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A. Coyle "acoyle7" (United Kingdom)
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Benedict's Carnival
Benedict's Carnival
by Kate Wiltshire
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly authentic insights in an engaging novel, 23 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Benedict's Carnival (Paperback)
'Benedict's Carnival' is clearly written by someone who has an insider perspective on the petty rivalries, jealousies and neuroses of Church of England parish life as well as a clear view on the current ideological strife confronting that organisation over gay clergy. However, it is far from being propaganda dressed as fiction. Instead we get a sense of the complexity of the context through fictional 'lived experience' as the characters grapple with some of the major issues facing the Church today but also with their own standard life challenges.

The novel is well-written, although it could perhaps have benefitted from a final round of editing to tighten the pace of the narrative, which flags a little in the middle. Yet, two episodes are written with surprising conciseness. The death of Benedict Jones's (the priest at the centre of the novel) mother occurs with shocking speed. I did wonder whether this was too concisely written but, on reflection, I think not: sometimes the death of an aged parent can unfold so quickly that we are left shocked, even if we had been anticipating the demise. However, the story of Benedict's romantic encounter is sketched much too quickly: this is a turning point for him but the reader does not really get a sense of why this should be. Otherwise the structure is very good, with the strategy of retelling some events from different perspectives working extremely well.

The characters are very well drawn, in some ways almost too well drawn, so much so that they brought out reactions of frustration in me at the lack of self-insight shown by two of the central characters. For the first half of the novel, I read in horror of Ben's manipulation of Meg and Jennifer, at one stage saying aloud as I read, 'For heaven's sake, man - get some therapy before you cause some real damage to these women'! However, my sympathies were not extended wholly to the women either as I became weary of Meg's fruitless and increasingly frantic pining after Ben. Her tedious efforts to elicit from him the sort of response she desired became...well...tedious. However, that reaction may simply reflect my lack of patience in analogous real-life situations. Indeed, I ended up feeling rather guilty when confronted by the much more understanding and supportive reaction of Meg's eminently sensible friend, Christine.

These reactions on my part may leave you wondering what pleasure I could possibly have derived from the novel. The answer is that the author managed to create such a convincing context that she absolutely drew me into the world that she portrayed: there is no simple 'black and white' here but rather the complexity and inconsistency of authentic characters engaged in struggling with life dilemmas framed by a struggling institution. This venture could so easily have gone awry if characters had been mere mouthpieces for the author's position on the issues that she presents or if they had been idealised forms. However, her obvious understanding of organisational processes and potential dysfunction and of mid-life psychology, coupled with an empathic engagement with and sympathy for her central characters, make this a very engaging and enjoyable novel.


Daybreak and Eventide: A Little Book of Prayers and Worship for Individuals, Small Groups and House Churches
Daybreak and Eventide: A Little Book of Prayers and Worship for Individuals, Small Groups and House Churches
by Andrew Joseph Brown
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Treasury for Prayer Life, 13 Aug. 2008
Having come from a traditional Christian background and having recently begun attending a Unitarian church (while holding to a liberal Christian view of the nature of Jesus), I was most interested to learn of this book. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but what I have found is an absolute treasury which has offered a framework for my prayer life within the Unitarian Christian tradition. The basic focus of the book on morning and evening prayer echoes the structure of the main parts of the Divine Office found in Trinitarian Christian traditions but without assuming the divinity of Jesus. Both morning and evening prayer begin with versions of a gospel reading stressing the unity of God (and echoing the Jewish Shema). Yet there is much here that is familiar, including the 'Our Father', 'Benedictus', 'Magnificat' and 'Nunc Dimittis'. There is a standard structure for morning and evening prayer, supplemented with readings and prayers for each day of the month. The only thing that readers/users may quibble about is the use of the King James Version and John Henson's very modern and sometimes idiomatic translation for Biblical quotations. To my surprise, I loved the Henson translations (even if they are sometimes a little awkward), so much so that I bought his 'Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures'. If any readers are uneasy about either of these traditional or modern extremes, a simple solution is to use a preferred version of the Bible alongside this book. I can't comment on the utility of the book for communal worship but, as a resource for individual prayer within a recognisable but liberal Christian context, I have found this book invaluable and recommend it wholeheartedly, not just for Unitarian Christians but for liberal Christians in any denomination.


Paula Spencer
Paula Spencer
by Roddy Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 11 July 2008
This review is from: Paula Spencer (Paperback)
Having first encountered Paula Spencer in 'The Woman who Walked into Doors', I was eagerly looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with her in this book. However, I was disappointed by the novel. It was good to witness (on her terms) her struggle to establish a new alcohol-free foundation for her life and to read of attempts to repair or accept past mistakes. I was also interested in Paula's ambivalence about her daughter, Nicola, and her sister, Carmel: these felt like 'real' complex relationships. Too often, though, characters were under-developed and used as cyphers for Paula's struggles. This may be the nature of this 'inner world' type of writing in which the reader enters into a character's interpreted world with all its complexities, delusions, non-sequiturs, pettiness, as well as struggles, spirit and courage. However, it needs more creative handling than Doyle offers in this book.


Substance Use: Guidance on Good Clinical Practice for Midwives, Nurses and Health Visitors Working within Maternal Health (For Midwives,Nurses & Health V)
Substance Use: Guidance on Good Clinical Practice for Midwives, Nurses and Health Visitors Working within Maternal Health (For Midwives,Nurses & Health V)
by Patrick Coyne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars very comprehensive and useful professional guidance, 11 May 2008
excellent and thorough review, with excellent practice advice,
has been of great help to many clinicians


Clinical Management and Treatment of Substance Misuse for Women in Prison
Clinical Management and Treatment of Substance Misuse for Women in Prison
by J. Palmer
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars revolutionary prison reform nursing and clinical care, 11 May 2008
excellent account of how to improve prison health care
very clear policies and procedures
stimulated both national and international advances in the area
contact Central North West London Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Camden, London, Chief Exec Office


Substance Use. Guidance on Good Clinical Practice for Specialist Nurses Working with Alcohol and Drug Users
Substance Use. Guidance on Good Clinical Practice for Specialist Nurses Working with Alcohol and Drug Users
by Patrick & Wright, Seonaid Coyne
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars best government advice for nurses on substance misuse, 11 May 2008
surprising find, excellent review of nursing and other literature,
provides a great nursing model for working with substance misuse
highly recommended


A Long Long Way
A Long Long Way
by Sebastian Barry
Edition: Paperback

102 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly crafted novel, 17 July 2006
This review is from: A Long Long Way (Paperback)
I'm not really one for war novels but was drawn to this because of its focus on Irish soldiers fighting in the Great War against the backdrop of the Easter Rising in their own country (I'm Irish myself) and because it was nominated for the Booker Prize. I whizzed through 'The Da Vinci Code' before this (well, I thought it was about time that I knew what people were going on about) and found it a blessed relief to savour the poetic prose of Sebastian Barry's novel after the dross of Dan Brown's. Barry describes interactions and interiority with poetic insight, so much so that I re-read many passages, just to taste properly all that they had to offer. However, some of his graphic descriptions of the field of battle are stomach-churning - and so they should be. In Willie Dunne, he creates a deeply empathic character whose growing sense of out-of-placeness and disillusionment with the discourses of war build incrementally across the novel. I found the end both shocking and deeply moving. This is a superbly crafted book that I would recommend unreservedly.


Sean Nos Nua
Sean Nos Nua
Offered by A1tradingGB
Price: £12.61

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding journey along familiar terrain, 19 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Sean Nos Nua (Audio CD)
When I first heard about this CD, my heart sank as I suspected that an attempt to cover some familiar Irish songs suggested a lack of new ideas and ran the risk of committing near-sacrilege. I mean, who could possibly reinterpret songs like 'Molly Malone' and hope to add anything to them? However, when I played the CD, I realised that the answer to that question is very simple: Sinead O'Connor. This is an astounding CD in which the singer takes songs which, to the ear of any Irish person, will probably have lost their appeal through over-familiarity and she respectfully enhances them through sometimes only minor modifications while retaining all the valuable qualities of the originals. So 'Molly Malone' is transformed from a singalong ditty to a profoundly sad and moving song and - this one is my own favourite - 'I'll Tell Me Ma' is transformed from something that I remember as a skipping song sung by young girls in the street into a cheeky, joyous riot of a song with some expert traditional musicians giving it their all. Of all the CDs I've bought this year, this is the one that I've played most often. It's simply a CD to treasure, featuring an imaginative performer at the very top of her game.


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