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Peasant (Deepest England)
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Copsford
Copsford
by Walter J.C. Murray
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough but lacks real sparkle, 31 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Copsford (Hardcover)
Walter Murray decides to take a sabbatical. He will spend a year in isolation, making a living by collecting wild herbs for sale to pharmaceutical companies, and use the peace and quiet to write. He selects a ruined cottage, with neither orad nor decent path to it, infested by rats, for his home. Why? It would seem he has a friend living nearby, but he is exceptionally coy when writing about her.

The farmer who owns the cottage thinks he is off his chump. The author's romantic project is embarked upon without much research, and proves less of an easy living than he anticipates. Much of the wild herb material he collects rots because he has not prepared it properly. So far, a standard snippet of autobiographical 'up against it' writing. We get a good deal of the author's philosophical musings and a little bit about the collection and use of wild herbs. It is quite a charming little book but, in the last analysis, lacking either powerful atmosphere or unexpected insights. It is a bit like a good magazine article expanded into 207 pages.

This book has considerable charm, but the lasting impression one receives is that if the author planned to make a living by writing, he had a way to go - and his subsequent career indeed took him away from journalism. A quick Google reveals little; he published a book on Romney Marsh in 1972 (I haven't read it yet) and one titled 'Nature's Undiscovered Kingdom'. These are the only two books listed on the dustjacket, which tells me that Murray went on to establish an independent school and achieve fame as a wildlife photographer and broadcaster.

'Copsford' was published in 1948, and in the years during and after the Second World War there was a great demand for wild medicinal plants from the mainstream pharmaceutical companies. A more interesting book on the subject (although quite different in every way) is Florence Ranson's pocket guide British Herbs, published to aid those involved in collecting herbs.


The Life of Thomas More
The Life of Thomas More
by Peter Ackroyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book spoiled by one silly flaw, 3 Mar 2014
Thorough, sensitive and with a sure touch in conveying to the modern reader the colour and mood of the time, this book is just what we would expect of Ackroyd on top form. So one is left bemused by one stupid and pointless editorial decision. Thomas More wrote obsessively all his life, and we thus have a huge resource of original material to call upon, which Ackroyd quotes very frequently, often at length.

Sixteenth century spelling is not as modern spelling. More was used to Latin, in which 'U' and 'V' were once written both as 'V'. The letter 'J' was commonly written as an 'i', and other spelling variations were common. I can understand that Ackroyd wishes to give the flavour of the original, but it is utterly perverse to transcribe each U as a V, and each V as a U, as he does here. There is no reason moreover why J should not appear as J. The 'y' of 'ye' is not a Y, it is a letter representing the sound 'TH', and was used for abbreviation.

The net result of Ackroyd's perverse transcriptions is that we are unable to read More's words, and instead have to decode the likes of 'conivnccyon' for 'conjunction', 'uiciovs' for 'vicious', 'yt' for 'that', and so on. In a few anomalous cases the original text is written simply with modern spelling, make it vibrate with sense and cogency. The decision not to do this throughout is inexplicable and very much to be regretted.


The Lays of the Pharisee - Being a Volume of Verses Together with Poems in Blank Verse, Telling of the Things That Are in the Modern Life of Today; Critical, Satirical and Political
The Lays of the Pharisee - Being a Volume of Verses Together with Poems in Blank Verse, Telling of the Things That Are in the Modern Life of Today; Critical, Satirical and Political
by Edith Watson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The world a hundred years ago, 1 Dec 2013
The poetry is, lets face it, dire. The illustrations are distinctly tedious. The interest lies in the content - what was thought a suitable subject for biting satire in 1913. Many of the poems are aimed at religious hypocrisy - hardly surprising. The more interesting ones are those highlighting vice in high society and political attitudes. One poem is anti-Home Rule. Another sheds fascinating light on the atrocities in the Belgian Congo which form the inspiration for Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and which were reported on by Roger Casement, earning him public acclaim and a knighthood before his actions in the cause of Irish republicanism brought about a downfall even more shocking than that of Oscar Wilde a generation before.

As literature this book is a mere curiosity. As a document of social attitudes the year before the First World War it is valuable and entertaining.

My copy is unlike any others I've seen offered, with marbled outer boards and a vellum spine.


SOME MILESTONES IN AVIATION
SOME MILESTONES IN AVIATION
by W. E. JOHNS
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written for twelve-year old boys, 29 Nov 2013
The creator of Biggles has produced a clearly written survey of flight from the development of balloons to the most modern aircraft, with a passing study of unsuccessful ornithopters and the earliest parachutes. As the book ends with an exciting account of "The Great Australian Race 1934", we can date it quite precisely.

In addition to illustrations of early craft taken from engravings, there are a number of photographs, the frontispiece being "A D.H.Comet in flight". Plate 26 shows crew and support team of the first flight from England to Australia in 1919, standing in front of their Vickers "Vimy". Plate 31 shows Scott and Black's Comet being refuelled at Baghdad during the 1934 Australia race. The text is written with great verve and even to a non-enthusiast is a very jolly read.


The Bulb Expert: The world's best-selling book on bulbs (Expert Books)
The Bulb Expert: The world's best-selling book on bulbs (Expert Books)
by Dr D G Hessayon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good buy for beginners, 19 Sep 2013
This book is the latest incarnation of 'The Bulb Expert'; you'll find older copies knocking about and they will, if less up-to-date-looking, do the job just as well. All the basics are here, and if you are new to gardening it will save time, money and heart-ache. Read it carefully; vital bits of information are buried in the small print, for example the importance of not planting tulip bulbs until November at the latest (most bulbs go in as early as possible). The bulbs you'll find on your garden centre shelves are all covered although with large groups such as tulips or daffodils, don't rely on finding every variety you're offered (no bulb book, reasonably, could do that).

If you are a keen gardener you'll soon want something more. Sadly, there are no wonderful, beautifully illustrated rivals which are easily available, so this rather dull, stodgy guide may still worth a place on your shelves. If you want excitement, an insight into the way bulbs grow in their wild habitat, and really good photos, then get Bulbs (The Pan garden plants series). It's a five-star, "I love it" book but it requires a bit more concentration to use than 'The Bulb Expert'


A Changed Man, The Waiting Supper and Other Tales (The Wessex Novels, Vol. XVIII), (Macmillan's Pocket Hardy)
A Changed Man, The Waiting Supper and Other Tales (The Wessex Novels, Vol. XVIII), (Macmillan's Pocket Hardy)
by Thomas HARDY
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the author at the height of his powers, 19 Sep 2013
These stories were written between 1881 and 1900, a long spell of time for a fairly prolific writer, and all share a geographical theme. They were collected together when Macmillan published a "complete works" in 1913. A 'preparatory note' from the author makes it clear that the texts of the stories had to be reclaimed rom the publishers of the various periodicals in which they originally appeared - in other words, Hardy did not reatin copies of all of them. From this it would seem that even the author didn't consider them to be of importance.

If this is your first contact with Hardy, do not judge him by it. These tales are pleasant enough and will keep you turning the pages, but the short story does not really seem to be Hardy's strong point. Top short-story writers have the knack of compressing tension, characterisation and dramatic force into a small space. Hardy works better when he has the full length of a novel in which to develop his spell over the reader.

Compared with, say, the short stories of D H Lawrence, these are rather milk-and-water affairs. Which is surprising when you consider the emotional force of Hardy's novels. These read like something produced for a magazine readership; tales to while away the time on a railway journey. They vary in length - 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid' is a novella - and in quality. It is interesting to look at 'A Committee Man of the Terror', in which an aristocratic Fench refugee finds herself both repelled by, and drawn to, a man who has been responsible for signing the death warrant on her guillotined parents, and who now finds himself fallen on hard times in the same seaside town where she is now a governess. Neither character is really believable, the man's actions incomprehensible and the woman's emotions unconvincing. In 'Alicia's Diary', the text is scarcely convincing as diary entries, and the melodramatic plot faintly ridiculous. The plight of the protagonists is never really moving. When we consider the power and drama of novels like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'urbervilles', it is hard to believe we are dealing with the same author. The motifs and generally gloomy tenor are there, but only in the second story, 'The Waiting Supper', did I feel we were seeing the mature Hardy.

Thirty quid (the price quoted at the time of reviewing) is a lot to pay. This is, however, a very attractive little volume with a pretty Art Nouveau-style binding in gold on maroon. If you can get it for less than one of the many reprints, do.


A Changed Man, The Waiting Supper and Other Tales: Concluding With the Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid (Classic Reprint)
A Changed Man, The Waiting Supper and Other Tales: Concluding With the Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid (Classic Reprint)
by Thomas Hardy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.30

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the author at the height of his powers, 19 Sep 2013
These stories were written between 1881 and 1900, a long spell of time for a fairly prolific writer, and all share a geographical theme. They were collected together when Macmillan published a "complete works" in 1913. A 'preparatory note' from the author makes it clear that the texts of the stories had to be reclaimed rom the publishers of the various periodicals in which they originally appeared - in other words, Hardy did not reatin copies of all of them. From this it would seem that even the author didn't consider them to be of importance.

If this is your first contact with Hardy, do not judge him by it. These tales are pleasant enough and will keep you turning the pages, but the short story does not really seem to be Hardy's strong point. Top short-story writers have the knack of compressing tension, characterisation and dramatic force into a small space. Hardy works better when he has the full length of a novel in which to develop his spell over the reader.

Compared with, say, the short stories of D H Lawrence, these are rather milk-and-water affairs. Which is surprising when you consider the emotional force of Hardy's novels. These read like something produced for a magazine readership; tales to while away the time on a railway journey. They vary in length - 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid' is a novella - and in quality. It is interesting to look at 'A Committee Man of the Terror', in which an aristocratic Fench refugee finds herself both repelled by, and drawn to, a man who has been responsible for signing the death warrant on her guillotined parents, and who now finds himself fallen on hard times in the same seaside town where she is now a governess. Neither character is really believable, the man's actions incomprehensible and the woman's emotions unconvincing. In 'Alicia's Diary', the text is scarcely convincing as diary entries, and the melodramatic plot faintly ridiculous. The plight of the protagonists is never really moving. When we consider the power and drama of novels like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'urbervilles', it is hard to believe we are dealing with the same author. The motifs and generally gloomy tenor are there, but only in the second story, 'The Waiting Supper', did I feel we were seeing the mature Hardy.

This is a rather fuzzy photo-reproduction of the original Macmillan book produced for the 'Wessex Novels' series. If you can get a nice vintage copy it will be a good deal more enjoyable to read.


A Changed Man and Other Tales (Pocket classics)
A Changed Man and Other Tales (Pocket classics)
by Thomas Hardy
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the author at the height of his powers, 19 Sep 2013
These stories were written between 1881 and 1900, a long spell of time for a fairly prolific writer, and all share a geographical theme. They were collected together when Macmillan published a "complete works" in 1913. A 'preparatory note' from the author makes it clear that the texts of the stories had to be reclaimed rom the publishers of the various periodicals in which they originally appeared - in other words, Hardy did not reatin copies of all of them. From this it would seem that even the author didn't consider them to be of importance.

If this is your first contact with Hardy, do not judge him by it. These tales are pleasant enough and will keep you turning the pages, but the short story does not really seem to be Hardy's strong point. Top short-story writers have the knack of compressing tension, characterisation and dramatic force into a small space. Hardy works better when he has the full length of a novel in which to develop his spell over the reader.

Compared with, say, the short stories of D H Lawrence, these are rather milk-and-water affairs. Which is surprising when you consider the emotional force of Hardy's novels. These read like something produced for a magazine readership; tales to while away the time on a railway journey. They vary in length - 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid' is a novella - and in quality. It is interesting to look at 'A Committee Man of the Terror', in which an aristocratic Fench refugee finds herself both repelled by, and drawn to, a man who has been responsible for signing the death warrant on her guillotined parents, and who now finds himself fallen on hard times in the same seaside town where she is now a governess. Neither character is really believable, the man's actions incomprehensible and the woman's emotions unconvincing. In 'Alicia's Diary', the text is scarcely convincing as diary entries, and the melodramatic plot faintly ridiculous. The plight of the protagonists is never really moving. When we consider the power and drama of novels like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'urbervilles', it is hard to believe we are dealing with the same author. The motifs and generally gloomy tenor are there, but only in the second story, 'The Waiting Supper', did I feel we were seeing the mature Hardy.


A Changed Man and Other Tales
A Changed Man and Other Tales
Price: £1.02

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the author at the height of his powers, 19 Sep 2013
These stories were written between 1881 and 1900, a long spell of time for a fairly prolific writer, and all share a geographical theme. They were collected together when Macmillan published a "complete works" in 1913. A 'preparatory note' from the author makes it clear that the texts of the stories had to be reclaimed rom the publishers of the various periodicals in which they originally appeared - in other words, Hardy did not reatin copies of all of them. From this it would seem that even the author didn't consider them to be of importance.

If this is your first contact with Hardy, do not judge him by it. These tales are pleasant enough and will keep you turning the pages, but the short story does not really seem to be Hardy's strong point. Top short-story writers have the knack of compressing tension, characterisation and dramatic force into a small space. Hardy works better when he has the full length of a novel in which to develop his spell over the reader.

Compared with, say, the short stories of D H Lawrence, these are rather milk-and-water affairs. Which is surprising when you consider the emotional force of Hardy's novels. These read like something produced for a magazine readership; tales to while away the time on a railway journey. They vary in length - 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid' is a novella - and in quality. It is interesting to look at 'A Committee Man of the Terror', in which an aristocratic Fench refugee finds herself both repelled by, and drawn to, a man who has been responsible for signing the death warrant on her guillotined parents, and who now finds himself fallen on hard times in the same seaside town where she is now a governess. Neither character is really believable, the man's actions incomprehensible and the woman's emotions unconvincing. In 'Alicia's Diary', the text is scarcely convincing as diary entries, and the melodramatic plot faintly ridiculous. The plight of the protagonists is never really moving. When we consider the power and drama of novels like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'urbervilles', it is hard to believe we are dealing with the same author. The motifs and generally gloomy tenor are there, but only in the second story, 'The Waiting Supper', did I feel we were seeing the mature Hardy.


A Changed Man; and other tales
A Changed Man; and other tales
Price: £0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the author at the height of his powers., 19 Sep 2013
These stories were written between 1881 and 1900, a long spell of time for a fairly prolific writer, and all share a geographical theme. They were collected together when Macmillan published a "complete works" in 1913. A 'preparatory note' from the author makes it clear that the texts of the stories had to be reclaimed rom the publishers of the various periodicals in which they originally appeared - in other words, Hardy did not reatin copies of all of them. From this it would seem that even the author didn't consider them to be of importance.

If this is your first contact with Hardy, do not judge him by it. These tales are pleasant enough and will keep you turning the pages, but the short story does not really seem to be Hardy's strong point. Top short-story writers have the knack of compressing tension, characterisation and dramatic force into a small space. Hardy works better when he has the full length of a novel in which to develop his spell over the reader.

Compared with, say, the short stories of D H Lawrence, these are rather milk-and-water affairs. Which is surprising when you consider the emotional force of Hardy's novels. These read like something produced for a magazine readership; tales to while away the time on a railway journey. They vary in length - 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid' is a novella - and in quality. It is interesting to look at 'A Committee Man of the Terror', in which an aristocratic Fench refugee finds herself both repelled by, and drawn to, a man who has been responsible for signing the death warrant on her guillotined parents, and who now finds himself fallen on hard times in the same seaside town where she is now a governess. Neither character is really believable, the man's actions incomprehensible and the woman's emotions unconvincing. In 'Alicia's Diary', the text is scarcely convincing as diary entries, and the melodramatic plot faintly ridiculous. The plight of the protagonists is never really moving. When we consider the power and drama of novels like 'Jude the Obscure' and 'Tess of the D'urbervilles', it is hard to believe we are dealing with the same author. The motifs and generally gloomy tenor are there, but only in the second story, 'The Waiting Supper', did I feel we were seeing the mature Hardy.


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