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Little Dorrit (Wordsworth Classics)
Little Dorrit (Wordsworth Classics)
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens at what he does best!, 20 Nov 2008
Little Dorrit is a prime example of Dickens' weighty descriptive style and his genius for observation and characterisation. It also, perhaps unusually for Dickens, has a semi-coherent story line.
The book chronicles the respective fortunes of the title heroine, a young women caring for her incarcerated father in the Marshalsea Prison, and Mr Arthur Clennam, a kindly businessman returned lately from the east, who becomes obsessed with the idea that his father was responsible for the Dorrit families woes. An entrie host of characters, good and bad, amusing and obnoxious, accompany the main protagonists on their mysteriously intertwined journeys. The only fault I can find is with the tale's finale, when it seems Dickens grows tired of the story, not actually having a great twist for the climax, and bumps off many of his characters before ending with a rather predictable chocolate tin finish. However, your sense of achievment at having penetrated deeper into the world of Dickens, meeting memorable heroes and villains will probably overcome any misgivings on this score. The scene where Mr Pancks cuts the patriarch's hair is pure genius and the petulant Mr Dorrit, Flora Casby and her objectionable Aunt are another constant stream of entertainment.
Apart from the moral that money will not buy you happiness, Dickens also used this book to launch a scathing criticism against the government and society of the time, represented by the infamous Circumlocution Office and a certain affluent couple named Merdle.
An excellent read for all those who have a reasonable grasp of the English language or have enjoyed other Dickens books.


The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (Penguin Popular Classics)
by John Buchan
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest and funniest classic adventure stories!, 15 Sep 2008
Richard Hannay's debut into the world of literature is one of immediate excitement, suspense and peril to rival any `penny thriller'. The jocular narrative and the twists and turns at which the brigadier thwarts the sinister Black Stone make this altogether an endearing classic adventure, with few faults save perhaps, the contrast of description of scenery or Hannay's reflections to the pace of the story. But this is forgivable in a highly entertaining if incredulous book.


Midnight is a Place (Red Fox Older Fiction)
Midnight is a Place (Red Fox Older Fiction)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Aiken, 15 Sep 2008
This is typical story by Joan Aiken of her fantastical history series. It centres on the joint fortunes of Lucas and Anna-Marie, orphaned heirs of a carpet factory. Braving the industrial horrors of Blastburn, a recurring town in the series, the two battle for survival. They learn many important lessons in looking after Lucas's tutor, Mr Oakapple, working both as match girl and tosh boy, even entering the employment of the carpet factory as a claw-cleaner. Through their adventures, they run afoul of the evil network of Bob Bluddward and eventually defeat him. Blastburn, the background for the story, is a very realistic picture of a grimy working town, and Aiken has obviously researched the period (although fictional, the timeline in The James III series can be linked to the 1800s). This is a good story, with enough twists in the plot to keep the reader interested.


Dido And Pa (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
Dido And Pa (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in the series!, 15 Sep 2008
A gritty and sinister adventure story, perhaps the peak of the Aiken series, the book starts by joining a few loose ends from the other books.
Simon, now fully instated as Duke of Battersea, and staunch supporter of the incumbent King Richard, discovers his childhood friend Dido near the isolated village of Petworth, but before he can bring her back to his castle, Mr Twite makes a reappearance, and kidnaps his daughter, bringing her to a seedy area of London, where his benefactor, the truly evil Margrave of Nordmarck has plans to unseat good King Richard, killing off all his close friends and replacing him with and impersonator. A foreign man, chosen because of likeness to the king, who Dido is teaching English. The resourceful and loveable Dido manages to break free and with the help of the mystery shrouded Birthday League, defeat the schemes of the Margrave and her Father. This is one of Joan Aiken's best and darkest books, reintroducing most of her best heroes and villains. Mr Twite is a masterpiece, and even when he is devoured by wolves, we are confused as to rejoice or mourn. Dido once again pulls off her role of the plucky, savvy street child in this extraordinary tale. Recommended ages 6 to wherever!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2010 10:44 AM BST


The Cuckoo Tree (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
The Cuckoo Tree (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.61

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, with a typically tangled plot, 15 Sep 2008
A strange tale of Dido Twite, an aristocratic family in decay, a spoilt young lord and a Hanoverian mastermind, not to mention a loyal smuggling gang and some wicked old women. This adventure is set mostly in the countryside, unfamiliar settings for Dido Twite. But it can be just as exciting as the town, as she finds out, when her friend Tobit is hauled into jail, threatened with losing his inheritance, and the evil Mrs Lubbage and the spider-like Tante Sannie along with some other Hanoverians including her own Pa, plan to slide St Paul cathedral into the Thames on giant rollers, just at the time of King Richard's coronation! The only downside is the magic which seems to me out of place in the series. Packed with adventure and suspense (perhaps too much suspense), this is an interesting, if not too serious read.


The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.97

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 15 Sep 2008
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is one of those eternal classics which has never failed to stir my imagination with its atmospheric and descriptive style, which seems to be lacking in modern literature. From the desolate and wolf-infested wold of Willoughby estate to the sinister and isolated house itself, the hideous girls' institution in Blastburn and to the busy streets of London, this is a whirlwind journey with a great variety of characters, both good and bad. The book's only faults are perhaps under-development of characters and the speed of the narrative which gives a pantomime feel to some passages of the book. But otherwise a rip-roaring adventure story and one of my all time favourite children's novels.


Night Birds On Nantucket (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
Night Birds On Nantucket (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! (But not without some Whale oil), 15 Sep 2008
This fantastical adventure chronicles the fortunes of Dido Twite, presumed dead, rescued by a whaling ship and its eccentric skipper, Captain Casket and his reclusive daughter Penitence. While Dido and Penitence are sent to stay with Aunt Tribulation on the lonely isle of Nantucket, bristling with mysterious scientists and Hanoverian conspirators with their sights on London town, Captain Casket is pursuing a giant pink whale. For the most part, this is a well crafted escapade of Dido's further adventures, and the plucky street urchin has her hands full with the dreary Penitence. However, Miss Slighcarp's comeback to the series as a mysterious stowaway and then as a charlatan Aunt are not particularly subtly done, but arguably they make the story more exciting. Professor Breadno's plan to destroy London with a giant canon is stretching the imagination, whilst the finale with the pink whale, the forementioned giant gun and Miss Slighcarp's death is frenetic to say the least. An amusing and thoroughly weird book.


Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence)
by Joan Aiken
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rambunctious and Humorous Romp, 15 Sep 2008
A highly entertaining adventure of missing persons, mistaken identities and Hanoverian conspiracies, set in the contrasting dark and nefarious streets of London and the gloomy splendour of Battersea Castle and its environs. The plot is well paced, Simon is a believable protagonist and the scallywag antics of Dido Twite provide an excellent foil for his almost effortless honesty. A slightly annoying drawback is Sophie, absurdly raised by an otter for much of her childhood! She is a little too perfect and reminiscent of a bland Dickensian heroine. The characters however are what really make this story, the eccentric Dr Furneaux and his loyal art students, the Cobbs and the hostile castle servants. The wonderfully affable yet sinister Mr Twite and his macabre principles, his wife will always be in his shadow no matter how much she orders him around. All these plus a wealth of villains like Mr Buckle and the odious Midwink make the narrative exciting and amusing. Despite a slightly feeble and obvious end, this is throughout a most satisfactory read!

Suitable for all ages! A great historical (fantasy) adventure!


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