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Reviews Written by
Dr. Michael Rowlands (UK/Algarve Portugal)
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Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie De La Tour Du Pin and the French Revolution
Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie De La Tour Du Pin and the French Revolution
by Caroline Moorehead
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why isn't this a Misery Memoir?, 12 April 2009
Lucie de la Tour du Pin had a long life and she was near the centre of events in French Politics for fifty years, and as such, a witness to; revolution, the Napoleonic Empire, and the Restoration of the Bourbons. However, beneath the gloss of political maneuverings, she had great personal tragedy which she forbears with a positive, (if a bit pushy), state of mind. The bald facts of her life would lead to other conclusions - the early death of her mother, an absent father, who remarries and goes abroad, but is then guillotined (along with her father in law),the death of two children by TB, of a son in a duel, and two children in infancy, a husband who makes principled decisions, causing financial ruin and imprisonment, a grand mother - cold and unloving - who brings her up, but steals her fortune and who has an incestuous relationship with her great uncle.

She goes from a world of great excess at the court of Louis XVI, (ie taking forty servants to the country chateaux, to escaping the revolution with almost nothing, only to rise again under Napoleon, but end her life in dreadful poverty.

I enjoyed this book and I learnt a lot about French history, the social manners of the day, and how people lived or travelled before steamships and the railway.

Well written, if a bit dense, with a forrest of characters. It could have done with a more comprehensive list of characters and a detailed family tree. A timeline and a Bourbon family tree would also have helped.
To be recommended as a book which makes history come alive and to stimulate further reading of the period.
Dr Michael Rowlands


High Sobriety: Confessions of a Drinker
High Sobriety: Confessions of a Drinker
by Alice King
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Malignant Talent for Drinking and a Magnificent Talent for Writing, 12 April 2009
An ordinary airport read turned into a compulsive page turner within minutes of the opening chapters. Ms King has a talent for drawing the reader into the insanity of alcoholism, and she has resisted the desire to self censor, so making her experience come alive. What is particularly striking is the levels of denial that every alcoholic discovers on their road to "rock bottom" despite being obvious to outsiders. A great book for those in recovery and an even greater book for those in the midst of their drinking. I hope that she can help many with this deadly disease just as she has help popularise our current epidemic of wine drinking.

Well done and I hope the book is a great success. I will certainly recommend it to those in need.

Dr Michael Rowlands. Consultant Psychiatrist, Godden Green,


On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wedding Night to Remember, 22 Nov. 2007
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
I had not read any of his books before but I thought it was a great short story., taking us back to the 1960's and thoughtfully pulling apart the tensions in a relationship. Not every marrage is happy but I have not come across on that falls apart so quickly. Read and enjoy it.


Spilling the Beans
Spilling the Beans
by Clarissa Dickson Wright
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this a "Step Four" or just a general rant?, 22 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Spilling the Beans (Hardcover)
This book is very uneven, with little illuminating gems in a pile of prejudices. Some of it is very entertaining, sometimes funny, but it does illustrate the power of alcohol in destoying a life. For anyone unfamiliar withh AA it is worth a read. If she can recover from this level of self destruction, then anyone can. She falls from a great height and then uses her recovery to rant at the world. Dr Michael Rowlands


The Innocent
The Innocent
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read, 22 Nov. 2007
This review is from: The Innocent (Paperback)
What a great read! Splendid in both form and content. A well constructed plot which starts with an easy read, but then it takes an interesting and unexpected turn. I bought it after reading "On Chesil Beach" which is only a short story, but which has got me hooked on the author. Recommeded. Dr Michael Rowlands


The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Granny's dysfuntional family, 14 Aug. 2007
This book based on two false premises; firstly that there are mentally well people in long stay mental hospitals and secondly that family strife causes severe mental health problems. I note that the author refers to R D Laing, which is a reference that is now a bit old hat.

This is the story of family secrets, and I found it a gripping read. I thought that the author's construction was good in that you understood more from what was going on in the mind of Esme than her granddaughter. I enjoyed it and I thought the writing was good. Worth a read. Dr Michael Rowlands


A Perfect Spy
A Perfect Spy
by John Le Carré
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deceit - Is it in the genes or is it bad parenting?, 12 Aug. 2007
This review is from: A Perfect Spy (Paperback)
This is a whopper of a book! A great story - the piercingly honest account of a man both reacting to, and living in, the shadow of a powerful con-man father - with a vivid decription of betrayal and spycraft, and fantastic entertainment as well. But I am thoughly biased, as his prievious work, particlarly early in his writing career, has given me so many hours of pleasure. You can pick holes in it, but I'm not going to. Take it for what it is - a master of fiction treating us to the anatomy of deceit from the inside. He should know - he lived it. A jewel in the crown of Le Carre acheivement and a masterpiece of autobiography.
Dr Michael Rowlands


The Tenderness of Wolves
The Tenderness of Wolves
by Stef Penney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Descriptive and Imaginative, 12 Aug. 2007
This author is one to watch; a really good first novel which takes us to the Frozen North. Gripping and absorbing in the middle but looses it's way near the end. A good holiday light read. Recommeded.
Dr Michael Rowlands


The Faces of Angels
The Faces of Angels
by Lucretia Grindle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Dan Brown, 12 Aug. 2007
This review is from: The Faces of Angels (Paperback)
I was travelling to Italy, so I wanted an easy read, with an Italian theme. I came across this book by chance, and I enjoyed re-experiencing the atmosphere of Florence, although I doubt that someone who has not been to Florence would feel the setting so well. Why is it that since The Da Vinci Code that any thriller set in Italy has to include Opus Dei as a sinister suspect? Maybe it is a bit of a cheap trick, but that said, I enjoyed her narrative style and the fact that you see the whole story though her eyes. A good, but not great, holiday read, full of incident and suspense. Dr Michael Rowlands


Some Hope: A Triology
Some Hope: A Triology
by Edward St. Aubyn
Edition: Paperback

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Addiction Story, 4 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Some Hope: A Triology (Paperback)
A patient bought me this book through Amazon and gave it to me to read as I only had the last of the Trilogy and the two eairler books were out of print. I loved it. Unfortnuately, the author's experiences are so typical of those of many poeple who end up as addicts, with the only difference being that of social class. The writing is spare and the description of the downward descent so vivid, that the life in recovery is so illuminating. I think that it was right not to include the rehab and it shows that it takes time, with a clear head, to achieve acceptance, forgivness and mental peace. MWD Rowlands


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