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Crispin Allan

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The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
Price: 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars British Values?, 28 Aug 2014
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There's no joy to be had reading this. Through a meticulously woven narrative, the novel follows the threads of lives in Pagford and Yarvill, digging deep into class division and exposing the spiteful agendas and remorseless ugliness of rural England under threat from a nearby working-class town. Human goodness has a hard time getting through here and the somewhat melodramatic ending underpins the notion of VACANCY, with two children's deaths representing the true losses to the community and also exposing the ranting hypocrisies and ignorant bigotries of those who made it happen. Lives full of NOISY desperation here, cutting class complacency to the core.


A Morbid Taste For Bones (The Cadfael Chronicles 1)
A Morbid Taste For Bones (The Cadfael Chronicles 1)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Benedictines at play, 24 Aug 2014
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Cadfael's treks begin here with a translation of saintly bones from a Welsh forest to Shrewsbury Abbey under the 'religious' guidance of Prior Robert, whose pompous airs are given a proper satirical boot up the clerical rear end by the implausible ending. Columbanus's corpse is never discovered or even guessed at in the reliquary they have to cart back to the Abbey. Peters is very good at creating the atmosphere in the woods where silent, knowing eyes lurk, chorus-like, seeing all. Neither does she mince allusions to monkish groin rumblings in the fields and barns.


The Lie
The Lie
Price: 3.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Daniel and Frederick, 23 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Helen Dunmore writes with poise and sensitivity, never allowing her writing to congeal, though Daniel's ghosts, which come to claim him in the end as Frederick calls him to his death, threaten to overwhelm the novel's closing chapters. This is what Dunmore wants, of course, because Frederick's existence is the ultimate lie that destroys Daniel, that and the appalling deception of war itself, brilliantly evoked by the writer.
Felicia brings an important extra dimension to the novel's layers of characterization, calling it out of its desolation and bringing some comfort to the shattered life of the war-torn hero.


Decline and Fall (Penguin Modern Classics)
Decline and Fall (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: 3.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Clipped and trimmed to perfection!, 20 Aug 2014
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5 stars? The novel's funny! Paul Pennyfeather's escapades in Llanaba as a teacher are Waugh at his best. Paul makes little of his problems, even after a month in solitary, declaring how he wants to be 'static' amid the dynamism of events. it's a clever ploy on Waugh's part, as it keeps the plot going at a clip with little brooding or introspection. Public schools are left withering after Waugh's satirical thumb has squashed them. Satisfying.


Sycamore Row
Sycamore Row
Price: 1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read!, 17 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Sycamore Row (Kindle Edition)
Tough, gristly Grisham story line with reliable old formulae to keep the reader flicking over the pages on an Easyjet flight: prosecuting lawyer's chicanery in Lanier and Sistrunk [love that name!), Jake Brigance's cool head and honest heart, venerable old lion of a judge and a case of righting a gross historical crime, all blending convincingly. Missed some of the bite and spice of Grisham's other courtroom dramas.


Shirley
Shirley
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4.0 out of 5 stars A brontesaurus of a novel!, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Shirley (Kindle Edition)
Bronte lets a dense egalitarian ideology dominate these laboured chapters and hauls the reader through page after page of costive prose. Her characters run the gamut of the Napoleonic era, with manic Dissenters, hysterical matrons and giantesses, angry schoolboys, saintlike spinster, strong-willed heiresses and handsome millowners. Caroline Helstone is an exquisite creation, though her forlornness is overdrawn to the point of morbidity, whilst Louis Moore, Shirley's betrothed, must be one of the most verbally constipated windbags (once he finally hitches his tutor's britches and gets going on the lurv business) ever to clog the sweet streams of Victorian novels. Bash away at it; there are some fearsomely dramatic encounters to enjoy even if you have to plod through molasses to get to them. BEWARE MRS YORKE!!


The Patrick Melrose Novels
The Patrick Melrose Novels
Price: 14.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Words, words, words, 10 Aug 2014
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It takes a while to find the way in to the labyrinth of these novels and once you're in get ready to be obfuscated and bamboozled by the confiscating brilliance of St Aubyn's prose. It over-articulates itself over and over again getting swamped by its own narrative fullness, working itself out at the end to Patrick's craving for inarticulacy and the company of his children. Getting there takes time and dedicated understanding with Princess Margaret's cameo appearance setting up the monarchy's tawdry allure with some hilarious lines.


Agnes Grey - Full Version (Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection Book 32)
Agnes Grey - Full Version (Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection Book 32)
Price: 0.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Anne and Agnes, 9 Aug 2014
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This is a pretty savage condemnation of Victorian wealth and abuse of privilege. Agnes's raw exposure to the sinister pathological forces engendered by money and power make this a good read, though the devilries she sees around her in her role as governess to two different families test your credulity at times. Where religion fails to engage the mind and heart, demons have their day, especially in the dark world of children's games. Bronte pulls no punches here.


The Lacuna
The Lacuna
Price: 4.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chasm of outrage, 24 May 2014
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This review is from: The Lacuna (Kindle Edition)
A long haul of a book, but pushing on down the tracks. Kingsolver writes in the novel that 'life goes forward as an exchange of pleasantries on a narrow bridge that hangs above the chasm of outrage.' She plumbs the depths of that outrage so many Americans in the 50s must have felt at the peddlers of HUAC 'justice' and links it with the polio epidemic raging through the States at the time, the one annihilating minds, the other bodies. The colour and richness of the Mexico period has to be absorbed slowly, like a Friday Kahlo painting, and the scenes with 'Lev' Trotsky are potent. How I'd love to meet this great writer one day, dive into the blue Lacuna of her mind and come through refreshed and changed, like Harrison Shepherd.


Sacred Country
Sacred Country
Price: 3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Country, 20 April 2014
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This review is from: Sacred Country (Kindle Edition)
Really compelling. A book about the preciousness of in-between moments in life. Wonderful. Like TRESPASS, a little whimsical at times.


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