Profile for sophie leonard > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by sophie leonard
Top Reviewer Ranking: 835,889
Helpful Votes: 58

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
sophie leonard (milton keynes)

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
African Cooking
African Cooking
by Ola Olaore
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not pretty but the recipes are good, 13 April 2010
This review is from: African Cooking (Paperback)
there is a shocking lack of cookery books detailing african cuisine, so i pounced on this one when i saw it. in my friend's house admittedly; i don't think she's noticed yet.

the presentation is very simplistic, this is not a glossy coffee table cookbook, black and white line drawings dominate but the recipes are clearly set out and crucially when you try them they work.

for anyone already experimenting with middle eastern or north african food this book would be a very good buy.


Secrets of a Jewish Baker: 125 Breads from Around the World
Secrets of a Jewish Baker: 125 Breads from Around the World
by George Greenstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.93

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the bread book i use most, 13 April 2010
there are so many books out there about making your own bread and i have bought more than my fair share of them, only for the majority to languish unused on my kitchen book shelves. this one is the exception. i found it in a charity shop while searching for old cookbooks and i must be honest the cover did not inspire me. the book is not particularly beautiful or expensively produced but crucially the recipes work and the tips are exactly the ones you need when facing the task.


Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon
Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon
by Claudia Roden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars takes me back to the old country, 13 April 2010
my mother is from lebanon and i originally bought this book for her, then ended up keeping it and buying a second copy, then two more for my sisters, and we all use them several times a week. this is perfect food for big families or gatherings where you have a lot of hungry mouths to satisfy, lovely big meals, luxurious and deeply flavoured, impressive looking but, secretly, rather easy to knock up.

i have cooked perhaps seventy or eighty percent of the recipes in here and haven't encountered a bad one yet. if you love italien food but haven't taken the plunge south yet this is the perfect starting place, and if you already love north african and middle eastern cuisine this will probably still throw up a couple of new gems.


Cousin Pons: Part Two of 'Poor Relations' (Classics)
Cousin Pons: Part Two of 'Poor Relations' (Classics)
by Honoré de Balzac
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the saddest book i have ever read, 10 April 2010
together with cousin bette, the other half of the 'poor relations' set, this book explores the way those who slip behind their better off relatives are shunned or exploited, and in contrast to magnificant bette, cousin pons quietly endures all that his people throw at him.

it is a heart-breaking book, as the jackals begin to circle pons once they realise the extent of his art collection, and everyone from the head of the family down to the porter at his lodgings, is involved in machinations to get their hands on something of worth.

beautifully written with some scenes which actually made me weep, it is probably the truest book balzac wrote, which is what makes it so profoundly affecting.

the price is ridiculously high for a classic of european literature but worth it as you will probably reread it. the translation of this edition is excellent incidentally.


The Kill (Oxford World's Classics)
The Kill (Oxford World's Classics)
by Émile Zola
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very modern tale of financial skullduggery, 10 April 2010
i must confess this is one of my favourite novels. it is classic zola, mixing highlife and low, stripping away the veneer of the upper bourgeoisie and finding them not so different from anyone else.

the subject matter is dark and curiously modern - the twin prongs of renee's affair with her dandified step son maxime taking place against the husband/father saccard's dodgy property speculations. for me the business side was fascinating, echoing as it does the spectacular boom we have recently seen in the uk, a lot of it achieved through similarly murky machinations. after reading this the elegant haussmann era developments in paris will never look quite the same again.

only the second book in the cycle but it is perfectly assured, beautifully written and kudos to the translater who has done a marvellous job.

the five star rating isn't overstating the matter, it truly is that good.


L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics)
L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics)
by Émile Zola
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars zola shows how it should be done - again, 5 April 2010
people tend to liken zola to dickens for the way in which he took a broad view of society, spending as much, if not more, time exploring and documenting the life of the working class than any other writer i can think of. this comparison is kind on dickens.

there are no cartoon villains or two-dimensional virgin waifs in zola, just credible, fallible characters who have a real reek of authenticity about them.

in l'assommoir zola documents the rise and fall of another member of the rougon-macquart clan, gervaise, who drags herself out of the gutter only to plunge back into it through by ill-chosen men and a displays of wealth designed to annoy her friends and family. the set-pieces involving gervaise's grand meals are spectacularly handled and oddly modern in the examination of politiking and display - anyone who has endured an excruciating dinner party or even christmas dinner with less than lovely inlaws will be nodding all the way through.

i don't want to give too much away but this is a book which does not disappoint. the translation - always a minefield with zola - is clear and concise and the dialogue especially gives a credible impression of the language and rhythm of working class speech.

if you have read nana already try this next and see her origins - if not order both as they are best appreciated together and do flow on.

five stars


Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics)
Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars elegant ennui, 4 April 2010
i actually was bought this for christmas but seeing, unbelievably, that no-one has reviewed it yet i thought i should give a few words of encouragement to potential readers.

georges simenon's romans durs are stunning pieces of twentieth century fiction, slim and sparse, written with a dispassionate world view, weary and yet piercing, they stand shoulder to shoulder with camus and sartre and i firmly believe would share the same high regard if simenon had not also been responsible for the maigret novels. for critics it is impossible to be literary and popular of course!

three bedrooms in manhattan is the story of a chance encounter between a french actor in self-imposed exile in new york and a down at heel american divorcee who is looking for a little comfort. the two form an attachment which is by turns tender and antagonistic, he is possessive and mistrustful after his wife's affair but she is so emotionally starved that she will tolerate almost anything. the relationship is unromantic but all the more real for it's awkward contradictions.

there are hints of nabokov and richard yates - the whole book is drenched in nightglow and streetlights and, in my mind at least, is very Mad Men.

the actual book is nicely produced, sleek and glossy like simenon's writing, and is a credit to NYRB, who are definitely worth supporting as a small publishing house.

a five star read
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2012 4:21 PM BST


Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics)
Monsieur Monde Vanishes (New York Review Books Classics)
by Georges Simenon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.29

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the king of glissando, 4 April 2010
there is something wrong in the world when this book has gone this long without a review. georges simenon - world famous for his Maigret novels - wrote a collection of slim and elegant romans durs, quiet, sparse works full of ennui and weary resignation, each one perfectly pitched and beautifully written.

monsieur monde vanishes is ostensibly about very little, a rich man who is disallusioned with his comfortable but dull life takes off in an attempt to find some greater sense of meaning. in the hands of a lesser writer it would be instantly forgettable, but simenon creates such a pervasive sense of place and character that this book stayed with me for weeks after i read it and spurred me on to buy the complete set.

as a sidebar i just want to add that NYRB are doing an amazing job at trumpetting unjustly overlooked works and deserve all the support discerning readers can give them. so yes you can buy the latest brick of schlock for the same price but you will read it once and bin it, a book like this will be a definate reread.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2010 10:14 PM BST


Page: 1