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Juliet Bravo (England)

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The English Village: History and Traditions
The English Village: History and Traditions
by Martin Wainwright
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not very comprehensive, 14 Oct 2014
I got through this and picked up some interesting facts and anecdotes along the way but I have a few bones to pick with it:
1) it is far too focused on the North of England, which gets boring
2) there is no real structure to it, it's just a collection of facts loosely grouped together by arbitrary chapter headings. Doesn't seem to be either a historical record or an intellectual treatise, not one thing or the other. A sort of journalism-lite book.
There must be better books out there on social history somewhere...


The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
by Robert Macfarlane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 Oct 2014
I'm really struggling to finish this. Maybe I'm just not erudite or intellectual enough, but sad to say I'm bored by it. And I have read Mountains of the Mind, which I thought was excellent, and The Wild Places, which I thought was mostly excellent (occasionally boring).
It starts off well but when it goes up to the Hebrides it is about boats, not walking. I know nothing about boats and have never been to the Hebrides, and there was just too much detail. Then it goes to Palestine, which is moderately interesting, and to Spain, which is slightly more interesting. I might skip a few chapters and only read the English parts.
There's just too much intellectual detail and incidental, not particularly interesting characters in this one- it gets very bogged down. I prefer his actual descriptions of the walks he does. Even though they're not always that plausible (7 miles cycling then 30 miles walking - injured - in one day followed by a few hours sleeping outside, then off walking again at dawn. Really? And how does he get so much "time off" being a husband and father - does his wife ever get to go on adventures?? Sorry, I digress!)
He has a lot of interesting ideas but unfortunately lacks the charm and humour of Roger Deakin... (read Wildwood or Waterlog - they're much better books).


Longbourn
Longbourn
by Jo Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, moving, plausible, 14 Oct 2014
This review is from: Longbourn (Paperback)
I do not generally like spin-offs of classic fiction, and resisted reading this for a while, but having now read it, I thoroughly agree with all the good reviews. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most perfect books ever written, and I suppose the success of this book is down to the fact that it does not try to recreate or offer a sequel to Austen's story.
It is beautifully written, moving and well researched historically. Fascinating to learn about how soap was made, and realise how much of a chore it must have been washing out menstrual rags and soiled nappies.
I loved the servant characters and I thought the added insight into the characters and back-story of the Bennets, Wickham etc. was clever and plausible. The details on the Napoleonic Wars, slavery etc. also very well drawn. Much social comment to be pondered!
A really enjoyable, clever read, look forward to more from this author.


Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life
Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life
by Claire Tomalin
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 16 April 2014
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Absolutely fascinating and as usual brilliantly written and thoroughly researched by Tomalin.
I have read some of her other literary biographies (Austen, Hardy and Dickens) and I particularly like the way she approaches the subject dispassionately with an open mind. Some other biographers seem to have fixed ideas about their subject which they then attempt to justify. You never get this impression with Tomalin. She is able to be objective, but at the same time you feel you get to know the character intimately.
She does not hold back from exposing some of the more unpleasant sides of Mansfield's character, yet she is also compassionate and understanding about the situation she found herself in.
Thoroughly recommended if you're interested in the period.


Lossleader
Lossleader
Price: £12.14

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proper music!, 16 April 2014
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This review is from: Lossleader (Audio CD)
We have been quoting and singing these tunes since seeing Eight Rounds Rapid for the first time in January (supporting Wilko Johnson) so couldn't wait to get hold of a CD.
Proper music brought bang up to date.
Stand-out tracks: My Mate, Steve and Talent.


Fom FOM-A Violin Shoulder Rest - 4/4
Fom FOM-A Violin Shoulder Rest - 4/4
Offered by Manns Music
Price: £6.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Just so comfortable!, 4 April 2014
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This is my favourite type of shoulder rest. Just so comfortable! And excellent value for money, who needs those hard, fiddly, expensive shoulder rests?


Life After Life
Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, if a bit rambling..., 4 April 2014
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This review is from: Life After Life (Hardcover)
Once you get past the first 200 pages which are a bit repetitive (why oh why do books have to be so long these days? It's an ever-increasing trend) it's a really enjoyable read and the parts set during the Second World War and the Blitz are brilliantly written and very moving. Atkinson has a marvellous way of evoking period details and language, so you really feel you were there (similarly the 1970s coppers in Started Early, took my Dog).
However, as with a lot of her books, it gets a bit rambling and goes off at tangents, some successful, some not so. Personally I thought the part set in the Berchtesgaden where Ursula actually gets to meet Hitler and Eva Braun was not at all plausible, and slightly distasteful.
I didn't really buy into the whole idea of reincarnation and second chances either, but then I prefer realism.
But I'm giving it 4 stars as it was an engaging read, and I wrote 8/10 on my personal books list (for what it's worth, Case Histories and Started Early, took my Dog got 9/10 whereas One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? got 7/10).


Sweet England 10th Anniversary Edition with 3D cover
Sweet England 10th Anniversary Edition with 3D cover
Offered by NIAG records
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality, 25 Oct 2013
Jim Moray's music is unique - beautiful, heart-rending folk with a modern touch, unexpected electronic twists, voice synchro, electric guitars, mixing of genres. His piano playing is especially lovely (he also plays most of the other instruments) and his voice cuts you to the core.

This is a reissue of his first album Sweet England (which apparently he produced in his bedroom 10 years ago) and is great value as it also contains several remixes and live versions of the songs.

The opening track Early One Morning is stunning, especially the violin part. You will also recognise several of the other traditional songs, but you won't recognise the way they're delivered.

My favourite tracks are Early One Morning, The Seeds of Love and Two Sisters, but they're all great.


Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Just perfect, 7 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Paperback)
This is the second novel in the trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, but it could easily be read on its own.
Although everyone knows the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, it is fascinating to read all the detail behind their relationship and the accusations made against her.
I never normally read historical fiction, but this surpasses standard historical fiction. You almost feel like you are there at the Court, and all the characters seem to act and speak exactly as you would expect them to.
It is just beautifully written, and I can't praise it enough! The last 100 pages in particular are just magnificent.
I also found it slightly easier to read than Wolf Hall, and it didn't take me as long, so that's a bonus, as I did find myself getting lost occasionally in Wolf Hall, and forgetting who the (many) characters were.


The Daylight Gate (Hammer)
The Daylight Gate (Hammer)
by Jeanette Winterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Muddled and hastily written, 7 Oct 2013
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I've read a couple of Winterson's novels and thought her autobiography (Why be Happy when you could be Normal?) was one of the best books I read last year, so I thought I would try her latest novel.
Unfortunately it comes across as hastily written (the hardback copy I received from Amazon was riddled with typos), the language is not particularly evocative, and the ideas behind the basic plotline are muddled. I found a lot of it completely implausible and I didn't really feel any empathy for any of the characters. The talking head just made me laugh (sorry!)
I wasn't expecting historical accuracy, but from Winterson I would have expected a bit more scepticism and a feminist outlook on the events of 1612, not so much actual real witchery popery popery witchery, which just came across as faintly ludicrous. I don't mind graphic details, but to be honest a lot of this was lurid and trashy.
Of course, writers don't always do what you might expect them to do, and that's fine, but it just didn't work for me. Probably didn't help that I'd just finished Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and as a piece of historical fiction this didn't match up to it in any way, shape or form.


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