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Lady Fancifull "Tinkerbell"

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Aqua Optima AJ0100 Juno Filter Jug with Anti-bacteria Water Filter, as effective as boiling water
Aqua Optima AJ0100 Juno Filter Jug with Anti-bacteria Water Filter, as effective as boiling water
Price: £15.80

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Filtration for Snails, 21 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using Jug Water Filters now for many years, essential to maintain the life of kettles, coffee makers, irons, steam cleaners and the like, living in a hard water area. Not to mention that I do prefer the taste of the filtered water to tap.

But I've always used a Brita, starting with the various classic varieties, and then latterly, jugs using Brita Maxtra, the larger filters. Many of the more modern filters have some sort of digital display to alert to when the filter needs changing. To my mind, a retrograde step from the old manual method which the user set when they put a new filter in. The displays give up the ghost in 18 months to 2 years, as my current Brita did, a while ago.

So.......a useful opportunity to be offered this Aqua Antibacterial to try. The jug style is similar, a little more streamlined than my old Brita Elemaris. Like that one, it can be stored in the fridge, if desired. There is no display, manual or digi, to set the date of when the cartridge is used, or should be replaced.

These cartridges are more expensive than the Britas BUT, they last for 3 months, not a month, based on a life-span of 300 litre filtering. Actually, that's not much, not if you use filtered water for cooking, drinking, kettles etc - 3 litres a day used up easily.

The large Aqua filter claims to be antibacterial as well as the usual filtering of hard water etc. Obviously, without the home user sending samples of a) water from the tap b) water filtered by a non-bacterial, or not claiming to be so, filter - eg Brita Maxtra, c) water filtered through the Aqua bacterial, there is NO WAY OF KNOWING whether the claims are justified or not. It's easy enough to detect the efficiency of the hard water filtering in the residue on the elements of kettles etc. I know the Brita does that well and dandy, and assume this does too. It's not something which will show immediately anyway (if it doesn't) but will slowly accrue (or not) over a month or so.

Filtered water through a new filter on the Aqua does taste slightly different from filtered water through a new filter (within about the first week of its use) on a Brita. The Brita water on a new filter had a slight sweetness to the taste, to my perceptions, which I liked.

The PLUS on this, is a much better, slightly larger filling opening, which will lead to less splash-back, and the lid fits more snugly than the Brita, pours better

The MINUS is in the review title. It takes an age to filter through. Does this mean it filters better, because it filters around 4 times more slowly? Pass. I have no idea. Once primed and up and running, one litre takes a good 10 minutes to filter. The first few litres took 20 - so, with the pre-soaking for 5 minutes and the run-through-2-litres-of water and discard, third litre is drinkable, it was an hour before I could drink my first glass! A snail could have dessicated by then.

Less easy availability of these antibacterial filters (as the Brita is the most well known, and therefore widely available filter in supermarkets, chemists etc) might be another minus, though of course they are available on this giant mail order site. Plus as a little research has shown that these advertise themselves as being compatible with all `Classic Brita' jugs - Aqua Optima Anti Bacteria Water Filter, Pack of 3, White - that is not those that take Maxtra, the common or garden long universal filters made by either Brita for their classic jugs, or the same, by Aqua, should fit this jug

So, whilst very firmly a water filter user, I have to give an on-the-fence rating to the Aqua AntiBacterial, filter. IF it could be shown there were harmful bacteria in my tapwater, and that these were absent in the filtered Aqua water, I would revise this rating upwards.

Instead, I do rather wonder if the antibacterial is clever marketing. Does our tapwater really contain giardia, cryptosporidium and the like? I think fear is being whipped up in order to create a product niche! The properties might indeed be very useful should I wish to carry my jug into the countryside and decide to drink the water from a lake.

LIKE the better lid and spout DISLIKE the watching paint dry filtration speed.

Cynical question mark face over the necessity for antibacterial filter if using drinkable tap water - i.e., water that doesn't need boiling anyway to render it safe. So.....failing advice from health agencies and the like on national news that our drinking water is no longer safe to drink, I suspect I shall be giving a whirl to the less expensive, universal filters for classic jugs, taking a chance that if these fit Brita classics, as they say they do, those filters must fit this!
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2014 12:01 PM BST

The Devil in the Marshalsea
The Devil in the Marshalsea
Price: £3.66

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of plot, sketchy on characterisation, 19 Aug. 2014
Antonia Hodgson's first novel, set in The Marshalsea debtors prison, made famous in literary fiction by Dickens, has had inevitable `Dickensian' descriptors added in reviews, because of the setting, a certain energy in her writing, and also in connection with the huge cast of raffish characters she employs.

Whilst I enjoyed her verve, `Dickensian' seemed another of those `how-can-we-describe-it' comparisons which have to be less than helpful to the new author. Dickens not only juggled huge casts, he juggled huge and individually memorable casts, by virtue of descriptions which surely and precisely captured and were more than just the size or shape of the individual.

Set some 150 years earlier than Dickens' use of the prison, this 1727 Georgian Marshalsea is in fact a different prison, as the author tells us in her interesting foreword.

Into it, comes Tom Hawkins, a young and honourable rake, son of a country curate, raised to be the same, but constitutionally too much of a bon-viveur, good time boy and appreciator of female charms to become one for the church himself. His fondness for the gaming table and some family machinations and treachery have placed him on the verge of defaulting on debts, and incarceration. And within The Marshalsea is already a crime to be solved, and a complex spider's web of corruption reaching from high society to low society around it. Various people want the crimes solved for varying reasons, and greed, ambition, revenge, power, delight in cruelty, lust, love and hate are all part of the complex rationale for Hodgson's characters to proceed

Hodgson, despite the vivacity and energy (and horror) of her Marshalsea did leave me thinking - `now who was that?' often, as the interminable brutality of the various keepers, warders and the like, and the interminable suffering and cruelty visited against the inmates was not always easy to distinguish each person from within one of two groups.

I also found, fairly quickly, that I had understood her `trick' with plot and character - volte-face every character, so that no one is what they seem (other than the central narrator) and then you immediately know who, how, what. The element of surprise quickly left me.

It looks like this may be setting up somehow to be a series with Hawkins as a Georgian detective. For my tastes, the author can spin a plot, but has not provided actors of believable complexity to make me want to go further with her, and could easily have excised some of her formidable research in order to have moved her plot more trippingly along. Which is needed when character is not deep and rich enough to make lingering enjoyable.

I received this as a review copy via the publisher, Hodder

This Is How
This Is How
Price: £5.10

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling portrayal of dissociation set in a not completely accurate place and time, 10 Aug. 2014
This review is from: This Is How (Kindle Edition)
Set in a seaside town in Southern England in some time frame which might be, variously, some time between 1965 and 1975 (see later) This is How follows the story of Patrick Oxtoby, a man in his early-mid 20's from (the signs indicate) a lower-middle class background, who is rather socially unskilled, somewhat of a loner, unable to properly `read' people, who dropped out of university and became a car mechanic. He has left home, is subject to, it seems, irrational, slightly paranoid thoughts, and at the same time has something about him which makes women feel attracted to him - or at least, not find him repellent, even if they might just want to mildly mother him, rather than take things more intimately.

The book is written in the first person, through Patrick's eyes, and so everyone else in the book is interpreted or mis-interpreted by him. And, to be honest, everyone seems a little weird, a little unhinged, a little flakey and lost. But because Patrick is so clearly and obviously an outsider, with some not fully defined personality or behavioural disorder - the reader realises he is most certainly `an unreliable narrator' It's possible he could perhaps be mildly on the autistic spectrum, he might be even be to some degree sociopathic, but he certainly has limitation to being able to properly read other people, and a fairly high level of social anxiety.

A combination of Patrick's nature, his impulsivity, and external circumstances, leads him to a violent act he can't really explain (either to himself or anyone else)

The book is divided into two halves, the build-up to that violence, and its aftermath.

I struggled a little with the first half, simply because first person narrative from a character who effectively was a remarkably fixed one, with his particular inability to be nuanced in his responses, made for quite heavy, despairing and, to be honest, a little dull, reading. There was very little light within the shade, and unlike some other books with disaffected, rather dour characters, there was not much progression going on to relieve the dreadfully leaden angst. Not to mention the fact that it was obvious (and not just from the publisher resume on the back jacket) that some act of violence was going to be carried out by Patrick.

It was late on in the book, in the `After The Event', that I began to find more absorption in my reading. This was for two reasons - Patrick's carapace begins to give way, and though we continue to see the world through his eyes, the characters in his world in the second half become more clearly drawn, their stories and back-stories become more personalised. And Patrick does begin to see that other people have their own identities and challenges outside of him. So, change and development begins subtly to happen, and because of this, the book feels as if it is going somewhere

The second half then takes the book, for me, to a higher rating than I expected earlier on, though I do still have reservations at what seems to be conflicts and inaccuracies or imprecise setting in time and place, as detailed below.

Capital punishment for murder in the Great Britain was abolished in 1965, and some 8 years later in Northern Ireland. At some point in M.J. Hyland's book, This Is How, a prisoner makes reference to changes since in abolition of the death penalty '10 years ago', which presumably sets the book in 1975. However, curiously there is a scene set some few months before this conversation, where a court case is in early process, and the defendant asks their brief why there are only 2 women on the jury. To which the reply comes that only property owners (or the named tenant on a secure lease) could be jurors. This rule which meant that fewer women, younger people, or poorer people could be jurors, changed from 1972. Yet the central character of the book, Patrick Oxtoby, working as a car mechanic, is asked at one point to do some repair work on a 1966 MGB Convertible `only a few years old' And a desired car which the central character borrows to impress a young woman, at the same time is a Triumph TR4. This was manufactured between 1965 and 1968 (so my Wiki searches told me) I know nothing about cars, but it was the curious legal anomalies which had me confused as to exactly when this was supposed to be set which had me drawn out of the story and researching time setting indicators

I did like the bleak spareness of the author's style, and on the focus on interior life. It's a brave, even if not completely successful, choice to attempt to explore, in any depth, only the psychology of remarkably damaged men (particularly from a female writer, who curiously seems to create more credible male characters than she does the (few) females within these pages.

The Visitors
The Visitors
Price: £4.31

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quietly written, surprising, delight, 7 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Visitors (Kindle Edition)
Rebecca Mascull's debut novel, first of all, reads nothing like a debut novel. The author writes with subtle, understated assurance this fascinating, alluring story of a deaf-blind girl, in late Victorian England, then later in South Africa during the Boer War.

I have to admit I nearly missed this one, as the combination of publisher blurb and the rather muted pretty cover had me mistakenly convinced that this would be a slightly fey and marshmallow book. Whilst not averse to fey, I don't do soft-centre that well.

However.........never judge......and all that

I'm so pleased I gave this one a try (after being offered a copy for review by the publisher, Hodder)

This is most surely a book `about stuff' and whilst it is very clear Mascull has done much research into the time, place and subject matter of her story, she is a writer who wears that research extremely lightly, and almost instructs the reader subliminally, in a very natural and easy way.

Adeliza Golding is born almost blind, the daughter of a successful Kentish hop farmer and his wife, the only survived child after a series of miscarriages. She is deeply loved by her sorrowing parents. An early illness leaves her completely blind, and also deaf. By the age of three she is enraged and half-feral. Fortuitously, one of the seasonal hop-picker families, oyster fishers (another seasonal industry) from Whitstable, had a deaf-blind daughter themselves, and had come in contact with a clergyman who was aware of the technique of palm signing. The oldest daughter, Lottie, is the first person to break through Liza's rage - a rage born not of feebleness or savagery, but of her inability to communicate:

"For many years, my deaf-blindness was like a monster from myth. My aim was to overcome it. Every monster has a weakness exploited by the hero to win the day. In my darkest memories, I see my early self as a blind monster crashing through the wilderness. But it was not my disability which kept me there. It was my ignorance. Once I found language, the spell was broken and I assumed human form. One does not need sight and hearing to be fully human, only communication. My lack of sight and hearing were not the enemies, only my lack of connection was my monster, my isolation"

The early part of the book, describing Liza's journey out of that isolation, and the relationship which develops between Lottie as teacher and Liza as pupil, and the almost overwhelming nature of the world which can finally be revealed for Liza, as more and more refined ways of communication tools become available, are stunning, and wonderful.

Liza's world soon becomes even more expanded, as she develops a wider relationship with Lottie's family.

Liza does have a secret however - she has spectral, ghostly communicants `The Visitors' which no one else can see or hear. Within the book, the Visitors are far from some sort of fey authorial device, yet this is not primarily `a spooky story' either. Liza herself, like the reader, grows in understanding the nature of these communicants.

In the broader world, war is on the horizon, (the Boer War) and this becomes also a central part of the story, with some of the potent historical issues playing out in the lives of Mascull's fictional characters.

This brings me to something else in her writing. There is a major relationship which develops in the story, and at a couple of points I found myself thinking `oh no, oh no, please don't say this fine and truthful writer is going to start moving her characters around like pawns in order to satisfy some plot-shock. No spoilers revealed here, but what I will say is that there was a sense of absolute authenticity to the complex, layered characters Mascull had created - and I was intrigued, in her afterword, an interview conducted with the author, she discovered that what had happened for her in the writing was that magic, where though she had intended her characters to have one journey, somewhere, they up-sticked and said NO.

My sense, all through reading this book was that here is a writer of authenticity and listening. One not showy, one not ostentatious:

"I just want my reader to be able to enter a different world and to care about the characters. I don't want the story to be directed before it is told. I want the characters to do what they want and not to be restricted by genre. Genre is a useful tool but I prefer to use it lightly" (author interview)

A wonderful, thoughtful piece of writing, which is about a lot, yet says it all economically, without indulgence, without histrionics, and with humanity and precision.

However - reader beware, I note with some surprise that no less than 3 novels, by 3 different authors, were published early this year, with the self-same title. This one is by Rebecca Mascull, and I shall definitely be looking forward to her second book, whenever that shall be.

The Reluctant Cannibals
The Reluctant Cannibals
by Ian Flitcroft
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable, ebullient and entertaining read - just as long as you avoid mealtimes, 6 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ian Flitcroft's unusual first novel is certainly darkly comic, full of vigour, and often, absolutely disgusting as it cheerfully, gleefully, crashes across all sorts of inbuilt gustatory taboos. Food taboos are pretty well always local and cultural, except of course that cannibalism is fairly widely regarded as taboo.

So..........we already know in advance that somewhere lurks fine dining, not so much WITH friends, as ON friends.

That isn't the half of it. I queasily fought the gag response at the description of the delights (or otherwise) of a dish composed of witchety grubs, and I suspect that as a vegetarian I might have been more that usually upset at the details which start, first take your live squill.........

In fact, it was pretty well only in the descriptions of dessert and fine wines that the gag reflex settled

Although Flitcroft - himself a brave gourmand, sampling rare and forbidden foods from all round the world (want a recipe for scorpion or snake? - the author is your man) - probably lingers a little too long on various fine and rare vintage wine descriptions to amuse anyone except a serious oenophile, and has perhaps too firm a fixation for rare flesh to be frequently paired with cooking with fennel (not another bed of, sauce of fennel - aren't there any other vegetables??) this is for the most part a most enjoyable shock of a book. There is no gratuitous violence, no gratuitous sex, but there is a lot, an awful lot, of very dirty dining!

I laughed a lot, and enjoyed the cast of always larger than life eccentrics to be found within its Oxford University setting. Flitcroft himself an Oxford educated Dr of Neurophysiology, who now specialises as a consultant eye surgeon. I know, it hardly bears thinking about, in the context of this book's title.

The story concerns a group of Oxford dons, with a secret bizarre dining club, a peculiar will, and a handful of undergraduates who stumble upon the existence of the club and attempt some investigations in order to learn comedy student detective work meets Diner's Cabal!

I lost it a star because I do think some of those loving food and wine descriptions could have been pared back, they began to become a bit tedious - though I'm completely sure that the fine diners who know there wine will fiercely, bibulously disagree.

And I recommend it, with a warning that it may not be for those of a sensitive gastric disposition

The publisher's blurb describes it as having a shocking climax. I demur, instead regarding it as rather perfectly poised

S Filter for AeroPress - Ultra Fine Stainless Steel Coffee Filter
S Filter for AeroPress - Ultra Fine Stainless Steel Coffee Filter
Offered by Kaffeologie Europe
Price: £18.00

5.0 out of 5 stars My new best coffee mate!, 5 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really like the slight difference in taste between using the filter papers and using the S Filter, with a marginal preference for the fuller bite of coffee with the S Filter.

And I must admit the patient need to stretch the cap where the filter paper goes, so it can accommodate the S Filter was an added pleasure in my coffee craft. It took 7 filter papers, 7! (But you don't waste the filter papers, they can still be used!)

Don't know what I'm talking about - see the helpful series of videos (and its also all in the instruction leaflet which comes with the filter) which Kaffeologie have produced, link below in the comments box.

Paper filters do slightly take the edge off the taste, so, in need of mellow, paper filter, when you want to feel the bite, mesh!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2014 8:51 PM BST

Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker
Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker
Price: £23.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Happiness Of Simple, 5 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an incredibly nifty and hassle free device for excellent espresso or lungo coffee (excellence depending on your choice of the beans or pre-ground that you want, without being locked in to pod manufacture)

Kaffeologie produce an excellent video - link included in the comments - to show a couple of ways of using the machine. Traditional or the inverted method

So you can indulge your inner coffee fuss pot and have wonderful Traditional or Inverted arguments with your nearest and dearest, not to mention debates about what the correct temperature for the water should be (extreme coffeeophiles get a little pale thinking about the savagery meted out to the beloved bean when scorched at 100 degrees)

And then, best of all is the debate to filter paper or to fine metal mesh :S Filter for AeroPress - Ultra Fine Stainless Steel Coffee Filter

The Aeropress comes with 350 mini paper filters - and not only are we assured that the footprint of these, in terms of tree death, is miniscule - but, you can even rinse the filter papers and re-use, so the greenest of green satisfactions are available.

BUT there is an argument that the paper does remove some of the finer aromatic flavours of the coffee - and those excellent Kaffeologie people have produced a fine meshed metal filter which will give a slightly different taste experience. So - effectively you even get two subtly different cups of coffee from the one bean!

And - oh joy, to satisfy the inner coffee craftsperson, you have to do a little patient adjustment in order to fit the mesh filter to the Aeropress properly.

Those excellent Kaffeologists will guide you through the mysterious ritual on another video.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2014 12:59 PM BST

The People in the Photo
The People in the Photo
Price: £5.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsurprising but satisfying unearthing of family secrets, 5 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Hélène Gestern's first novel, translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz may be a book which the reader can quickly identify all the revelations and major events which are likely to happen, but all that demonstrates is that life itself has only so many stories, and that certain obvious `unknowns' in a real world, are likely to have a limited number of solutions. This means that a discerning reader may often be able to predict what happened and what will happen, only because `in reality' shocks are unlikely to be shocks FOR THE READER, But, and here is the point, shocks and surprises may well be in store of the characters within a novel.

Probably most of the major events which may happen to many of us can be statistically predicted, but they are (generally) a shock and surprise when they personally happen to us.

So.......this is a long introduction to say that the unsurprising trajectory of this short novel does not in any way detract from the reading pleasure, because the pleasure lies in the unfolding realisations in the lives of the protagonists. This book is effectively a two-hander, a series of exchanges, by post, by email and by text, between 2 rather diffident, reserved people, each successful in their professional fields, but each held back from full emotional engagement with their fellows, because of childhoods which contained secrecy, discord and unresolved grief, guilt and anger.

Hélène Hivert, a Parisian archivist, with some mystery surrounding her childhood, unearths a newspaper clipping of a photo taken of a woman with two men, in Switzerland, in 1971, identifying the woman and one of the men as winners of an amateur tennis tournament, in Interlaken. She believes the woman to be her dead mother, and wishes to trace the identity of the men. She places adverts in French and Swiss newspapers. It is 2007, and both her parents have died

The photo is recognised by a Swiss biologist, Stéphane Crusten, now living in the UK, who identified one of the men as his deceased father, a photographer, and the other man as his father's close friend, now extremely elderly, and unable to communicate through suffering a stroke. Crusten's mother is also dead.

So begins the correspondence, and the two discover they have certain similarities of character, through growing up in separate households where there were clearly `skeletons'.

The book is the slow unearthing of histories, and the discovery of certain connections. It is also the story of a friendship which develops between the two introspective characters, growing up in households where they felt themselves to be unloved or unregarded by their fathers.

Linking the developing realisations are the unearthing of more photos, each with stories to be discovered. The photos are extremely well described, and the reader can clearly imagine them, though of course the fictional book itself contains no photos.

This is not a book to shake or change the world, or anyone's view of the world, but it is one of those pleasingly crafted tales of small, secret lives, which, for the livers of those lives, were full of meaning, and personally important. Exquisite little pieces of ivory, 2 inches wide, don't need to be histrionic and shouted from the hilltops

This book has won some 20 literary awards, and I did not find myself, at any point, saying `Why?'

I noticed the author shared her first name with her female character, and wondered whether this was designed to hint at an autobiographical element, as a writer's device or in fact contained one.

Recommended, for a quiet, gently crafted, satisfying read

Brighton Rock (Vintage Classics)
Brighton Rock (Vintage Classics)
Price: £3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing read - and perhaps more so than the author intended., 4 Aug. 2014
Graham Greene is a favourite author of mine and one re-read from time to time. Recently, I've been re-reading some of his earlier, pre-Second World War books, those described by him as `Entertainments' - this one, A Gun For Hire, The Ministry Of Fear.

Something which currently is sitting uncomfortably with me, most shocking from a writer who developed into someone who seemed to have a tender, humane understanding of our complex, fragile, muddied up, neither angel nor demon/beast, but mashed up both, is the casual anti-Semitism expressed, many times, within this book (and, on a recent re-read, there it is again in A Gun For Hire)

Both books are about various layers of villainy and corruption. Brighton Rock (the title has a double meaning, as becomes clear towards the end of the novel) was of course made particularly famous by the film starring a baby-faced Dickie `Darling' Attenborough, as the teenaged, vicious, damaged `Pinkie'. The plot concerns two rival criminal mobs, working the gambling industry and more. The seedy, less successful end is a small-time gang, currently led by a damaged seventeen year old, a slum-child, raised a Catholic, from a violent background. This is Pinkie. The successful gang, able to manipulate those in authority, is led by rich and powerful Jew, Colleoni. Later in the book it is intimated he may go into politics as a Conservative. Once again there is the suggestion which surfaces of some sort of Jewish conspiracy. However unpleasant, however vicious, however thuggish Pinkie is, the violence of his background is placed before us, `what chance did he have' We don't get offered `mitigating circumstances' for Colleoni.

What this did for me, yet again, was to expose how pervasive a generalised anti-Semitism was in society. I guess it took a couple more years (this was published in 1938) before people would begin to distance themselves from this particular manifestation of racial stereotyping.

Outwith the discomfort for the reader who comes to this after the events of the Second World War, this is still a disturbing and complex read, though one with a strong narrative drive and a believable triumvirate of central characters, like an unholy version of Father Son and Holy Spirit, (as Catholicism and the Trinity runs deeply through it) Instead, we have a version of Mother, Daughter and Unholy Spirit.

Pinkie, in fact at one point, who sees himself as damned, corrupt (and is so) says `Credo in unum Satanum'. Ida, the blowsy, materialism-being-here-is-all-there-is who is the instigator of nearly all which transpires, through her desire for justice and to see right done, has no religion, but a lust for the physicality of life. She drinks hard, she beds hard, and has no sense of `mortal sin' Ida, who has no children, nevertheless takes a Motherly protective role to the other damaged youngster, Rose, a young waitress from a similar background to Pinkie, also a Catholic, but one still believing. Rose will be sacrificed between Ida and Pinkie, as their different agendas play out - but Rose is also the willing sacrifice, choosing to damn herself, knowingly.

It's an unsettling book, dark, and hopeless in many ways - and yet full of passages of beauty and energy. For reasons which I can't quite explain, it reminded me of Kandinsky's paintings - these nuggets of light and colour and vibrant energy and precision of place, form, time, and rich meaning, all within a narrative drive which got darker and darker

"A stranger; the word meant nothing to her: there was no place in the world where she felt a stranger. She circulated the dregs of the cheap port in her glass and remarked to no-one in particular: `It's a good life.' There was nothing with which she didn't claim kinship: the advertising mirror behind the barman's back flashed her own image at her; the beach girls went giggling across the parade; the gong beat on the steamer for Boulogne - it was a good life. Only the darkness in which the Boy walked, going from Billy's, going back to Billy's, was alien to her: she had no pity for something she didn't understand. She said; `I'll be getting on.'

The Spirit in Aromatherapy: Working with Intuition
The Spirit in Aromatherapy: Working with Intuition
Price: £7.19

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Aromatherapeutic Encounter, 3 Aug. 2014
Gill Farrer-Halls' `The Spirit In Aromatherapy' is an interesting book which indeed covers an area which does not yet have a flood of books in the niche.

To be honest though, I would say this ls much less a book about aromatherapy and the essential oils, though they do figure, it is more a book about the nature of the therapeutic relationship itself, from a bodyworker, specifically one who works with aromatics, perspective.

And as such, it is very welcome

The field of aromatherapy literature is well supplied - indeed, one could be forgiven for saying, oversupplied, with books both for the lay-reader and the practitioner, many of them merely repeating what was said before by somebody else.

Some of the more specialist books written for professionals, by professionals, do indeed have more unique and interesting information to give. There is a tendency to view the oils purely as chemistry however, as aromatherapy has moved itself away from `fluffy feel-good' and sought to engage with the phytopharmacology of the oils.

Practitioners also know, however that what happens within sessions may be far more than could be explained by the protocols of `English aromatherapy', with highly diluted oils applied in massage. And, indeed more than can be explained by the physiological benefits of massage.

The missing part of the equation is `the placebo' of the healing response. I don't mean this pejoratively - to say `the proportion that would get better without intervention' is to fail to respect the nature of that `would have got better'

All healing interventions, whether by Big Pharma or by modalities which work, even if the precise mechanism of their working is not understood, employ and use placebo - it is just that the precise tools differ.

Farrer-Halls, in this book is looking at the relationship between practitioner and client; if you like the `sacred space' of connection. She is a practising Buddhist, and offers the idea of approaching the client with empathetic awareness, intuition, born out of good prior learning, of course, but still, being present within sessions with open-minded, open-hearted attention.

Although all training in the UK has `the therapeutic relationship' as part of the syllabus, it is often far less central than it needs to be.

There has arisen, within some bodywork modalities, primarily because some of their practitioners came not from a prior background as bodyworkers, but a prior background as psychotherapists, a much more subtle awareness of the importance of the relationship itself, and the spaciousness and sensitivity the practitioner needs to bring

This, despite the exercises to develop sensitivity and intuition by the practitioner into the nature of their oils, and what one might call the `psychospiritual aspect' of them, is, I think, the real end of what Farrer-Halls is laying out in this book, which is a thoughtful, and well-written one.

The attentive reader will not be learning so much about the oils themselves, in following the exercises to develop intuition towards them which Farrer-Halls suggests, they will be developing finesse in intuition itself, finesse, presence and consciousness about the process work which undoubtedly happens in attentive hands-on work, making it far more potent than just the releasing of muscular knots, the improvement of circulation and lymphatic drainage, and fluffy `pamper'

I was delighted to receive this as a copy for review on digital download, from the publishers Jessica Kingsley/Singing Dragon. As said on another review, this publishing house produces serious, thoughtful, books on health and well-being, rather than flaky, irresponsible or 'let's cash-in on vulnerable people's insecurities' ones.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2014 7:19 PM BST

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