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The Devil's Music
The Devil's Music
by Jane Rusbridge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, and so beautifully written, 8 May 2012
This review is from: The Devil's Music (Paperback)
It's not often that I stay up till 2am reading a novel, but this was one of those times. I went to bed early, also, and woke early, wanting to read, wanting to know. The plotting and narrative arc of this book are unusual and convincing, but what really gripped me was the writing of character: I felt I had come to know all the complex, interesting people in this scenario, and their interactions and conversations were beautifully done. Jane Rusbridge is the real deal: a truly skilled, imaginative teller of tales, and this is a really good one. She's so good on marriages, dysfunctional relationships, the patterns of sibling relationships: at times I was reminded of Jonathan Franzen, and of Iris Murdoch. I was sorry when it came to an end. I've flicked through half a dozen other novels since, and have failed to be grabbed. The bar was set high. Nothing since has got hold of me in quite the same way. I'm looking forward to Jane Rusbridge's next book.


Drowning Rose
Drowning Rose
by Marika Cobbold
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic, vivid storytelling: I loved this book, 1 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Drowning Rose (Paperback)
It's been quite a while since I took a novel everywhere with me, and let the bath water go cold because I was so absorbed in it. I loved this novel. I haven't enjoyed a novel this much since last time I read an Anne Tyler. I think Marika Cobbold has similar story-telling gifts, a similar ear for dialogue and for the comedy of everyday life. She writes beautifully, and vividly, and I felt as I was reading this as if I was watching a good film, full of fully-imagined characters. She juggles the strands of the storyline with skill, and I really liked the contrast between the three worlds of the book, Sweden in snow, and Hampstead village life, and the girls' school of the heroine's childhood. Marika Cobbold is one of those novelists who makes fiction writing look easy, when it isn't. She has the lightest touch, but underneath the surface there are darker themes. I was gripped. I turned the pages. I burned onions. Highly recommended.


Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy
Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy
by Philippa Perry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A psychotherapeutic page-turner, 28 Feb. 2012
I bought this book for my young adult children to read, because I thought it might be interesting to them, not specifically because of career choices, but because I thought it might offer some insights into human strengths and weaknesses and how we talk about both: these are subjects not enough talked about in schools and universities. I couldn't resist the cartoon format, and read it myself before I even handed it over, and I thought it was dazzling and effective. Recommended.


The Victorians
The Victorians
by A.N. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the pleasure of partisan writing, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Victorians (Paperback)
Loved every judgmental, partisan, random remark. Loved the sensation of the author picking illustrations out of a body of knowledge that runs far deeper. Loved its whimsicality. This is a rollocking good read, and terrifically illustrated and edited. Most of its detractors seem to be complaining that it isn't comprehensive, it isn't academic history, it isn't objective enough, it's too familiar (ie not respectful enough) in tone. All of which are fair criticisms and are the joy of the thing.


Netherland
Netherland
by Joseph O'Neill
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars short and to the point, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Netherland (Hardcover)
Brilliant, I thought. I've left it somewhere eye-catching on a bookshelf so I can read it again. I don't do that often.


The Condition
The Condition
by Jennifer Haigh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 15 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Condition (Paperback)
Perhaps because of high expectations created by glowing reviews, I found this book a disappointment. For me it didn't really deliver. I found the writing rather plodding and cliched, the situations unrolled in the narrative in a well-signalled and unoriginal way, and I didn't really buy into the central metaphor. But this could just be a relative thing. I've read so many beautifully written and inspiring books this year that there was a lot to live up to.


The Horsey Life: A Journey of Discovery with a Rather Remarkable Mare
The Horsey Life: A Journey of Discovery with a Rather Remarkable Mare
by Simon Barnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.17

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thin, but fascinating, 7 Nov. 2008
I was expecting more from this little book - i'm not sure what - i think it may be the briskness of the canter through the story that disappointed me as i prefer more reflective reads. it's a great story though and people who love horses will find it interesting. for those of us who ride and who have bought and sold horsey friends and enemies over the years it's doubly interesting. but it is kind of like a gossipy newspaper piece that you gobble down with toast and tea and then feel you don't really have a need to read ever again... still, simon barnes' capable journalistic style and lifetime of experience make it worth a look, and it couldn't be a more ideal stocking present for a horsey chum.


Looking In the Distance: The Human Search for Meaning
Looking In the Distance: The Human Search for Meaning
by Richard Holloway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All relative, 7 Nov. 2008
It's hard to rate this book - the first half is a 5 star read, both sensible and transcendent. Relative to this, the second half disappoints, being merely sensible. But it's still well worth buying.


Selected Diaries
Selected Diaries
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.74

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insights, 6 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Selected Diaries (Paperback)
I've always thought VW much misunderstood and this volume confirms it. It's a brilliantly condensed version of the full diaries, with helpful footnotes, and is ravishingly, fascinatingly wide ranging, gossipy and modern. She comes across as entirely the antithesis of the aesthetically aloof, snobbish and odd creature she's been painted. I grant that some of her fiction doesn't help. If only she'd lived beyond 1941. It's interesting to see, apropos of the suicide, that it wasn't just her fears about another bout of 'madness' that lay behind her quite sudden decision (and it was sudden - there's no real hint of what's coming and her last entry, on the day, is as full of plans as any other, ending with the gnomic remark that Leonard is doing the rhododendrons). There are also dark hints that the fear of the coming nazi invasion are working powerfully on her mind, and the prospect of what that would mean to Leonard. The great treat of these diaries, aside from the casual - and because they are contemporary, wholly artless - mentions of tea with TS Eliot and the like - is the amiable and confiding and casual tone of the entries. They're more like emails from a friend than any other writerly diaries I've ever read. And there are passages about the writer's life, the life of a writer, the compulsiveness of it, the method, the frustrations and the fears of reviewers, that are inspiringly fresh and vivid. Read this, and then the essay collection, and then the letters. And then read To The Lighthouse, and The Waves....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2010 1:19 AM BST


Affluenza
Affluenza
by Oliver James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.24

16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unspeakable, 25 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Affluenza (Paperback)
Having read three Oliver James books now, I begin to detect a pattern. Shaky hypothesis, boosted by hyperbolic journalese, padded from its natural Sunday magazine length by anecdote and repetition.... it's terrible self-regarding tosh. Sorry but it's the truth.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2010 8:56 AM BST


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