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Clara
Clara
by Janice Galloway
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.56

4.0 out of 5 stars If music be the food of love, play on, 21 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Clara (Paperback)
Janice Galloway's Clara, a biography as fiction of Clara Schumann, born Clara Wieck, pianist and composer, who married Robert Schumann and bore him 8 children, was something of a struggle, for many right reasons, but also, perhaps, a victim of its attempt to write from both an objective perspective, and from a within the mind of both Robert and Clara. Robert Schumann suffered episodes of extreme mental disorder, most possibly bipolar disorder, as his diagnosis at the time recorded periods of extreme and prolonged `melancholia' followed by periodic attacks of `exaltation'. This means that writing `within his mind' becomes remarkably confusing, distressing and jumbled at times.

Galloway has written very well `within the mind of breakdown' before, in her mordant, painful and often very funny The Trick is to Keep Breathing - but this worked in part because the central character of that book had a degree of wit about herself.

Here, the tenor of the book as a whole, despite some fine passionate intensity about music itself, as the major players - Clara, her music teacher father, Schumann, Chopin, Listz, Mendelssohn, Brahms, are all musicians and or composers - is overwhelmingly bleak and full of despair.

I am very admiring of Galloway's writing, most particularly because of her ability to leaven the tragic with a lightness of touch, and, in her own biographical books, a certain cool stoicism.

However, in this book, looked at (as we can't help seeing it) through twenty-first century eyes, through the journey of a century where much has been achieved, primarily by fiercely battling women, to change consciousness, in both women and men in attitudes to women, Clara Wieck, then Schumann's story, filled me with horror, rage, despair. As it should have done, but I wished there had been some more lightness in the telling, and that Galloway had found a less confusing way of narrating, as the shifts between within Robert's mind, within Clara's mind observing Robert, and the overall view of an outside narrator were not always easy to navigate, for this reader.

Briefly, Clara's story is that she was `groomed' as a musical prodigy pianist by her autocratic father, as evidence of his brilliance as a teacher, and evidence of the brilliance of his methods. He also taught Robert Schumann piano. Robert and Clara fell in love and the match was violently and viciously opposed by Wieck. The couple did marry, but Schumann's mental instability was already obvious. Clara was a devoted wife, but she was also a world renowned artist in her own right. Society, even progressive bohemian society had in the main very old fashioned views about the duties of wives and mothers. So, Clara was always on a rack and pulled at from both within her own psyche, within that particular time and place, and from without, by the oppositions of Father and Husband. Even without Robert's mental illness, two highly lauded creative artists within a relationship, within the same field, one male, one female, creates some obvious tensions. Who is the supporter in that relationship, whose creative needs come first, who limits and curtails their own creative needs in order to allow the other to fully flower. Clara Schumann's story has its echoes in other many other places

I do recommend this strongly, despite my reservations about the narrative voice, and my wish that Galloway had made the journey a little more high speed, rather than stopping at every station, and sometimes waiting around before starting again. I wasn't quite as surrendered to every moment, every page, as I usually am with her writing


BRITA Fill&Go Water Filter Bottle Incl. 4 Filter Discs - Green
BRITA Fill&Go Water Filter Bottle Incl. 4 Filter Discs - Green
Price: 10.00

3.0 out of 5 stars I can't exactly say it sucks, but........, 20 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a beautifully designed water bottle if visual appeal is what you are after, I certainly like looking at it, but am not that convinced its stylish appearance is matched by impeccable practicality.

I have a much smaller, trimmer portable metal bottle, which I fill from the kitchen top BRITA Elemaris Meter Cool Black Water Filter Jug (which I'm very satisfied with) on my way out, and can pop it into my handbag. It isn't the prettiest bottle in the universe, but provided I screw the top on tightly it can tip upside down in the bottomless caverns of my handbags, and not leak. Sure. It is not a portable filter bottle itself

Having gazed my fill at this Brita, which looks lovely on the kitchen top, it was a little disappointing to find - it's quite a big, wide, long bottle for all that its capacity is barely more than my existing workhorse bottle. In fact, as someone with small hands, I need two hands to hold this.

With the filter (which must be changed, say Brita, weekly (so count the added cost of that) soaked as per instructions, I began to drink via the integral straw. You have to suck quite hard. Now I'm sure this is a useful workout for the buccinator muscles, but I wasn't particularly aware I needed to develop them. And somehow, on stopping sucking small drips of water trickle down.

So I thought I'd try the other method - remove straw and tip head back. Now curiously, without the straw, and with the filter still in place, water came quite slowly out of the lip - but still managed to slightly leak. And I found if I wanted to get the water in more satisfying amounts I had to ....suck, though not as strongly as with the straw in place.

For hygiene, you obviously need to wash your bottle out daily, but, of course, if that means you want to wash the straw or especially the lip - you'll need to take the filter out first.

So - in the end, far too much faff, hard work sucking, wiping the drips, and the expense of the filters. The bottle will end up being used, like my dinky, practical metal bottle, filled before going out from the kitchen Brita, as a second/spare bottle.

Either that, or I'll just look at the sleek lines of the thing, as it slowly gathers dust.

I have decided that tap water when out and about in this country ain't going to kill me.

5 stars as objet d'art. 2 stars for object to use


Gourmet Perle Country Medley in Jelly 12 x 85 g, Pack of 4, Total 48 Pouches
Gourmet Perle Country Medley in Jelly 12 x 85 g, Pack of 4, Total 48 Pouches
Price: 17.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savagely gelled with the beasts, 20 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got this when it was on a good offer especially with subscribe and save.

However - I've discovered what turns it from okay to must have for the resident felines. Unlike the gravied versions which need hoicking out with a fork to get every last piece, the block of jellied meat slides easily and cleanly out of the packet.

If I break up the block with a fork, this is eaten appreciatively - but if I just leave it in its big jellied block, it is savagely and voraciously engaged with. The thought occurred that leaving it large might be a 'wilder' experience as it would be a bit more unruly and move as those sharp canines tried to get purchase and might make for more enjoyment

We aim to please our feline companion animals, and, oh my gosh, my 'I wonder if' experiment hit the inner hunter of the fireside fluffies. The lip smacking, the noisy voracious eating, the clean bowls and the maintenance of interest until the bowls were empty told a happy story


Listening to Scent: An Olfactory Journey with Aromatic Plants and their Extracts
Listening to Scent: An Olfactory Journey with Aromatic Plants and their Extracts
by Jennifer Rhind
Edition: Cards
Price: 19.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Olfactory deconstruction so fine that I could smell the odours in my mind. Very scented heaven!, 19 July 2014
I read Jennifer Peace Rhind's book on olfaction and natural perfumery, and became almost dizzy with delight.

I did not need to be told from the author's profile at the end of the book, that she has been deeply involved in a journey with aromatics, and with the essential oils and absolutes as aromatics in particular, for many many years. Her absolute knowledge from experience, as much as from her own studies and reading of other texts on the subject, is absolutely obvious.

And, as important to me as depth knowledge and creative thinking on a subject are - Rhind is also a clear and inspiring writer.

Though this book is particularly geared towards those who may be interested in, or are already, making natural perfumes and perfumery products, it will also be of deep interest to those who are involved in the therapeutic side of working with the essential oils. Despite my own relationship over many years with those oils therapeutically, I was absolutely delighted to find that Rhind was teaching me new information here.

Even for those who primarily are working therapeutically, aesthetic blending may well be part of the mix, particularly when working with clients whose prime reason for treatment is dis-ease presenting in psyche, or with causes from psyche, or those with chronic conditions, where the feel-good hedonic aspect of those oils will absolutely need to be considered.

Rhind explains very clearly the complex physiology and psychology of olfaction, how and why odour has its effects. However, the main thrust of her book is like spending time with a wonderful, creative educator who teaches practitioners of artistic disciplines - the book de-constructs the creation of perfumes, and, best of all, presents the aspiring (or experienced!) perfumer with a really in-depth programme for developing and refining their olfactory sensitivities, both in systematic, left brain ways, with wonderfully structured exercises, and with right brain, creative, playful, olfaction-as-meditation exercises.

What I am particularly enthused with in her writing is the absolute sense of generosity and empowerment which shines out. She is not laying down rigid formulaic monkey-see, monkey-do, she does that wonderful thing of giving the reader a brilliant tool box, the understanding of what the tools can and cannot do, and then says, metaphorically - go make, explore, learn from your own experience.

There is an excellent amount of safety information, specific information about chemistry in each of the oils and absolutes mentioned, to keep perfumers aware of cautions which may be needed, skin sensitivity issues and the like.

I particularly appreciated the information on the aromatic profiles of individual chemical constituents, in isolation. Many of us with familiarity with the oils and absolutes may not have encountered that wide a palette of each component as a stand-alone, so, I am looking forward, from descriptions of the odour notes of the isolate, and my own knowledge of essential oil chemistry, to tease apart the full odour of a particular botanical

Her book is meticulously and brilliantly referenced, with academic thoroughness, and gives those who want to find out more left brain stuff the detailed information to find it

I was absolutely delighted to get offered this as an ARC from the publishers, Singing Dragon, via NetGalley. And just a word on Singing Dragon - they have a great and growing reputation as publishers of books in the complementary medicine field which are thorough, serious, innovative, sensible texts. To be honest, the fact that Rhind's book is published by Singing Dragon let me know in advance this was going to be a good `un!

I'm not quite sure why it comes up in the format 'cards' - I got it as digital download


Essential Oils: Learn How to Use the Power of Essential Oils for Aromatherapy, Weight Loss, Stress Relief and Beauty (FREE Book Offer): Aromatherapy, Beauty, Coconut Oil
Essential Oils: Learn How to Use the Power of Essential Oils for Aromatherapy, Weight Loss, Stress Relief and Beauty (FREE Book Offer): Aromatherapy, Beauty, Coconut Oil
Price: 1.53

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with errors, some nonsensical, some dangerous, 16 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I never normally respond to requests to review self-published books. I made an exception for this one, as this is an area I know a fair amount about, having worked in this field for many years. I am always interested in new writing on the subject. A lot of books on the essential oils are pure tosh, cutting and pasting same old same old errors, but there really are also books which are well written, well researched, ground-breaking, presenting new information, educative, useful, practical and inspiring.

This is none of those desired attributes. Literally every page of this mercifully short book (70 pages) was awash with nonsense.

Just to share a few - the poorly researched inaccuracies, contradictions and plain bizarre and nonsensical, to start

First - use of aromatherapy for weight loss - clearly this is designed as an inaccurate selling point. Dear review reader, you really are not going to lose weight with essential oils. To be fair to Ms Jacobs she does in this section come vaguely clean and talk about how people may comfort eat in stress and the feel-good factor of aromatherapy is certainly de-stressing, but `using the power of essential oils for weight loss' is decidedly economical with the truth

I have no idea at all what the author means by saying `the best way to work with oils until they are in a pliable consistency is to heat them' Essential oils (as opposed to solvent extracted aromatic extracts in concrete form which are NOT essential oils) are LIQUID. They come in glass bottles with dripper inserts. Heat DAMAGES (degrades) essential oils

Her remark that you can test the purity of an essential oil by putting a drop on `construction paper' - does she mean a smell strip, a blotter? - and that if it `quickly evaporates and does not leave a residue or a noticeable blotch its content are (sic) pure' is plain daft. Some essential oils are dark in colour - and there will be a very obvious `blotch' by virtue of that. It is also absolutely possible for essential oils to be `cut' or adulterated with other essential oils or indeed with individual synthesised chemical constituents in order to produce an aromatic profile (for example to meet the needs of the perfume industry) `Lavender' might for example have additional linalyl acetate added to increase the fruity-floral ester note - `blotch' would however not be seen as this is not a coloured oil or compound.

She says `this test would not work with absolutes, like myrrh and patchouli' Myrrh and patchouli are most commonly available as essential oils, not absolutes.

When she moves on to giving `profiles' of carrier oils, what on EARTH does she mean in singling out (only) Apricot Kernel as having a 'Texture which is usually non-irritating' (?!) this implies that all the other oils, by default, must have an irritating texture. So what is this unusually irritating texture which, in her book, Apricot Kernel might have.

Has the author ever used essential oils, I wonder. If she has, how on EARTH could she possibly say essential oils, for topical use, should be mixed and diluted with `a carrier oil or WATER solution. Essential oils are primarily hydrophobic, and do not dissolve in water! Later she talks about adding up to 6 drops of essential oils in 2-3 teaspoons of carrier oil........or WATER (again) and gives instructions (dreadful) on how to massage `evenly all over the body' This again could be dangerously irritant both to the skin of the receiver and the giver, as the essential oil drops will not be dissolved in water but effectively applied neat to the skin of receiver and giver. She even continues her water idiocy in instructions for facial massage. Ouch.

Ms Jacobs purports to instruct her readers to be able to make 'essential oils right in your own home' - including, as a basic item, carrier oil. Now, anyone with ANY knowledge of the subject understands the definition of an essential oil, whether in the aromatherapy, herbal, perfumery or pharmaceutical field to be a liquid extracted by DISTILLATION or EXPRESSION from a single botanical species. Sorry to disappoint her readers who may believe they are now making essential oils from the method described in this book, but what you are making is an INFUSED oil. Infused oils are extremely useful, and it is these which the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were using (rather than the essential oils Ms Jacobs claims)- in fact, for the amateur, infused oils are a much safer option (particularly if they are taking their usage instructions from this book)

As for the 'single botanical species' stuff, the importance of botanicals never appears to cross Ms Jacobs' mind

Then we come to the really dangerous stuff - this book talks about ingesting essential oils. Sure, every time we chop ginger root, pick thyme and mint from our gardens we are ingesting essential oils - but there is a huge difference between the tiny amount of essential oil in a centimetre of ginger root and the concentrated result of distilling that root to produce the essential oil, each drop of which is highly concentrated.

She says that if the oils are to be ingested they should be take `in small drops mixed with another liquid such as water' DO NOT DO THIS. As mentioned earlier, essential oils do not dissolve in water, and depending on the oil used. tongue, oesophagus, throat could be burned.

What on earth is meant by the nonsensical, and possibly dangerous instruction for using essential oils in the bath `The dosage you should be looking for is up to ten drops or 2 teaspoons or oil directly into the warm bathwater' There are some very obvious unchecked typos here which COULD have someone believing they could put two teaspoons of essential oils into the bath - especially as the following paragraph in her text actually does say `the following oils should be kept to a maximum of only two teaspoons'...................various oilsmentioned, including clove. Clove bud essential oil is rich in a particular phenolic compound, eugenol, which is strongly irritant to the skin

Dear reader, I can assure you that if you put 2 teaspoons of clove oil, or ginger, or black pepper, or aniseed into the bath you will visit horrific burns upon yourself, especially to delicate areas of your body.

This book is not only nonsensical - but utterly dangerous,

I have given some (and there are many more) examples of `dangerous' Now we come to ultimate nonsense - half way through the book is one of those charts where `essential oils you can use to treat named conditions' are cited. I wonder just which plant yields essential oil of PanAway, which the author says is an essential oil which can be used for arthritis

Other non-existent essential oils are the `essential oils' (according to this section of Jacob's book) of Deep Relief, Aroma Siez, Melrose, Purification, Thieves, Raven, RC, Di-Gize, Peace & Calming, Dragon Time, Valor.......the lists go on.

According to Ms Jacobs' explanation at the start of her chart these are some of the 'more common essential oils' You would be hard pressed to manage to find a herbalist, aromatherapist or natural medicines practitioner who had ever heard of the essential oil of the Di-Gize, Dragon Time or Valor plant! Clearly, stuff has been unthinkingly cut and pasted from some company selling blended products with these names.

I am sorry to so savagely and unremittingly attack a piece of writing, but this is a completely irresponsible, ignorant of the subject, AND POTENTIALLY HARMFUL if the advice is followed, book.

I am not a writer of aromatherapy books myself, so, dear reader, this savagely critical review of the worst book about aromatherapy I have ever read, is not written with any agenda other than to stop you harming yourself.

I did some further research of my own, because of some growing suspicions I had around the citing of 'essential oils' of Di-Gize etc. Those suspicions were well founded, as they took me to the site of a particular purveyor of essential oils. The lead body for aromatherapy in the States, NAHA, National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists has long been cautioning against irresponsible use of oils, and there is specific mention of this company and its methods Go to NAHA's website, look at the explore aromatherapy button and the sub-menu Safety. There are equal concerns about this by the lead aromatherapy organisations in this country.

The essential oils CAN of course be used extremely well by people who want to help their health and well-being, who are not trained professionals, and there are many well written books out there which are helpful and accurate, giving clear guidelines and instructions. Educators and Practitioners in this country who have written interesting and useful books include the following: Books The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood The Essential Guide to Oils (Essential Guides)Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy I have chosen some books which are useful for lay people wishing to learn enough to treat themselves with the oils - SAFELY and PROPERLY

I was sent, unsolicited, a request to download this for free in return for 'an honest review'


The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fireside dark storytelling rendered even more magical, 15 July 2014
"I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I've seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her head fiery-red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things"

Fabulous weaver of weird and wonderful stories for adults and children Neil Gaiman wrote this short story/novella The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, which was published in a collection of creepy dark stories: Stories: All New Tales, by Headline, back in 2010.

Then this story by Gaiman developed another life, when he was invited to read his story aloud, and with projected artwork by Eddie Campbell, with a musical underscore by FourPlay String Quartet at the graphic Festival at Sydney Opera House.

Now Headline have reduced the experience back down to the individual reading experience - a book, a story on the page, that artwork, condensed into a wonderful weaving of seductive and dark words, sensuous and sometimes scary images, and the tactile experience of silky, glossy pages, hardcover, slightly textured titling. The book as craft, art, and beautiful object as well as wondrous words and a story like some well-honed myth, handed down through generations.

This is a journey through the Highlands, a journey made by two stern men, both with hidden secrets. The un-named narrator is a small fierce man. His companion, Calum MacInnes, is a tall, gaunt one. And there appears to be distrust of the other, from both sides, as they set out to find hidden gold which may be cursed

Artist Eddie Campbell's artworks are gorgeous, and varied in style, ranging from graphic, solid broad-brush stroked figures which are almost cartoon in simplicity, to some lovely part-shaded, part outline, suggestions of shapes, which appear to flicker out from misty, pastel backgrounds. I particularly like the fact that the textured background Campbell must originally have used is visible, a wash across all pages, so that the use of colour is subtle and varied.

This is really not a book to get on ereader - the subtlety of texture, the vibrancy of colour and shape need to be appreciated in the larger size of a book's pages.

I was extremely fortunate to be offered this by Headline, as a review copy.

My only regret is that I missed knowing about this book till a few days after Neil Gaiman, Eddie Campbell and Foursquare repeated the performed event of the story. Seeing these illustrations stage sized, having the author read his tale aloud and with the underscore, sitting rapt with others whilst this played out, must have been a magnificent occasion


Time To Run Women's Speed Short Size 10 Black
Time To Run Women's Speed Short Size 10 Black

5.0 out of 5 stars True size, true fit, true wash, 15 July 2014
Am delighted with these. I'm beyond the time of wanting to run in shorts cut to the verge of traffic stopping display, but wanted something that was cool enough for summer running and would not feel horribly hot and sweaty. And would quickly dry after washing.

These tick all those boxes. There's a drawstring waist, and a little back zipper pocket perfect for keys. They are fit to the thigh rather than loose legged - and manage to look extremely figure flattering too, as well as being thoroughly fit for the purpose intended. They have been washed lots, and don't bag, sag or pill. So easy to wear, and look so good its tempting to not just restrict them to the puff, pant, wheeze and stopwatch stuff!

I take size 10. These were size 10. They fit (which may sound daft, but sometimes things which purport to be a 10 are actually a 12 and fall off me, and I need to wear an 8 (that annoying manufacturers thing of re-sizing so that people think they are thinner because they can suddenly wear a smaller size). As I have been size 10 all my life suddenly turning into an 8 as far as some manufacturers go was just clearly fake

'Time To Run' were also a great company to deal with, so the 5 star fits them AND their shorts


Yogi Tea Ginger Orange With Vanilla 17 Teabags (Pack of 6, Total 102 Teabags)
Yogi Tea Ginger Orange With Vanilla 17 Teabags (Pack of 6, Total 102 Teabags)
Price: 12.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, tangy, bitter-sweet, 14 July 2014
This is my new favourite Yogi herb tea drink (though I bought in a health shop rather than here) You get the expansive warmth of ginger, that tongue tingly marmalade bite of citrus peel, slightly astringing, slightly bitter, and the aaah! comforted child quality of vanilla. I guess this is going to be particularly fine in winter, and as the nights grow cold and midwinter makes itself known, will no doubt come to feel deliciously Christmassy. But here, in summer, it is still smile inducing. Served chilled for really hot days.

I tend to steep my herb teas in the cup, and this is equally fine, though paler in taste, for a second mug. Yogi's are a great way to get your water requirements met, whether as hot winter or chilled summer drinks
Other ingredients are liquorice, - so those with high blood pressure should avoid 'excessive consumption', peppermint, lemongrass, black pepper.

Apart from the 'orange extract, natural flavour' all ingredients are organic. Shame they put in the one ingredient constituent which is not completely transparent as to what it actually is, and how it has been arrived at, but this is the only possible blot on this tea. The other ingredients are the herbs/plants directly, pounded, chopped or minced. Of course 'natural flavour' COULD mean the essential oil of orange, but it could also mean a welter of other things


The Other Typist
The Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but ultimately not completely satisfying `twister', 13 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Other Typist (Paperback)
Susanne Rindell's easy-reading The Other Typist, set in 1920s New York, slap-bang in Jazz Age prohibition, and with not one, but with a whole clutch of remarkably unreliable central characters, including the unreliable narrator herself, is an enjoyable read, but meanders a little, does not completely make credible the central relationships, and in the end `the twist' is rather a half twist, and not that credible (well, aspects of it aren't), as I think Rindell tries to suggest the half-twist may be a one-and-a-half twist, and one particular character could easily have disentangled THAT particular piece of plottery/chicanery.

The central character, Rose, is a young woman raised in an orphanage runs by nuns, now working as a typist in a New York police precinct. She is a stenographer taking dictation and typing up the dictation of interrogation confessions. She has relationships which are psychologically revealing with her Sergeant and Lieutenant Detective. It is revealed fairly early on that she is looking back on this period of her life, and that she is indeed, not quite to be trusted; she is slippery, judgemental, prissy (that convent education), more than a little devious, and possibly has some `Sapphic' history. She is also intelligent, but her self-analysis and self-assessments are open to question.

Into the police precinct comes another typist stenographer, who has a tangled history, and is absolutely not what she seems. Odalie is sophisticated, glamorous, steely, manipulative, highly charismatic and absolutely adept at seizing the main chance to use people who get trapped, like hapless flies, in her glittering spidery web. Rose is one. But Rose is also a user and a manipulator, except at a much more basic level, lacking the fine honed skills of Odalie. The relationship between Rose and Odalie is also interesting, seen absolutely through Rose's eyes, which are of course not to be trusted - particular her analysis and excuses for her own behaviour.

I did enjoy Rose's frequent reinforcements of why we should not trust her, her wriggling disclaimers, and the plot which meandered along towards its conclusion. She is also quite funny - sometimes deliberately pert and snappy in her put-downs and observations, sometimes unintentionally so in her gaucheness and self-delusion.

However, there were anachronisms - for example pregnant women in `white collar' jobs, particularly in a male environment would not have been so easily accepted as one of the typists appears to be. This seemed quite modern, and no one really remarks much on it, or seems to think too much about it; the pregnant one no longer will take dictation when rapists and serial killers are being interrogated, but that's about the only reference.

Though I did enjoy, for the most part, the journey through the book, it did really need to be a tauter journey, and, moreover, the `twist' to have been more credible.

I'm afraid I can't reveal more about quite why the twist doesn't really stand up, for spoiler reasons.

Some of the publisher reviews suggest comparisons to Highsmith, Hitchcock and even Great Gatsby (which the author loves, and does say this book slightly `homages') . Certainly there are some hints and elements which invite comparisons, but this is territory or time-setting, more than `essence of'


I Will Not Stand Alone - Kayhan Kalhor
I Will Not Stand Alone - Kayhan Kalhor
Price: 15.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Iranian heart; Iranian Soul, 12 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Kayhan Kalhor, the Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) player, is as consummate a musician and artist as one could dream of. He combines astonishing virtuosity and passionate immersion in his music, with playing which is charismatic, stellar - and, yet, curiously without `look at me ego' or hogging centre stage, muscling out his `supporting musicians' Kalhor doesn't really do `supporting musicians'. He works peer to peer with other musicians

What he does do is to work with a range of other musicians, sometimes from his own culture's musical traditions, sometimes cross culturally, as in his work with Ghazal, marrying the Iranian kamancheh with instruments from India's classical musical tradition - sitar, table, vocals. And sometimes he works with musicians better known in the European classical music traditions, most notably with Yo Yo Ma, playing a wealth of Asian music in the Silk Road series of albums.

Whatever Kalhor does, he brings devotion to his work. Whatever brilliance, finesse and mastery he brings to his playing everything is designed to shine the brilliance of the music itself. There is surrender to the music, surrender to the joint practice of playing music with others, and, if you are fortunate enough to experience a live concert with Kalhor, as I recently was, surrender to the experience of unfolding and revealing music in a shared experience for the active listener to enter into this space.

This particular CD, with music which arose out of Kalhor's own experience of his country's recent political dark places, is a meditation on music as expression of suffering, as well as music as a shared, collective experience to provide some ease from that dark night of isolation, and existential aloneness

Here, in accompaniment with Ali Bahrami Fard, we have two musicians playing adapted versions of traditional Iranian instruments. Fard is playing the santour, a shimmering, percussive dulcimer instrument - but it is a bass santour, much larger, with a wider musical range, 96 strings, 24 bridges instead of the traditional 72 and 18

Meanwhile Kalhor is playing a new instrument, developed especially for him by the instrument maker Peter Biffen, the Shah Kaman, with different stringing, and using a lighter sounding board made of wood rather than skin, with, again, the possibility of richer lower notes.

At the live concert, which this CD is a version of, the two musicians were electrifying, playing for well over an hour, a continuous piece of music (here, on the CD briefly broken into movements with track names, rather than stand alone tracks)

The music ranges from dark anguish, quiet reflection, a maelstrom of passion and energy, anger, despair, resilience, shared commitment. At times so frenetic and wild is the music that it seems impossible to sit with it, the wild expression of dance is an insistent call. Restrained by the initial hearing of the music in a concert hall, I found a subtler response, listening to the dynamic movement of the music from within physical stillness, letting the music shape itself and move within, rather than cause external movement. It deepened my appreciation of this wonderful music, and the absolute focus brought by the inspired musicians


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