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Reviews Written by
Paul Meakin (Shropshire, England)

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The Outlander
The Outlander
by Gil Adamson
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic prose, 18 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Outlander (Hardcover)
There are two things I'll remember about this novel: the beautiful, haunting prose; the vivid (and believable ) characters. There are two things that bothered me: my confusion as to why she 'committed her crime' in the first place; my slight disappointment with the ending that, for me, lacked closure.
That said, a remarkable read.
The characters will stay with me: the strange, reclusive and ambiguous 'Ridgerunner'-William Moreland; the pugilistic and pragmatic 'Reverend' Bonnycastle; the entrepreneurial dwarf 'Mac'McEchern; the kindly and altruistic 'Bird Lady'; the driven and vengeful 'Brothers'and perhaps suprisingly, the deranged ex-Mountie Arthur Elwell. All the characters were so clearly depicted, so distinct and so utterly odd, that that illuminated the storyline.
A tremendous read-indeed, I will read it again for the sheer beauty of the prose.

A Likeness in Stone
A Likeness in Stone
by J Wallis Martin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars reads like a T.V. drama script-which it became, 12 July 2009
This review is from: A Likeness in Stone (Paperback)
My overall problem with this book was that everything felt 'under developed': the characters offered promise, ditto the plot, but it all seemed to be pushed along to fit a timeslot and suffered as a result. It felt like characters flitted in and out without me ever getting chance to know them. Similarly, the plot clunked a bit with a few contrived elements (which don't normally bother me if they fit the plot). I worked out the 'twist' sometime before the end and much of it didn't make any sense at all.
So, OK in parts; a passable read if you aren't expecting too much or don't feel like demanding too much.

The Road Home
The Road Home
by Rose Tremain
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mirror through which to view a 'Green and pleasant land'., 14 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book, which isn't surprising considering it was written by Rose Tremain. As usual the prose, construction, attention to detail, plot progression and pace were brilliant: I'm certain Rose Tremain could write a novel about a matchbox and it would be riveting and informative.
For me, Lev, the central character is in essence a mirror that Tremain holds up for us to see the England we'd maybe rather ignore or forget: the pretentious garbage of celebrity and affluence; the coldness and fickle allegiances of a morally bankrupt society; the pockets of loneliness and sadness that exist within families and institutions.
There are aspects of the book that didn't work for me. I felt Lev's character was a little one-dimensional and slightly underdeveloped. His outbursts of temper seemed incongruous and, somewhat irritatingly, his mastery of English seemed to be achieved at a phenomenal rate. I felt the ending was a little brief, not really tying together or enhancing what went before. However his work ethic, determination and pragmatism were an accurate reflection of the Eastern European workers I know.
Some of the characters in the story are memorable: the scarred, sensitive and lonely Christy; the life force that is Rudi; the driven GK Ashe. Others were less believable or bordered on parody: the farmer Midge was irritatingly underdeveloped and his cod rural speech and mannerisms annoying; I didn't find Sophie believable, a shame given her central role.
But, the negatives above can't detract from the overall quality of the book. I was held throughout Lev's odyssey and as I neared the end I actually longed for it all to turn out well for him. I finished with a feeling that my latent dislike of much of what is modern England had flowered into something approaching full blown disgust.
This book reminded me of the famous lines from Burns:

'Oh wad some power the Giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!'

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
by Marina Lewycka
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost very good indeed, 16 Aug. 2008
I liked this-with reservations. The writing is light, sprightly, with real humour. The characters are interesting. The relationship between the two sisters is beautifully portrayed and developed and the idiosyncrasies of the father are both touching and amusing. I didn't feel that the character of Valentina was quite as well developed as it could have been, although her abusive tirades in broken english had me in stitches. For me, the best feature of the story was the way it juxtaposed the two types of 'immigrant': the refugee from horror and atrocity and the 'modern' aspirant to a western lifestyle. This made me think and inspired me to learn more about the history of the Ukraine. My main negative comment is that I felt the ending was a bit of a let down, and didn't really live up to what had been set up before: I felt it was a little rushed and somewhat incongruous, certainly not satisfying my feeling that something hilarious/touching or fundamental was going to happen. It rather fizzled out.
That said, still a very enjoyable read and an insight into a community and a history that I knew nothing of previously.

No Time For Goodbye
No Time For Goodbye
by Linwood Barclay
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed..., 10 Aug. 2008
This review is from: No Time For Goodbye (Paperback)
I bought this as part of a handful of books selected for my summer holiday reading, selections being made on basis of previous experience of authors' work and a few-such as this one-on reviews. I found the opening few chapters interesting and I began to turn the pages faster expecting a solid plot development. Gradually, the absurdities in the storyline began to irritate me. This irritation increased as the plot developed into something bordering on farce. The final scene-which I won't discuss here- not wanting to spoil it for anyone about to read it-was, for me, so unlikely and contrived that I almost put the book down there and then, with only a few pages to finish. I kept thinking: 'that is daft, it just couldn't happen.'
So, a promising start was, for me, ruined by a storyline that veered so far into the totally implausible that it almost offended me.
If you don't mind your story lines being 'far fetched', then this is quite well constructed, and crafted, and would definitely keep you engrossed. Alas, I just couldn't stop asking myself, 'Surely not? Surely that would have been noticed by even the most stupid policeman/ neighbour/family member?' etc...

All The Pretty Horses [DVD] [2001]
All The Pretty Horses [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Matt Damon
Offered by joe4books
Price: £5.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never knowingly oversold, 31 Dec. 2006
Having read the 'Border' trilogy I was reluctant to watch the film. How could justice ever be done to McCarthy's spare, haunting images or the sense of tangible loss at way of life, love and honour now all but gone? The reviews I read didn't inspire me and so when I eventually saw the film I expected nothing but the overwhelming disappointment the critics described. All I can say is that either they are wrong-or I am. The film is a joy: I felt I was watching a sad and haunting tapestry unfold before my eyes. The photography is beautiful, restrained but capturing the essence of space and majesty . This restraint is echoed in Matt Damon's performance-his best ever in my view-as he captures the simple but rugged integrity of John Grady Cole. Penelope Cruz is perfect as Alejandra. I've watched it several times now, and am still waiting for the first hint of disappointment so ardently promised by they that know much better than I: it could be a long wait.

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