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M J Longley (Penarth, South Glamorgan United Kingdom)

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The Visit Of The Royal Physician
The Visit Of The Royal Physician
by Per Olov Enquist
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful historical/philosophical romance, 9 Jun 2003
This book recently won the Independent Foreign Book Award, and has won similar awards in France and elsewhere. It is based on the bizarre facts of a brief period in eighteenth century Danish history when the incompetent and youthful king first fell under the influence of the eponymous Enlightenment physician, and then under that of a scheming reactionary courtier.
The personal is interwoven with the political. The queen is a complex and sympathetic character, and her mystical and serene relationship with the physician creates an almost magical atmosphere, inevitably destroyed as the forces of reaction gather strength. The physician is beautifully and subtly portrayed - his painful uncertainty and indecision, combined with his idealistic espousal of Enloightenment values, creates a fragile but sympatheic and believable character, who nevertheless remains something of a mystery to the end.
A complex and subtle book, but eminently readable. Highly recommended.


Brazil
Brazil
by John Updike
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as good as Rabbit!, 9 Jun 2003
This review is from: Brazil (Paperback)
This was new territory for me - I had only read the Rabbit novels before, and some short stories. This is very different - an epic story of tavel and personal development across Brazil. There are various symbolic elements which underscore various stages of the transformation of the two key characters, and there is much to enjoy. But ultimately it fails to convince. Whereas one has no doubt that Updike knew and understood the middle America of Rabbit, one is left with the uneasy feeling that in Brazil, he has only a tourist's understanding, and that the setting is really a peg on which to hang a magical realist parable which is clever rather than moving.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2012 9:59 PM GMT


The Feast of the Goat
The Feast of the Goat
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply distrubing, 9 Jun 2003
This review is from: The Feast of the Goat (Paperback)
This is a book which sucks the reader deeper and deeper into a world so disturbing that one never forgets the feeling of dread which it engenders. There comes a point in the story when one begins to guess what the denouement might be, but thinks 'surely that can't be it - that is too horrific to contemplate'. But it is!
This novel has the key elements of great tragedy - the world heading inexorably to disaster, a sense of human characters whose future is doomed, the playthings of the gods. Told through 3 separate story strands - the Dictator, his assassins, and a victim of the regime's depravity - the tension builds to a devastating climax, to be followed by an outcome as unsatisfactory and messy as real life. I have no idea how historically accurate the story is, but most importantly it FEELS accurate. A book which shakes you to your core.


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