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Tolstoy: A Russian Life
Tolstoy: A Russian Life
by Rosamund Bartlett
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Larger than life, 27 Dec. 2011
Rosamund Bartlett has made a remarkable job in this biography, depicting Tolstoy in all his contradictions and excesses: as a genie and a holy fool, as a selfless person devoted to help the peasants and those in need and as an egotistical self-centred man who sometimes would make miserable the lives of those closer to him. In its scope, ambition and profusion of detail this is a remarkable book.

And yet, I am afraid it is not a completely gratifying read, because the author assumes that the readers have a very clear memory of the works of Tolstoy, that they clearly remember the plots and characters of his novels and novellas and that they will immediately make the relevant associations between the real life event X and the scene Y in War and Peace or Kreutzer Sonata. Further exploring the work of Tolstoy and refreshing the readers' minds on its beauty would have added to the tribute she is paying to one of the greatest author of all times.

The sources consulted to this biography are certainly very comprehensive. But I would have found the book even more interesting to read had the author decided to give voice to Tolstoy and his family and friends, quoting more abundantly their letters and documents, instead of reporting on the content of those letters. From my point of view this would have contributed to make the impressions more vivid and to a greatest intimacy between the reader and the subject of the biography.


Hard Candy
Hard Candy
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.94

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment, 20 May 2008
This review is from: Hard Candy (Audio CD)
Madonna is well-known for crossing the boundaries while at the some time doing up-beat marketable music making its way to the charts.

As a teenager I was a big Madonna fan. Then, even though I would follow her new releases, I became uninterested, as her "Erotica" and Bedtime stories" didn't appeal much to that stage of my life. She was back to my radar with "Ray of light", which was confirmed by the two following releases, although I was still a bit of a snob by then to give her due credit for her innovations and the trends she set. And then I was swept away by "Confessions on the dance floor", a CD I was actually offered and that after an initial reticence is now part of my favourite play-list.

"Hard candy" comes as a big disappointment. Madonna has taken no risks and is not innovating. She has taken an easy marketable trend, which is not rewarding but could be pleasing to the ear were the songs good and full of hype. But the producer of "Hard candy" has done a better job for other artists. I find it sad that Madonna hasn't kept up to her iconic standing and didn't come up with a new step forward in her career. Those steps considered individually may not be dazzling, but there's always some new vibes keeping up and going beyond the spirit of the time. "Hard candy" is like going back to "True blue", but lacking its quality.

Having said this, I like the catchiness of "Four minutes" and I'm sure less pretentious Madonna fans will like "Hard candy". The generation which was not born when Madonna conquered the charts with "Like a virgin" will probably enjoy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2008 6:39 AM BST


The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 21 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Kite Runner (Paperback)
Having been so widely and highly acclaimed both by the public and the critics, it came as a great disappointment that "The kite runner" was such an uninteresting read for me. Although the issues dealt with, guilt and redemption, are quite juicy, the plot seems banal and predictable. It would be too much to ask finding in the novel the depth of a Dostoyevsky, but I was not expecting the characters and the tensions to be so utterly shallow. Novels are about plot and writing, the use of language to tell a story. And the language in "The kite runner" is full of commonplaces and the narrative devices are uninteresting to the extent of becoming dull. Probably because the whole set of situations and characters do not seem to be the product of a literary imagination. Instead they follow too closely the conventions of mainstream cinema. I guess the people who adapted the novel to the screen didn't have too much of a hard time. And readers of the novel won't have a hard time either, I didn't. But I certainly didn't feel in any way gratified for having read it either.


Songs From The Labyrinth
Songs From The Labyrinth
Price: £12.35

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most honourable effort, 13 Dec. 2006
I don't really think Sting is the greatest of the interpreters of Dowland's songs. But one is more used to listening to this repertoire by the likes of Alfred Deller and, with this in mind, his efforts cannot but sound rather strange and a bit coarse in a first hearing. But the more you listen to the CD, the more compelling it becomes and Sting certainly cuts the picture of an Elizabethan gentleman in a most proper manner. It is a great thing to have a refined artist taking such a refined challenge, in a time when some stars of the bel canto do not hesitate much in lowering their standards to the interpretation of some dusty standards. Going against the trend, he might not have quite hit the bull's eye, but it is a most lovely and gratifying personal project and I cannot but recommend it to those who love Elizabethan music.


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