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nigeyb "nigeyb" (Hove, England)

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The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) (Penguin Classics)
The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) (Penguin Classics)
by Henri Alain-Fournier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly captures that magical period when emotions are at their most intense, 7 Sept. 2014
Most French people read this book at school and a recent poll in France made it the sixth best book of the 20th century.

Unlike the average French person, I came to this story of adolescent love in my early 50s. Would the book's charms work for the older reader? The answer is an emphatic yes. It perfectly captures that magical period when emotions are at their most intense.

Le Grand Meaulnes, the protagonist, is an adventurous, charismatic wanderer who stumbles across a lost chateau where partygoers, dressed in period costumes from the 1830s are gathered to celebrate a wedding. At the chateau Meaulnes falls in love with Yvonne.

What follows is a enchanting story of tragedy, intensity, dreams and love. The plot doesn't bear too much scrutiny however that is not the point. The point is to simply surrender to this delightful and atmospheric book and (re)discover your inner adolescent.


Ska'd for Life: A Personal Journey with The Specials
Ska'd for Life: A Personal Journey with The Specials
by Horace Panter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clear-eyed and vivid evocation of life in The Specials, 21 Aug. 2014
Horace Panter aka Sir Horace Gentleman was the bass player with, and a founder member of, The Specials. Jerry Dammers lead the band and the Two Tone record label which, with its marvellous fusion of punk, reggae and ska, kickstarted the late 1970s ska revival in the UK.

Horace vividly describes his life before The Specials, the band's formation, their meteoric rise to the top of the charts, and their equally swift disintegration.

This clear-eyed recollection of life in The Specials is a marvellous read. It also operates as a cautionary tale for any would-be rock star. Horace's description of the band's first American tour sounds like hell on earth, despite playing some good shows. Overall it's hard to escape the conclusion that being in a successful band is not something anyone with a normal disposition should covet. That said, what Horace also conveys is the magic and exhilaration of playing live music, and of course playing in The Specials meant playing some of the finest music of their era.

A great band, and a very interesting and enjoyable book.

4/5


A Moment Worth Waiting For
A Moment Worth Waiting For
Price: £3.28

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate, informed, essential and inspirational, 6 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I first came across Kevin Pearce through his 1993 book "Something Beginning with O". I have no idea why I bought it but I was hooked from page one, and still have my original copy which seems to go for around £50 on eBay these days. I next stumbled across Kevin's work through his Your Heart Out website which contains a series of essays that explore all manner of interesting and eclectic music. These essays are also highly recommended.

If Bob Stanley's splendid "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" was the ultimate guide to the British pop charts, then "A Moment Worth Waiting For" does a similar job, but in a parallel universe and is a bit more time specific. Whilst "A Moment Worth Waiting For" contains references to the pop charts and the mainstream, Kevin Pearce's focus is more about what was happening at the margins and in particular what was happening in the early 1980s. Kevin's genius, and to me it is genius, is to find myriad connections between his multifarious musical passions and, as with all good music writers, to inspire the reader to (re)visit the songs and artists he discusses.

OK, cards on the table. It helps enormously that we both share a huge enthusiasm for Vic Godard. Vic, as you probably know, has been constantly questing since emerging with other early punks, pursuing his own distinct musical agenda, primarily, it seems to me, to please himself and the enlightened few who embrace his maverick sensibilities.

Kevin Pearce shares Vic's questing spirit. At the start of A Moment Worth Waiting For, he makes it explicit that he cannot be constrained by genre...

How can anyone stick to one thing: funk, punk, jazz, reggae, hip hop, techno, folk, classical, whatever?

Quite so. There's always a new world, unexplored territory, or a selection of rabbit holes to disappear down. What's wonderful about Kevin Pearce is he will point out new pathways. I scribbled down all the references (musical, cinematic, literary - though mainly musical) that piqued my interest. Another reader would doubtless come up with a very different list.

How Kevin manages to establish and remember the numerous intersecting connections he highlights throughout A Moment Worth Waiting For is a mystery to me, however I am very grateful for his diligence and passion which informs every page of this wonderful book.


Punch Shoe Shine Liquid Polish Navy Blue 75ml
Punch Shoe Shine Liquid Polish Navy Blue 75ml
Offered by MrGreysToyBox
Price: £3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed. Watery and insufficient blue, 18 July 2014
I bought this polish to use on some blue shoes which had become quite faded. I was hoping this polish would restore the colour. The polish is very watery and does not contain much blue colour. After seven applications, the colour was slightly improved however it was nowhere near as blue as a thicker, more traditional polish would achieve.


Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars P.G. Wodehouse would have approved, 15 July 2014
Sebastian Faulks, in the book's introduction, describes this book as "a tribute" by "a fan" and not "an imitation".

For my money, and as a fellow P.G. Wodehouse fan, I'd say Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is every bit as good as the real thing. Sebastian Faulks is to be congratulated for pulling off the perfect homage.

I smiled, chuckled and on a couple of occasions guffawed, through this charming Jeeves and Wooster story.

P.G. Wodehouse would have approved I'm sure. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells reminds me how much I love the work of P.G. Wodehouse and inspires me to get reading and rereading his books. There is no higher praise.

As you may now, P.G. Wodehouse won the Mark Twain Medal in 1936 for "having made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the happiness of the world". Sebastian Faulks has now further added to the happiness of the world with Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2014 4:33 PM GMT


Hearing Secret Harmonies (Dance to the Music of Time)
Hearing Secret Harmonies (Dance to the Music of Time)
by Anthony Powell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finishing the series with a flourish, 12 July 2014
It's curious to consider that when Anthony Powell wrote Hearing Secret Harmonies the final novel in the twelve-novel series “A Dance to the Music of Time”, and despite the series starting in the early twentieth century, that it was almost contemporaneous, being published in 1975, and taking place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and makes references to hippies, the permissive society, Vietnam, and Enoch Powell.

The final two volumes, Temporary Kings and Hearing Secret Harmonies, each moving the narrative forward by around ten years, allows for some dramatic changes to have occurred, the most notable change is in Widmerpool whose trajectory dramatically changes in ways that would be difficult for anyone to imagine earlier in the series.

Anthony Powell finished the series with a real flourish. Hearing Secret Harmonies embraces the late sixties counterculture and contains some truly stunning scenes. He also manages to introduce yet more new characters, including the memorable Scorpio Murtlock and his Harmony cult.

Overall “A Dance to the Music of Time” is magnificent. Reading the series has been such a fabulous experience. Anthony Powell is a master. Although the books can be read and enjoyed individually, and on their own terms, the real pleasure is in reading all twelve books, and enjoying a narrative that takes place over a seventy year time span. Calling his series ''A Dance" is a perfect metaphor, as Anthony Powell is akin to a choreographer, who intricately keeps track of over four hundred characters across more than a million words. It's a stunning achievement, and throughout, his beautiful writing is as much of a joy as the ingenious plot and his ambitious, and completely successful, cultural and social history of England throughout the twentieth century.

The star of the series is arguably Kenneth Widmerpool, one of the most memorable characters I have ever encountered in a book. Widmerpool is a contemporary of narrator Nick Jenkins and, despite not being friends, he crops up somewhere in every volume. Whilst narrator Nick, along with many of the characters, represent musicians, poets, novelists, painters etc., Widmerpool is the opposite, a ruthlessly ambitious person but a deeply flawed human being. I wonder to what extent he might represent the triumph of commerce and bureaucracy, over more aesthetic considerations, that appears to be one of the main aspects of twentieth century history.

Whilst reading it I have had a copy of "Invitation To The Dance" by Hilary Spurling which is a wonderful reference book, particularly when I needed reminding about a character who had just reappeared. Now I have finished the series I plan to read the whole of "Invitation To The Dance" as it clearly contains lots of other useful and interesting information. I also have a copy of To Keep the Ball Rolling: The Memoirs of Anthony Powell which looks like another wonderful book and, according to the cover, is "especially illuminating to students of A Dance to the Music of Time". I am really looking forward to reading both, in addition to re-reading this marvellous series again.

“A Dance to the Music of Time” is a masterpiece - and one of the best literary experiences I have ever enjoyed. Profound, funny, dramatic, and remarkably accessible and easy to read. It is a series I will return to again. I cannot praise it highly enough.


Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking
Price: £4.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unnecessarily lengthy, but nonetheless important, investigation into how introverts are undervalued in Western society, 3 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An interesting and timely investigation into introversion, and how introverts are undervalued and misunderstood in schools, the workplace, and Western society.

One of the most interesting chapters is about how, after industrialisation, the USA quickly evolved into a culture that valued a hearty, sales type personality over more considered personality traits, and how this outgoing stereotype now dominates at the expense of people who are naturally quieter and more thoughtful.

All of the book's more salient points also feature in Susan Cain's presentation on the TED Talks website however the book elaborates on the key points.

In common with many similar books (e.g Malcolm Gladwell), the main points can easily be summarised in a few pages however, in order to create a book, the central ideas have been filled out into c300 pages of science, research, social history, questionnaires, and anecdote, much of which adds little to the central message. I got impatient throughout the many sections which felt like padding and which added little to the central thesis.

Susan Cain's book contains some important, timely and provocative messages that are worth understanding. That said, it's not necessary to read the book to grasp the key points, which can be understood more quickly by watching her TED talk and/or reading the book's summary on Wikipedia.


Books Do Furnish A Room (Dance to the Music of Time)
Books Do Furnish A Room (Dance to the Music of Time)
by Anthony Powell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, wise, compelling and addictive, 2 July 2014
Books Do Furnish a Room (1971) is the tenth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time

Books Do Furnish a Room follows straight on from the preceding trio of war volumes (The Valley of Bones (1964), The Soldier's Art (1966), and The Military Philosophers (1968)) and takes place in the immediate post-war period of 1946 and 1947. It is strange, and informative, to read an evocation of the atmosphere of post-war austerity in England, a period that doesn't appear to feature too often in literature (in contrast to the pre-War years and the war itself).

As the title suggests, Books Do Furnish a Room is about publishing, and specifically the publishers, Quiggins and Craggs, and their new literary magazine Fission, who Nick Jenkins joins. Plenty of pre-war characters reappear, along with a younger bohemian crowd most notably the up-and-coming novelist X. Trapnel (famously based upon a literary hero of mine Julian Maclaren-Ross). From what I know of Julian Maclaren-Ross, X. Trapnel appears to be a fairly faithful rendition of his personality, and his strengths and foibles.

At the start of Books Do Furnish a Room we discover that narrator Nick Jenkins is writing a study of Robert Burton author of "The Anatomy of Melancholy", which was first published in 1621. I had never heard of Burton, or his book, but was inspired to find out more. The full title of The Anatomy of Melancholy is "The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up" which I think gives a good indication of what the reader might expect. Nick Jenkins makes numerous small references to Burton throughout this volume which doubtless adds yet another layer of enjoyment for Robert Burton aficionados.

After the formality of the war years, Books Do Furnish a Room contains more humour and Anthony Powell seems to consciously add in more comedy including one of the most funniest accounts of a funeral I have ever read.

Pamela Flitton, who we first encounter in The Military Philosophers, continues to live up to her billing as the ultimate femme fatale and, once again, wreaks havoc. She is a wonderful literary creation.

Meanwhile, our narrator, Nick Jenkins, now in middle age returns to both his university and his school in this volume which provokes reacquaintance with some old characters, and reflections on his younger self.

As with previous volumes, this book is funny, wise, compelling and addictive. Taken as a whole, A Dance to the Music of Time is really something special. Now, with only two volumes left to read, my heart is heavy at the prospect of finishing this magnificent work of literature. It is one of the best things I have ever read and I will be revisiting these books again.


The Military Philosophers (Dance to the Music of Time 09)
The Military Philosophers (Dance to the Music of Time 09)
by Anthony Powell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right up there with "Sword of Honour" by Evelyn Waugh, 29 Jun. 2014
The Military Philosophers (1968) is the ninth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time.

Immediately preceded by The Valley of Bones (1964) and The Soldier's Art (1966), The Military Philosophers (1968) concludes the three books which cover the World War 2 years. These three books are right up there with Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh - there is, as you probably realise, no higher accolade.

In this volume, narrator Nick is now working for Allied Liaison, as Pennistone's assistant under Lieutenant Colonel Finn, responsible for relationships with Allied and neutral military missions in London which revealed an aspect of World War 2 that I had never really considered before and which also heralds the introduction of many new characters.

In addition to the new characters, we also encounter many familiar characters from previous volumes, and The Military Philosophers contains dramatic new developments for many of them.

Despite the inevitable and predictable tragedies that result from the war years, the book also contains some splendid humour, not least the marvellous description of uber-bureaucrat Mr Blackhead, and his superlative bureaucratic obstructionism. What a delight. I had to read the pages aloud to savour every nuance.

Perhaps the most interesting new character is Pamela Flitton, the niece of Charles Stringham, who is the ultimate femme fatale and who makes some fascinating liaisons throughout the book and is responsible for many of the book's most memorable moments.

The books ends with a victory service at St. Paul's cathedral, to mark the end of the War, shortly after which Nick Jenkins is demobbed. Having now read nine of the twelve books I cannot wait to see what peacetime has in store for the characters that feature in the A Dance to the Music of Time series.

As with every other book in the A Dance to the Music of Time series, The Military Philosophers is beautifully written and a multi-faceted story that both delights and intrigues.


Soldier's Art (Dance to the Music of Time 08)
Soldier's Art (Dance to the Music of Time 08)
by Anthony Powell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As with previous volumes, the writing is sublime, 25 Jun. 2014
Anyone missing Kenneth Widmerpool until his final page appearance in "The Valley of Bones" can be reassured that he's back with a vengeance in "The Soldier's Art". For the first time in the series, Widmerpool has gained a role where he can exert power over others and engage in schemes to further his career. Needless to say this opportunity does not bode well for his subordinates who, in this volume, happen to include both Nick Jenkins and Charles Stringham. Does this suggest his trajectory is to become ever more monstrous? It is an interesting prospect and one that feels increasingly probable.

So often with the "A Dance To The Music Of Time" books, the pay-off, when it comes, is well worth the wait, as we learn the title of "The Soldier's Art" refers to a Browning poem which Stringham discusses with Nick in a pivotal scene and seems to foretell of Stringham's ultimate fate.

I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards--the soldier's art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.

Elsewhere World War 2 starts to take its toll in sad and dramatic ways, and this book serves as a timely reminder that this was an era of uncertainty and bloodshed. The death of characters who readers have come to know well over seven previous volumes helps to reinforce the senseless tragedy of the war.

As with previous volumes, the writing is sublime, and the slow, methodical approach to some superb set pieces is a wonderful thing to behold. I adore these books and will be reading them all again once I finish the series.

4/5


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