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The Arrow of Sherwood
The Arrow of Sherwood
by Lauren Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsentimental historical fiction, 6 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Arrow of Sherwood (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way Robin didn't set out to be an outlaw, rather he wanted to be a "good lord", but gradually he found there was almost no such thing as a responsible lord anymore, so he was forced to take the side of the outlaws. I enjoyed all the minor characters too, especially the younger ones. And the way he could use Will as a double was a good storyline. The romance with Marian was refreshingly matter of fact, it didn't read like a historical romance. I liked the way he didn't really like her much at the beginning, but came to see that she shared the same values as him, and could be trusted to support him, whereas Elaine was power hungry and didn't seem to have any compassion for the ordinary people.

And the "ordeal" scene was quite traumatic. I can't imagine holding a hot iron! The book taught me quite a bit about that period of history. Interesting idea that King Richard was also pragmatic and didn't punish his enemies as he might have done, because he needed their support.


The Children's Book
The Children's Book
by A S Byatt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging read, but worth it!, 20 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Children's Book (Paperback)
I have just managed to finish the 600 pages of this book. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I really enjoyed the little fairy stories which crop up from time to time. The history bits were tedious, but like others have said, they could lead me to research some of the characters and events. Also the discovery of Philip in the museum was well written and I was drawn to his character straight away, although less attention was paid to him as other characters are introduced.
I didn't understand what motivated Tom. On a human level, I think he was damaged in ways which are not made explicit by his experiences at public school. I think his habit of walking and sleeping outdoors dates from the time of his running away, they are not mentioned before.My other thought is that he was a nature child, perhaps belonging more in a fairy tale himself than in the real world. He did not seem to feel any despair, but equally had no ambition to join in with human society by having a career or family.
I agree with other reviewers that the inclusion of the First World War came as a shock. I thought surely the book must end before 1914, there were so few pages left. But I think the way we engaged with the characters, especially the boys, only to see them go off to war, is a true reflection of life. That's what it was like for their parents and friends.
I would only recommend this book to someone with lots of patience, even though I rate it highly, I can't imagine many of my friends and colleagues reading it!


Salvage the Bones: A Novel
Salvage the Bones: A Novel
by Jesmyn Ward
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.28

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopeful yet heartbreaking, 14 Jan. 2012
I bought this book because it won a prize in the USA. I intended to give it to my 23 year old niece for Christmas but on flicking through it, I found scenes of dog fighting and a couple having sex in the toilet. So I found her a safer gift.

Nevertheless, I wanted to read the book myself, as it was recommended. It is the story of a black American family in the days preceding Hurricane Katrina. The ending was the most amazing bit - the Hurricane does not actually hit until the final chapter. In the preceding chapters, we get to know narrator Esch, and her brothers Skeetah, who owns a dog named China, Randall, the eldest who dreams of being in a college basketball team, and the baby of the family Junior. The book opens with China giving birth to puppies, and the young people working together to look after them. The family live in the Southern USA, and the muddy/dusty surroundings, their shack-like home in the "Pit" among trees, and the heat and sweat dominate the narrative. The children's mother died giving birth to Junior, and their father is a bit of a bully, and an alcoholic. So the children look after each other, Randall often behaving like a father, and everyone looking out for one another. Skeetah is the first to realise Esch is in love, and pregnant. Yet it is all told in a matter of fact, down to earth way, not at all sentimental.

The relationship between the young men of the district, and their relationship with their dogs is well described. Although I find the thought of dog fighting distasteful, in fact the dogs do not seem to fight to the death, the boys call a halt and tend to their wounds in most cases.

I would be interested to know how accurate a depiction of life in the USA this is.

I found the final few pages heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. WHen he learns she is pregnant, Esch's father is determined that she will get proper medical care, having seen his wife die in childbirth.His saving the family photos from the house during the hurricane also shows he does care for his family and misses his wife.Skeetah's love for his dog China, and his determination to do all he can to save her and the puppies (salvaging lino to cover the floor to make it cleaner, stealing worming medicine)is moving. Yet at the same time he sees the puppies as a source of cash.

I won't say any more as I don't want to spoil it for you. But I do recommend it. I'm 49 and not many books truly move me any more. But this one did.


2666
2666
by Roberto Bolano
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved part 5, 21 Mar. 2011
This review is from: 2666 (Hardcover)
I feel I have done something worthwhile in spending around 5 months reading 2666 (alongside other books). I do agree with other reviewers about the need for York notes (I was never very good at understanding literature, and this book is just too long to study any themes). It was very readable, and I really liked Part 5 when we finally get to know who Archimboldi is. Others have mentioned humour and wit in the book - I didn't see any! I did manage to realise that he is saying something about literature, and how geniuses aren't always the result of good education. I also agreed with the comments that Part 4 was far too long, and the least enjoyable part of the books, although I could cope with the graphic accounts of what happened to the women. It put the point across well that each was an individual, precious to their family. And it does emphasise the scandal of the police not having solved the murders after such a long time, and so many deaths.

As for the ultimate meaning of the book, it's reassuring that no one has dared to suggest one. All in all, I agree with the reviewer who cried "I just don't get it!" But I still don't regret reading it.


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