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Reviews Written by
ecydrof@hotmail.com (Hiroshima, Japan)

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Hotel World
Hotel World
by Ali Smith
Edition: Paperback

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `what a soar what a plummet what a dash`, 8 Oct 2001
This review is from: Hotel World (Paperback)
... this is not a book for `anybody who has ever stayed in a hotel` - but it is a book for anyone who loves language, loves life and loves books which challenge them. I was lucky enough to hear Ali Smith read from the book in Edinburgh. She made it doubly clear how much energy, enthusiasm and painstaking effort has gone into this novel. She unravels life`s tragedy alongside its comedy. She revels in the minutiae of life, she zooms in and out, she slows down the pace, presses the pause button, holds you there, and then she`s off again, on an invigorating trip through the lives of five women. She plays with language but I never felt a sense of an empty writer pretentiousness. I really felt that she was pushing at the barriers of fiction`s ability to represent our world, our perspectives and our feelings. I think this is a classic novel and I hope it will be rewarded as such by the Booker judges. It is writers like Ali Smith (and Jim Crace who has similar skills) who deserve our money at the till because they have something worth saying, and they clearly enjoy saying it.


Falling Angels
Falling Angels
by Tracy Chevalier
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not brilliant, 19 Aug 2001
This review is from: Falling Angels (Hardcover)
The story takes place between the death of Queen Victoria and, ten years later, of Edward VII. It is a very well-organised and developed novel, with a host of narrators who gradually come into their own. I enjoyed reading this novel but it never really came alive. I couldn't help feeling that it had been too well researched, which results in an emphasis being placed on squeezing in details about life in that time and place, rather than letting imagination breathe the characters to life. I haven't read Girl with a Pearl Earring, but certainly intend to do so. Word-of-mouth success counts for so much. I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone not to buy and read this novel, it just didn't quite grab me in that 'special' way.


The Oversight
The Oversight
by Will Eaves
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous debut, 28 July 2001
This review is from: The Oversight (Hardcover)
An excellent first novel deserving of a wide readership. Although firmly located in time and place, it delicately handles the universal themes of relationships between parents and child, of facing up to the truth of your past and to the death of a loved one. Eaves has succeeded where many writers fail in keeping control over his material, of knowing what to write and what not to write. Characters and atmosphere are vividly drawn and the author also demonstrates an ability to add in the comedy and farce of daily life. I will certainly read his next novel.


The Carpenter's Pencil
The Carpenter's Pencil
by Manuel Rivas
Edition: Paperback

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Diamond of a Novel, 14 July 2001
This review is from: The Carpenter's Pencil (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written book. Harvill have yet again found a tremendous writer and an excellent translator. Set amidst the brutality of the Spanish Civil War, this novel presents a wonderful love story. Throughout, the worst and the best of human behaviour is presented, and we see it mostly through the eyes of a prison guard whose life is transformed by the remarkable imprisoned doctor. It is a novel which I know I will have to read again soon because there is so much floating around the edges of the smooth prose. It reminded me of Captain Corelli but has something extra too. It is a shame that it does not last for longer, but on the other hand the novelist has controlled his story brilliantly whilst letting it breathe for itself. Buy this novel and you will not only get a wonderful read but you will be supporting Harvill in continuing to translate and publish excellent fiction.


An Unquiet Mind
An Unquiet Mind
by Kay Redfield Jamison
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous Honesty, 11 May 2001
This review is from: An Unquiet Mind (Paperback)
I am very grateful to Ms Jamison for giving me such a clear, open and honest guide to an illness of which I knew so little, even though I have seen the effects it can have on people.
It is a wonderful thing that we are living in an age when a broader and deeper understanding of mental illness is gradually entering the public consciousness. I hope this process will continue and we should be extremely grateful to writers like Ms Jamison for assisting us.
She is prepared to talk openly about her own situation - a tremendously brave action - without self-dramatizing or seeking sympathy. If you are wavering about whether to buy this or not, just go ahead. You will ever be the wiser for it.


After You'd Gone
After You'd Gone
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A rare case: a book that improves as it goes on, 10 May 2001
This review is from: After You'd Gone (Paperback)
I`d like to agree with the other positive reviewers of this book. It is a tremendous achievement as a whole. Intelligently plotted, like a mystery, but dealing with heavier themes. At first I was put off by the slightly melodramatic sections involving Alice and John but they have their place in the book as a whole. I hope this book gets the wider readership it deserves. Generally speaking I am not mad about books which work so strongly on the emotions, but the maturity of this one makes it powerful and moving. Thoroughly recommended.


Only Darkness
Only Darkness
by Danuta Reah
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary rainy Rotherham!, 5 Jan 2001
This review is from: Only Darkness (Hardcover)
Read this on a flight from London to Tokyo. Totally absorbed - quickest long haul journey yet for me. The main characters are extremely well-drawn. It is chilling, scary without having to go into the excessive details of `Hannibal` or `Birdman`. Reah seems very accurate on psychology. I agree with another reviewer that this would make an excellent TV drama, and it would put Rotherham on the map. I will definitely read her other novels.


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