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The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce
The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce
by Paul Torday
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 28 Jun. 2015
An interesting book, well-written, with a little repetition because of the mode adopted.

However, this is an unusual mode, starting the book with the end of the story, and then having each section going further and further back. Hence the last section of the book is the very early life of Wilberforce. Most of the time this works well, but the reading becomes a little tedious by then.

At the same time, it is in the last pages that we get an insight into what Wilberforce was like, what made him what he was, and what options he had. So this raises the question why, with all the options, he was nearing death because of his wine addition.

The main drawback of the book is that it does not explain why Wilberforce went for that option.


The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
Price: £4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Aspirations and responsibilities of a woman, 19 Jun. 2015
This is the story of a black woman who was born a slave in the United States towards the end of the nineteenth century, and gets married to a black ex-army soldier in the next century.

It is a very interesting story. The author has given a very detailed account of the lives of black people once they are free, whether it is those who are working in slaughter houses or trying to buy land and come up in society.

There are many themes running through the story: relationships between employers and their servants, aspirations of black men and women, relationships between men and women, and the pervasiveness of male domination.

Most important it is the story of a mother who has to work out what is best for her children, when surrounded by a rigid gendered society that she has grown up in, and initially felt rewarding.


The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Poirot is back, but was that wise?, 5 Jun. 2015
This is a new story about Hercules Poirot, the detective in many Agatha Christie’s mysteries. It is about murders in Bloxham Hotel in London.
The author has tried to recapture the character, the logic and the intriguing mystery in any of Agatha Christie’s books and has partly succeeded.

The character of Catchpool is designed to remind us of Inspector Japp, but it is difficult to accept that a Scotland Yard detective could be so inefficient, from Poirot’s point of view. It is obviously designed to show how great Poirot is, but did not convince me.

The story is full of many twists and turns but it seems to go on and becomes very convoluted. I did not enjoy the book as much as I did any of Agatha Christie’s books.


Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1)
Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy 1)
by Jane Gardam
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh realities of life, but be warned, 4 Jun. 2015
An interesting but rather sad story. Teddy Feathers was obviously very talented but his life got messed up because of his family and the expected path for ‘orphans’ of British overseas territories. The tradition of sending children back to England for schooling was supposed to be in the best interests of the children but one wonders if they would not have had happier childhoods if they had stayed with their parents. The book illustrates very well the possible life of these children, very often full of misery, from the time of departure from the country they were born in, to their home and school lives in Britain. Teddy, for instance, seemed to have had problems forming relationships apart from a couple of exceptions.

The style of going back and forth in time usually works, but sometimes it is annoying as the reader has to try and remember the characters or events covered earlier in the book, in a different time frame.

The book is lacking in information especially about Teddy’s wife Betty. It would be interesting to know how Teddy managed to get to know her and got married to her.

Well after I had finished reading the book, and raised my concern at the gap about Teddy’s life with Betty, I learnt that Old Filth is the first of a trilogy, and the second book actually tells the story from Betty’s perspective. There is nothing on the covers of the book to tell us that this book is the first of a trilogy. So be warned.


A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Weird and not a great novel, 30 April 2015
As a straightforward story, A Handful of Dust is very strange. The behaviour of characters like Brenda, and her husband Tony, seem lacking in reality. The second part of the book, whereby Tony sets out as an explorer, is even more bizarre, and so is the first version of the ending.
It is difficult to see why this book has been regarded as one of the greatest novels of our time. The writing is witty, and there are humorous situations.
If we understand that the novel is a reflection of British society between the world wars, then the story may seem more relevant. But it is not a novel that grips you.


Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle
Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle
by Paula Byrne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See the film before reading the book, 30 April 2015
Having enjoyed the film Belle, I wanted to read the book, Belle: the true story of Dido Belle. The book turned out to be quite different from the film. It is quite common to find that films have adapted the original stories. However, in the case of Belle, the book was written after the film. As Paula Byrne states, her thanks to “ Arabelle Pike… the commissioning editor at William Collins, and Damian Jones, producer of the motion picture Belle, for suggesting that I write this book.”

The result is a book that truly complements the film. It is not just a straightforward story of belle. It is more like a historical documentary. One of the key aspects of the book is a very detailed analysis of many relevant paintings, such as “ The Double Portrait”. These are very educative especially for the non-artistic reader. There is detailed coverage in the book about various aspects of slavery, the slave trade, and the conditions in the human trafficking. Very interesting is the analysis of how the movements for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade were affected by stories of specific expeditions.

The book is invaluable for a reader who wants to have an understanding of human interactions in this very important period in history.


The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep
by Raymond Chandler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure why this is such a highly acclaimed story, 1 April 2015
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
This is a highly acclaimed book but I did not find it as such. Maybe it has become popular because it was made into a film

It is well written; Chandler’s style is that of writing very detailed descriptions and as such it is possible to visualise very clearly all the scenes and the individuals.

Somehow the story is not very gripping. The significance of the title The Big Sleep comes right at the end of the book, but it does not seem to be significant, except to the detective Philip Marlowe. The story has twists but the reasons Marlow gives for his actions, such as why he went on investigating after he had been paid off, are not convincing, although his employer eventually agrees with him.

In many ways The Big Sleep could be any other crime story; there is nothing very special about it unless you are looking at the history of crime writing and see The Big Sleep as an inspiration for later writers.


Five Days
Five Days
by Douglas Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow moving but interesting insight into human behaviour, 21 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Five Days (Paperback)
Somehow it seemed to be slow moving, although it is not a particularly long book. It did get more interesting as we read on.

It is basically in the words of the main character Laura. It would have been valuable to find out how two of the adult males, Dan and Richard had to say about the rationale for their behaviour.

While the story is not an extraordinary one, it does give the reader an insight into what can happen to individuals, their relationships, the basis on which they make decisions, and how individual events can have a massive impact on someone’s life.


Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition)
Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition)
by Martin Sixsmith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very moving and thought-provoking, 27 Feb. 2015
In 2009 a book was published written by Martin Sixsmith and called The Lost Child of Philomena. The original title should have been kept. While the book begins with Philomena and ends with her search for her lost son. The balance of the book is very much for the story of the son. Maybe Martin Sixsmith’s background as a foreign correspondent of the BBC is responsible for that bias in the book

However, the story is very moving. The dreadful fate of unmarried mothers in Ireland is well documented, and once again there is no mention of any action taken towards the fathers of these ‘bastard’ babies. What is crucial in this book, though, is the effects of separation on the child. The fact that there could be long term, and possibly damaging consequences is well spelt out. It makes us think before we applaud celebrities who may go to a so called third world country and adopt a child. The book demonstrates how a church can have a very strong hold on a community. Although the focus here is on the Catholic Church in Ireland, the church’s relations with the people reminds us about what is happening in many other religions.

A lot of detail is given about Michael ( Anthony)’s life in the United States. The focus on AIDS is another terrifying aspect of the fate of the gay community.

Advertising of the book has included phrases such as ‘the poignant true story of a mother…’. It is difficult for the reader to ascertain if all the facts are true, as there has been many adverse reactions to martin Sixsmith’s use of information he gathered for the book from many who knew Michael (Anthony).

However, this is a very important book on many historical and current aspects of life.


The Lemon Grove
The Lemon Grove
by Helen Walsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing can be more boring., 18 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
Nothing can be more boring.

I find it incredible that a publisher accepted this manuscript for publishing. It is a very dull book. I only tried to read it to the end because it was for a library reading group. But I had to keep on flipping over the pages and the end could not come soon enough. The style is very boring. The story could have been dramatic but we do not know from page to where the story is going. The rationale for the actions of the different characters is not very clear. Whoever gives this book a five star rating must have a very low opinion of good literature.
I am not likely to read another book by Helen Walsh.


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