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Richard Brock (BATH, Avon United Kingdom)

Page: 1
by Caroline. Kington
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Third and Best, 1 Mar 2011
Spring Mischief

Light, amusing and deftly plotted through 441 pages, this is the perfect book for beach, plane or even whiling away the tedium of a flight delay. In Spring Mischief, her third in the Summerstoke series, Caroline Kington has returned her focus to the Tucker family, that modern throwback to Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort farm, but she has spiced up the plot by landing a film unit on them. In this Kington is playing to her strengths. The Tuckers and their various relations, friends and lovers are by far her strongest characters and she knows the backbiting world of Television and Film locations well. Read it, you will enjoy it.

Strictly English: The correct way to write ... and why it matters
Strictly English: The correct way to write ... and why it matters
by Simon Heffer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.99

29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but so dull, 12 Oct 2010
If you expected to be amused as well as informed by this book, you should be warned; Heffer is no Lyn Truss. The title is Strictly English and Heffer comes across as a stern school master. I once got into severe trouble for waking my wife up at 1 AM in the morning because I burst out laughing reading Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves in bed. Strictly English poses no such dangers; reading it you will be asleep well before your spouse. Heffer's approach to English is Calvinistic, he sees much sin and offers little prospect of delight. If you read his book and managed to finish it you will have learned much. However, most people will give up before the end.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2011 10:12 PM GMT

A Tangled Summer
A Tangled Summer
by Caroline Kington
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Comfort Farm Seeks Flora Poste, 29 Aug 2006
This review is from: A Tangled Summer (Paperback)
I have not enjoyed a trip to the country so much since Cold Comfort Farm. Caroline Kington's book is a modern take on Stella Gibbon's and just as I loved Cold Comfort Farm, I loved A Tangled Summer. This book is light and amusing; it jogs along at its own pace, not too quickly, but taking the reader with it, so that he/she enjoys the journey; and it is simply well written. Some of the cameo descriptions are marvellous. I particularly liked a description of a Motocross meeting, which is acutely observed and affectionately described. But other moments, such as the shifting impressions of a village street seen through the eyes of a teenage miss waiting for her new, and by no means certain, young man to turn up, are handled equally deftly. Later, what impresses is Caroline Kington's tight plotting and control of the action as events start to warm up. The lead up to and description of a rave which is followed by a flood are both very well done and, having got things going, Kington, manages to keep things flowing and the interest riding high right through to the end, juggling the various story lines and throwing extra bits into the plot to keep the reader off balance. Finally, or almost finally, there is the denouement in the kitchen when Elsie, the Grand Matriarch of the Tucker clan, sorts her family out; I have not read such a comprehensive tidying up of loose ends since Hamlet, but this was far funnier. Read it, you will enjoy it.

Ten Days That Shook the World
Ten Days That Shook the World
by John Reed
Edition: Paperback

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Account of the Bolshevik or any other Revolution, 11 Aug 2004
Every student of the Russian revolution should read John Reed's 10 Days that Shook the World. It brings home forcibly that History is not just an academic subject, but something that actually happens to people. However, they should also make sure that they read A.J.P.Taylor's excellent introduction first and make sure they take note of Taylor's warning that Reed was not a historian, but a journalist. This book was not produced in a library, with the author intent on checking and counter checking his facts, but hammered out in the "fog of revolution". Here no one knew what was going on, not the leaders of the revolution, nor their opponents, nor the people in the streets, and certainly not John Reed himself. As Taylor puts it: "the book is a contribution to history not an analysis composed afterwards".
Furthermore Reed is a biased source. It was no accident that the Communist Party of Great Britain first published this book in the UK, for Reed was a committed revolutionary, who wrote for the USA's foremost radical journal 'The Masses'. His purpose was not to produce a dispassionate account, but to inspire his readers and to further the cause of world revolution. Certainly Lenin believed that 'Ten Days that Shook the World' was a powerful weapon for world communism. As Trotsky commented, "Lenin, in his day, desired the incomparable chronicle of Reed to be distributed in millions of copies in all countries of the world".
Therefore the history student must regard this as a highly emotive, slanted, account. Nevertheless it has its own form of purity. Reed's sources are impressive. He knew, and talked to, a host of characters from all sides of the political spectrum and on all levels, both before and during the October Revolution. The book records interviews with people as widely diversified as Lenin, Trotsky, and Kerensky, through to the Bolshevik guards inside the Winter Palace. Furthermore Reed's professionalism as a journalist shines through, for these interviews provide acute pen portraits of the men themselves, as well as recording what they told him. One would expect Reed to write admiringly about Lenin and Trotsky, but he also writes fairly, and with a certain sympathy, about people in the opposite camp, such as Kerensky, Chernov and Schreider, the elderly Major of Petrograd. For instance, when he interviews Kerensky, a man totally opposed to the Bolsheviks, and one about whom Reed is scathing elsewhere, one is aware that Reed appreciates that, though this man is fighting for a different type of revolution, he is still trying to protect something marvellously different from what had been before.
Despite his bias, Reed is admired by both historians and statesmen. A.J.P. Taylor comments that "Reed's book was not only the best account of the Bolshevik revolution, but that it comes close to becoming the best account of any revolution". While George Kennan, the American historian, diplomat and architect of the US Cold War containment policy, who was certainly no lover of Bolshevism, describes the book as: "an account of the events of that time [which] rises above every other contemporary record for its literary power, its penetration, its command of detail".
Both the strength and weakness of Reed's style can be summed up by Taylor's comment that, while he over-dramatized much of the action and was not reliable in all his detail, he "recaptured the spirit of those stirring days" to such an extent that "Bolshevik participants, when they looked back, often based their recollection more on Reed's book than on their own memories". This is certainly true of Trotsky, for there are seventeen page references to Reed in the appendix to his 'The History of the Russian Revolution' and Trotsky quotes Reed both to back up his own opinions and to provide snapshot description of key events.
Ten Days That Shook the World covers the lead up to the October Revolution, through to the end of the Peasants Congress on November 29th. Strangely, Reed never specifies the actual ten days he is referring to, and it was by chance that I came across a reference to them in his near namesake, Christopher Read's book, 'From the Tsar to the Soviets'. Read, with an "a", identifies the last of John Reeds "Ten Days" as November 17. This puts the of the first day as the day of declaration of the Peasants and Workers Government on November 7, and the last as the day of the debate at Smolny, when four leading Bolsheviks resigned.
As Trotsky remarked, "John Reed did not miss one of the dramatic events of the revolution" , and certainly his descriptions of all the key events are superb. Whether he was really present at all of the occasions he describes is perhaps open to question, but certainly his copy provides the authentic sound, feeling and even smell, of being there. Reed's uniqueness is in his descriptions, but he also provides a wealth of detailed information and the reader is deluged with the names of factions, parties, regiments, militias, committees, sub committees, and both major and minor characters from all sides of the political spectrum. Part of Reed's talent is that he gets all this information across without boring, but I have to admit that I stopped noting down the Russian names after covering three sides of foolscap paper. The book also contains both a useful notes and explanations section and valuable source material in the appendixes, but the Penguin edition lacks an index, which would have been useful in so complex a work.
In the final analysis Ten Days That Shook the World may be flawed as a history textbook, but it is a magnificent story. It is a passionate account, told by a true believer, describing an event that he was convinced would make the world a better place. As such, it has its own form of truth.

My Fake Wedding
My Fake Wedding
by Mina Ford
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Fake Wedding is a rude delight, 23 Mar 2003
This review is from: My Fake Wedding (Paperback)
My Fake Wedding is a delight. Fast, rude and very very funny it makes Bridget Jones's Diary look like a vicarage tea party and is one of the very few books that made me laugh out loud in a full railway carriage. Ford has very much her own voice and the jokes and ideas come so fast that when I first started reading MFW I was worried that either she would never be able to keep it up through the whole book, but she did. She writes funnily about sex, affectionately about food and there is a fair amount about drinking too. She also she has a wicked eye for people, while some of her remarks are so politically incorrect they make one wince. Buy the book, but don't let your maiden aunt or little sister read it. It might give both of them ideas.

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