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Mary Ann "Mary Ann" (Wales UK)

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Inner Harbour: Number 3 in series (Chesapeake Bay)
Inner Harbour: Number 3 in series (Chesapeake Bay)
by Nora Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

3.0 out of 5 stars If only the writer kept on writng as strongly as she does in the prologue..., 23 Jun. 2016
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I was impressed by the strength of the writing in the prologue, where Phillip is shot on the streets by his own gang by accident: - 'Philip Quinn died at thirteen'. I even flinched at this exchange between mother and son: 'Why the hell didn't you just die?' 'I don't know,' Phllip said calmly, 'I tried.'

I don't associate forceful writing generally with romance, because it doesn't want to deal with the ugly aspects of reality, being light reading, and I read on, fascinated.

I was disappointed that the strong writing gave way to a less realistic note. For instance, Stella Quinn's comment about her future adopted son's appearance: 'You have a face that belongs on a Rennaisance painting'. Nobody, even a very young person, would look like anything but a corpse for a good while after losing so much blood.

When we see Philip and his brothers and their wives, that cozier style of writing takes over, and while there are other patches of stark writing again - as in depicting the miserable relations between Sibyll and Gloria , they become less frequent. I can only suppose it is because this stark style of writing isn't what the readership wants. They want escapism, and an alpha male who overcomes 'Dr Griffin's' inhibitions, emotional and sexual.

It is true that he does go in for some role reversal in being surprisingly nurturing, and he does take over the normal role of the female towards the hero in opening his love object up to her emotions, but I still found this aplha male annoying, despite my original sympathy for him over his terrible
background. How come it is only other male family members who can match him in repartee? With this sort of alpha hero, I always begin to wish that his trousers would fall down - and not when he want them to.

There were some very funny parts, especially the first meeting between Ray's ghost and the skeptical Phillip.

But I did resent how in the exchanges between Phillip and Sybill, he always wins (I nearly wrote, 'comes out on top') while she is reduced to thinking, 'His eyes were as gold and powerful as the flame of the sun'. Seriously? Is this man a mobile sunbed?

Though he is less inhibited than Sibyll ( who oddly enough for a psychologist says of the misogynistic Rolling Stones songs 'What's not to like?' ) he seems never to have fallen in love either - at thirty-one. Presumably, this has to do with his first thirteen years. To be honest, I don't understand why he didn't have more fulfilling goals in his life than working in advertising. I always find it hard to understand how anyone could find it worthwhile to pursue a career in one of the most superficial and wasteful aspects of advanced capitalism. Apologies to readers who are devoted employees of advertising...

As one who suffers from severe migraines myself, I can only say, with the pain as bad as in the one Sybill suffers in her hotel room, you would vomit if you tried to eat soup - all over the alpha.

What however, makes me give this book a three star rather than a four star rating as a well executed romance (though I personally wasn't able to take to the characters) was that unpleasant 'Consider yourself shanghied, Doc,' episode on the boat. That really made me dislike this hero. A truly tough man shows it by being extra gentle in lovemaking. Phillip's excuse is, 'I usually try for more finisse.' 'I'm glad to hear it.

For some reason, the way the shoe stayed on the heroine's foot throughout disturbed me. That sounds really uncomfortable,and made her seem helpless. Of course, she was only meant to be helpless with lust.

It was, of course, necessary to the plot to meet totally degraded women in Phillip's mother and
Gloria, but the constrasts in this novel, between the stark realism of the bad life and the incredibly happy personal relations of the good, was too marked. Women often seemed to me to be being presented as more persecutors than victims. It might be argued that this is indeed how they are, when they are bad mothers with vulnerable children; but I found it too uncritical of male female power relations.

I know nothing about US law regarding custody and child abuse cases, but the social worker would be in trouble in the UK for not declaring her personal interest, or if she had, wouldn't be allowed on the case.


Child of the Erinyes Collection, Three Plus One: A Saga of Ancient Greece (The Child of the Erinyes)
Child of the Erinyes Collection, Three Plus One: A Saga of Ancient Greece (The Child of the Erinyes)
Price: £3.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Headline: ‘The Child of the Erinyes’ Series; A Page Turning Saga of Love, Hate, Self Sacrifice, Betrayal and Rebirth, 16 Jun. 2016
I envy readers newly discovering this riveting epic, full of passionate love and hatred, divided loyalties and tragic betrayals. Dynasties are overthrown, there’s a devastating earthquake, battles and adventures of all sorts.

I wish I could come across it all over again; as it is, I’ll have to wait for the next in the series.

The characters are complicated, vivid and human, made all the more lifelike by the fact that their motivation is often hidden from themselves. The scholarship is exceptional but always unobtrusive, the story exciting, and the writing vivid, evocative and inspired. I really felt as if I had been transported to the ancient world, as the word pictures are so remarkable.

We follow the fate of the three main characters as they are reborn and through living out their destinies, enact that of the whole of humanity.

We first meet them in Bronze Age Greece. Here, the wealth of matriarchal Crete has attracted covetous attentions from the King of Mycanae and others. He sends his two sons to Crete, ostensibly to participate in the competition to become King for a Year , but in reality covertly to subvert matriarchal power.

These sons are his golden and arrogant, bold and misogynistic legitimate heir, Chrysaleon, ‘The Lion of Mycanae’ and Menoetius, the illegitimate son of a former mistress (said to be a sorceress from the remote northern islands; later, the UK). A mighty warrior, he is scarred as much internally as physically by a lion attack.

Aridela, first a princess and later Queen of matriarchal Crete, is impulsive, recklessly brave, warm hearted, sensual, uninhibited, idealistic, impatient of the 'wisdom of her elders' and generally a lovable heroine.

Both Chrysaleon and Menoetius come to realise that they are in love with Aridela. There begins between them a rivalry for her love which is to last for many centuries.

Another rival is the enjoyably appalling Harpalycus, Prince of Tyins, practitioner of the black arts, who is rumoured to have discovered a magical way to defeat death. His handsome exterior conceals an evil personality. A rapist and murderous sadist, he becomes the implacable enemy of all three, capable of persecuting them beyond their deaths.

There are many vivid secondary characters, too, whom we first meet in the Bronze Age, but will meet again in subsequent lives. There is one of my favourites, Selene, Aridela’s great friend and Amazon warrior bodyguard. There is Chrysaleon’s determined toady the slave Alexaire, who will do anything to forward his interests. There is the shaman Themeste, wise but vulnerable, who as a seer makes the prophesies which foreshadow the events which unfold in the saga.

The Bronze Age portion of the saga ends with ‘In the Moon of Asterion’.
In this book we find out both Menoetius' and Chrysaleon's `truth' (the term used by Aridela's mother) and also the integrity of some of the other characters.

Chrysaleon and Meneotius are not the only ones to be tested. Both Themeste and Selene will be tried to the limit, and only one of them holds firm. One thing is certain, and that is that Alexiare, Chrysaleon's devoted slave, will stop at nothing to further his interests.

It ends in an explosion of spine chilling occult excitement. I simply could not stop reading this part; I stayed up until the small hours. Watch out for this, and plan your day accordingly…

Without wishing to write a spoiler, I will say that it ends with a curse from the Goddess Athene on those who have defied her power.

Harpalycus, however, believes he escapes all divine control as long as he can escape death, by swapping from body to body, while the enemies he delights in persecuting must be reborn again and again until they can resolve their conflicts, which echo those of all humanity.

The next part of the story comes in the form of a delightful novella, ‘The Moon Casts A Spell’. This relates a subsequent life of the three main characters on the lonely Scottish island of Barra, part of the islands that make up the Outer Hebrides, in the mid nineteenth century at the time of the infamous Highland Clearances.

Here, they are no longer royalty. Chrysaleon is reborn as Aodhàn MacKinnon, son to the hated steward of a landlord who is determined to depopulate the island.

Aridela is reborn as Lilith, the lovely daughter of his housekeeper, who is in love with her childhood sweetheart Daniel, a strange boy taken in by her parents, with whom she feels an inexplicable tie. Yet when Aodhàn MacKinnon comes the island, she is disturbed to feel the same tie to him, selfish and mercenary as he is, for he is also mysterious and fascinating.

She feels that he knows secrets that she does not, as indeed he does, for he is the only one of the three who retains memories of their former lives. This, however, is a source of torment to him, for he knows how badlyhe has betrayed the former Aridela in his thousands of years of crusade against the Goddess Athene.

In this continuation the author's characters are as lively, as believable, the writing as strong and evocative and the historical research as impressive as ever. There is a stark tragedy to this story, but also, touches of wry humour; the historical period is invoked effortlessly and the whole complex story of the history of the triad is hinted at, but never thrust on the reader's attention.

Two of the members of this life triangle came to premature ends (I won’t say more for fear of making a spoiler for those readers who haven’t yet read it). Too soon, the remorseless Harpalycus tracks down his old enemies and soon brings about mayhem and agony.

In ‘The Sixth Labyrinth’ some eighteen years later, Aridela is young Morrigan, the inn keeper’s daughter and survivor of the clearances. Subject to abuse by her embittered and violent father, she is tormented by feelings of worthlessness.

She falls for and marries Curran Ramsay, the reincarnation of Menoetius, now a golden and handsome young Highland laird, while Chrysaleon is a poor fisherman. But he is determined to win her from his old rival, at all costs.

One of the smoothly interlocking themes of this great saga is the tragic depiction of the abuse of woman, and in particular, it's destructive effect on the feelings of self worth of the woman who is made a victim. Morrigan has scars on her psyche, the result of the abuse of her bitter father, who has always doubted her paternity.

I don't want to write a spoiler; but it is this sense of not feeling good enough for happiness and the love of a truly admirable man, which greatly contributes to some of Morrigan's mistaken decisions in the book.

The former Chrysaleon remembers her in her incarnation as the fearless Aridela. This is the supreme irony of his thousands of years' long crusade against female power. In attacking it, he has brought about a change he hates to see in the one woman he loves and respects as an equal: -

'Had he fought all these centuries only to lose her to this world's joyless new order - the world he had helped to create when he caused the destruction of Crete and the last stronghold that honoured women?'

But Aridela has more strength than he knows: and Athene's eclipse from the face of the earth and modern understanding may be part of the Great Mother's plan...

Generally, an unforgettable series of reads. I can’t recommend it too highly and am eager for the next.


Pamela Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics)
Pamela Or Virtue Rewarded (Oxford World's Classics)
by Samuel Richardson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.49

3.0 out of 5 stars 'Sentimental and Obscene' as Frank Bradbrook says..., 25 May 2016
Two and a half stars. I always give generous ratings. If this hadn't been written two hundred and fifty years ago, I'd have given it one star for portaying a woman marrying her would be rapist. I am amazed that any modern critic or reader could defend that.

Samuel Richardson’s reputation, for so long as bad as it could be among critics, has in recent decades had something of a revival. This is generally among literary scholars, as the length of his works is enough to put off all but the most geekish or courageous of readers (count me among the said geeks). These days, the subtlety of his characterisation, and the complex significance of his use of incident, are now discussed as avidly as once were the scorn and disgust aroused in readers by his self serving Puritanical morality.

Typically awkward, I think this is a loss, because I fully agree with Coleridge’s conclusion about Richardson’s work:

‘I confess it has cost, and still costs, my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire, aye, greatly admire, Richardson. His mind is so very vile, a mind so oozy, so hypocritical, praise mad, canting, envious, concupiscent.’

Richardson's writing has a compulsion which one feels has got little to do with literary value, or the creation of sympathetic characters, believable situations, or strong writing.

In fact, after ploughing through ‘Pamela’ 'Pamela in her Exalted Condition, ‘Clarissa’ and part of ‘The History of Sir Charles Grandison’ I can safely state that Richardson is devoted to purple prose.

Unfortunately, this may be why – with his favourite theme being that of female virtue besieged - in an age discovering ‘sensibility’, so many of his inner circle of toadying admirers and literary advisors were women. They wished to explore the ‘female sphere’ of the emotive that this male writer was prepared to take seriously in his writing, and in their enthusiasm for this they seem to have blinded themselves both to the inadequacies of his verbose, florid style and the dismal limitations of the sort of respect for women offered by his Puritan convictions.

It is intriguing that in their discussions, they often employed much the same arguments that are used today in defences on the literary value of the romance novel. In fact, current writers on the value of the romance novel take a stand against the ‘anti-Pamela-ists’ precisely because they define ‘Pamela’ as the first romantic novel. This dismays me, given that Mr B makes a series of sexual assaults on Pamela.

Richardson wrote two hundred years before Freud’s discoveries of sexuality and the unconscious laid bare the source of his appeal, already hinted at by Henry Fielding and Eliza Heywood. In D H Lawrence’s words, he offered voyeuristic ‘Calico purity and underclothes excitement…Boccacio at his hottest seems to me less pornographic than ‘Pamela’ or ‘Clarissa’.

If this seems wonderfully biting, then the critic V S Pritchard in ‘The Living Novel’ goes further:

‘Prurient, and obsessed by sex, the prim Richardson creeps on tiptoe nearer and nearer, inch by inch…he beckons us on, pausing to make every sort of pious protestation, and then nearer and nearer he creeps again…’

This is hilarious, and very apt.

Another critic, Frank Bradbrook in his essay on Richardson ‘The Pelican Guide to English Literature’ remarks trenchantly, ‘Pamela is sentimental and obscene; its obscenity is a direct result of its sentimentality.’

I have to agree with these criticisms, which makes me into an ‘anti Pamela-ist’. But I am even more of an ‘Anti Mr B-ist’ I don’t think Richardson’s heroine is alone in a hypocrite. Mr B is even more of one than Pamela.

Regarding Pamela’s hypocrisy, as soon as her master offers to marry her, he ceases to be a villain in her eyes, and she never asks for an explanation or apology for his abusive treatment of her. In elevating her to his own status, Squire B has put his late mother’s lady’s maid under such a sense of obligation that he can only be her ‘beloved Master’ even if he did attempt to rape her at least once, and sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions.

As for M B’s hypocrisy, apart from his absurd earlier outrage that she has dared to defy him and write accounts of his attempts on her, there is his later astounding self complacency. He is supposed to have undergone a moral metamorphesis triggered by reading her journal. One might think that this would have made him a little confused and diffident about himself, and the value of his opinions. Far from it. As soon as he gives up his attempts on her and decides to marry her, he suddenly shows an incongruous tendency to express pompous views about marriage and a wife’s duty.

Here he is clearly Richardson’s mouthpiece. Still, the contrast between this new persona, and his former behaviour as a self confessed rake, are frankly ludicrous.

The revival of Richardson’s reputation seems to have been partly promoted by the writings of the US academic Mark Kinkead Weekes, and in particular his 1973 book ‘Samuel Richardson: Dramatic Novelist’.

I found Kinkead Weekes’ book intriguing, though I disagree with his conclusions, while I found the parts which defend both heroine and the anti hero Mr B in ‘Pamela’, not only unconvincing but downright offensive to women readers. It has to be said in Kinkead Weekes’ defence, that this book was written in 1973, when the views about the depiction of sexual violence against women in novels was very different.

It is an intriguing thing that Kinkead Weekes considers the scheming unrepentant Lovelace – the rapist anti-hero of ‘Clarissa’ – as a very evil man. But Mr B, by dint of his facile reform is another case altogether.

In the dull sequel, ‘Pamela in her Exalted Condition’ Richardson was later to have Mr B deny that his first seeming attempt on Pamela, where he leaps out of a closet, climbs into bed with her and the housekeeper,and thrusts a hand down her bosom was an atempted rape, and indeed, it is hard to see how he would have contemplated carrying one out in front of Mrs Jervis. However, that piece of punishment through sexual assault is ugly enough, and later in the novel, he does carry out a genuine rape attempt.

Kinkead Weekes goes on to say of Mr B’s second attempt (also made in the presence of another woman, this time the wicked housekeeper Mrs Jewkers: she holds Pamela down, as do the prostitutes in ‘Clarissa’; Richardson did seem to have a rather odd thing about exhibitionist rapes)

‘The final attempt does begin with the intention of rape, though for revenge and subjugation, not desire- but it continues in stubborn pride, unwilling to give in to fear of wrongdoing, and trying hopelessly to salvage something. …It is the last kick of B’s pride, brought remorselessly to face its consequences in the ‘death’ (Pamela has a fit) of the girl he loves. The result is tenderness, and there is no need for B’s subsequent change to seem surprising.’

I see; readers have been told that they are not ‘reading carefully’ if they find his subsequent reformation abrupt and unconvincing. We are also told repeatedly that Pamela is not a hypocrite for accepting such a man when he changes to making ‘respectable’ offers of marriage.

‘It is open to the critic to say that it is immoral to love a man who has behaved like B, even if he seems to have made a break with his past, and that it is immoral to be able to blot out that past in a forgiveness excessive enough to rank repentant sinners ‘in the rank of the most virtuous’/ Only, if that is what we want to say, let us say it clearly, in awareness of what saying it implies. Let us not, on the other hand, talk too much about the jewel market.’

What I would say in response to that, is that of course, Pamela should have forgiven such a man as Mr B. But that she should never have married him.

Strangely enough, Kinkaed Weekes thoroughly endorses Clarissa’s combining forgiveness of Lovelace with an absolute refusal to marry him. While it might be argued that this is because Lovelace never really repents, he says he does. He is willing to marry Clarissa, believing that will put matters right.

I see very little moral difference between the two rapist anti heroes, save that the first is far less clever, and less of a compulsive schemer, and more of a hypocrite, who decides he will obtain more pleasure in joining Pamela in ‘innocent pleasures’ with her as his servile worshipper, and in go about the country giving tedious moral lectures to the neighbours than in jumping out of closets to thrust his hand down her bosom.

'Sentimental and obscene' sums it up perefectly, as far as I am concerned.


Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1; Scottish Fantasia
Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1; Scottish Fantasia
Price: £9.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 25 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I believe this is considered the most masterly interpretation of the Violin Concerto. I found it spine tingling.


Metaltex CD Storage Rack Holder Holds Up To 36 Cases, Black
Metaltex CD Storage Rack Holder Holds Up To 36 Cases, Black
Offered by Metaltex Outlet Store
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 25 May 2016
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Excellent, compact and inoffensive looking. It's stable, too.


Samuel Richardson CB
Samuel Richardson CB
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars The author defends Richardson against charges of being purile and creating a hypocrite in 'Pamela'. He fails to convince me., 24 May 2016
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This review is from: Samuel Richardson CB (Paperback)
Samuel Richardson’s reputation, for so long as bad as it could be among critics, has in recent decades had something of a revival. This is generally among literary scholars, as the length of his works is enough to put off all but the most geekish or courageous of readers (count me among the said geeks). These days, the subtlety of his characterisation, and the complex significance of his use of incident, are now discussed as avidly as once were the scorn and disgust aroused in readers by his self serving Puritanical morality.

Being typically awkward, I think this is a loss, because I fully agree with Coleridge’s conclusion about Richardson’s work:

‘I confess it has cost, and still costs, my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire, aye, greatly admire, Richardson. His mind is so very vile, a mind so oozy, so hypocritical, praise mad, canting, envious, concupiscent.’

Richardson's writing has a compulsion which one feels has got little to do with literary value, or the creation of sympathetic characters, believable situations, or strong writing.

In fact, after ploughing through ‘Pamela’ 'Pamela in Her Exalted Condition',‘Clarissa’ and part of ‘The History of Sir Charles Grandison’ I can safely state that Richardson is devoted to purple prose.

Unfortunately, this may be why – with his favourite theme being that of female virtue besieged - in an age discovering ‘sensibility’, so many of his inner circle of toadying admirers and literary advisors were women. They wished to explore the ‘female sphere’ of the emotive that this male writer was prepared to take seriously in his writing, and in their enthusiasm for this they seem to have blinded themselves both to the inadequacies of his verbose, florid style and the dismal limitations of the sort of respect for women offered by his Puritan ideology.

It is intriguing that in their discussions, they often employed much the same arguments that are used today in defences on the literary value of the romance novel. In fact, current writers on the value of the romance novel take a stand against the ‘anti-Pamela-ists’ precisely because they define ‘Pamela’ as the first romantic novel.

Richardson wrote two hundred years before Freud’s discoveries of sexuality and the unconscious laid bare the source of his appeal, already hinted at by Henry Fielding and Eliza Heywood. In D H Lawrence’s words, he offered voyeuristic ‘Calico purity and underclothes excitement…Boccacio at his hottest seems to me less pornographic than ‘Pamela’ or ‘Clarissa’.

If this seems wonderfully biting, then the critic V S Pritchard in ‘The Living Novel’ goes further:

‘Prurient, and obsessed by sex, the prim Richardson creeps on tiptoe nearer and nearer, inch by inch…he beckons us on, pausing to make every sort of pious protestation, and then nearer and nearer he creeps again…’

This is hilarious, and very apt.

Another critic, Frank Bradbrook in his essay on Richardson ‘The Pelican Guide to English Literature’ remarks trenchantly, ‘Pamela is sentimental and obscene; its obscenity is a direct result of its sentimentality.’

I have to agree with these criticisms, which makes me into an ‘anti Pamela-ist’. But I am even more of an ‘Anti Mr B-ist’ I don’t think Richardson’s heroine is alone in a hypocrite. Mr B is even more of one than Pamela.

Regarding Pamela’s hypocrisy, as soon as her master offers to marry her, he ceases to be a villain in her eyes, and she never asks for an explanation or apology for his abusive treatment of her. In elevating her to his own status, Squire B has put his late mother’s lady’s maid under such a sense of obligation that he can only be her ‘beloved Master’ even if he did attempt to rape her at least once, and sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions.

As for M B’s hypocrisy, apart from his absurd earlier outrage that she has dared to defy him and write accounts of his attempts on her, there is his later astounding self complacency. He is supposed to have undergone a moral metamorphasis triggered by reading her journal. One might think that this would have made him a little confused and diffident about himself, and the value of his opinions. Far from it. As soon as he gives up his attempts on her and decides to marry her, he suddenly shows an incongruous tendency to express pompous views about marriage and a wife’s duty.

Here he is clearly Richardson’s mouthpiece. Still, the contrast between this new persona, and his former behaviour as a self confessed rake, are frankly ludicrous.

The revival of Richardson’s reputation seems to have been partly promoted by the writings of the US academic Mark Kinkead Weekes, and in particular this book.

I recently read this, having ploughed through ‘Pamela’ (read and detested in 1991; re-read and detested even more recently); ‘Pamela in Her Exalted Condition’ (hooted over in 1993; skim read again recently) and ‘Clarissa’ (ploughed through, and to some extent, grudgingly admired, two years ago).

I found Kinkead Weekes’ book intriguing, though I disagree with his conclusions, while I found the parts which defend both heroine and the anti hero Mr B in ‘Pamela’, not only unconvincing but downright offensive to women readers who object to heroines marrying rapist 'heroes'.

It has to be said in Kinkead Weekes’ defence, that this book was written in 1973, when the views about the depiction of sexual violence against women in novels was very different.

It is an intriguing thing that Kinkead Weekes considers the scheming unrepentant Lovelace – the rapist anti-hero of ‘Clarissa’ – as a very evil man. But Mr B, by dint of his facile reform is seemingly another case altogether.

In ‘Pamela in her Exalted Condition’ Richardson was later to have Mr B deny that his first seeming attempt on Pamela, where he leaps out of a closet, climbs into bed with her and the housekeeper,and thrusts a hand down her bosom was an atempted rape, and indeed, it is hard to see how he would have contemplated carrying one out in front of Mrs Jervis. However, that piece of punishment through sexual assault is ugly enough, and later in the novel, he does carry out a genuine rape attempt.

Kinkead Weekes goes on to say of Mr B’s second attempt (also made in the presence of another woman, this time the wicked housekeeper Mrs Jewkers: she holds Pamela down, as do the prostitutes in ‘Clarissa’; Richardson did seem to have a rather odd thing about exhibitionist rapes)

‘The final attempt does begin with the intention of rape, though for revenge and subjugation, not desire- but it continues in stubborn pride, unwilling to give in to fear of wrongdoing, and trying hopelessly to salvage something. …It is the last kick of B’s pride, brought remorselessly to face its consequences in the ‘death’ (Pamela has a fit)of the girl he loves. The result is tenderness, and there is no need for B’s subsequent change to seem surprising.’

I see; readers have been told that they are not ‘reading carefully’ if they find his subsequent reformation abrupt and unconvincing. We are also told repeatedly that Pamela is not a hypocrite for accepting such a man when he changes to making ‘respectable’ offers of marriage.

‘It is open to the critic to say that it is immoral to love a man who has behaved like B, even if he seems to have made a break with his past, and that it is immoral to be able to blot out that past in a forgiveness excessive enough to rank repentant sinners ‘in the rank of the most virtuous’. Only, if that is what we want to say, let us say it clearly, in awareness of what saying it implies. Let us not, on the other hand, talk too much about the jewel market.’

(This reference to 'the jewel market' is because critics have ridiculed Pamela's harping on her virginity as 'her jewel'.)

I see. What I would say in response to that, is that of course, Pamela should have forgiven such a man as Mr B. But she should never have married such a brutally unsrcupulous man, submerging her legal identity in his, particularly given her belief that her husband would then be 'her head'.

Strangely enough, Kinkaed Weekes thoroughly endorses Clarissa’s combining forgiveness of Lovelace with an absolute refusal to marry him. While it might be argued that this is because Lovelace never really repents, he says he does. He is willing to marry Clarissa, believing that will put matters right.

I see very little moral difference between the two rapist anti heroes, save that the first is less of a compulsive schemer, and more of a hypocrite, who decides he will obtain more pleasure in joining Pamela in ‘innocent pleasures’ with her as his servile worshipper, and in going about the country giving tedious moral lectures to the neighbours rather than in jumping out of closets to thrust his hand down her bosom.

Tastes change, I suppose…

The section on 'Clarissa' is long and involved. I think that the critic searched diligently for subleties and excellencies both in the writing and the heroine. He regrets the long, absurd footnotes which accompany the second edition onwards,but says little about them.

The piece on 'Grandison' I will be able to assess better when I have read it.

Thooughout, the research has been scrupulous. The main problem here, as throughout, is that the writer does not attack the absurdly unrealistic situations about which Richard centred his work, and is as determined to believe the best of Richardson as he accuses former critics of being ready to believe the worst. He never attacks the hypocrisy of the sexual double standard and the patriarchal vlaues that could create such absurd situations as beset his sexually repressed heroines in the first place.

I also find it outrageously sexist that a male critic sees fit to lecture readers on how unChristian they are in objecting to a would be rapist 'hero' being accepted by his former victim in 'Pamela'. I was very tempted to give this two stars because of this, but I hate giving low star ratings to well written works, sternly reminded myself that this critic was writing over forty years ago.


Birdwoman:Memoirs of a Lovesick Siren (Diaries of a Siren Book 1)
Birdwoman:Memoirs of a Lovesick Siren (Diaries of a Siren Book 1)
Price: £2.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Original, 7 May 2016
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his is an outstandingly original story, which draws the reader in at once into the fascinating world of the siren. It’s exciting, well paced, funny, sad, outrageous and startlingly believable all at once. The writing is vivid, evocative, bawdy, witty and sometimes poetic.

I took at once to the heroine, Destiny, who is born, along with a twin brother of considerably less power - though with an equally strong will - to a mother who comes from a long heritage of sirens.

While Destiny is a siren, her brother is a demon. She loves him, though she knows too well that while she is motivated by a genuine desire for good - along with a fairly healthy ego and a strong sex drive, that is – Dustin is motivated by a will to destroy.

This evil in Dustin is made worse by the fact that he feels unloved –his mother is disappointed in him, for as a boy he shows no particular talents and an unappealing streak of malevolence – while she is justly proud of her daughter. Not only that, but the siren family has a secret enemy in a disinherited part demon who covertly strives to undermine them through his influence on the boy; and the bitter, rebellious Dustin, an under- achieving male in a dynasty of strong females, makes for an apt pupil.

Destined, as her name indicates, to be one of the strongest of the sirens of her family, the heroine is as strong and independent as befits a girl growing up in the early twentieth-first century; she is also both kind and family oriented. She is quite simply great hearted.

This is a heroine who, besides her occult powers, is lovely, an outstanding scholar, aided by her eidetic memory, a gifted musician, witty, sensual, cultured and morally aware – but never for one second does she come across as a ‘Mary Sue’. She faces all the feelings of angst, and loneliness and is as tormented by the family conflict by which she is surrounded as any human girl. Her older relatives scold her and take her for granted.

Worse, Destiny seems unable to find true love. She can have any man she likes – that is one of the powers of the siren – but there is a caveat: ‘as long as she likes him dead’.

Destiny dreads this generational curse; she knows that even her devout Grandmother, rebel against her sirenhood –has caused deaths; love, sex and reproduction for the siren must not be mixed: reproduction itself is hazardous, for a male siren is never strong and admirable.

When Destiny does find true love – after many hilarious sexual adventures - this problem becomes truly urgent for her.

Meanwhile, the story moves through the battle between the twins over the fate of the family’s property empire – is it to be used for good or evil? The tensions mount as the story moves to its inexorable climax of violence and sorrow.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes: -

‘ “Death has no impact on character. I’m still insanely jealous, although I’m no longer vain…”Well, at least the afterlife produced some degree of self-awareness.”’

‘Both evil and its antidote reside in the human heart. The best part is, the antidote can be presented as a gift’

‘I wish there was a book I could refer him to, with a title like ‘Emotional Intellgience for Paranormals’.

‘Grammie used to punish Mama with the silent treatment, and once an entire year had gone by without their speaking to each other…’

There are many more excellent quotes. I recommend this book to all fantasy lovers who want a strong heroine and love a laugh. I’m looking forward to the sequel.


The Sixth Labyrinth (The Child of the Erinyes Book 4)
The Sixth Labyrinth (The Child of the Erinyes Book 4)
Price: £3.53

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Continuation of the Epic Saga; You Won't be Disapponted, 10 April 2016
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One of a growing number of fans, I loved the initial, Bronze Age section of Rebecca Lochlann’s ‘Child of the Erinyes’ series, and the subsequent novella, ‘The Moon Casts a Spell’

I have been looking forward to the issue of this continuation of the epic, and am very happy to say I was in not disappointed by this, the sixth life of the three main characters.

In the first novels, we met the lithe and enticing, brave and generous but in some ways tragically deluded Queen of ancient Crete, Aridela.

We encountered Menoetious, the great warrior illegitimate son of the King of Mycanae, who unwittingly betrays her trust, and pays an appalling penalty of physical and mental suffering.

We met too, the always riveting and bold, but arrogant and misogynistic the Lion of Mycane Chrysaleon, the King of Mycanae’s legitimate heir, who is sent over to win the throne of matriarchal Crete, and whose bondsman Alexaire braves the wrath of Athene to forward his master’s aims.

Finally, we met one of the characters I enjoy most out of a whole, memorable set, and that is the appalling one time practitioner of the black arts Harpalycus.

This villain swaps from body to body, and life to life, avoiding the rebirths that are the lot of the other three, and gleefully causing them as much misery as he possibly can, for he remains a dedicated torturer and sadist. Throughout the series, he provides moments of grim humour of the darkest kind: only Chrysaleon retains enough memories of his former lives to know his enemy:

“Aodhan had never learned Harpalycus’ secret for sensing them and finding them. But find them he did, and it always meant chaos and death.’

The great irony is that in this current novel, this women hater has no choice but to take on the form of the sex he despises…

The events that were set in motion, partly through the actions and reactions of these four and their devoted followers, have largely changed the history of the world. Through their mistaken choices then, Chrysaleon and Alexaire have set themselves up as Athene’s opponents on earth, condemned to find love and happiness elusive.

The former Aridela is through Athene’s will, blind to her past, those of her two lovers, and the destiny of them all.

The novella, ‘The Moon Casts a Spell’ relates a subsequent life of these three on the lonely Scottish island of Barra in the mid tnineteenth century, about the time of the infamous Highland Clearances. Two of the members of this life triangle came to premature ends (I won’t say more for fear of making a spoiler for those readers who haven’t yet read it).

Now in, The Sixth Labyrinth’ some twenty years later, Aridela is reborn as Morrigan, the inn keeper’s daughter and survivor of the clearances. She falls for and marries Curran Ramsay, the reincarnation of Menoetius, now a golden and handsome young Highland laird, while Chrysaleon is the poor fisherman Aodhan Mackinnon.

Once again they are reunited, and after more than three thousand years, their adventures come to a climax.

Chrysaleon in particular senses this: He is weary from his endless, desperate fight against Athene’s power; he believes that he must win.

‘Curran would fail. Athene would fail. A bit more time – that’s all he needed. Athene would diminish. At some point, she wouldn’t have enough power to bring back Menoetius or those other sycophants – Selene and Themiste…Then he would drink sweet revenge, as sweet as the old god’s necar.’

There are stirring characters in this, larger than life but fully believable, and intense passion; loyalty and betrayal, hatred and cruelty, horror and abuse, humour and tragedy. As ever, I was deeply impressed by the strength of the writing and the depths of the historical research, which is ever present, but never laboured.

Here is an example of the vividness of the word pictures that even brings the palace of Knossos to life: Here is a distant memory of the former Chrysaleon (the only one of the triad who retains his memories): -

‘Flanked by a wary Menoetius, he stepped into the palace courtyard at Labrynthos. Sunlight beat against the paving. He could feel the blinding heat richoting from those stones. Sensations and images blinded him, of carved pillars supporting gigantic stone awnings, of vibant frescoes displaying black bulls and blue, flittering birds. He’d heard of Crete’s magnificent architecture, but the reality left him awe struck…’

But now the former Aridela is the new wife of the beguiling laird to his empoverished, dour and middle aged fisherman. How can he win her?
Yet he will try, just as he knows that the now Morrigan, though drawn to him, will strain her utmost to be loyal to her handsome new husband, and that Menoetius’ love for her is more loyal and less selfish than his own. Harpalycus will discover them, and wreak havoc. It is the nature of them all.

This book is long, but it’s a page turner, so that it doesn’t seem so. I read it through at record speed, and recommend it as a fascinating, engrossing story from an epic series to be enjoyed on many levels.

One of the smoothly interlocking themes of this great novel is the tragic depiction of the abuse of woman, and in particular, it's destructive effect on the feelings of self worth of the woman who is subject to it. Morrigan has scars on he psyche, the result of the abuse of her bitter father,who has always doubted her paternity. I don't want to write a spoiler; but it is this sense of not feeling good enough for happiness and the love of a truly admirable man, which greatly contributes to some of Moririgan's mistaken decisions in the book.

The former Chrysaleon remembers her in her incarnation as the fearless Aridela, and this is the supreme irony of his thousands of years long crusade against female power. In attacking it, he has brought about a change he hates to see in the one woman he loves and respects as an equal: -

'Had he fought all these centuries only to lose her to this world's joyless new order - the world he hd helped to create when he caused the destruction of Crete and the last stronghold that honoured women?'

But Aridela has more strength than he knows: and Athene's eclipse from the face of the earth and modern understanding may be part of the Great Mother's plan...

I can’t wait for the next in the series!


Requiem for the Forgotten Path: The Summoning (Ankerita Book 2)
Requiem for the Forgotten Path: The Summoning (Ankerita Book 2)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a funny, spine chilling, 30 Mar. 2016
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This is a funny, spine chilling, evocative continuation of the adventures of Ankarita, the eponymous heroine of the first in this series.

I really like this heroine. She is brave, determined, resourceful, loyal, generous, and – decidedly bossy. After all, she's been around for five hundred years, has been a murderer (of her abusive husband) cursed, drugged, buried alive,become the thief of someone else's body, then befriended, enslaved, idolised, exploited, and relentlessly hunted down by the sinister Fantasia and her company of thugs . People who have been about for a few decades must seem novices at life to her.

If this young woman ended up as a beaten wife in the early sixteenth century, as we know she did from volume one, then there would have been no hope for the rest of us…

The tale is fast moving and runs smoothly, through every sort of adventure, mundane and arcarne. The writing is full of vivid word pictures but – and this isn’t the contradiction it might appear to be - I was particularly drawn in by the concise, matter-of- fact style. I think, like me, many people will find themselves fully believing in these wild, Gothic adventures through different dimensions and time. Through this combination of humour and readable but sophisticated approach, I really was drawn in and carried along by the tale.

Besides this, I was kept grinning broadly and sometimes laughing out loud by the humour. This is a compliment from me, because often I can read a whole comedy book, and only smile.

The plot took a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and this was an unusual treat for me, because I do find a lot of conventional fiction rather predictable, especially in the way it depicts relationships,and those between men and women in particular. Here, you really don't know what is going to happen.

Finally, some quotes:

''"Farewell, my beautiful darling," he said sadly, and placed a kiss on her cold lips. "If only.."
The eyes flicked open as he lingered. "If only what, thou odiferous shardborne piglet?"Her cold hand lashed out, and hit him firmly across the
cheek.'

"It's a parking ticket. You have to like pay a fine."
"Ah," said Ankarita,"A pox upon that..."

''The journey became an ordeal. The old man gave off a dim glow which led them down a labyrinth of passages. Jo tried to continue marking,
the walls as they continued to keep up, but the old man was moving too swiftly. They went up sloping passages and down spiral stairways and along twisting tunnels. There were many branches that showed up n the glow of the old man's ghost light, too many even to try to remember a route. There would be no going back...'

A great read and recommended for all who like a strong, independent heroine and an original, spine chilling and witty, fantasy.


Ankerita: Seasons out of Time
Ankerita: Seasons out of Time
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner both chilling amd funny as it speeds to its moving climax, 17 Feb. 2016
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I was very impressed with this, the first book I have read by Robert Wingfield. I found the combination of humour and horror really entertaining, but what most impressed me was that there is all the time a darker, emotive element to the story. These are strong moral and emotional undertones, which are skilfully developed and kept in as a muted background theme until the grand finale. In this it reminded me of classic pieces of music; that may sound pretentious, but so it was.

The heroine is a fascinatingly complex character. Strong is the term that comes most to mind. This is no wimp who is looking for a man to rescue her.

This is all the more fascinating, as she comes from a previous age. Ankarita is not her real name. In Tudor times, the woman, one of the gentry, killed her husband for abusing her, and his family avenged him by turning her into an anchoress, walled up in a cell to pray. Later, they gave her a terrible poison which paralysed her. They then buried her alive.

Her soul remained suspended between this life and the next for centuries, gradually developing in power and determination to escape:
‘Recent visitors had reported unexplained mists, forming and dissolving in the doorways and broken buildngs still standing. Recent visitors, if they had any sense, would tend to give the place a wide berth after sunset’.

Now, a couple of petty villains who are both contemptible and ridiculous – down to their names, Wayne and Tox, come to deface the ruin with graffiti. But Tox, unknown, to him, is psychic.

‘Wot, you usin’ words now stead of swearin’ all the time?’
‘Yeah, so? I don’t want dudes to think I’m thick’’

Ankarita, rises from the tomb, as beguiling as she was in life. Wayne runs. She creates the hermitage as it was, to draw Tox into dreams of stealing its wealth.

Instead, she steals his body:
‘The cowl dropped away; Tox’s mouth fell open. The face that stared at him was not the lady; it was his own. His was the body in the prison. He screamed and tried to run. The buildings around him faded into airless black.’

Ankarita manages to transform his body into her old one.

But a psychic bond remains between them. Tox is struggling to regain control of his body, and as ‘Anna’ sets off on a series of adventures in this strange modern world to which she must adjust – without an official identity or money – she must contend with this too.

She is both helped, and hindered, by a strange malevolent species of pet. Didubas the
Demon, who will help her at times – as long as she is up to mischief:
‘Me, a refugee from the dungeon dimensions, with no power in this world unless driven by malice, how can I get you out? That would be an act of kindness.’

There follows a series of wild, darkly comic adventures for Anna, suspended still to some extent between two worlds, able to see the ghostly inhabitants of the modern UK. She is revealed as determined to keep her hold on Tox’s body, but warm-hearted in her dealings with others, and singularly independent.

We follow her adventures as she works long shifts in a cheap hotel, where she meets a disinterested friend and a ghostly, amorous highwayman, through a spell with a debauched heavy metal rock band, through a spell in a desolate house with a group of homeless people, through a flirtation with a over zealous policeman, through fights with would-be rapists and slavers.

But finally Ankorita must face her destiny, which she cannot evade for too long; in fact, this modern day odyssey seems to be drawing her ever further towards it…

And here, there is a startling twist in the tale, which I never envisaged. Here, the emotional depths of the novel, kept, as I said before, muted in the background, comes out. For here, Anna’s love and hates and fears and hopes must all converge in one meeting.

I was very impressed with this and whole heartedly recommend it to all those love gothic with a humorous turn, and who cannot resist a strong heroine.


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