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Reviews Written by
Heather "HF" (UK)

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The Abortionist's Daughter
The Abortionist's Daughter
by Elisabeth Hyde
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 4 Feb. 2007
I have to go along with the majority here. I was expecting a novel with some teeth, controversy or insight; but what it delivers is just a fairly standard whodunnit. The writing style is rather flat too. Not awful by any means, but not worthy of its bestseller status.


We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
by Lionel Shriver
Edition: Paperback

20 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Conveniently controversial without being very good, 13 Aug. 2006
This is the kind of modern novel that newspapers, magazines and talk shows love to get their teeth into: a story about a mother who pretty much hates her child from birth; a story about young kids who do appalling things. Do such people exist? How do they get that way? What does it feel like to be a parent in this situation? Are there lessons for society here? Are we all, in some way, to blame? Everybody has an opinion or a perspective to offer; a debate, of sorts, is guaranteed. And so a book like this ends up being talked about, which all it needs to become a wopping great international bestseller.

I must admit I bought this book by accident, thinking it was actually "Stuart, A Life Backwards", but I gave it a go and found it pretty hard going. Written as a series of absurdly long letters, it has a dead-pan, humourless character, made all the more annoying by a painfully self-conscious writing style. It gets a little better when a plot, of sorts, finally begins to emerge. But be warned: this is not an insightful investigation of social taboos, based on experience or extensive research. The author, in fact, has never had children. The novel is really just a box of tricks, designed to shock and surprise by leading your expectations in one direction, and then later confounding them - like any good (or, for that matter, indifferent) mystery. The claims of significance that have been made on its behalf (that it is 'fearless' etc.) are, in my opinion, bunk.

If you like Kate Atkinson, imagine her as a rather self-consciously intellectual American, then strip her of her sense of humour, and you will pretty much have the gist of it.

In short, literate but not worth the effort; especially since it is fundamentally depressing in a not very constructive way.


The Historian
The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Turgid writing makes for heavy going, 19 April 2006
This review is from: The Historian (Paperback)
This book has been skilfully marketed, and this has no doubt drawn in many readers who would not normally read this kind of thing (like me). But I am frankly amazed at its success. How can a novel be described as atmospheric and exciting (or even pacy) when the prose is so flat and clunky it could have been written by a 12-year-old? There is no wit, no originality in its descriptions, no variation of pace or tone. Instead we have awful colourless dialogue, descriptive passages that sound like they come from a travel guide, and characters that are as lifeless as a speared vampire.

There may be a plot unfolding over these 700 pages, but given the above, who cares?

The cover looks nice. Otherwise, do not be taken in (or, like me, get your disappointment c/o the library.)


My Father's Rifle: A Childhood in Kurdistan
My Father's Rifle: A Childhood in Kurdistan
by Hiner Saleem
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Child-sized book with adult-sized power, 13 Aug. 2005
This is a moving little book, not sentimental but convincing and poignant. It's brevity suits a child's perspective (and attention span!) but the underlying events (life for the Kurds during Saddam Hussein's rule) hit home with adult force. A small gem of a book, and an impressively authentic one.


The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever
The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever
by Christian Wolmar
Edition: Hardcover

91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and revealing slice of London history, 3 July 2005
This book deserves to be enjoyed well outside trainspotting or railway enthusiast circles. Charting the foundation and growth of one history's boldest engineering projects, it is full of fascinating revelations about London, its people, its politics, its demands and its ever-increasing needs. That sense of a secret world beneath our feet was never conveyed better. I read much of this book while travelling on the Underground itself, and emerged a good deal more appreciative of the visionary men who built it. Perhaps more commuters should do the same!


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