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C. Calisgil "Leyla" (Somerset, UK)
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Marrying the Mistress
Marrying the Mistress
by Joanna Trollope
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Behind Closed Doors!, 3 Feb 2007
This review is from: Marrying the Mistress (Paperback)
Joanna Trollope has done it again! How exceptionally well she exposes the frailty of family life in Marrying the Mistress. I assumed I was just going to read about a married man and and his progressive relationship with his mistress, soon-to-be-wife; but not at all. We look very closely at the effect his actions have on the dynamics of his eldest son's marriage and family life, as well as the younger son's viewpoint. Then, of course, there's the grandchildren; one of them also going through the pangs of first love. The mistress, too, has all her own insecurities, not least her relationship with her mother. Much older man with young woman usually means the man needs to feel young again, but not Guy Stockdale; Merrion feels happier with an older man and theirs is a real 'marriage of minds'. The ending, though, is not what I was expecting! Once again, a fascinating observation of the complexities of the human mind - a story so well told.


Never Look Back
Never Look Back
by Lesley Pearse
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pioneer Spirit!, 24 Jan 2007
This review is from: Never Look Back (Paperback)
Lesley Pearse has penned a formidable heroine for us in the person of Matilda (Matty) Jennings. Never Look Back tells the story of her life from 1842, at the age of 16 and living in a London slum, until her death in 1900 at the age of 74, in an apartment overlooking New York's Central Park. The author has researched so well, and reminds us of just how life was in the 'good old days' and the spirit and courage of many of those new Americans who had emigrated with the determination to succeed. The sights and sounds of mid-19th century London, New York and San Fransisco have been so well evoked that the reader can almost smell the slums and hear the cities' noises! Over 700 pages makes it quite a feast; an excellent bedtime book that was so difficult to put down.


Labyrinth
Labyrinth
by Kate Mosse
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.03

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cathar Enlightenment, 26 Dec 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
This is another Grail tale with a predictable ending, but what made it special for me was the recounting of religious and historic events in France during the early 13th Century - Kate Mosse researched well and brings them alive. I have to admit that the word Cathar meant nothing to me before reading this, but their story should be known by all who value religious freedom and loath opression; I have since been doing more research into the subject, so I must thank Kate Mosse for making me aware of the dreadful deeds carried out, once again, in the name of religion. It's a timeslip story, moving between the first half of the 13th Century and present day, and because the two parts run in such close parallels, I did sometimes confuse the era in which some of the characters I was reading about lived! Some reviewers have expressed frustration regarding the Occitan language used in parts by the author; I have to say that the passages written in this way were extremely short and in no way detracted from the story. (The author does make reference to this at the start of the book).


Alexander (Vol. 1): Child of a Dream: Child of a Dream v. 1 (Alexander Trilogy)
Alexander (Vol. 1): Child of a Dream: Child of a Dream v. 1 (Alexander Trilogy)
by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hero in the Making, 30 Nov 2006
Valerio Massimo Manfredi guides us back to Ancient Greece and what a wonderful journey! His dramatisation of Alexander's story grips you from the first page and then you're addicted. The first of a trilogy telling Alexander the Great's life story; it begins in the days leading up to his birth and follows him through his childhood and adolescence. At the same time, we learn much about his father, King Philip of Macedon, his exploits and their relationship as father and son. The book ends as he leads his army, now as King Alexander, into Asia to begin his conquests that built the Greek Empire. It's splendid, brutal and stirring stuff and I just can't wait to get my hands on Alexander: The Sands of Ammon, the second in the triology!


The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor Penelope (and poor maids)!, 14 Nov 2006
Firstly, had I been browsing in a bookshop the cover of this book would never have tempted me to look inside (foil effect - bad choice!). I'd read the synopsis on this site however, which is what prompted me to buy it. Using Homer's Odyssey and Robert Graves' The Greek Myths, Margaret Attwood has made an attempt to construct Penelope's role as seen through the eyes of Penelope. Interesting to read the author's interpretation of her character but, as you may imagine, one can't expect a wife's 20-year wait for her husband to make a thrilling story, especially as the author chose to stick to the story of Penelope's fidelity! It did contain some sage comments and one I particularly liked was: ' ....... it's always an imprudence to step between a man and the reflection of his own cleverness'. How true!!


Gentlemen & Players
Gentlemen & Players
by Joanne Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Extreme Obsession, 11 Nov 2006
This review is from: Gentlemen & Players (Paperback)
Absolutely marvelous! So cleverly plotted with characters so skillfully portrayed and a twist that's brilliant. I'm full of admiration for Joanne Harris; how well she's entered the mind of someone overwhelmed by obsession and revenge - just amazing. Don't miss this one!


Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki
Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki
by Mineko Iwasaki
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysteries Revealed!, 8 Nov 2006
These are the memoirs of Mineko Iwasaki (born Masako Tanaka) who became the number one Geisha in the Gion Kobu area of Kyoto and remained as such until she decided to leave the community at the age of 29. Some reviewers have stated that she seems to think too highly of herself, but my understanding is that she's simply telling her story in the way she remembers it, and her self-descriptions are influenced by what those close to her led her to believe about herself. She left her parents at the age of 5 to live in the Iwasaki okiya, an all female environment, where she trained in the arts necessary to become a Geisha. At the age of 10, she agreed to adoption by the Iwasaki house, and took the name Iwasaki. She eventually left the community because the heirarcy had remained unchanged for several hundred years and was not moving into the present world; the trainee geisha's education is limited to the necessary Geisha arts, with no academic training at all. For instance, as a teenager she had no idea that the human body has 2 kidneys. The accounts of her childhood reveal quite a disturbed child; she would sit in dark cupboards for hours on end if worried or upset by anything. In order to fall asleep, she would suckle at the breast of either her older sister, or her 'Aunty' (the owner of the oikya) and this practice continued until she was 12! She even made a childish attempt to commit suicide by trying to strangle herself with her velvet hair ribbon following her adoption into the Iwasaki `family', although she was never forced into adoption. She goes on to be the number 1 geisha in the Gion Kobu, has a long-term relationship with a well-know, married, Japanese film star which she finished after 5 years, as his promised divorce never materialised. After leaving the Iwasaki house, she went on to marry and still lives in Kyoto with her husband and daughter. Her book was published in 2002, when Mineko was 52. The story, as told, lacks the drama of Memoirs of a Geisha, a book that I read some years ago. It's content, however,is most enlightening to those who have no knowledge of the life and commitment of a geisha and I believe it has been told with honesty.
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The Highest Tide
The Highest Tide
by Jim Lynch
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.55

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Low Tide!, 8 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Highest Tide (Paperback)
This is a quite charming coming of age tale, told from the male perspective. It's OK, but I couldn't enthuse anymore than that. The hero is a 13-year-old boy, Miles, and the story concentrates on his love of seashore life, his unusual discoveries, and how they tie-in with a prophecy made by his elderly psychic friend, Florence. There are lots of descriptive passages, which at first I found very interesting, but rather tired of them as the story progressed. If you aren't looking for anything fast paced, but rather something pleasant and lyrical, this could be the book for you.


Other People's Children
Other People's Children
by Joanna Trollope
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seen from All Sides, 20 Oct 2006
I've never given much thought to the subject of step families, but it's true to say that in the present day they are part of everyday life and no longer the exception. This story was a real eye opener to me as Joanna Trollope not only viewed the problems, but viewed them from all perspectives. I can't believe that one reviewer stated that he couldn't empathise with any of the characters and found the story 'weird'. As a wife and mother myself, I found I could empathise with them all! The author has done a wonderful job. I would thoroughly recommend this book, especially to existing members of step-families, because I'm sure the author has portrayed problems that they may well be able to identify with.


'Tis
'Tis
by Frank McCourt
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Moving Forward., 20 July 2006
This review is from: 'Tis (Paperback)
Having just read this for a second time, I wish I could revise my star rating to 4. This time around, I read it in direct sequence to re-reading Frank McCourt's first memoir,'Angela's Ashes' and I do think this is how it's best read. Although each book does stand alone, reading them as you would read an onmibus edition gives much greater satisfaction; as you progress through 'Tis, the author's character grows and matures and the reader is able to compare the man with the boy. The American Dream doesn't come easily to Frank, but his personal courage and amazing ability to deal with adversity - learned behaviours from childhood, stand him in good stead. And his adult observations are as amusing as those of his childhood. The title of the first book is what ends this memoir -put the two together and we have a remarkable story.


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