it all over again - and one that I can recommend.

The Marlowe Papers
The Marlowe Papers
by Ros Barber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History, intrigue and emotion ... in verse ..., 26 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Marlowe Papers (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It was intriguing proposition: a story spun around the assumption that Christopher Marlowe did not die in a tavern brawl on 30th May 1593. The assumption that another man died and Marlowe fled, fearing being charged with heresy, and lived in exile. The assumption that he continued to write with his work being published under the name of another man: William Shakespeare.

I lack the depth of knowledge to assess whether or not the tale is viable, but I can say that, to me, Ros Barber made her case convincing and her story compelling.

The initial proposition was made even more intriguing by the fact that it is written entirely in blank verse. I thought that it might be hard work but it really wasn't: it read beautifully. The language is not of the period but I think it would be fair to say that it is sympathetic to the period. It feels right.

Now writing a story of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare in such a way has a particular danger. It invites comparisons by which even very fine writers would suffer. But I think that to dwell on such things would be a mistake. Because this is a book that tells a story, celebrates its subjects, and throws intriguing questions into the air. And to write it in such a way was a marvellous feat and quite clearly a labour of love.

Most of the writing is in the form of iambic pentameter, as Marlowe considers his past and faces his future. He writes, he travels, he forms new relationships, he makes covert trips back to england, and he finds himself caught up in intrigue.

I couldn't say whether or not the voice that Ros Barber created for Marlowe was authentic, but I can say that it was engaging and that I wanted to go on listening.

From time to time there are sonnets that bring significant points into focus. I loved so many of them, and in the middle of the book when they were sparse the story's hold weakened a little. But it didn't let go.

After a compelling opening, telling of the flight from England, considering the consequences, and looking to the future I really didn't want to let go. And as the story unfolded I appreciated the atmosphere, the characterisation, and the wealth of detail.

Historical figures and incidents moved through the story, adding substance, and I am quite sure that if I knew more I would have noticed much more.

What I did notice was an extraordinary web of history, intrigue and emotion. The first two were wonderful but was is the third that really, really made the story sing.

After the tale had been told I found, at the back of the book, clear notes about the history and theories that underpinned the story, and generous acknowledgment of many sources. I hadn't refered to them along the way, because I wanted to stay as I was, caught up on the story, but I was glad they were there for me to consider afterwards.

I realised that, although I wasn't convinced that the story had been entirely plausible, I had still been caught up. Because the story was so vivid and because its telling was so effective.

The Uninvited
The Uninvited
by Liz Jensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A human drama to illuminate big ideas, 20 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Uninvited (Paperback)
Liz Jensen is an extraordinary writer.

I can count eight, wonderfully diverse, novels now. She has taken in so many subjects - from ecology to time travel; from fertility to social history - mixing so many different ideas in different, and unexpected, ways. And though her subject matter wouldn't always draw me I always find her writing intriguing.

The Uninvited is, I think, as good as anything she's done.

I was pulled in from the very first paragraph.

Mass hysterical outbreaks rarely have identifiable inceptions, but the date I recall most vividly is Sunday 16th September, when a young child in butterfly pyjamas slaughtered her grand-mother with a nail-gun to the neck. The attack took place in a family living room in a leafy Harrogate cul-de-sac, the kind where no-one drops litter, and where you can hear bird-song..."

The seemingly isolated incident that proved to be the first in a wave seemed to set an obvious course for the story to take. But it didn't, it went somewhere rather different, leaving those extraordinary events on the back-burner.

Hesketh Lock was an anthropologist, employed by a large corporation to investigate and analyse instances of industrial sabotage. It was a role that suited him very well. Because Hesketh has Asperger's Syndrome and his emotional detachment, his lack of empathy with the people he studied, meant that he could study the facts and the patterns that fascinated him completely objectively.

I was a little worried when I saw the first reference to Asperger's Syndrome - it's been used by rather too many novelists lately, and few handle it well - but here it worked very well. The character worked, as a believable character and as exactly the right protagonist for this particular story.

Another pattern began to emerge: a contact is found dead by his own hand; a subject runs into the path of a moving train; an interviewee leaps from a high building.

Hesketh can't explain, but he begins to wonder ...

"Men attacking institutions they love.

Children turning on their families.

Two overlapping circles, with irrational violence at the intersection.

What else connects them?"

Hesketh observes details - fascinating details, opening up all manner of possibilities - but his work is pushed aside when he is affected by an incident close to home. An incident involving Freddie, the son of his estranged partner, with whom Hesketh had always had a strong bond.

The contrast between the cool, professional Hesketh, and the caring, involved step-father was striking. And the contrasts between a chilling back-story, a fascinating investigation, and a family drama - all held together by some very clever plotting - made reading chilling, thought-provoking, and utterly compelling.

It was fiction, but it felt horribly possible, and completely relevant.

Everything - the writing, the characterisation, the structure - worked.

Most of all it was the characters and their relationships, so very real and so very well drawn, that made a story full of big ideas utterly accessible.

And everywhere the devil was in the details - it would be wrong to mention specifics - so I'll just say they made me think, they made me feel, and they made me ask questions.

A resolution seemed impossible, and indeed it was. There were some answers but not a complete solution. And a departure rather than an ending.

That was right, but it meant that the ending was less compelling that what had gone before.

Not a bad thing at all because it left room to think about what had happened, what might happen next, and what really could happen.

A fitting ending to a fascinating book.

How to Be a Good Wife
How to Be a Good Wife
by Emma Chapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing little book, 19 Dec 2012
This review is from: How to Be a Good Wife (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Marta and Hector have been married a long time, and Marta has always endeavoured to be a good wife. But when her son, Kylan, left home and she was bereft, and her mind started to wander. She remembered little incidents, snatches of conversations, and she began question the truth of what her husband has told her about a past that she can't remember.

He tells her that she has been ill, that she just has to go on taking her tablets and everything will be alright. But Marta doesn't want to forget; she wants to know the truth.

It's a simple and clever concept, beautifully executed.

Marta tells her own story in crisp, clear prose.

I suspected that she was unreliable, that she had problems,. but I couldn't work out what the truth was. I just knew that I had to keep turning the pages to find out.

I felt for Marta in her struggles, but I also felt for her husband and her son as they struggled to cope with her behaviour.
The story was compelling to the last, and the psychology and behaviour of the characters rang completely true.

When the end came I was stunned, and I had to rethink everything that had gone before.

That's very clever writing and, though 164 pages don't allow too much depth, I have to say that this is a very impressive debut novel.

The Other Half of Me
The Other Half of Me
by Morgan Mccarthy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.44

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the story was moving, haunting, and quite beautifully written ..., 13 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As I read The Other Half of Me, Morgan McCarthy's first novel, I heard echoes of many other stories. Stories of lives lived in grand country houses. Stories of troubled families harbouring dark secrets. Stories of privileged, but troubled, lives ... and yet, through all of that, I heard a new and distinctive story.

Jonathan and his younger sister, Theo, grew up in a mansion in the Welsh countryside. They were terribly isolated. Their father was absent. Their mother, Alicia, was remote. And their neighbours held them at arm's length. Only the staff - the housekeeper, the cook, the gardener - had any time for the children.

And so they clung to each other, and they ran wild.

Until their grandmother, socialite and hotel magnate, Eve Anthony, heard that something was amiss and came home to take charge of the situation. She was capable and she reassured her grandchildren, telling them stories that explained much about the past and their family situation.

Jonathan and Theo grew in different directions: he was practical and ambitious while she was needy and heedless of the consequences of her actions. The bond between them was strained.

Both began to question the gaps in Eve's stories, and to wonder if those stories were true at all. And if Eve wasn't telling the truth who was she trying to protect. Her grandchildren, her daughter, or herself?

Tragedy was inevitable. And the grief it caused might be too much to bear.

Morgan McCarthy tells her story beautifully. Her style is languid and lovely, her turn of phrase is charming, and she has a very nice way with a metaphor.

There is light and shade, and a lovely mixture of the mysterious and the elegiac.

She made a wise choice in appointing Jonathan as her narrator. He alone had the self-awareness and the momentum for the job, and I never doubted that I was seeing, hearing, understanding as he had. That meant a few details were missing, a few characters were less defined than they might have been, but that was the right choice, to hold the perspective.

The story moves slowly and there are long stretches when nothing happens, but the beauty of the writing, the wonderful evocation of the world that Jonathan moved through, the questions hanging in the air, all of that held me.

I worked out some of the answers, but not all of them.

The complex and changing relationship between brother and sister gave the story its heart and the ever-present sense of menace and foreboding gave it substance.

There were times when I felt that Morgan McCarthy was over-playing her hand. That the family was a little too wealthy, the Eve had done a little too much in a single lifetime, that Theo couldn't really be so desperately short of self-knowledge .... but the story still worked, because all of the emotions and the psychology rang true.

Now that I have reached the end I realise that the story was moving, haunting, and quite beautifully written.

That's a wonderful achievement for a first novel, and I am intrigued to read whatever else Morgan McCarthy may write in the future.

The Cleaner of Chartres
The Cleaner of Chartres
by Salley Vickers
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was one of Agnès' virtues that she didn't say much ..., 2 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
How lovely it is to fall into the hands of a natural storyteller, who tells her story with such lovely and well-chosen words and with such understanding of every element of her story.

And when she sets her story around the beautiful and historic cathedral at Chartres, well that really is the icing on the cake.

Agnès Morel and was found by Abbé Paul on a rainy night. Sleeping peacefully in the porch of the cathedral. She wouldn't say where she came from, indeed she wouldn't say anything about her past.

She found a place to live, helping her elderly landlady in lieu of rent, and she found bits and pieces of work. Cleaning mainly - just enough to get her by. She lived quietly, making just a few friends, but her eccentric dress and strange demeanour did attract a little attention.

When the cathedral's elderly cleaner began to struggle with his work, the Abbè Paul asked Agnès to help. That gave her respectability and she was offered more jobs - organising the papers of Professor Jones, babysitting Philippe Nevers' young nephew.

Agnès took on every job that she was offered. She liked to be busy, and to be needed.

While she was cleaning the cathedral, Agnès met Alain, who was working on the restoration. He was smitten, but she felt awkward and didn't know what to do.

All of this had a natural charm, and it was brought to life by a wonderful mis of characters, all real and recognisable. Salley Vickers shone a soft light on their hearts and minds, just enough to illuminate them. I saw their hopes, I saw their fears, and I understood.

But others were less taken with Agnès. Madame Beck, jealous of the attention that she attracts and taking a dim view of her reticence, askedAgnès to clean for her. Just so that she can keep an eye on her.

In time, inevitably, Madame Beck found something amiss. She blamed Agnès, and she sets about digging up her past to make her point. And when she met a nun from the convent where Agnès was raised, then she knew she was right. But was she?

Agnès had a painful past, and her story was threaded through the stories of the people of Chartres. A strange juxtaposition, but it worked.

It allowed Sally Vickers to paint all sides of humanity: generosity, selfishness, malice, greed, fear, courage, humour ...

The story was beautifully written, the setting so very well evoked, and the history of Chartres came into play quite naturally.

The heroine was a little elusive, but her story was so extraordinary that I think that was probably for the best.

It did leave a gap though. And that's the one thing that makes The Cleaner of Chartres a little less than perfect.

Tefal BlendForce  Blender
Tefal BlendForce Blender
Offered by Slamtech Online
Price: 26.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good for some; not so good for others, 24 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For occasional use I'd say this was a nice little blender. It's easy to put together, take apart and clean; and it did a nice job making fruit smoothies and pureeing soup.

It's nicely designed, and lightweight too

But if you'd use a blender a lot this might not be the model for you. Mine overheated and cut out very quickly, and it couldn't cope with making one crust into breadcrumbs without a half time interval.

It's a little on the noisy side and it travelled a bit on my worksurface. Not major problems, but just a little more weight in the base might have made all the difference.

There are accessories to deal with herbs and spices and the like, but they don't come as part of the package and I can't see them on Amazon at the moment

by John Coates
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed Gem, 18 Oct 2012
This review is from: Patience (Paperback)
I was intrigued by this book. The summer before last, when I heard Nicola Beauman speak at my library, she mentioned that she was delighted she had found a comedy that would bring something new, something that she felt was missing from the Persephone list. It was too early for her to share any of the details, but I'm quite sure that this is it.

It's the story of 28 year-old Patience Gathorne-Galley. She's a good Catholic girl, independently wealthy with a husband, Edward, and three little girls, Star, Sue and Sal.

But Patience is an innocent, hopelessly naive.

She relies on her siblings for advice. Lionel is a good devout Catholic, whose wife's desertion hasn't shaken his faith one iota. Helen, on the other hand, is a lapsed Catholic, living in sin with an Anglican solicitor.

Ah yes, SIN. That word is writ large in all their lives. Lionel takes the avoidance of sin terribly seriously. Helen is rather more sanguine, but she hasn't completely lost the values she was raised with. And Patience knew that it was a very bad thing that she really should avoid.

She really was that naive, a young woman passed directly from her parents to her husband with no chance at all to look at the world around her.

She was surprised when Lionel told her that Edward had a mistress. He was a good, reliable husband, and why ever would a woman want to go to bed with a man when it wasn't her marital duty?

Yes, there was a story waiting to happen here. And happen it did.

Patience met a man. Phillip. She fell in love. And in lust.

"She understood in a sort of flash of revelation almost everything Lionel had ever told her. It really was different getting into bed with someone who wasn't your husband. And no wonder Lionel was so anxious no one should begin, because once having begun, and knowing how lovely it was, one would find it very difficult to stop."

When she confided in Helen her sister assured her that it wasn't just the fact that Phillip wasn't her husband that made the difference. And then Patience knew that her future had to be spent with Phillip and her babies. But however could she disentangle herself from Edward and not fall into sin?

Patience's attempts to do that, to reach her happy ending, make this a charming comedy of manners It sails along beautifully, with lovely dialogue batted back and forth by beautifully drawn characters.

I could see them and I could hear their voices. I could imagine actors on a stage having wonderful fun with this material too.

John Coates captures the feminine psyche extraordinarily well. I am inclined to believe that he was brought up with sisters, and that maybe he had a colourful aunt or two. But that's just speculation, so let's just say he understands women.

He writes beautifully too, with a light touch, with a lovely turn of phrase, and with just the right amount of wit.

I found that I could even forgive Patience's habit of addressing everyone as `dear!'

Patience's faith, and the problems created by the differences between church and secular law, provided a serious thread that counterbalanced the comedy and the romance quite beautifully.

There were some very nice twists and turns along the way. Moments of comedy and moments of joy deftly handled. I turned the pages quickly and stayed up rather later than I had planned because I so wanted to know what was going to happen.

And yet my feelings were mixed. There were times when I found Patience irksome. It is one thing to be a simple soul, but even the simplest souls have some awareness, some concern for the feelings of others. But Patience didn't. she was utterly oblivious, thinking only of what she wanted.

It was wonderful that her discovery of love and passion swept away everything, save her maternal love, but I found it hard to believe that any grown woman could be quite so insensitive to other people's feelings.

Maybe that says more about me than the book. I've often been told that I'm too serious, and that I over-think things.

But I'm afraid that near the end, when Patience said that she had grown up and all that it meant that she was more forceful in getting her own way I was bitterly disappointed.

I just needed some little acknowledgement that she might have been thoughtless, or some little sign that she had sympathy or understanding for others. But it never came. And an afterword revealed that Patience never really grew up at all.

Seeing love conquer all was delightful, and the way that the story played out was a joy.

But, to me, this looks like a flawed gem. I saw the beauty and the flaws, but I suspect some will see only the beauty and others will see only the flaws.

I'd like to read it again soon, because I don't rule out feeling differently on a different day, and I'm going to be very, very curious to find out how other readers react when they meet Patience.

Tigers in Red Weather
Tigers in Red Weather
by Liza Klaussmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Tigers in Red Weather (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It begins beside a swimming pool, in America, not long after the war has ended.
Cousins Nick and Helena have spent the war years together at the Tiger House,
their family's summer home on the exclusive East Coast Island of Martha's
Vineyard. Their lives are about to change. Hughes, Nick's husband, is coming
home and Helena, whose first husband died early in the war, has plans to remarry and move to the West Coast with a charming man who does something, she isn't sure quite what, in the film industry.

Their lives change, and neither has the future that she expected.

`Tigers in Red Weather' follows their lives over the next quarter century. Five narrators take up the story in turn, and their accounts shift backwards and forwards in time. At times that was unsettling, but at times seeing the same events through different eyes brought them into clearer focus. And seeing the characters' journeys, how they behaved, how they were at different points in their lives made them all the more

They weren't likeable, I didn't feel close to them, but they were real, complex, fallible human beings, and I wanted to understand them and to know what happened to them.

The centre point was an incident in the summer of 1959. Nick's daughter, Daisy, and Helena's son, Ed, found a body in the woods. That sent shock waves through the community, through the family, and the repercussions would be felt for a long, long time.

Otherwise this is a fairly quiet book, but it is a book in which life happens, and key moments that define characters and relationships, that shift perceptions are clearly illuminated.

This really is an accomplished debut novel. Lisa Klaussman's prose in lovely - cool, elegant, polished - perfectly matched to her subject matter, and she has a lovely turn of phrase.

She captures the time and the place, bringing it to life, and again highlighting exactly the right details.

And as their lives changed, and as their lives changed them, I continued to believe in her characters.

My only concern was that I was kept at a distance. I was a fascinated observer, but I wasn't emotionally involved.

The second half of the book was not quite as strong as the first, though there was more tension to make up for that. And the right narrator, the most intriguing narrator was held back to the very end.

And what an end! It was stunning, and it made me think again, about everything.

I can understand why many haven't cared for this book. Certainly if you prefer plot driven stories, linear narratives, characters to care for, this may not be the book for you.

But I think that it does what it does rather well. So, if you're in two minds, do give Tigers in Red Weather the benefit of the doubt.

I can't say it's perfect, but I can say that its a fascinating debut, by an author who looks to have the potential to - maybe - do great things in the future.

The Light Behind The Window
The Light Behind The Window
by Lucinda Riley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh Lucinda!, 24 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I hoped that I would love 'The Light Behind the Window' as much as I loved 'The Girl on the Cliff,' I really did. But I didn't.

There's no doubt at all that you know how to spin a story.

Emilie de la Marinieres travelled from Paris to her family home, a grand chateau in southern France, when she learned that her mother was gravely ill. They hadn't been close: Emilie couldn't understand how her mother found such joy in life as a socialite, and her mother couldn't understand why her daughter had turned her back on all of that, why she wanted a career.

Her mother died, and Emilie found that sorting her family affairs would be a huge job, and that she would face difficult and painful decision.

And then she met a man. An Englishman. Sebastian Carruthers had just lost his grandmother, the woman who raised him and his brother, and so he could understand her feelings. And he was more than ready to help.

Work had brought Sebastian to France, he said, but while he was there he wanted to see that chateau where his grandmother had spent time during the war.

In 1943, Constance Carruthers was recruited by the Special Operations Executive, and trained to become an agent. She had family in france, so she spoke the language like a native. And her husband was missing in action; she had to do something, whatever she could to bring the war to an end.

Things did not go to plan in France and Constance found herself in the heart of occupied Paris, in the household of Edouard de la Marinieres. Emilie's father.

In 1999 Emilie, swept off her feet, married Sebastian. But she didn't get the happy ending she had been hoping for.

The story began slowly, and if I hadn't had faith in the author I probably would have given up. The writing was awkward and the dialogue was stilted and weighed down by far too much exposition.

But when Connie's story began things picked up. Lucinda Riley's writing is much better when things are happening, and from this point there was plenty happening in both stands of the story. I found that I was reading a book that was both romance and thriller, and that there were so many twists and turns that I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened.

I loved Emilie and Constance; such well drawn characters.

The stories of past and present were cleverly, and naturally linked, and it was fascinating to see the one echoing the other. I prefered the wartime story, and though the contemporary story was readable it felt a little bit too contrived, a little bit too hard to believe.

There was a lack of subtlety there and in too many other places. The villains in each strand were a particular problem, a bit more cartoon baddie than believable human being.

Such a pity because there were so many lovely details and wonderful moments.

The ending struck a wrong note. It shouldn't have belonged to a former German officer who had concerns about his regime but did nothing more that help those he loved and flee when he feared discovery. Other did far more, risked far more, when they saw the evils of the Nazi regime.

There was a better ending there for the taking, and better book to be written from the material.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2012 1:48 PM BST

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