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A. B. Pearl "A Pearl" (London)
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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A Fable
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A Fable
by John Boyne
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A painfully poignant little gem of a book., 30 Oct 2006
The injustices of this world are always most effectively and poignantly portrayed when done so through the eyes of a young, innocent child. Harper Lee showed us this with 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. And more appropriately in the context of this book, the words of Anne Frank also have enormous resonance for us today. John Boyne clearly understands this, as is evident from this fine book. Those critisizing the book on the grounds of being historically innacurate are, I think, missing the point here. And the point is this: this is a novel - a work of fiction. Works of fiction - particularly those that deal with the largest industrialized form of genocide the world has ever known - are written to move us. We must therefore give all writers poetic licence. The truth of the matter is that John Boyne has written a deeply moving novel. While the simplicity of its language is its strength, it also disguises a deftly constructed storyline that has been beautifully thought through. I defy anyone with young children to read the penultimate chapter without shedding a tear. The horrors of war could not be more powerfully evoked. This is a very brave book. One that deserves a place on every school bookshelf.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2009 4:55 PM GMT


Atonement
Atonement
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A class act., 22 April 2004
This review is from: Atonement (Paperback)
This is an exceptional piece of writing. The characters are beautifully drawn and the observations particularly those of children are so sharp that you get drawn into this yarn from the very first page. McEwan has an enviable gift, too for setting time and place. The reader gets a real sense for the era and this particular social backdrop - that of the English upper class.
This aside, the cleverness of the novel lies in its structure which so effectively demonstrates that its protagonist, Briony does indeed possess the imagintive, naive and clearly unreliable mind of a young writer -even, in fact, in old age.
The sharp contrast between the past grandeur, the war years and the present day are also very well depicted through masterly use of language.
Though the reader's sympathies are never entirely with the Briony character, we are compelled nonetheless to read on. Without wanting to give away any of the storyline, I think that this is achieved in large part by McEwan's fantasic ability to build tension between the characters.
Overall, a first-rate novel from a first rate author.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'


The Railway Man
The Railway Man
by Eric Lomax
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

163 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing though ultimately uplifting account., 21 April 2004
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
This account of the author's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war is, as you'd expect, a fairly harrowing one. But what lifts this remarkable tale is the book's humanity and compassion, and the tenderness of its narrative.
Whether Eric Lomax is re-living his childhood fascination with steam locomotives and trams, or describing the horrendous, inhuman acts of torture, the prose are consistently imbued with an almost poetic and innocent sense of wonder.
The details, observations and character sketches are authentically andvividly drawn. But it is the final passages of this book which document the author's determination to come face to face with one of his torturers, that make this extaordinary book so moving, compelling and ultimately uplifting.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2014 10:54 PM BST


Peter Cook: A Biography
Peter Cook: A Biography
by Harry Thompson
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly compelling read., 3 Sep 2002
I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderfully fascinating biography by Harry Thompson. He has certainly managed to get to grips with his remarkably gifted and complicated subject. The anecdotes and quotes peppered throughout are truly memorable - as are the sad episodes of Peter Cook's life. I particularly enjoyed the account of Cook and Hislop's raid on the Mirror building while its proprietor, Robert Maxwell, was away with his mistress. I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions. The book is beatifully written, too. A must for anyone who has an ounce of interest in British comedy, or for that matter, impeccably constructed biographies.
It was some years after reading this book that I learnt with great sadness of Harry Thompson's untimely death from cancer in his forties. He was clearly an exceptionally gifted writer.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'


C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too
C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too
by John Diamond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkably compelling read., 11 July 2002
Being a reasonably squeamish individual, I am not in the habbit of picking up books devoted to any kind of illness - let alone cancer. But then I was drawn to the strangely chirpy cover of this book not by its title but by the name John Diamond. I was familiar with his writing long before his cancer columns in The Times. And it is testament to his terrific prose and probing insights that I managed to read this book in no more than a few days. His definition of cancer at the begining of the book is memorable for both its clarity and wit. But if there's one thing that strikes the reader throughout, it is the overwhelming passion for life. Even when things get tough - and they get pretty damn tough - Diamond manages to find something worth living for - whether it's the simple pleasures of being in one's own home and experiencing the smells of domestic life, or simply going to buy new clothes.
Don't be put off by the 'c' word. This is a minor masterpiece. A celebration of life - not the dwelling on death.
God bless you, John Diamond.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'


Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
by Louis de Bernieres
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made the most arduous tube jouneys seem short., 12 Feb 2002
The characters in this novel are beautifully evoked. Unlike previous readers, I enjoyed this novel from the very start. The opening chapters set time and place very well indeed. The removal of the pea from the old man's ear will stay with me for some while - and this took place in the first chapter. I like too, the way de Bernieres slips into first person to bring us snatches of life as seen through the eyes of some of the key protagonists - Mussolini included.
This said, for me there was a very slight lack of conviction in the ending. Until then, I found the book seamless and entirely convincing. But this didn't bother me too much. Hence my five star rating.
An excellent novel that'll make the longest and most arduous tube journeys seem far, far too short.


Schindler's List
Schindler's List
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable story from the pen of Australia's finest author, 6 Oct 1999
This review is from: Schindler's List (Paperback)
Of all the books written on the subject of the Holocaust, there can be little doubt that Thomas Kenealy's remarkable story will be one of the most enduring. Beautifully written and extremely well researched, this book is utterly compelling from page one. Its importance shouldn't be underestimated. Spielberg clearly did the book justice with his extraordinary screen adaptation. But as ever, the book outshines the silver screen.


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