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R. BRUCE (Wimbledon, U.K.)

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The Madness of July (Will Flemyng 1)
The Madness of July (Will Flemyng 1)
by James Naughtie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I have ever read, 22 Nov. 2014
The cover says 'echoes of John Buchan and John Le Carre.' Well if this is like Buchan then I'm Charles Dickens and as for Le Carre...only in Naughtie's naughiest dreams. I found this a spectacularly tedious, irritating read full of pomposity and pretension and some of the worst dialogue I have ever seen written down. I suspect Naughtie was yearning for the gripping slow burn tension of Le Carre's best but he's completely forgotten to give the reader a reason to turn the page. Nothing happens and I really couldn't give a monkeys about any of the cardboard characters, none of whom are remotely believable. I finished it mostly because I was agog at how bad it really was. I shall never hear his voice on Radio 4 without remembering this waffle, and shuddering.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2014 6:06 AM GMT

The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
by Patrick Hennessey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very readable but really quite irritating, 20 July 2011
Have just finished this after a whizzing through it in about 5 days while on holiday. I have very mixed feelings. It's certainly very readable and fluently written and does provide some real insight into the workings of the army. There is also something very authentic about his kinetic descriptions of combat in the second half of the book. But, boy, did I not warm to Mr Hennessy.

I presume he set out for this to be a 'searingly honest' account of his experiences, but in many cases his honesty just served to reinforce every mild and (previously un-informed) prejudice I had about Guards officers. This privately-educated Oxbridge graduate talks about how amazingly 'diverse' the intake is at Sandhurst. He goes on to describe his role in looking after his men as akin to that of a primary school teacher and slags off the officers who have made it up through the ranks (as well as numerous other regiments and other parts of the armed forces). He's quite honest about wanting to look cool in his uniform and impress the ladies, thinks having his own orderly and hanging around in the mess is great and seems utterly (and depressingly) obsessed with creating video montages of his tours - as if none of it is real until edited down into some snappy clips with thumping background music which can be used to impress people. In fact there seems to be quite a lot about wanting to impress people in here - much talk of not being allowed to wear sunglasses.

I quite liked his critique of the pointlessness of much of the training he received at Sandhurst but after his endless moaning about wanting to see some action I was expecting some real insight into the horrors of combat. Instead there are repetitive descriptions of how much 'fun' it is shoot people and be involved in a battle all of which I found slightly chilling.

So worth a read but not great. I hope Mr H has since matured considerably.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2013 9:54 PM GMT

We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
by Lionel Shriver
Edition: Paperback

76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed, 21 Aug. 2006
As a relatively new father of an eight month old boy I picked this book up with some trepidation given its subject matter. Some reviewers have commented on Shriver's prose style and suggested that the first half of the book is too heavy going. Personally I found the writing excellent - lucid and articulate. I was slower through the first half than the second but then again I find that that applies to most books. Like others I whistled through the last third at rate of knots as Shriver finally takes the reader through the bloody events of 'Thursday'.

Throughout the novel however I had a nagging sense of disquiet. Ultimately I just didn't believe in it. I just didn't buy the tale that Shriver was telling. I didn't believe in the father-son relationship, I didn't believe the hopelessly naive father, the hopelessly trusting daughter. More critically, I really didn't believe in the evil son. The idea that Kevin popped out as a ready-made Damien-esue bundle of misanthropy just didn't wash and some of the calculating behaviour attributed to him as a baby and small child are frankly ludicrous. Interestingly, I was convinced by the selfish hard-nosed mother but the fact that the author is not a mother herself is interesting having read the book.

The denouement is fairly predictable, and the apparent volte-face in the last couple of pages reeks of a hollywood ending I'm afraid. But having said all that, it's definitely worth a read a raised some interesting questions for this new parent. Not sure I'm going to get my wife to read it though!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2012 1:20 PM BST

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