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Born in the Ghetto: My Triumph Over Adversity
Born in the Ghetto: My Triumph Over Adversity
by Ariella Abramovich Sef
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and moving book, 26 May 2014
The beauty of this book is in the directness and simplicity of the story telling combined with a truly extraordinary tale. Ariela Abramovich Sef's life is one of which it is almost impossible to conceive how someone could not only survive, but triumph over adversities that would crush most of us. Not only did she survive almost certain death (98% of Lithuanian Jews perished during the war) but she conquered a congenital hear disease which her consultants believed would give her a life expectancy of only 20 years. She confounded them all by surviving until she was nearly seventy. But it isn't just the facts of her life that are extraordinary, but her lust for her life and its variety. She really did live her life to the full. She writes about herself with humour and humility, and the episodes of her life spring from the page with immediacy and verve. At the end of the book are reminiscences of Ariela by her friends and family, and the love, respect and admiration shown to a woman of great intelligence, honesty and loyalty are a perfect complement to her autobiography. It has been well translated and is an excellent read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


The Girl with the Painted Face
The Girl with the Painted Face
by Gabrielle Kimm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story, told with elegance, excitement and insight, 8 Dec 2013
Gabrielle Kimm's latest visit to 16th century Italy is a terrific story, told with all her cinematic descriptiveness and her scrupulous research. She brings to life the world of the Commedia dell'Arte with the same attention to detail that she used to describe fresco painting in her first novel, His Last Duchess, and she manages to make it both instructive and entertaining, so that the reader discovers the fascination of the history at the same time as being gripped by the immediacy of the plot.

And the plot of The Girl with the Painted Face is gripping. It's a thriller as well as being a romance, and the "whodunnit" element is handled deftly. Kimm creates memorable characters, all of whom from the main protagonists to the smallest walk-on, are rounded and interesting. Without giving away the plot, she even manages to make a memorable personality out of a crowd! She writes evocative descriptions of place, completely immersing the reader in the scene. Of the many vivid pictures, I would single out the descriptions of the Comacchio and of the grounds of the Castello Estense in the snow. Beautiful.

This is entertainment of a high order, well written, well plotted, finely balanced - and a thoroughly page turning read. I actually couldn't put it down!


The Courtesan's Lover
The Courtesan's Lover
by Gabrielle Kimm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully evocative picture of 16th century Italy, 1 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Courtesan's Lover (Paperback)
The Courtesan's Lover is Gabrielle Kimm's second novel, whose heroine, Francesca, first appeared in Kimm's debut novel, "His Last Duchess". She has now moved to Naples, where she has become a courtesan. Through an encounter with a young man (given a tryst with her as a birthday present) she finds herself questioning her way of life. I shan't give away any more of the plot - suffice it to say that this novel is rich with twists and unexpected directions. What makes Kimm's novel special is her unfailing eye for detail. She writes about 16th Century Naples with an almost cinematic view, so that you not only see the pictures, but are aware of the sights and sounds and smells of the city. She evokes the strange life of a high class whore vividly, and though there is a certain amount of graphic sex, it is never prurient, and is an important tool in the telling of Francesca's story. Added to the sumptuous descriptions of place are more fascinating characters, whose histories one really cares about. My favourite is Modesto, Francesca's servant and protector, a castrato who can no longer perform, but each of these people come alive, and their stories evolve through the pages of this book, so that one really cares what happens to them. There are plot developments which carry this tale way above the normal romantic fiction, and some moments (deep under the streets of Naples) which are truly disturbing. I loved this novel, and thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for an exciting, touching, beautiful and memorable book. A GREAT Christmas read!


His Last Duchess
His Last Duchess
by Gabrielle Kimm
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid portrayal of 16th Century Italy - and a great story too!, 5 Aug 2010
This review is from: His Last Duchess (Paperback)
"His Last Duchess" is a wonderfully evocative picture of 16th Century Italy, combined with a touching love story and a thrilling who-dun-it plot, that I couldn't put down! Gabrielle Kimm was inspired to write this book by Browning's sinister poem,"My Last Duchess", in which the speaker, Alfonso d'Este, is describing the portrait of the woman to whom he was married; as the poem unfolds, we realise that her demise may not have been natural! Indeed, historically, Lucrezia di Medici, who was the Duchess in question, vanished from sight three years after her marriage to d'Este, and there are no historical records of what happened to her. Kimm has taken this enigmatic poem, and spun a captivating possibile explanation of it, telling the story with vivid language, and painting unforgettable pictures, which linger in the memory long after the end - which I won't give away! Her research is meticulous (for example, the descriptions of fresco painting, from preparation to completion, are fascinating), and her scene setting has the immediacy and clarity of cinema, so that I found myself almost watching the novel, as the plot unfolded. Kimm is to be congratulated on a first novel that combines the elements of history, romance and mystery in one very readable and thoroughly enjoyable whole. I look forward very much to the next book.


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