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L. McG.

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The End Of The Affair (Vintage Classics)
The End Of The Affair (Vintage Classics)
by Graham Greene
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 2 May 2013
I read a lot of Greene in the 70s and have begun recently to re-read him. Of all those of his novels I have gone back to, I now rank "The End of the Affair" top, which I did not do 40 years ago. Read some of the many other reviews if you want to know the story in advance of reading it. If not, just buy a copy and plunge in. If you've ever loved or hated or wondered about the existence or otherwise of God, you'll be drawn into what is probably Greene's most passionate and personal novel.


The Adorations-A Novel in Double Time
The Adorations-A Novel in Double Time
Price: £3.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Something unexpected is about to happen, 8 Mar. 2013
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With "The Adorations", Boylan leaves behind his Irish hinterland and the footnoted farce that he has made his own in his Killoyle trilogy. ("The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad", second in his Killoyle trilogy, has only 5-star reviews on Amazon.com - quite a feat.) "The Adorations" is set in Geneva, Vienna, Paris and points in between. In time it covers a century - ranging from the before the First World War to the early 21st century. Boylan knows the places he writes of intimately. Even though you know he cannot have known them during all the eras described, he gives the impression that he just might have been around then too. And known some of the characters he writes about. The descriptions of France under Nazi occupation are masterly; his delvings into the psychology of Adolf Hitler (he is one of the book's characters and the source of some of its might-have-been backdrop) intrigue; and he has put to very good use his considerable knowledge of the dying days of Austria-Hungary. Yet, for me, what gives the book its edge is the unbidden appearance of the supernatural and its (often comic) effect on the (quite secular) characters in the book. This is not Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair" - it's not as dark as that and the story is utterly different, but that's what it reminded me of at some points. Boylan has done something different here and something not easy to pull off. For my money I think he has pretty well succeeded. And - oh, by the way - don't judge the book by its cover.


Instructions for a Heatwave
Instructions for a Heatwave
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite..., 8 Mar. 2013
I liked this book. (I don't write reviews of books I don't like; often I don't finish them.) But, after previous books by Maggie O'Farrell that I've loved (" After You'd Gone", "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"...), I felt this one didn't quite get there. Yes, the writing is beautiful and appropriate. Yes, there is some great characterisation (especially Aoife). Was there something being said about the effect of an atavistic religiosity on a generation that grew up away from its roots? Or was it just a dysfunctional group of people who happened to be related to one another for the convenience of the novel? And why is the mystery of the missing man such an insignificant part of the plot as it develops? Don't get me wrong, I liked this book; but it didn't grab me in the way some of Maggie O'Farrell's other books have done.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2013 10:05 AM GMT


The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the Ending Make Sense?, 8 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Sense of an Ending (Paperback)
I very much enjoyed this short book - and read it in a single sitting (rare for me with any book). The style is splendid. The narrator's memory of the past and the slow recovery of mis-remembered events haunts and is exquisitely done. The time spent trying to recover elements of the past that were not particuarly important may seem bizarre until one reflects that it is being done from the vantage point of boredom in retirement. Perhaps a more realistic grasping for distant moments of imagined quasi-happiness than one would hope to be the case for oneself. The only thing I can fault is the ending. There have been clues (Robson) but they were, for me at least, insufficient. Just a few more lines on that disastrous weekend in Chislehurst, a few more lines on Veronica's mother's kindness to Tony... Then I would have felt that the ending did make sense, wouldn't have been left a bit non-plussed on the last page, would have awarded 5 stars.


Run Like Blazes: A Memoir
Run Like Blazes: A Memoir
Price: £2.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Down and Out in Paris and London or The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 7 Mar. 2013
Please refer to my review of this book posted in December 2012 on Amazon .com. If you do not have a kindle it's your loss.


Snowdrops
Snowdrops
by A. D. Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 7 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Snowdrops (Paperback)
This was the best novel I read in 2012. I spent a lot of time in Moscow in the 1990s and, although Miller's tale is set in the 2000s, the atmosphere is totally familiar and brilliantly captured. The not-quite-right financial dealings and the mystery of a neighbour who disappears while the snows of the long winter cover the city. And what about those two gorgeous Russian females, Masha and Katya? You wonder, if you're not feeling all superior about the whole thing, if you could have resisted them, resisted getting sucked in as things gradually begin to be not what they seemed at first, resisted the weekend at the dacha with its promises of a glimpse into the true timeless Russia behind all the glitz and shallow materialism of 21st century Moscow. When would you have bailed out? The style makes this book easy to read, but its substance is not light. The images from this brilliant contemporary morality play stay with you - as they clearly do with the book's protagonist after he returns to the grey predictable world of a London back-office job.


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