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Mr. Thomas Thatcher "Tom Thatcher" (Salisbury, UK)
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1066: What Fates Impose
1066: What Fates Impose
by G.K. Holloway
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of research and imagination, 20 Feb 2014
I have always been fascinated by pre-conquest Britain and, living near Wilton, Shaftesbury (where King Cnut died) and Sherborne, it would be curious if the incredible history of the area had not rubbed off. Previous literary sources have been Alfred Duggan and various summaries of the times, not least the Domesday Book and the Bayeux Tapestry. What has been frustrating is the inability to picture the actual people of the time and to see them as real actors on a real stage. The huge influence of Denmark, Norway and France on our development as a country is absolutely engrossing.

King Harold Godwinson, successor to King Edward the Confessor who died without children, is the most central figure of this engrossing novel, only known to most people as the king who received an arrow in his eye at the Battle of Hastings. But Mr Holloway, after extensive research, has fleshed out Harold (and the Godwinson clan) and made him very human, especially considering his obvious abilities as a military and political leader, his extraordinary "double" marriage, his explosive and unpredictable family and his overseas connections.

Few realise how widespread was foreign travel in the 11th century and Mr Holloway brings this out very clearly, describing the comings and goings between various European countries. The depiction of William the Conqueror is quite wonderful: he is painted as a brutish, semi-literate oaf, but not without native cunning, a certain charm and forceful leadership abilties. The story of Harold's capture and treatment by Count Guy, and subsequent effective imprisonment by William, was new to me and and helped to flesh out not only the territorial but also the personal antagonism of the two men.

The romance and real affection between Harold and his first "wife" Edyth Swanneschals or Edyth Swanneck is beautifully depicted although the nick-name "Swan Neck" is probably a misinterpretation. The finest part of the novel to my eyes is the "reconciliation" bewteen Edyth and Harold after he was more or less compelled to marry Edith of Mercia - perhaps more of a political alliance than a marriage of love. Nonetheless, the author makes the point very strongly that Edith may well have been easy on the eyes and that Harold put up with the "inconvenience" very bravely!!

The Godwinson brothers are seen as an unreliable and bloodthirsty gang, with Sweyn being particularly unpleasant and probably what we would now call a psycopath. Tostig, who effectively ruled Northumbria, rebelled against Harold, persuading the Norwegian King Harald to invade the North. The result was the Battle of Stamford Bridge, which Harold won conclusively in September 1066. After a forced march back of 250 miles to the south with a depleted and exhausted force, Harold was defeated by William at the Battle of Hastings near Senlac Ridge in October 1066. As the author points out, it was a very close thing: had Harold not been killed after a full day's fighting, it is likely that he would have won. The battles are narrated really well and are truly exciting. These were bloody and violent times, the victor often being the man with the biggest stick regardless of right or wrong, and this point is driven home very forcefully.

I loved this novel and this short review does not do it justice. Some might find some of the dialogue a little too racy and modern, but I did not. As 99% of the speech is speculation, it is the author's choice to decide the words and the tone of them. We know what happened in these extraordinary days in outline form but Mr Holloway has filled in the gaps with remarkable skill.

For the first time in a very long time, I re-read certain parts of this excellent book immediately. There is a lot to take in the first time round and I missed a great deal. Full marks to Mr Holloway for shedding a light on these nation-forming years. Five stars.


Homer And Langley
Homer And Langley
by E. L. Doctorow
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book, 21 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Homer And Langley (Paperback)
This is the sort of novel that restores one's faith in writing. EL Doctorow is a master and there are some superb funny and bathetic moments.


Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating - Custom Light (0.011 - 0.052)
Elixir 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating - Custom Light (0.011 - 0.052)
Price: 10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fine strings, 21 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent strings and ideal for gigging and recording by Isobel Thatcher (see website). Used with a Crafter Windsurfer, a lovely guitar.


Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2
Rome: The Coming of the King: Rome 2
by M.C. Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to love, 7 Aug 2013
Believe it or not, I picked up this book at a local book exchange not realising that it was by Manda Scott. I read the Boudica series some time ago and did review a couple for Amazon. This is a page-turner and I was very grateful for it in a time of extreme insomnia. It rattles along well, with the fairly unbelievable characters getting into all sorts of scrapes and capturing, er, Masada along the way. One wants to know what happens and the main actors are just about interesting enough to engage the reader.

I found the Boudica books very hard going and, before the end, found this very hard going too. It's probably my fault but I find Miss Scott's style uneasy and produced - which is not to claim that she isn't hugely talented. I just felt an unprompted groan emerge at the first mention of "The Dreamers of Mona," and that stayed with me to the end.

Not at all sorry to have read this Roman thriller, but I will not seek out Miss Scott's books as a priority.


Broken Barricades (40th anniversary series)
Broken Barricades (40th anniversary series)
Price: 8.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best-ever outing by Brooker and Co, 23 July 2013
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This is such a weird album, sounding more like a cross between Cream, Gallagher, the Stones and the Beatles than PH. However, having played Simple Sister live for 40 years now, I have to say that it is one of a handful of albums that is truly indispensible. Brooker's voice is powerful, the lyrics are risque and dream-like and Trower does Trower.

PH were so far ahead of their time that they met themselves about four times coming the other way. I have no idea how this album got written or recorded: 99.9% of bands of any era would have been happy with Simple Sister alone.

Simply better than anything else around and virtually ignored, of course.


Elixir 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating - Custom Light (0.011 - 0.052)
Elixir 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating - Custom Light (0.011 - 0.052)
Price: 11.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb with a top-class Crafter guitar, as played by Isobel Thatcher on the "Keeping On" album., 23 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Brilliant strings. Clear, ringing without echoing and very long lasting. I would recommend them to anybody and they are great live.


The Road to Harry's Bar: Forty Years on the Potholed Path to Stardom
The Road to Harry's Bar: Forty Years on the Potholed Path to Stardom
by Gordon Haskell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.70

5.0 out of 5 stars The Mouse that roared, 13 Aug 2012
Dear old Gordon: this is an absolutely fascinating book for anybody even remotely interested in the pop/rock world and, indeed, for anybody to whom it's new. Gordon doesn't hold back: he developed a cynical view of the world of rock music very early on and retained this view, dare I say it, up to and including now. There are a few things that cannot come out in Gordie's life journey, though! 1. He's an excellent raconteur: I still chuckle to myself remembering his stories about long-lost gigs in the back of freezing vans in places like Aberystwyth: and he could keep a story going for ages and ages until all bladder control was a vain hope 2. He is an exceptional musician. I've seen him in jazz bands on bass, in duos with Mike Wedgwood (see Curved Air) and others and on his own and, lately, with an orchestra in Scandinavia. Do not imagine that the songs on Harry's Bar rose fully-formed from the earth; a lot of life and work went into crafting these lovely pieces of work. You'll hear about it here. Get hold of Hambledon Hill: now there's a CD full of songs of life. Yes, Gordon is a consummate musician. 3. We never quite find out why he and old school pal Robert Fripp fell out so badly. Sorry, Gord, it's a small footnote in rock history, I know, but what did they do to upset each other quite so badly? I hope that's all over now.

I re-read the book in Denmark when my daughter was recording her first CD with Michael Wedgwood, who played a duo gigs with Gordie and recorded some of Harry's Bar. We all watched a CD of G with an orchestra that Mike put on and my goodness, it's lovely.

You'll love the book's section on "punk." For once, somebody has the nerve to say openly how badly the press and the media let the public down by giving a music form that was 99% crap, left virtually no memorable names or music and tried to knock down was was decent and honourable the oxygen of publicity. Clover and crumpets, anyone?

When "How wonderful you are" was an overnight success, various commentators in the press said, "Oh look, here's another novelty record by an unknown got lucky," which really really p***ed me off. It showed, even then, the level of people who call them selves critics, who do not even listen, ever listen. I wrote to the Telegraph and pointed out that Gordie produced that song by being a superb musician, and not by being The Singing Goat, or the Novelty Choir from Dorset or any other such crap. They published it. I am pleased that for once we spoke up and that this lovely man, loyal friend and clever musician at last, at last, received some of the credit and, we hope, cash due to him.


Crusade (Making of England 2)
Crusade (Making of England 2)
by Stewart Binns
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, but why is it all in the historic present?, 7 May 2012
Having just finished this book, I am now wondering how to do it justice and will come back to the review after a second reading. What should have been a four/five star write up has been demoted to three by the constant use of the historic present. "Last week, I get up at six and I am putting on eggs to cook. My wife comes in and she puts on toast. It is raining and I am deciding whether or not to go out: so I walk to the car......." and so on. This is a great, exciting tale, and the opening section about William of Malmesbury's quest is well-told and atmospheric: but the almost constant use of the present gives one the temptation to add "innit?" after every sentence ("So Dave, I'm 'aving a drink, innit, when this bloke walks in, know what I mean? ....") and reminds one of Jeremy Vine, who uses nothing but the present, and that may not be a good thing. The great Julius Caesar only used this tense to describe fierce action, as did Virgil, Ovid, Thucydides, Hesiod and, in fact, almost all the great classical writers. As an occasional device, it's effective: as a constant, it's INCREDIBLY annoying.

Now, having re-read the book, I have warmed to it to some degree. It is very much a work of fiction and speculation and claims to be nothing else. We know very little about Edgar Atheling and the goings-on of that period, and the rather cloying companionship of the main protagonists becomes wearing. Nonetheless, Stewart Binns does capture the sheer unspeakable ghastliness of the first Crusade as best he can. The sheer barbarism of the Christian crusaders, some of whom were inspired by a barking lunatic called Peter the Hermit, is fairly well attested and Mr Binns' contention that the Crusaders were mainly bent on bloodshed and plunder is, again, not without foundation. What we know of the period depicts both sides as equally unattractive: the siege and capture of Antioch is, all agree, a dreadful episode in a time marked by warfare, death, disease, privation, treachery and huge unrest. Stewart's version of Henry 1, usually painted as even more ghastly than his father William 1 and brother William Rufus, is interesting: he comes over as adapting to the regency with a degree of nobility: his unexpected Coronation Charter was a spectacular move towards what we call democracy and deserves some good press.

All in all, a darned good read. However, we have an historical novelist who is largely ignored by today's readers who writes the finest English imagineable and writes a great story with little sentimentality and over-embellishment: his name is Alfred Duggan His depiction of these horrible times, "Count Bohemond," may be one of the finest novels in the English language and, of course, uses the same sources as Stewart Binns. Both are worth reading, indeed, but Duggan's is a genuine classic.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on all guitars, 8 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Whilst I have little time for capos in principle - can you imagine a capo on a violin or piano? - this is pretty good on both wide-necked acoustics and Strat-type models.


To Be Someone
To Be Someone
Price: 0.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, readable, literate and reflective, 17 Jan 2012
This review is from: To Be Someone (Kindle Edition)
Louise puts her background (in creative writing and in the wonderful wacky world of rock music) to good use in this, her first novel from quite a few years back now. I am ashamed to say that I didn't read it (or the others that followed) until some years after publication. I have now read it again, not on Kindle I'm afraid and I don't regret the exercise it in any way.

Writing professionally is famously known as 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, but I think Lou shows a higher percentage of the former here. The novel is about Helena, a once highly-active musician in the rock world, who finds herself laid up after a most unusual accident at a rock ceremony (nice touch from Lou here: you'll have to read it!). As her enforced idleness causes her to think and reflect, the chapters of her life are epitomised and to some degree illustrated by a string of popular pop/rock singles, which has drawn comparisons to Nick Hornby. I don't find this convincing: when I was in my teens (about 459 years ago: I remember Edward II and his military abilities quite well)there were frequent comparisons between Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984 (which was about 1948 anyway): while they are both about dystopian future societies, they approach matters from a totally different angle - and so do Lou and Nick.

Anyway, as Helena reflects on her (in some ways unsatisfactory) life) she has another chance meeting that also changes her life for the future, we hope, and looks forward rather than back.

Louise is a very good, accurate, literate writer and has passed test number one: it's a page-turner, and Helena and her life are interesting enough that we want to know what happens/happened. Test numbers 2 - 20 are that.... any writing designed for publication should be readable and a good page-turner, if you get my point (see test 1). After a dose of some of the classics, even the most devoted literati find themselves reaching for something less weighty. I even don't mind the obvious allusion to the Jam, even though I am physically allergic to them.

Is is chic-lit? No, it's not: while it's aimed at a younger audiende than ancient males like me (one hundred and fifty years ago, the Shoshone tribe would have left me by roadside as an act of expiation for the local vulture God) it's engaging from page one and is just a .... good book. As an aside, I have noticed in life that it is impossible to turn on the radio or open a newspaper without catching a reference to goats. Rest assured, this is a book that is, for all intents and purposes, a goat-free zone. Buy with confidence: you'll like it a lot.

I am so pleased about Louise Voss' latest successes on Kindle and now in hard print: she is starting a second career and we all wish her the very best of success. She deserves it and is a smashing writer whose books make readers want to know what happens next, with characters you care about, in very good English. That's about all you need, really - hungry vultures and goats notwithstanding.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2012 2:11 PM GMT


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