Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Profile for Poldy > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Poldy
Top Reviewer Ranking: 12,065
Helpful Votes: 1373

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Poldy "Paul" (Darwen, Lancashire)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-16
pixel
Selected Poems
Selected Poems
by Michael Hofmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Home in the World, 15 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Selected Poems (Paperback)
Michael Hofmann was born in Freiberg, West German, in 1957, son of German writer Gert Hofmann. The family moved to England in 1961, and Hofmann studied at Oxford and Cambridge, and now works as a freelance poet, critic and translator. He has won numerous prizes, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for his second collection, Acrimony in 1986.

This volume of selected poems is culled from Hofmann's four previous books of poetry, and also includes some new poems, not previously collected. Hofmann writes of experience, of the quotidian, and invests it with a depth and power that imparts to his poems their sense of a shared experience; he writes of the universal in the particular. His poems are about ordinary people doing ordinary things in ordinary places, living, loving, getting a job, fixing a mortgage, making a living. He notices the satellite dishes and tea-towels out to dry and mixes with fat friendly ladies and truanting children / West Indian barbers and Lebanese grocers eating on the job. He writes of decay: Idyll suggests how, once he has moved out of his home, The utilities will be turned off one by one.../ the fridge will stop its buzz.../ever more elaborate spiders' webs will sheet off the corners;/rust stains and mildew and rot will spread chromatically.

But Hofmann is not only about decay; he writes powerfully of the redemptive power of love, and it is these strong, powerful emotions which underpin the best of his writing. In the short Poem he tells that When all's said and done, there's still/the joyful turning towards you.

Perhaps the best of his poems, however, are the ones that deal with his father and their relationship, the sadness of age and infirmity, the knowledge, not entirely unwelcome, that he is turning into his own father: By now, it is almost my father's arm,/a man's arm that lifts the cigarettes to my mouth. He recalls the some of their experiences: That morning you played me an interview you gave in French,/a language you hadn't spoken in my lifetime,/literally not since my birth. His father died on 1 July 1993, and this is commemorated in one of the most moving poems in the book.

Michael Hofmann is not a household name, but he deserves to be, for his writing is full of wit and irony, and hold the power to move and to charm.


Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners
Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners
by Andy Merriman
Edition: Hardcover

18 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dreadnought with Good Manners, 5 Jan. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Margaret Rutherford was born in Wandsworth, London, in 1892, into a family with a history of mental illness. Her mother committed suicide when Margaret was two years old, and a few years later, her father, who had been detained previously in mental hospitals, attacked and murdered his father, a clergyman. As a result, her father was detained in Broadmoor. Fearing the news might unsettle the young Margaret, she was told that her father had passed away. It was to be some years before Margaret learned the truth, and that her father was still alive. It was a part of her family history that was kept a closely-guarded secret for many years, and one which haunted the successful and seemingly untroubled actress. Later in life her father, an uncle of politician Tony Benn, attempted to make contact with his daughter, but her friends and other relations felt any such contact could only have a deleterious effect on her own health.

Margaret was subsequently taken in by a kindly aunt, and for some years she was educated at home, until it was decided that the child needed the companionship of others her own age. She was sent to a school run by two elderly spinster sisters, and it was here that Margaret decided to become an actress to the consternation of the spinster sisters who ran the school. She took examinations in piano and elocution, and for a while made a living as a tutor in these subjects, but her mind was always on her goal of becoming an actress.

Like many actors of her generation, Margaret built up great experience appearing in repertory theatre with various troupes around the country. For many years it was her dream to play the great dramatic roles - she was particularly keen to play Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Anthony Cleopatra, and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. However, her eccentricity, perfect comic-timing and humorous appearance guaranteed that she would always be earmarked for comic parts, a fate she eventually accepted. Indeed, in many of the stage production in which she appeared, she was often the only source of praise theatre critics could find, and audiences were so taken with her that her every stage appearance was sure to be greeted with rapturous applause and laughter at every perfectly-delivered line and apt piece of stage business. Indeed, she was frequently the only aspect of a stage production to elicit any praise from many of the theatre critics of the day.

Margaret's film debut saw her cast rather improbably as a gangster's moll in Dusty Ermine, aka Rendezvous in the Alps and Hideout in the Alps. Her next film was Talk of the Devil, the first film to be made entirely at Pinewood studios, which was co-written and directed by Carol Read. Margaret was very taken with the charming young man who was later to direct The Third Man.

For some time she had been very keen on a young man she had met in one of her stage productions, James Stringer Davis. Thought by many to be possibly bisexual, and certainly tied to his domineering mother's apron-strings, Stringer Davis was clearly just as keen on Margaret and, after several years of chaste courtship, and following the death of his mother, the two were married. For the rest of his life, Stringer Davis would appear in most of his wife's films and stage-plays - Rutherford even going so far as to have it written into her contract that a part had to be found for him - but he would support her even more fully in private life. He nursed her through her many bouts of the manic depression to which she was susceptible, and took pains that she always had everything she needed whenever she was working, whether on the screen, or on the stage both in Britain and wherever in the world their stage-work took them: and Margaret Rutherford was hugely popular with audiences around the globe.

She was equally popular with her many friends, being open, ingenuous, generous even when least-able to afford it - indeed the Davises were in financial straits for much of their lives. This open nature was occasionally open to abuse, however, and some of her closest friends felt she was often taken advantage of. Certainly, she was conned by a local antique dealer who claimed to be the estranged brother of the king of Egypt. Typically, however, when she learned the truth, she dismissed the deception, stating that the man had the manners and behaviour of a king. Her many friends, one or two of whom she had kept since school, were often treated to parties and dinners, some of which would end with an impromptu visit to the nearest swimming pool, for Margaret was a keen swimmer who would not be put off by the mere fact of ice-cold water. She loved exercise, walking, swimming, cycling. She would also keep her dressing room and bedroom windows open whatever the weather, being so keen on fresh air, however cold.

Throughout her long career, Margaret Rutherford was prone to breakdowns, many brought on by overwork, although the mental illness that lurked in the family history was never far away, or so she often feared. Frequently, she would become a voluntary patient at a mental hospital, where she could rest and receive first-rate care, though such care was an additional drain on the family finances.

One of her worst breakdowns occurred after being badly treated by Stephen Tennant, who claimed to be in love with her. At one stage she was found by the butler eating coal in the coal shed. Not long after this, and in an attempt to boost her spirits, Noel Coward offered her what was to become her defining role, that of Madame Arcati in his play Blithe Spirit, which he had written to stave off financial difficulties. Initially turning the play down, Coward, along with theatrical impresario Binkie Beaumont, persuaded her to take it on, regardless of her precarious mental state. It transpired that part of her reason for refusing was that she knew people like Madame Arcati in real life; not only this, but Rutherford was a firm believer in spiritualism and the afterlife, and did not wish to be seen to be ridiculing either idea. It was agreed that she could play the part "straight" but, once on stage, she played the part for every laugh she could get. Years later, she attended a luncheon with professional spiritualist mediums, and was relieved to discover that they considered her performance to have been honest and just. Another friendship which proved to have an unhappy ending, though not, this time, from improper behaviour, was her increasingly close relationship with pianist Malcolm Troup. She developed very deep and genuine romantic feelings for Troup, and even planned to run away with him, despite their thirty-year age difference. When he eventually realised just how strong her feelings for him were, he wrote to end their friendship, and never contacted her again. Perhaps inevitably, this was followed by a further breakdown and another course of treatment in a nursing home.

Throughout her life she had a deep and abiding love of poetry. Often, she and Stringer would read aloud to each other. She performed many public poetry readings, and was delighted to be asked to read in Norway & Denmark, visits which resulted in her receiving prestigious awards from the grateful governments of these countries.

One of the strangest relationships of her life was with another person of less than total honesty, Dawn Langley Simmons, who later claimed to have been adopted by the couple, and even wrote a biography of his "adoptive mother". A male-to-female transsexual, Simmons claimed to have been born a girl before being brought up as a boy. Following gender-reassignment treatment, Simmons subsequently married, Margaret and Stringer taking all these developments in their stride.

Merriman's is the first biography of this popular and talented actress for many years. In tone, it is dry and factual, informative rather than entertaining, a resume of parts played and the critical and popular reaction to them. Black and white photographs are included.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2010 6:35 PM BST


The Devil in Amber: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 2)
The Devil in Amber: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 2)
by Mark Gatiss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wit, Charm, and Brimstone, 14 Sept. 2009
Debonair secret agent Lucifer Box is given the task of infiltrating the Fascist Amber Shirt organisation run by Olympus Mons. Running him to ground involves shoot-outs in New York, bedding willing bell-boys, a trip across the sea and a face-to-face encounter on the Alps with Box's infernal namesake.

Box is an older, wiser man than in his debut outing, and Gatiss is careful to show how the world Box understood is now changing, not necessarily for the better. With a mixture of intelligence and brute force, he is determined to overcome the power of evil, but corporeal and infernal.

In many ways, Box is reminiscent of James Bond, Philip Marlowe and Buchan's Richard Hannay. The story is fast-paced, and heavy on action. The story zips along with humour and charm, much like Box himself. Gatiss has given us a mystery with a hint of brimstone and supernatural and will have adventure fans on the edge of their seats.


Brat Farrar
Brat Farrar
by Josephine Tey
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Genuine Ashby, 14 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Brat Farrar (Paperback)
Returning to England after living abroad, young Brat Farrar is presented with an offer too good to refuse. He is the double of Simon Ashby, a young man about to attain his majority, whose twin brother, Patrick, committed suicide at the age of thirteen. All Brat has to do is convince the Ashbys that he is Patrick, and that Patrick did not die, but staged his suicide and fled abroad.

Brat's false life goes mostly his own way. As the older twin, the house and its precious stables belong to him. The rest of the family, and the locals, take to him straightway, all except his twin, Simon, who maintains his suspicions. But, as the story goes on, Simon is not the only one to harbour suspicions.

This is an unusual mystery from Ms Tey: Brat is a likeable young man with scruples about what he is embarking on. As the tale wears on, it becomes apparent that there is more to the late Patrick's unexpected death than was first thought. The question is, what can Brat do about it without giving away his own nefarious position? Ms Tey keeps the reader guessing right to the last page of what is an intriguing, well-written mystery.


The Franchise Affair (Classic Crime)
The Franchise Affair (Classic Crime)
by Josephine Tey
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Affair, 14 Sept. 2009
One day, after being missing for a month, a young girl appears with an astonishing tale: that for the past few weeks she was held prisoner and regularly beaten by two women who live in an isolated houser. It is up to Arthur Crook, lawyer and amateur sleuth, to prove this story false, if he can.

This is an unusual suspense tale from Ms Tey, involving no murder, and a far from common type of detective. In fact, the story is based on a real-life case from the eighteenth century. Tey's characterisation is perceptive, the characters well-drawn and idiosyncratic. Although there is not a great deal of description, the locale and the locals are brought to life so that by the end of the story we really feel we know them. Both sides in the tale, and the incidental characters, become well-known to us, so that the denouement is triumphant. This is a tale that will keep any mystery aficionado guessing right to the end.


Lady-killer (Black Dagger Crime)
Lady-killer (Black Dagger Crime)
by Anthony Gilbert
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric Mystery Thriller, 12 Sept. 2009
Anthony Gilbert was just one of several pseudonyms used by Lucy Beatrice Malleson who, in her long life, 1899-1973, wrote over fifty crime novels. Lady-Killer concerns the career of Henry Grant, serial wife-murderer.

The first few chapters of the novel each follows a different object of Henry's murderous affections, until he, and we, meet Sarah, a woman who does not fit Henry's normal profile of the older, wealthier woman, but with whom he is unaccountably besotted. Could he, finally, have met the right woman for him?

Unbeknownst to him, his activities have come to the attention of lawyer Arthur Crook. No one will give him the case, as no one is aware that there is a case to be brought, but there are too many coincidences and unanswered questions for Crook's liking. Before long, he is on the trail of this modern-day Bluebeard.

In the meantime, Henry and his new bride have moved into his home, Goblin Cottage, an isolated building near woods believed by many to be haunted. Initially besotted with her elegant new husband, Sarah fails to realise how isolated she herself has become. Only after a night of terror left alone in the cottage, does she realise that no one knows where she is. Gradually, it becomes apparent that her husband, so perfect on the outside, may not be the gentleman he seems.

Gilbert has written a gripping, atmospheric thriller. It can't be called a "mystery", since we know from the beginning exactly what Henry has been doing, and what will happen to Sarah unless she can be rescued in time. The sense of menace when Sarah is left alone in the isolated cottage is palpable, her fear that she will be labelled insane and have no one to help her is beautifully conveyed.


Aberystwyth Mon Amour
Aberystwyth Mon Amour
by Malcolm Pryce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Witty Mystery, 9 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Aberystwyth Mon Amour (Paperback)
The first novel, of five so far, to feature Aberystwyth's only private eye, Louis Knight, is set in a world of whelk-stalls and ice-cream stands, of vigorous fighters for temperance and sexy dancing girls, of murderous teachers and sinister Druids.

In this mean world, several school boys have gone missing, including the notorious bully Evans the Boot, and the hugely intelligent Brainbocs. But what do all these boys have in common? Finding out will pit Knight against the Druids who control the town, the teachers who terrorized his childhood, the police, who look none-too-kindly on Private Eyes, and Mrs Llantrisant, Knight's house-keeper who is determined to keep the front step clean, no matter what.

This is a witty, fast-paced tale with the odd twist in the tale, promising much for the following stories in the series.


A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple)
A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple)
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Mystery, 7 Aug. 2009
On holiday in the West Indies, Miss Marple knits, chatters, and listens. One of the stories she listens to is told by an old major, a man who is killed before he can complete his story.

This is not one of Ms Christie's most compulsive stories - the change of scene makes for an interesting read, but the pace is too slow to maintain the necessary tension, the events unfolding with little sense of urgency.

As we would expect from an Agatha Christie mystery, there are clues and red herrings galore, and none of the characters is quite what he or she seems to be. Despite the change of setting, the character of Miss Marple is the same as ever, direct, incisive, unstoppable. It is here that the concept of her being the personification of the Greek figure of Nemesis is first introduced; Christie obviously liked the idea, as not long afterwards she wrote a sequel of sorts under that very title.


Agatha Christie: The Pocket Essential (Pocket Essentials)
Agatha Christie: The Pocket Essential (Pocket Essentials)
by Mark Campbell
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Guide to the Queen of Crime, 4 Aug. 2009
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890, and died 12 January 1976. A ruthless woman, in her long life she killed well over one hundred people. And the whole world loves her for it.

Following an unhappy marriage to Archibald Christie, the woman known the world over as the Queen of Crime met and soon married the archaeologist Max Mallowen. She published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920, and went on to write over eighty books, which have sold over two billion copies in more than one hundred languages.

With Styles, Christie created the character of the dapper Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. In 1930, she created the elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple. Between them, Poirot and Marple were to solve some of the most complex and heinous crimes in fiction.

Mark Campbell, author of books on Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, and the Carry On... films in the same series, has produced the ideal guide for the interested reader, with each book receiving a brief plot synopsis, notes as to the background, and a capsule review with a mark out of five. In addition, he provides a brief biography of Dame Agatha, and a chronology of her books. There is also a guide to all TV, film, radio, and stage adaptations of her work.

It would be difficult to praise this compact but detailed volume too highly. Succinctly, perceptively, and always honestly, Mark Campbell guides dedicated fan and casual reader alike into the wonderful, complex, and very dangerous world, of the greatest crime writer of them all.


A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple)
A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple)
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Queen Was in Her Writing-Room, 4 Aug. 2009
Rex Fortescue was the King, dead in his counting-house, a handful of rye in his pocket. Poor Adele was the Queen, eating bread and honey. Nursery rhymes served Agatha Christie well, sparking her imagination and providing scope for clues and red herrings alike. A Pocketful of Rye has clues and red herrings galore, but something is missing. It almost feels as though Christie was on autopilot when she wrote this; the writing is flat and uninteresting, the characters, though varied as one would expect from this writer, less well-defined than usual. It is a clever mystery, but not one of her best.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2011 9:26 PM BST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-16