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John Clare
John Clare
by Jonathan Bate
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great literary biographies, unmissable!!, 11 July 2009
This review is from: John Clare (Paperback)
I have spent the last few months gradually reading this wonderful biography before bed at night, and looked forward to every page of it. This is a truly magnificent biography of a man who was a contemporary of Byron, Shelley and Keats but who never quite reached their heights. He did not die young or reach Europe like they did, he came from humble origins, worked as a labourer and sadly ended up in a lunatic asylum for the last years of his life.
Here Bate takes you through Clare's life with sensitivity and real perception. Using his letters, manuscripts and of course poems Bate presents a very troubled man, but all the same still England's finest pastoral poet. I highly recommend this book. I believe this will be the definitive Clare biography for years to come.

Shelley: The Pursuit
Shelley: The Pursuit
by Richard Holmes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly great biography, not to be missed!!!!!!, 6 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Shelley: The Pursuit (Paperback)
Alongside, Juliet Barker's 'The Brontes', this is without doubt my favourite literary biography. Shelley simply steps off the page in this wonderful book. As Holmes says himself, this is not a book for Shelley lovers, but as an ardent admirer of Shelley and his work myself, I wouldn't want to read a book that hero worships and is not willing to criticise. Here we meet the real Shelley, a flawed, often selfish man, but at the same time a great thinker ahead of his time, passionate and intelligent.
I particularly enjoyed reading about his relationship with the women in his life, notably for me Claire Claremont and Harriet Westbrook. Harriet is often dismissed in the shadow of Mary Shelley as purely Shelley's first wife who killed herself, but here we see a bright, funny and intelligent woman in her own right. Another reviewer felt that Harriet's tragic suicide was dealt with sparsely, but I personally found these passages desperately sad.
Surprisingly, I found Mary Shelley occasionally a little grating (it was Mary and her son and daughter in law who perpetuated a saintly image of Shelley and who barely acknowledged Harriet Shelley's siginificance), whereas her half-sister Clare was a vibrant, intelligent woman who I think was perhaps the person who knew Shelley better than any other.
Shelley's poetry is studied closely, and often missed by other biographers Shelley's skills in translating is finally given the credit it deserves. I would like to have read a little more regarding what happened to Eliza Westbrook, and his children Ianthe and Charles, but tihs is only a minor grumble in an otherwise flawlessly researched and written book.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I intend to book a holiday to Italy soon to visit the various Shelley related places, and this book will definitly be coming with me as my guide.

Poems of Solace and Remembrance (Dover Thrift Editions)
Poems of Solace and Remembrance (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Paul Negri
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful poetry - Highly recommended!!!!!!!!, 22 Aug. 2008
As with all Dover Thrift Editions, this book presents some of the greatest poetry and poets at a ridiculously low price....
Including many well known poems such as W. H. Audens Funeral Blues, Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, Tennyson's Crossing the Bar, plus verses from Kipling, Hardy, Wordsworth, Longfellow, Shakespeare, Whitman, Browning, Swinburne my two personal favourites the heartbreakingly sad 'I am' by John Clare and 'When I am Dead' by Christina Rossetti.
One minor error: the back cover promises my favourite poet Shelley's inclusion, but his work is not in the book, an unfortunate ommision as was the absence of Keats as both wrote poetry that would have suited this publication and I am surprised was not included.
Despite this personal gripe, at this price I would heartily recommend anyone to buy it as a extra little treat in their next amazon order!!!!

Shelley And His World
Shelley And His World
by Claire Tomalin
Edition: Paperback

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing biography of a literary genius...., 1 April 2008
This review is from: Shelley And His World (Paperback)
I have long enjoyed the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley both as a poet and as a radical, revolutionary thinker far ahead of his time. Having enjoyed Claire Tomalins books on Jane Austen and Nellie Ternan, I looked forward to reading her biography of a poet I have long admired and was eager to learn more about.
Sadly, I personally do not feel that this biography lives up to the latter two, and felt let down for the lack of detail. His childhood and family home and history are skimmed over in a matter of a few pages. This biography sheds only a small amount of light on Shelley's life, radical views and works, and is a weak offering from such a prestigious biographer. Unlike, the biography of Jane Austen, I feel that the author does not seem to have have much care and regard for the subject and is rather just writing a series of events and circumstances.
If you merely want a brief synopsis of Shelley's life then yes this is fine, but for a more detailed account I personally would recommend purchasing the far superior biography by Richard Holmes, Shelley, The Pursuit.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2012 9:48 AM BST

Heatherley: The Lost Sequel to "Lark Rise to Candleford"
Heatherley: The Lost Sequel to "Lark Rise to Candleford"
by Flora Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must buy for fans of Lark Rise!!!!!, 14 Mar. 2008
Concentrating on Flora Thompsons time as a post office assistant in Grayshott, Hampshire. Heatherley continues in the same beautifully written vein as the more well known Lark Rise to Candleford stories. I finished this book in a day or so and found I just couldn't put it down. Like Lark Rise, this is more of a personal memoir than a story, and it is incredibly heartwarming and moving to realise that the many characters written here were real living, breathing people with very different stories and experiences that Thompson writes with real humanity and feeling.
I live just a few miles from where this is set, but you need not have seen or walked the heath or streets for a picture of the landscape and village, as the writing is so poignantly vivid that you will soon find yourself transported to Flora's time and world.
Any fans of Lark Rise must buy this book to discover what happened next in Flora's (or Laura's as she continues to refer to herself) life, and will again enjoy and appreciate the beautifully written passages on the surrounding nature as much as the tales of the people. Highly recommended!!!!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 6, 2010 5:23 PM BST

The Little Yoga Book
The Little Yoga Book
by Erika Dillman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A great little book !!!!!!!, 2 Mar. 2008
This review is from: The Little Yoga Book (Paperback)
I bought this book a few years ago with the intention of learning and practising Yoga on a regular basis. Like I'm sure alot of people I failed to keep up with this and the book ended up back on the shelf. However, I have recently decided to come back to Yoga and have now along with eating healthier and practising on a regular basis, have found this book immensley rewarding, invaluable in losing weight and helping with relaxing. Incredibly informative, each pose is explained in detail and emphasises the health benefits. It encourages you to work out your own routines in however much time you may have rather than sticking to a strict regime, so you have the freedom to try different poses according to your own liking and timing. There are plenty of workouts for the beginner (or less bendy/balanced) as well as the more advanced. I particularly liked the detailed emphasis on correct breathing and breathing methods. The author has also written a fascinating introduction detailing her own reasons for taking up Yoga and how it has benefited her(she formerly was a dedicated runner but had to stop this after health problems that were eventually diagnosed as CFIDS Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfuntion Syndrome).
A small book, which is very handy, the illustrations are also very helpful in guiding you through poses. I would definitely recommend this.

Dowland - Lute Music, Vol 1
Dowland - Lute Music, Vol 1
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £8.21

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little lute music!!!!!!, 13 Jan. 2008
This is simply a beautiful album that has not been far from my stereo since receiving it for xmas. I am a newcomer to Dowlands music and this is a great introduction, and perfectly played by Nigel North on the Lute. I intend on purchasing vol II shortly. Highly recommended....

The People of the Abyss - Centenary Edition (Pluto Classics)
The People of the Abyss - Centenary Edition (Pluto Classics)
by Jack London
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proving London should be remembered not just for White Fang..., 9 Jan. 2008
It is a shame that Jack London is today most associated with White Fang/Call of the Wild when he wrote masterpieces such as this. Describing his experiences in early 20th century poverty stricken East London. Jack London lives and breathes the dirt, poverty and hardship felt by so many of the poorest and disadvantaged, and describes his time both poignantly and with justified disgust at the way in which these people lived day to day.
London describes vividly his time on the streets, his stay in workhouses, slums, doss-houses etc.... The People of the Abyss is a a fascinating realistic glimpse into a city of a people that so tragically lived and died in the worse and cruellest of circumstances. A must read....

The Brontes
The Brontes
by Juliet Barker
Edition: Paperback

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Replaces Gaskell as the definitive Bronte biography, 8 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Brontes (Paperback)
I absolutely love this book from cover to cover and would recommend it to all Bronte enthusiasts and am not ashamed to say that I welled up as Barker wrote of each of the siblings untimely deaths. Unlike other books, Barker does not veer towards pure speculation, particulary where Anne and Emily are concerned as sadly there is so little known of them compared to their older sister. I particularly enjoyed the chapters concerning Branwell Bronte, the childrens imaginary kingdoms they so lovingly wrote and also Patrick Brontes early life.
I understand that Juliet Barker used to work at the Bronte museum and obviously she has spent years painstakingly researching not only the principle Brontes but also, their parents, aunt and even family history.
I intend to read other biographies/histories (not to mention this one again) written by this author as you are guaranteed a superb read.
Many Bronte fans will choose to read the more well known but occasionally flawed biography as written by Elizabeth Gaskell who was a contemporary and friend of the family, but Juliet Barker provides a much more realistic representation of the family. A must-read.

Vanity Fair (Penguin Popular Classics)
Vanity Fair (Penguin Popular Classics)
by William Makepeace Thackeray
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read more Thackeray!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 8 Jan. 2008
I was disappointed to read the negative 1 star review that previously had been written about Vanity Fair. Personally I really enjoyed this book, yes it is long, but DO NOT be put off by the length. This is a worthwhile read that is charming and funny. Sadly, Thackeray is not as well read these days as the likes of his contemporaries such as Dickens, but that certainly does not make him an inferior writer. This is a great pageturner that I would definitley recommend reading. Set against the backdrop of the napoleonic wars, the story concentrates on the domestic rather than social ramifications of the war. I think Thackeray writes female charaters very well and the way he occasionally writes as if talking and guiding you through the book is charming.
A must-read!!!!

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