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martin o'donnell (Dublin)

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Two for Joy
Two for Joy
by Patricia Scanlan
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy indeed!, 21 Oct 2003
This review is from: Two for Joy (Hardcover)
At a time when the world and its frou-frou dog is hell bent on creating the next Bridget Jones, it is refreshing to read something as warmly realistic as Patricia Scanlan's "Two For Joy". As with all of her novels, the central focus is on a number of core characters. Usually there is one character with a profile slightly above the others but this time there are two (the clue is in the title - keep up, folks). Noreen and Heather lead lives we all know. Their life stories come straight from the realms of real life as opposed to the soft-focus, quasi 'Sex In The City' fiction that publishers decree is "in" for women readers. The lower profile characters (never merely secondary), are dealt with sensitively and - this is one of Scanlan's greatest gifts - they are all made human. The selfish mother-in-law and the treacherous glamourpuss cousin are not merely cardboard cut-outs squeezed in for dramatic effect. Yes, they are unpleasant people but they are recognisable - we have all resisted the urge to murder such people in real life (or maybe that's just me… must work on anger management!). In particular, Oliver's personal problems (I won't spoil the story by spelling them out) are handled deftly and kindly. So much so, in fact, that many more men could do worse than get over themselves and pick up what is marketed as a woman's book. If I can do it, so can you!
This is classic Scanlan: a good story, well told. Like her wonderful "Promises, Promises" (get it now if you haven’t read it), "Two For Joy" would make an excellent TV drama/miniseries.


Two for Joy
Two for Joy
by Patricia Scanlan
Edition: Hardcover

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy indeed!, 21 Oct 2003
This review is from: Two for Joy (Hardcover)
At a time when the world and its frou-frou dog is hell bent on creating the next Bridget Jones, it is refreshing to read something as warmly realistic as Patricia Scanlan's "Two For Joy". As with all of her novels, the central focus is on a number of core characters. Usually there is one character with a profile slightly above the others but this time there are two (the clue is in the title - keep up, folks). Noreen and Heather lead lives we all know. Their life stories come straight from the realms of real life as opposed to the soft-focus, quasi 'Sex In The City' fiction that publishers decree is "in" for women readers. The lower profile characters (never merely secondary), are dealt with sensitively and - this is one of Scanlan's greatest gifts - they are all made human. The selfish mother-in-law and the treacherous glamourpuss cousin are not merely cardboard cut-outs squeezed in for dramatic effect. Yes, they are unpleasant people but they are recognisable - we have all resisted the urge to murder such people in real life (or maybe that's just me… must work on anger management!). In particular, Oliver's personal problems (I won't spoil the story by spelling them out) are handled deftly and kindly. So much so, in fact, that many more men could do worse than get over themselves and pick up what is marketed as a woman's book. If I can do it, so can you!
This is classic Scanlan: a good story, well told. Like her wonderful "Prommises, Promises" (get it now if you haven’t read it), "Two For Joy" would make an excellent TV drama/miniseries.


Somethings Going on
Somethings Going on

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brave and inventive move, 21 Feb 2003
This review is from: Somethings Going on (Audio CD)
..."Something's Going On" was actually quite a brave move for a singer whose fanbase at that time was used to a staple of reasonably lightweight pop (albeit extremely classy). The rougher edges of "Tell Me It's Over", "I Got Something" and "I Know There's Something Going On" - as well as the emphatic drum and guitar oriented sound of the album overall - were quite a step away from the ABBA sound. This move away from the safety net was also cathartic for Frida who was still smarting from her divorce. Another reviewer here points out Frida's assertion that there would be no point in doing a solo album if the result sounded like ABBA - which is further evidence of the relative bravery of this album. Still, there are some poppier moments on the album too: "Here We'll Stay" was frothy but not quite as substantial as "I See Red" (the hit that got away) or "To Turn The Stone" (recorded by Donna Summer but not actually released until the 90s). Frida's take on "You Know What I Mean" is wonderful and adds a new twist to the Phil Collins original. The arrangements are similar enough but the vocal nuances are actually very different. The jazzier punch of "Baby Don't You Cry No More" straddles a lot of camps: the Phil Collins funkiness (back when he could "do" funky, that is), the ABBA poppiness and also the jazziness of Frida's pre-ABBA career. In hindsight, it might have made a good single.
Like one of the other reviewers here, I'd have to say that comparing the styles of Frida to her ex-colleague Agnetha Faltskog is insulting to both women. Listen to the album. You'll like it or you won't. A word of caution though: it was recorded in 1982 and reflects the musical fashions and innovations of THAT era. Approach it as you would any other oldie - whether it be by ABBA, Agnetha Faltskog or any other artist with a back catalogue this old. As for me, I think this is a strong and mature album and well worth purchasing.


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