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P. Fredrich (London. UK)

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Pear Shaped
Pear Shaped
by Stella Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book with Bite, 14 Mar 2012
This review is from: Pear Shaped (Paperback)
The `Pear Shaped' story is a familiar one, but told with real flair and wit so it feels different from your typical love-gone-wrong tale. The author gives a hilarious insight into the world of supermarket ready-meal development, but she's best at capturing the psychological complexity of wanting to be with someone who you know isn't good for you. The descriptions of Sophie's emotional turmoil and reckless actions are frank, raw and funny.

For me the most powerful part of the book was Sophie's depression after the break-up. Most chick-lit books skim over this kind of thing, but Stella Newman looks it square in the face and doesn't flinch from describing the darkest aspects of heartbreak. Somehow, she manages to infuse black humour into this section of the book as well, and it works brilliantly.

I'm going to be giving this book to all my girlfriends as a salutary lesson in what not to do when you're dating - and also as a beacon of hope to show how you can end up better off, stronger and able to laugh at yourself if you're brave enough to face up to your own mistakes. I really recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read that is sure to resonate with their own life and experiences.


PICADOR SHOTS - 'Even the Crows Say Krakow'
PICADOR SHOTS - 'Even the Crows Say Krakow'
by James Hopkin
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 31 July 2008
The Picador Shots are a great idea and this `shot' from James Hopkin goes down with all the smooth, smokey depth of a well-aged whisky. Both the stories are great, but the first - from which the book gets its title - is especially wonderful. It combines magic realism with some of the grittier realities of life, creating a story that is utterly delightful and satisfying in every way.

Hopkin manages to make the reader love the main character Alina. You feel all her ambition and longing for a new life as well as her love and nostalgia for what she's about to leave behind. The flashes we get of her life - family, lost love, the city where she lives - are masterfully portrayed, brimming with humour and tenderness.

The language in this book is at once playful, teasing and beautiful. The city of Krakow is evoked with gorgeous unexpected details. It's incredible how Hopkin packs so much description and action into these stories and yet manages to keep the prose so light and fresh.

I could go praising this small book but am stopping myself. The beauty of it just leaves you reeling and the depth has you pondering for long afterwards. I felt the same after reading his amazing novel, Winter Under Water. If you haven't read his fiction, you are missing out on some of the best writing being done today. This `shot' is the perfect introduction to Hopkin's work.


Winter Under Water: or, Conversation with the Elements
Winter Under Water: or, Conversation with the Elements
by James Hopkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.44

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 18 Feb 2008
This is one of those books that makes you see the world differently - and not only because of the beautiful language, with its startling and vivid descriptions. The characters also offer unique perspectives. Marta gives us a sense of what it is like to be a woman caught between upholding family loyalties and the quest for personal happiness. Her own courage and ambition and passion come out through the biographies she narrates of gifted but forgotten women. I really liked the way you very easily learned about some different historical figures during the course of the story.

Joseph's impressions of Poland are surprising and often funny. You really feel like you're in the country, going through the streets and pubs with him, and also feeling what it is to be an outsider in a place where you don't speak the language. What I loved most of all was the intensity of the book and the suspense about what will happen to the two lovers. I found myself reading faster to see how it would end. This is a brilliant book. I couldn't believe it was a first novel - it felt so wise and witty and polished. You have to read it to know what I mean.


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