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Clare Wigzell

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Adult Onset
Adult Onset
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Healing life, 14 April 2015
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This review is from: Adult Onset (Kindle Edition)
This novel is of its time. The themes are topical
: lesbianism, attitude of parents to coming out, treatment of women in the past and now, motherhood, child abuse, racism, personal development. Through the story, Mary Rose, Mister, explores what has happened to her in the past in order to make sense of her feelings and behaviour toward her daughter. It uses interesting narrative techniques including a parallel story being written by the main character, fragments of memory and stream of consciousness experiences. The book is always humane but tackles difficult and painful experiences.


The Lightning Tree
The Lightning Tree
Price: £7.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly brilliant, 18 Mar. 2015
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I got involved with the main characters and their stories. I liked the setting. Writing was good with brilliant descriptions of sex (see 31% in). It was true to life but managed to be fresh. Very good politics and I loved the way it represented women. It was a pleasure to see my own interest represented in a novel including cultural theory. I liked the description of the lightening tree and the spiritual experiences. They were light, imaginative and accessible. It was nearly brilliant or brilliant in parts. Maybe I wanted it to go into more darkness and challenge me more in the writing- ultimately there was something safe in the writing even though the subject matter was challenging. I would recommend it as a light but satisfying novel.


The First Bad Man
The First Bad Man
Price: £8.54

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising and funny, 3 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The First Bad Man (Kindle Edition)
This book was full of frantic fun. It surprised me round every corner. Some of its twists and turns did not appeal. Some made me laugh out loud. Some of its sexual politics were dodgy but it redeemed itself. I thought the whole baby bit was brilliant. There is a deep novel in there somewhere. So a patchy novel with bits I really enjoyed, other bits that bemused me and some that made me laugh out loud.


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
Price: £4.27

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, profound and gripping, 5 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Goldfinch (Kindle Edition)
This novel has everything I love within one cover (even that is intriguing): gripping story that hooks you then takes you on a roller coaster ride for 800 pages; wonderful characters that you would love to meet; a story line which is never predictable; deep and magical philosophy of life and exquisite, breath-taking prose. It has a breadth of geography, lifestyle, culture and class. It is a thriller, a crime novel, a love story, a psychological novel and an exploration of life's meaning. The novel kept the picture at its core; such beauty and vulnerability across the centuries. It touched my heart.
This is fiction at its very best. It fired my imagination on all cylinders. It articulated thoughts and feelings which are usually beyond words. It expressed an aesthetic for our age, a contemporary existentialism. Yet it never lost touch with the reality of modern life in America. It has given me such pleasure and I wanted it to last forever.


We Need New Names
We Need New Names
Price: £5.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An African voice, 20 Nov. 2013
This review is from: We Need New Names (Kindle Edition)
There is deep pain in this novel yet it races along with a vibrant, joyful energy. The prose has African rhythms. There is detailed observation of people and NoViolet understands what makes them tick but she doesn't always like what they do. She gets great pleasure from her childhood friends and loves them for who they are even when they behave in ways she does not agree with. The duality of the hurt they all suffer in their country with the deep love for the way of life and culture is at the heart of the novel. In her deprived Zimbabwe life, she longs for America and stability. Yet in the second part of the book when she has that safety, she suffers even more pain and feelings of disjuncture. Her African perspective shows up the western life as being much more deprived, despite the material wealth.
The book is also a coming of age novel so some of her feelings of disillusion may be a product of coming to adulthood and having to give up on the dreams of childhood. It is also a novel about identity of a girl/woman and a country. NoViolet feels her identity is fractured by the regime in her homeland, the violence and abuse. Her family is broken by what happens to her father. Then in America she has lost her roots, traditions and her soul and she cannot return. Africa has a raw energy in he novel. It is untamed and connected to ancient ways of being. Mother of Bones does not need anything the NGOs bring. She keeps her dignity and values and history. She has a deep knowledge and a holistic view of life which her own government cannot destroy. The novel does not explain the politics, it plays out the impact on ordinary lives. That way, the writer gives us a deep feel for a way of life, a concern for what has gone on in that regime and a critique of western life. In her colourful and lyrical prose she also gives us hope for the better future that human beings can create.


Let the Great World Spin
Let the Great World Spin
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Solace, 2 Oct. 2013
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Colin McCann has taken a long hard look at the painful bits of our western world and woven a novel to help us accept and feel redeemed by them. He does not duck hard things like racism, violence, drugs and prostitution. He does not judge or romanticize. In fact he has done more than that. He gives us a wide range of human experience. He shows us what we are capable of both high and low. His running metaphor or the tightrope walker, a man who is so at one with himself that he can dance along the wire, celebrates the brilliance of the human spirit. His characters, especially the most unlikely such as Tilly, the prostitute, walk their own tightrope lives with the same brilliance. He shows us that we can live our lives that way as well.


Life After Life
Life After Life
Price: £4.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, intriguing, compelling read but not for the faint hearted, 23 May 2013
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This review is from: Life After Life (Kindle Edition)
I love this book. The characters are so richly drawn and the scenes are so well described you get totally caught up in the writing. Then strange things happen and you might need to check back to find out if your mind is playing tricks. It isn't. Tragedies are played out again and again with different endings. Time is not linear. The whole book is the snake with its head in its mouth - there is only now. The strange twists and turns don't stop you relating fully to all the characters and caring about what happens. You get a brilliant flavour of the times and the countries of England, Switzerland and glimpses of France and Germany . She covers the sweeping drama of war in the trenches and living through the blitz and then the domestic detail of what the cook is preparing. The layered versions of similar and different stories gives a sense of humanity beyond the individual. It shows us possibilities and things that can happen beyond our control. Sometimes I worried that I could not keep all the stories in my head and therefore I would miss something. I did get lost occasionally but it did not stop my reading or my enjoyment. Her mature exploration of the novel structure is brilliant. I would love to study it. It plays with your expectation and never disappoints.


Fremont
Fremont

5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Whirlpool novel, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Fremont (Kindle Edition)
The flowing metaphors expressed something profound about life. They tapped into my unconscious and captured things I could not explain, only experience. I loved the female characters doing extravagant and unlikely things. I never knew where the story was heading. The map and the shifting house said so much about the things that happen in family life. You have a plan and you see a pattern then things change out your control. You have to accept and adapt. It had an exuberance that swept me along. This force was positive and life affirming despite some of the sad and difficult issues. I cried near the end. Always s bonus if a book moves me that much. Maybe the plot was too complicated and it was hard to keep track of the many daughters. A whirlpoolof a novel.


Levels of Life
Levels of Life
Price: £5.49

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balloon ride of a novel, 14 April 2013
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This review is from: Levels of Life (Kindle Edition)
It is deceptively simple and light. He gives metaphor and stories from history to introduce his themes. He circles the main issue of his wife's death. The powerful words give us a rich fantastical landscape of feelings and touches on the wonders of love and the fleeting nature of life. He jettisons ballast to keep us afloat. Then he crashes to earth. It is graphic. We are with him in the rose bed as his guts spill out. He holds the reader with him. We never turn away. He takes us through the pain with strong, multi-layered language which allows us to encompass the deepness of feelings and meanings without finding it too hard to bear. As the story closes, we know that we are transformed by it.


State of Wonder
State of Wonder
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, involving and extraordinary, 16 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: State of Wonder (Kindle Edition)
I got involved in the characters and the unusual story line from the beginning. I had no idea what would happen next at any point. I thought it was going to the Heart of Darkness all over again and it turned out to be the opposite. She re found herself in the jungle and let go of a deep fear. I thought the concept of a 70 year old woman being pregnant was fascinating. Now I am too old to conceive I sometimes wish to be a young mum again and go through all that physical stuff with a new baby and then I am glad I don't have to. The tree bark was also an amazing idea and I could picture it. It was very strange and mesmeric. It filled me with wonder.


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