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Amazon Customer "Cordelia Wainscot" (London, England)

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A House of Light
A House of Light
by Candida Clark
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Not your run of the mill thriller, 1 Jun. 2013
This review is from: A House of Light (Paperback)
I was sorry to read so many negative reviews; possibly the reviewers were expecting something different and were therefore disappointed.

For me, one of the strengths of this novel was the fact that it does not fit into any particular genre. I suspect, as I'm writing this, that the disappointed reviewers were more betrayed by the tendency of publishers to write lazy, generic blurbs than by faults in the actual novel.

No, it's not a psychological thriller. The plot it seems to me, is not intended to be realistic, keeping the reader on the edge of her seat, but more of a structure on which to hang a story of inherited guilt, secrets and lies. There are a series of unlikely coincidences, but unlikely coincidences were not spurned by the likes of Shakespeare and Dickens, so Clark is not exactly in bad company there.

The prose is elegant and a joy to read, with metaphors of light and photography recurring throughout. The atmosphere in the old family house in Kent - where most of the action takes place - is beautifully evoked. Round each corner are wispy hints of stories untold, conversations half-heard and family histories dimly illuminated.

The story is mainly told from Katherine's point of view. She is a photographer with, as we learn, a childhood that was materially very comfortable and secure, but emotionally oddly distant. Her professional life has followed much the same course; she has been quietly successful in her work, but apparently unable to sustain a long-term emotional relationship. A short assignment in Africa, followed by a family wedding, together serve to uncover layers of the lives of her family, and those her family has touched, going back over 150 years.

At times, the point of view shifts, briefly, to that of some of the other protagonists. Mostly this added depth and texture to the unfolding of the stories; but I found the shift in perspective did jar a bit once or twice.

I want to read more from this writer.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials: A Multiple Allegory: Attacking Religious Superstition in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paradise Lost: Attacking ... Witch and the Wardrobe' and ' Paradise Lost'
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials: A Multiple Allegory: Attacking Religious Superstition in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paradise Lost: Attacking ... Witch and the Wardrobe' and ' Paradise Lost'
Price: £7.62

26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore current reviews of the Kindle version of this book they are talking about something else., 24 April 2011
The reason is simply that none of them is actually a review of THIS book. and hence not relevant here. Neither is this, of course, so Amazon should probably just remove the lot!

Children's Classics and Modern Classics: Swish Of The Curtain
Children's Classics and Modern Classics: Swish Of The Curtain
by Pamela Brown
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A childhood joy rediscovered - now where are the rest?, 4 Jan. 2001
Like most of your other reviewers, I, too, had happy memories of reading this as a child, about forty years ago. There were, I am sure, five in the series, although I can only remember three after this one. They were 'Maddy Alone' 'Blue Door Venture' and 'Maddy Again'. In years of moving around I lost all my original copies. A few years ago I was determined to see if I could get them again; through book searches I've managed to get second-hand copies of the first two. Does the publication of TSOTC in paperback mean we can look forward to the others?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2011 5:52 PM GMT

The Orchard on Fire
The Orchard on Fire
by Shena Mackay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Successful evocation of a fifties childhood., 17 Jan. 2000
This review is from: The Orchard on Fire (Paperback)
The book's basic structure is a familiar one; the main story being framed by the narrator, April, speaking from the perspective of the present day. The novel starts with a brief but telling picture of a tightly organised but somewhat bleak middle-aged life, and ends by a physical as well as an emotional re-visit to the Kentish village of her childhood. In between lies a resolutely unsentimental picture of a rural childhood and an account of the birth and growth of friendship between 8-year olds which rang more true than any I have read for a long time. April's parents move to Stonebridge after failing in running a succession of London pubs. The couple themselves are very fully realized characters, meticulously avoiding stereotypes and, one suspects, surprising their creator at times as well as the reader. A novel without any conflict would hardly qualify for the name, and there is conflict here, partly in the form of April's friend's family, who could define the term 'dysfunctional', and partly in the form of the apparently charming and gentlemanly Mr. Greenidge, who lies in wait in Lovers Lane for a kiss (or more) from April, all the while waiting for his ailing wife to die. There are also some fine comic set-pieces - albeit mostly black comedy. There are Bobs and Dittany, the 'Arts and Crafts' ladies who inhabit the former orphanage, causing some wonder on the part of the more naive village inhabitants about their inexplicable lack of husbands; a pair of identical professors, one of whom comes to a sticky end in a wheelbarrow; the inconvenient turkey, abandoned on Christmas Eve on the butcher's doorstep. In different hands, this could be little more than the most irritating kind of nostalgia - a nostalgia for a Golden English era which never existed. However, MacKay is a far finer writer than this, and every episode, every character, every joke is another opportunity for a insight into how people are not all of a piece, they act out of character, and the best of us can behave in the worst ways, just as the worst of us are capable of the best. And underneath it all, the fierce ties and obligations of friendship.

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