Profile for Michael S > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Michael S
Top Reviewer Ranking: 26,373
Helpful Votes: 116

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Michael S (England)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Season of Light
Season of Light
by Katharine McMahon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.46

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romance and Revolution, 3 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Season of Light (Hardcover)
It's a cliche that Jane Austen lived through the French Revolution but never mentions it in her novels. Katharine McMahon, author of several historical romances makes up for that; Jane Austen meets A Tale of Two Cities.

All the romance elements are there: the unwanted proposal, the attractive Mr Wickham figure who turns out to be a hollow man, the Darcy who is disliked until his real qualities shine through, the contriving sister and nasty brother-in-law. The historical background is well researched and the horrors of the revolution provide a terrifying background to a domestic novel, though never quite terrifying enough to stop the pleasure of the romance where we hope that all will turn out well in the end.

But will it? Has McMahon allowed her heroine to fall into the hands of the executioner and madame guillotine?

I wouldn't dream of spoiling it for you.

A good book to add to your Christmas list.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2011 4:09 PM GMT


Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
by Wade Davis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery of Mallory, 3 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is a fascination about Mallory and whether he actually reached the summit of Everest. This book, of course, has no definitive answer.

What it does do is give us marvellous information about the man and his contradictions and obsessions, about the times in which he lived and the men who fought Everest after the Great War. The times were fascinating: the clothes they wore as though they were going on a picnic; the idea that using Oxygen was somehow unsporting; the need to claim scientific objectives to justify a race like Scott's to the South Pole.

What is equally fascinating is the background of Tibet, the freezing temperatures,the extraordinary religion, the strange hospitality, and above all the complete failure to understand the desire to climb a mountain just because it is there.

His companions are all brought to life but it is Mallory himself who continues to intrigue us.

Put this book on your Christmas list.


Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder
Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder
by Kate Colquhoun
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.21

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sensational Account Indeed, 19 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Mr Briggs' Hat is the kind of book that you simply pick up and read to the end, beautifully written with questions at the end of each chapter that you read on to answer.

What is peculiar is that there is not really a twist in the story: the illustrations indicate that. But that is not relevant.
It is much more about motivation than a whodunnit, much more about what it was like in the early days of the railway, what the state of criminal justice was, how we reacted to strangers and foreigners. The times are brought to life.

The trial is described at length with sufficient doubts cast about the guilt of the prisoner. Then we have the horror of public execution no doubt to encourage the others but a barbaric spectacle opposed by the enlightened of the time but seen as a form of entertainment. We have moved on in many ways and those who bewail modern times and manners should take note.

Mr Whicher is another fine book: if you enjoyed that you will like this. If not read both.


The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Big Horn
The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Big Horn
by Nathaniel Philbrick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.00

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Custer's Last Stand, 14 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Everone has heard of Custer's Last Stand.
How the golden haired cavalry leader fought a massive hoard of savages and died bravely for his country. Or alternatively how a rather dim soldier acted as the pawn of a genocidal government bent on the racial cleansing of their country by exterminating its original owners. One was the view of the traditional western, but Soldier Blue changed all that.
Philbrick gives neither extreme view, presenting the bravery and savagery of each side and tells a fascinating story well.
Oddly enough, while the rest of the campaign is well documented, there is no authentic history of Custer's death and whether ther even was a last stand.
I was probably on the side of the native Americans for most of the story: read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for what happened next.


Voltaire: A Life
Voltaire: A Life
by Ian Davidson
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid Life, 8 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Voltaire: A Life (Hardcover)
Voltaire led an utterly extraordinary life. Famed in his time as a playwright and satirist, extremely rich through clever financial deals on the edge of honesty, imprisoned in the Bastille, exiled for criticising important people and having relationships with a variety of well-bred women including his own niece.

Ian Davidson has written a biography that brings Voltaire vividly to lfe. It is not a literary biography in that there is not a great deal about Voltaire's writings. This is probably just as well since the plays he wrote are written in a style that is now unactable. I would have liked some more about his masterpiece Candide, however.

The most interesting element is that the reader modulates between admiring Voltaire, occasionally liking him and sometimes feeling that he was a complete rogue. Ian Davidson grinds no axes: he lets us make up our own mind about his subject. It's better that way.


William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies
William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies
by John Carey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.46

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Biography at its Best, 17 Oct 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
John Carey's biography of Golding gives a very balanced view of a complex man. Well-loved by his friends, sometimes generous, he was a drunk who let himself down on a variety of occasions,a man with a chip on his shoulder about toffs, which he aspired to be when lobbying for his knighthood.
Carey does not assume that the reader has read all Golding's novels and his summaries, especially of those that are lesser known, are helpful. The literary criticism is far from excessive, but contains some interesting perceptions.

Altogether a fine biography of a great novelist and an interesting and finally likeable man.


Page: 1 | 2