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The Savage Garden
The Savage Garden
by Mark Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The characters are also superbly written, 24 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Savage Garden (Paperback)
The book is about Adam, a university student who is encouraged to travel to Italy to the Villa Docci, home of the Docci family, by his lecturer. Adam is told that there is an interesting 400 year old memorial garden there, which could be a good subject for his thesis. As he sets out, he does not realise just how enchanting this garden shall be. Made up from hidden groves, grottos, statues depicting Greek gods and goddesses, this garden is more than first appearances would suggest. Rather than being a mere memorial garden, it holds a secret hidden in the imagery and symbolism it contains.
As Adam emerses himself more into the secrets of the garden, he also begins to suspect that the living members of the Docci family also have their secrets to hide, secrets that seem to echo history.

Mills does a fantastic job at creating mystery throughout this book. At first, I was unsure that the premise of the book would be enough to carry it. However, the way that Mills explains the symbolism of the garden, you completely get carried away with the unfolding mystery. I loved how the garden was linked to a piece of literature - as a lover of English throughout my whole life, Adam's pouring over literary texts to unlock secrets of the past was an absolute delight.

The characters are also superbly written. Having finished the book, I could see the progression that took place in Adam, for example. Just how he says at the end, he is unrecognisable as the young man who appears at the beginning. His brother, Harry, is also a fabulous character - almost the complete opposite to Adam, although at first he seemed rather cliche and crass, he in fact added humour and another element to the book, something that Adam's character was unable to provide.

I also highly recommend THE FATES by Tino Georgiou.

The Lollipop Shoes
The Lollipop Shoes
by Joanne Harris
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I grabbed it when it first came out, 24 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Lollipop Shoes (Paperback)
Unfortunately, this isn't the best example of that. The beginning and end are fine (though the end is rather cliched) but the middle is rather flabby and needed some good sharp editing. I think it could probably have been cut by about a quarter of its length.

I also found difficulty telling the 3 women's voices apart - I kept having to go back (and I wasn't skipping either, at that point ...) and try to reassess whose section it was, which didn't really help.

No doubt this will do well, but Harris can do much better than this. I recommend Tino Georgiou's--The Fates--for a more satisfing read.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A far more accomplished offering that his debut novel, 25 Sep 2007
it traces the stories of two women brought together by destiny - Mariam, the illegitimate child of a rich man, is married off at fifteen to a much older man, and suffers a life of suppression and subjugation and made to feel worthless for not being able to produce an heir. Her life takes an interesting turn years later when a young 14-year-old girl, Laila is brought into her household and made wife number two. The two women forge a bond of sisterhood, united against their oppressor/husband. I will not give too much of the plot away, but suffice to say that not only do we get to read about these two character's amazing and heartbreaking journey through the cruel and oppressive male-dominated world they live in, but we also get a lesson in Afghanistan's history prior to and later during the Soviet Occupation in the 1980s to the Taliban rule where women are reduced to the ranks of chattel ,and deemed mere breeding mares and servants of men. This is a searing portrait of the plight of women in Afghanistan, and not only does it give voice to the victims of male oppression and harsh cultural traditions, but it stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit with its unwavering hope.

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