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ricky (oxfordshire)

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Ladder Of Years
Ladder Of Years
by Anne Tyler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ladder of Tears, 26 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Ladder Of Years (Paperback)
Oh dear, what a terrible cop-out novel. I've read some of the other reviewers who can't understand quite why Delia left her family. Such as: it wasn't such a bad life she was leading, just that she fancied a change, for whatever mysterious reason. But there is no mysterious reason - she was being utterly taken for granted by her husband and everyone else in her 'hey mom, where's my breakfast' family. The clue is right there at the start (the very first page being the best part of the book): the article in the local paper, which confirms quite clearly that her family, when it came to it, could recall very little about her, even down to her height, eye colour, or what she was wearing to the beach. She wasn't even reported as missing until much later in the day. In short, she was invisible; to all intents and purposes, a 'missing person', even before she strolled off the beach.
She slowly but surely builds for herself a new life in a new town, and, although somewhat dull and everyday, at least we get a picture of a middle aged woman coming to terms with a new way of living the 24 hours in her day. It's when she goes back to Baltimore for her daughter's wedding that the book really comes apart. There's a dreadful, idiotic section when the daughter says she's not going through with the marriage in response to a nondescript 'moment of madness' from her fiance. The sorting out of this problem, involving the seeking out of a girl called Courtney and the boy who was trying to find her on the phone, thereby incurring the wrath of the fiance, is convoluted and quite barmy, or, as my mum would have said, rather 'far-fetched'. By now, I was longing for Delia to head back to her new life in her new town, and fully expecting this to come to pass. However, the novel ends with the jaw-dropping realisation that Delia is returning to her husband - this being the somewhat insufferable man who, for the previous 300-odd pages, has been inciting all sorts of quiet rages and subdued volcanoes within Delia. Not only does she return to him - the first instance of the return is to fall straight into bed with him!
People tell me that Anne Tyler is the best American writer of the current age. If so, how on earth could she have allowed this novel to go out to a focus group for its so-comforting, so 'American' finale? For surely, a focus group tidied up what happened here. .

Unusual Railway Pubs, Refreshment Rooms and Ale Trains
Unusual Railway Pubs, Refreshment Rooms and Ale Trains
by Bob Barton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring - and Unusual - read, 17 Jun. 2013
I was struck by the title and wanted to know more. Indeed, this book is a rarity: it should appeal to not just one, but two, famously bookish tribes - those who are into trains, and those who are into beer! Often as not, of course, there's a well-established cross-over between the two. The writer not only charts the history of pubs, bars and refreshment rooms that have criss-crossed the UK's rail network for 150 years, he then goes on to provide a comprehensive guide to the best of them still in existence today, from the (extremely) rural, such as Crianlarich in Scotland, to the extravagantly lush (Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street). Here is a subject that has not, as far as I know, been documented before; this is the one future beer and rail archivists will be using as the template!

Flanders: Northern Belgium: from Brussels and Bruges to breweries, battlefields and bike rides (Bradt Travel Guide)
Flanders: Northern Belgium: from Brussels and Bruges to breweries, battlefields and bike rides (Bradt Travel Guide)
by Emma Thomson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous flanders, 7 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just been to Flanders and took this new book by Emma Thomson with me. To say it proved indispensable would be an understatement. It gives full details of the main cities, towns and villages of the area; the larger places have clear, detailed maps to help you navigate the (often) intriguing streets with their distinctive architecture. All bookshops carry titles on 'Belgium', but this is the first I've seen that's solely dedicated to Flanders, and I think it's a clever move by Bradt to home in before anyone else. Let's face it: any region that includes Gent, Brugge, Mechelen, Leuven and Antwerp deserves special attention. The book also inspired me to try out Kortrijk and Oudenaarde, and the hunches proved spot-on. My only small gripe would be: as it's a Bradt title, it tends to be word-heavy, with just two brief colour sections, and this might put off punters flicking through in a bookshop. But as long as you're after detailed info on (still) one of Europe's most under-rated regions, then this is a real asset that might just kick-start a real interest in somewhere that, on top of its other charms, brews the best beer in the world.

At the House of the Magician
At the House of the Magician
by Mary Hooper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical book, 26 Sept. 2007
I really like Mary Hooper's historical novels. I started off by reading her Megan books, and they were great, but I think the historicals are even better. The best part is they are about real people. I can't wait to read the next one in the series.

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