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Reviews Written by
Mrs. R. M. Lee (Berkshire)
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Legend of a Suicide
Legend of a Suicide
by David Vann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 24 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Legend of a Suicide (Paperback)
This book got me by the throat and didn't let go. It's a curious mixture of memoir, fiction and fictionalised memoir. A novella which is book-ended by short stories. I didn't mind the shifts from first person to third person narrative, and the shifts in perspective - the writing is so compelling.( I was reminded of Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life). The central novella is dark and relentless and impossible to put down. A heart-stopping moment almost made me cry out in shock. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion. You know it must end badly but you can't stop reading. Slightly marred by occasional over-writing and curiously missing some details (how, where, did the boy and his father - trying to homestead with insufficient stores and skills on a remote Alaskan island - wash?) But this is a book I will read again. And it's one of the best I've read all year.


A Game Of Hide And Seek (VMC)
A Game Of Hide And Seek (VMC)
by Elizabeth Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, 31 Dec. 2009
This book has been described as Elizabeth Taylor's best - a "masterpiece love story" - so I was expecting a great deal. Expecting too much, perhaps, which might go some way to explaining my disappointment. The story never gripped me. I was unmoved by the lovers Harriet and Vesey; sometimes amused by minor characters - Julia, Harriet's mother-in-law, for example. The characters who interested me - and the book picked up when they appeared - were Betsy, Harriet's daughter, and Kitty, Harriet's friend - married to Harriet's husband's business partner. Wonderful writing, of course.
Kitty - who is not happy in her marriage - tells her husband she is pregnant. "You can't be serious." "Is that all you have to say?" she asked wearily..........she felt very still and quiet in her mind, at peace in her hatred as once she had been at peace in her love." Classic Taylor. So, not her best. But still worth reading.


Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul
Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul
by Diana Henry
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely to look at, lovely to eat, 20 Dec. 2009
I bought the hardback on the recommendation of a dear friend and excellent cook. It is beautifully produced. A pleasure to read, as well as cook from. Surprisingly, for an Irish writer, the recipe for Irish stew isn't traditional, but perhaps all the recipes from Scandinavia etc. have been altered and improved. Sometimes you wonder how some of the ingredients will come together, but they do, with delicious results. Although this is not a vegetarian cook book - far from it - there are wonderful recipes that make perfect centre pieces for a vegetarian dinner - eg roast squash with lentils and goats cheese. Who could resist the title, never mind the recipes?


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House
by Kate Summerscale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars over-hyped, over-written, over-long, 9 Dec. 2009
I can't work out why this book got such outstanding reviews. It lacked tension, it was too long, over-stuffed with detail, meandering. A good edit might have transformed it into something terrific. If you want victorian mystery tales read Wilkie Collins, or Dickens.


Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
by Elizabeth Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why isn't she better known?, 9 Dec. 2009
I loved this book. It's beautifully written and manages to reveal the interior thoughts of Mrs Palfrey as she ekes out her days as a long-term resident in a hotel which she - and the other long-termers - know she will leave only to go to a nursing home or a cemetery. Yet it is not at all a depressing read. Mrs Palfrey's relationship with a young man who pays her the attention she doesn't get from her young relatives is touching and believable. Elizabeth Taylor conveys more in a plain, well constructed sentence, than more modern writers do in convoluted sentences that aim at profundity but are simply unintelligible.


Echoes
Echoes
by Maeve Binchy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read - one of her best, 9 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Echoes (Paperback)
Echoes and The Glass Lake are my favourite Maeve Binchy books. I love the warmth. I love the way she tracks changes in Irish society. Any social historian interested in Ireland could read her books in sequence and find out a great deal. Earlier books, like Echoes etc much better than the later ones.


Saving Rafael
Saving Rafael
by Leslie Wilson
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This teen novel will grip adults too, 26 May 2009
This review is from: Saving Rafael (Paperback)
I bought this book for a young relative who had enjoyed Leslie Wilson's "Last Train from Kummersdorf" but got engrossed in it myself (and I'm a long way from being a teenager!) I hardly put it down until I had finished it.
I was particularly captured by the vivid depiction of life in Berlin, under aerial bombardment, during the war, and the fact that the tension around the love story never slackened. I loved the cameos of life in a city full of fear, and the glimpses of humanity in the midst of horror eg the man who says "I'll do what I please with my own arse" when he's rebuked for given up his seat in a tram to a Jewish woman. The love story between the two teenagers - Jenny, who narrates the story, and Rafael, the childhood friend whom Jenny and her mother hide from the Gestapo - is done with great sensitivity and felt authentic. I liked the way even the minor characters (including a memorable dog) came to life on the page. Meticulously researched, too.


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