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Reviews Written by
Philip Murray (Consett, County Durham United Kingdom)
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Pompeii
Pompeii
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly amazing- a fantastic read!, 13 July 2007
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
Having read Harris's 'Imperium', I anticipated a fantastic time reading 'Pompeii'. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Where as most historical-fiction writers seem to relish in intricate reconstructions of factual settings, Harris is much more subtle, offering a sprinkle of historical references to his reader in order to make the setting realistic, without distracting from the plot. The genius of Pompeii is Harris's characterisation, from the fantastically eccentric Pliny to his fantastic construction of the protagonist, Attilius. By creating such realistic and visual characters, Harris really helps in enveloping his readers with Pompeii's plot. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it really is a smashing read- not too long, but not too short, with many different sub-plots to get everyone interested. Fantastic!


Hamlet [DVD]
Hamlet [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £3.32

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's greatest play and an amazing film, 16 April 2007
This review is from: Hamlet [DVD] (DVD)
Purists of English literature would perhaps discredit this masterpiece of a film for its manipulation, and somewhat removal, of some scenes from Shakespeare's great revenge tragedy. However, the amazing acting from this all-star cast and the excellecent setting and realism of the film more than compensates. Highlights include the scenes demonstrating Ophelia's madness, a fantastically Freudian interpretation of the famous III.iv scene between Hamlet and Gertrude, and the breath-taking final scene. Credit must also be given for their ability to caputre the realism of Hamlet's many soliloquies and the Ghost as an Elizabethan audience would have seen it.The greatest interpretation of Shakespeare on this silver screen? My only criticism is the lack of any extra features on the DVD, hence only 4/5 stars.


Imperium
Imperium
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More epic than the Roman Empire itself; a fantastic read., 15 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Imperium (Hardcover)
Imperium proved to be my vessel for my first venture into the works of Robert Harris. This 400 page epic really is a fantastic read. The style, written from the point of view of the protagonist's slave, Tiro, is light enough to provide easy reading while providing enough artistic flourishes to invoke fascination and respect for this fantastic author. Several reviews have commented on the fact that this book isn't thrilling, but I must disagree. Yes, the book is not action-packed with violence, fighting, sex, etc, but through Harris's characterisation, attention to detail and quasi-non-fictitious style we, that is the audience, are truly drawn into the world of Cicero and his political conquests; a truly thrilling experience. One section of the book which is particularly thrilling, yet still within the political context of the book, is near the end when Cicero dispatches his loyal slave Tiro, inventor of the short-hand system, to spy on a meeting between some rival senators. The tense atmosphere which oozes out of the pages in this section really will have you stuck text! However, the real beauty of this book has to be its setting, as well as Harris's ability to encapsulate the reader in the world of the ancient Roman Empire; never for a moment are we forced to accept that this is a work of fiction, and it can easily be believe to be a translated copy of Tiro's real memoirs from long ago. This really is a truly excellent read, I recommend it to anyone.


Girl at the Lion D'or
Girl at the Lion D'or
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delicately told but beautifully constructed novel, 17 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Girl at the Lion D'or (Paperback)
This was my first venture into the work of Sebastian Faulks, and upon finishing it today I immediatly purchased Birdsong. The Girl at the Lion d'Or is a beautifully written story. The simplistic plot is not the selling-point of this book; instead, Faulks's excellent lexical phrasing and characterisation make it an excellent read. I found myself developing a genuine interest in what would happen on the next page and was really pulled deeper and deeper into the story as I read. I was so moved when arriving at the end of the book- a sad and emotional conclusion. I do recommend this book to anyone- it is superb.


The Chorus [DVD] [2004]
The Chorus [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Gérard Jugnot
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £4.99

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly heart-warming film, 9 Oct. 2006
This review is from: The Chorus [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I am a keen Francophile and A-level French student with one of my main interests being French cinema. Of course, when it comes to 'The Chorus' all of this is irrelevant, as it is a film so accessible and so charming that no one will be able to watch it without taking away something. I must admit I knew very little about this film before watching it, but I was amazingly surprised. This truly is one of the most heart-warming, view-altering films that I have ever seen. It is uniquely French, refreshingly simple but yet so appropriate to life. This really will capture your heart! I advise any person to watch it. I have been completely moved by this cinematic masterpiece.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2012 1:16 AM GMT


Casino Royale (Penguin Modern Classics)
Casino Royale (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly different portrayal of a legendary double-O, 15 Sept. 2006
Casino Royale was my first adventure into the literary world of James Bond 007 after a childhood of following the films and collecting the videos. After the increasingly-cheesy adventures of the more recent films the world of Casino Royale was refreshingly cold and callous, with the Soviet context metonymically constructing harsh, paranoid undertones.

In this novel Bond is depicted as a cool, collected, steely man; a direct contrast to the Bonds of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. His chauvinistic-attitude and callous state-of-mind amplifies the edge-of-seat feeling which runs throughout the novel; from its detailed introduction to its amazing twist of a finish.

I enjoyed this novel immensely, despite its shortness and seeming lack of in-depth characterisation for some of the secondary characters. Although the plot seemed silly and unrealistic from the blurb on the cover I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I believed it; leaving me shaken and not stirred (in direct contrast to how Bond really likes his Martini) by this rollercoaster of a book.


The Inheritors
The Inheritors
by William Golding
Edition: Paperback

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Golding novel, 16 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The Inheritors (Paperback)
This is my third Golding novel as I make my way through his complete works. The Inheritors was Golding's first novel and apparently his personal favourite. In a narrative form similar to The Spire (which is not only my favourite Golding book but my favourite book ever), The Inheritors tells the story of the arrival of human beings as we know them today over the shoulder of the semi-evolved Lok, an excellently constructed and loveable character.

Golding's overly-metaphoric, ambiguous writing lends itself perfectly to telling the story from the, dare I say 'intellectually inferior' Lok's point of view resulting in charmingly blunt description. If you're a fan of Golding's style of writing (which is as strong here as any novel I've read by the man) I do recommend it. A startlingly appropriate story which is so relevant today and a thoroughly interesting read.

Not as good as The Spire, but in my opinion much better than the overrated Lord of the Flies. Fantastic!


East of Eden (Penguin Modern Classics)
East of Eden (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Steinbeck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly immersive...a compelling read, 9 Aug. 2006
About fourty or so pages into East of Eden it dawned on me; this book is nothing like Of Mice and Men. And how relieved I was at this insightful revelation!

Yes, Of Mice and Men is a nice, charming novelette. But Of Mice and Men lacks the certain complexity of characters and incredible literary construction that makes East of Eden so fantastic. Not to mention the astoundingly subtle allegorical references and in-depth characterisation.

And that is what really earns East of Eden five gold and shiny stars; characterisation. By the end of this, dare I say epic, novel, we have really been drawn in, both emotionally and physically, to the lives of the two Californian families. How I just earn for two novels tracking the lives of Cathy, the estranged and manipulative brothel owner/prostitute, and Lee, the intellectually sophisticated and socially aware slave.

East of Eden really displays Steinbeck at his best. Detailed, beautifully written and so, so thought-provoking. An absolute gem and a delicious treat for any fan of early 20th century literature.


The Spire
The Spire
by William Golding
Edition: Paperback

20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A deep but enjoyable novel from a fantastic author, 7 April 2006
This review is from: The Spire (Paperback)
I must first point out by saying that I am currently studying this text as part of my A-level in English literature, therefore I have read into this text in a much greater level of detail than a recreational reader may be inclined to do so. That said, the ambiguous nature of this novel is not for fans of lighter literature and I would expect that the vast majority of those who are purchasing this book read to a standard which equals, even surpassing, the level at which A-level students read to.
On one level, The Spire is about the building of a spire upon a cathedral, widely believed to be Salisbury Cathedral, the foundations of which are lacking. The text explores the resilience of weak foundations; holding a spire which scientifically it is judged impossible for them to do.
The novel is used to explore a prominent issue in Golding's life; faith versus fact. We as a reader are never told whether or not the spire does eventually fall, allowing us to reach our on conclusion on which of the above two are the most trustworthy.
It may also be possible that Golding uses this novel to explore the lack of faith in the Catholic Church. Jocelin, the dean of the cathedral in which The Spire is set, seems to be a very hypocritical man with vast contrasts between his actions and the dogma of the Christian faith. He is arrogant and deluded and is driven by an almost orgasm-chasing force towards the building of the spire. Eventually, due to the neglecting of his faith, he is driven both physically and mentally ill and eventually dies.
The novel explores many other themes; feminism, sexuality, fertility, paganism and delusion to name a few. Beautifully written, the complicated co-ordination of syntax and the overuse of poetic ambiguities may be a shock to readers of Golding's other works, primarily Lord of The Flies, thus rendering it quite inaccessible to more leisurely readers.
The exploration of relevant social themes and the amazing literary construction of this book make it a joy to read. The choice in reaching one's own decisions about the significance of the text is seldom granted in literature, but by allowing us this choice, Golding permits the novel to be thought provoking yet incredibly enjoyable.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2009 8:30 AM BST


Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book from a genious author, 4 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Lord of the Flies (Paperback)
In Lord of the Flies, Golding intelligently investiagtes the conflict between ones civil nature and savage nature through the story of lost boys on a desert island.
The beautiful poetic language of Golding and his use of symbolism renders this novel the ultimate book for literature lovers.
In Lord of the Flies, the read watches the change in the behaviour and nature of the boys as the live on the island, and how they act without any "grown-ups" to tell them what to do.
Like in The Spire, Golding also investigates how man depends and utilises the image of a God-like figure in the form of a "beasty" that suposidly lives upon the island.
A truly fantastic novel which is a must for any reader. I can't recommend it enough. Read it!


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