Profile for Mrs. M. G. Powling > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mrs. M. G. Powling
Top Reviewer Ranking: 14,895
Helpful Votes: 475

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mrs. M. G. Powling "margaretgpowling"
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
The Alcatraz Rose: A Lawrence Kingston Mystery
The Alcatraz Rose: A Lawrence Kingston Mystery
by Anthony Eglin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Kingston is king of mysteries, 30 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Dr Lawrence Kingston, retired botanist (old roses his specialty) is an inquisitive cove. He is to Chelsea what Miss Marple is to St Mary Mead. His major hobby is The Times' cryptic crossword which he enjoys solving over this breakfast tea and two poached eggs. This is a pointer to his inquisitive mind so when a 13-year-old girl beards Lawrence at a horticultural symposium in Cheltenham, asking for his help in finding her mother (who had gone missing eight years previously) Lawrence's little grey cells (to use another sleuth's terminology) go into overdrive.
Meanwhile, a long time friend and former colleague informs Lawrence that an English rose, thought to have been extinct for over 200 hundred years, is growing on the island of Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay, a notorious place more famous for its penitentiary than for its horticulture.
How the two stories are grafted, if you'll pardon my pun, is ingenious and too complicated to detail here. But just let me say that this is a great escapist story (yes, you must suspend belief; no right-minded person would get themselves into the dangerous situations in which Lawrence often finds himself) but you always know that Lawrence will come up, dare I say it, smelling of roses. Furthermore, for this latest adventure he has a new side-kick in the form of Emma, an ex-policewoman recently retired through injury. I trust that Lawrence and Emma will now proceed to solve many more mysteries always, of course, with a horticultural twist.


The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park
The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park
by Elizabeth Cooke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story of love and war, destruction and yet hope, 29 July 2014
While I urge anyone reading this short review to buy this book right away, I would also urge them to read - if they haven't done so already - the previous book by Elizabeth Cooke, Rutherford Park, as The Wild Dark Flowers continues the story of the Cavendish family of Rutherford Park during that tumultuous year: 1915. I cannot express too strongly that this book is a truly remarkable evocation not only of the horrors of World War One but also of the very vulnerability of life in the great houses of the Edwardian era; how the social order was rapidly and permanently changing.

I was totally overwhelmed by this novel which brings so vividly to mind the total horror of that diabolical war and how the scenes of war contrast with the beauty and tranquillity of the Yorkshire countryside, the very countryside and the way of life that those at Rutherford Park, and others of their kind, are trying so desperately to hang on to, not only William Cavendish but also his servants and tenants.

While the cover of this book is attractive, featuring a young woman dressed finely in lavender, it contains much stronger literary meat than this pretty cover might indicate. But perhaps that is a good thing: a more accurate representation of the contents might not serve the book as well as this gentle cover does.

This is easily the best novel I've read this year. I don't hand out 5 stars lightly, believe me.


Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
by Rachel Cooke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her Brilliant Career - a brilliant read, 22 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have enjoyed this book for the very reasons that some other reviews have not: the random facts (one reviewer said they were facts that anyone could have found out for themselves ... I paraphrase ... but would they have bothered had they not heard of these ten women in the first place?) and the going-off-at-a-tangent; for going-off-at-a-tangent is often how we describe people or things. We can be telling someone something, some anecdote perhaps, and then a thought occurs which we then weave into our 'story' before getting back on track again with what we were saying in the first place. Well, I don't know about you, but I do! And I don't really think the writer of this book can be accused of 'random facts' when she has delved quite closely into the lives of these amazing women, trail blazers in their day, and presented us with facts that few of us would've known about or even bothered to find out. Some loose ends have not been tied, but that's life. We can't know everything there is to know about someone's life. And I suspect the author might've had reams more information at her fingertips, she just had to be circumspect in the information she gave us and in ten essays, just sufficient to complete a 300-page book.

This book reads like a good novel, peopled with engaging characters (even if they are not always likeable, Alison Smithson being an example). One point in its favour which I don't think has yet been made is that the footnotes are exactly that: at the foot of the page. I know many works of non-fiction today favour the footnotes at the back of the book, so if you want to read them you must keep turning backwards and forwards and, I don't know about you, but I just give up. These footnotes have been excellent reads in themselves and have made me consider researching some of the other 'characters' in the book, for example Elizabeth Lane, KC; Sir Bernard Spilsbury, forensic pathologist; and Helena Normanton, KC. Just three from the section on Rose Heilbron alone.

I hope that Rachel Cooke will now follow this book with perhaps ten more extraordinary women, perhaps of the 1960s.


Writers' Block
Writers' Block
by Judith Flanders
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather curate's egg, 20 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Writers' Block (Hardcover)
I admire the social history books of Judith Flanders, in particular The Victorian House. However, this first novel, while entertaining me also had me baffled for I found the plot extremely convoluted; I simply could not follow it (or am I very dim?) I liked the character of Sam Clair and her would-be paramour, Jake-the-policeman, although I thought the liaison rather unlikely after such a brief meeting. On the plus side I think there is scope here for a series, set against the backdrop of the world of publishing. The writing is, I think, meant to be modern and quirky, but I felt at times the author was trying just a little too hard in this respect.

I would like to correct one small error and that the county of Devon isn't referred to as "Devonshire." It is simply Devon. "Devonshire" is an adjective which might describe a cream tea, but it is not the name of the county.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2014 5:23 PM BST


Salter 145 Mechanical Bathroom Scale
Salter 145 Mechanical Bathroom Scale
Price: £19.07

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Substantial scales, 8 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In a word: Brilliant!
I've had light-weight models (no pun intended) which haven't been accurate and now I've just returned from hospital following surgery - not quite the right way to lose weight, but this was the up-side of my recent stay - I intend to lose a bit more weight. These scales are the business. They don't need a battery and they are easy to read. The are above fashion, their design is timeless. Absolutely delighted with them. I have no hesitation in recommending them.


The Silversmith's Wife
The Silversmith's Wife
by Sophia Tobin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Silversmith's Wife is pure gold, 31 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Silversmith's Wife (Hardcover)
From the opening sentence to the very satisfying conclusion, I was totally captivated by this excellent novel. Immediately we are thrown into the melee of 18th century London, with the sights, sounds, smells and dangers that lurk within the city. A murder takes place, a watch is stolen, but why, and by whom? As well as a well-conceived plot, what I liked most about this novel was the sheer quality of the writing and the characters which are far from stereotypical. The author also credits us with some knowledge of the period; for example, a reference to "Mrs Bateman", the prominent female silversmith of her day, without any explanation as to whom Mrs Bateman was. We are expected to be sufficiently intelligent either to know or to bother to find out. Similarly, the references to the touchstone at the Assay office. As readers we are immersed in another age, an age of open sewers and Sedan chairs, of gilders who could earn vast sums but through the use of mercury risked early death, of ale houses and inns, of grand houses in fine London squares. This is a novel of exceptional quality. I now eagerly await Sophia Tobin's next novel.


The Great Indoors: At home in the modern British house
The Great Indoors: At home in the modern British house
by Ben Highmore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.79

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, 22 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ben Highmore, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, has written a book that is both informative and witty, and it comes to you highly recommended. He has described how our modern British house has evolved, from the late 19th century to the 21st century, from having a front parlour and/or dining room, kept for high days and holidays, a place to show off our very best furniture and ornaments, to the modern room designed for living in on a daily basis, even what we call this room ... drawing room, sitting room or lounge. He examines why things are as they are ... why is the telephone generally to be found in the hall? Why is the freezer generally found in the garage? Much of his research has been courtesy of the archives of Mass Observation in which many men and women from all walks of life have described their homes in detail, right down to the items displayed on their mantelpieces.
As I have an interest in social history of this kind I must confess I have not learned very much from it that I didn't know, but I have found it has reinforced what I already knew or believed to be the case. Furthermore, it has been written in a very witty style - not that witty it would irritate, but in a pleasingly witty style that often brought a smile to my face. In fact, it reads as entertainingly as a novel. Highly recommended


Flower Book, The
Flower Book, The
by Catherine Law
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best yet, 7 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Flower Book, The (Hardcover)
Having bought and read Catherine Law's previous two novels this, in my opinion, is her best yet. I can't even begin to describe the joys of her prose with its delightful evocative descriptions of the glorious countryside which clash vividly with the harsh scenes of the battlefields, the barbarism and destruction of World War 1 and the effects on those who returned, damaged in both body and mind.

The cover, while extremely pretty, is not a true evocation of the story and I think that Violet, the main character whose flower book is its anchor, would not have approved of hot-house freesias for the cover. Perhaps the author has had little say in the cover design - these are usually the creation of the publishing house and are designed to hook-and-reel-in the book buyer rather than giving a clear indication of the content.

A delightful novel which I unreservedly recommend.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2014 8:43 AM BST


The Spice Merchant's Wife
The Spice Merchant's Wife
by Charlotte Betts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continued excellence, 17 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
London during and after the Great Fire is the setting for this third novel by Charlotte Betts, and to my mind her best to date. We are taken into the home of the wealthy spice merchant's wife's family, with their fine furnishings, lustrous materials and servants. But when the Great Fire destroys not only the spice merchant's home but his warehouse, and the family watches their wealth go up in smoke, like so many thousands of Londoners they are, at a stroke, destitute. The story that follows - for the Great Fire is but the beginning - is totally believable and extremely well written, with descriptions of everything from everyday life in Restoration kitchens and boudoirs, to the underhand and extremely dangerous pursuits of some of the speculative builders of the time. Add murder to the story, and you have suspense. Of perfume, perhaps the strongest element of this story, I shall say not one word. I'd not want to spoil it for you. I do hope that Charlotte Betts remains in Restoration England for her next novel, perhaps even to continue the story of the spice merchant's wife. One of the best books I have read this year, without a shadow of a doubt. I use the word "shadow" advisedly. Read the book and you will find out why.


Sabichi Milano Oval Mirror
Sabichi Milano Oval Mirror
Offered by Home Discount Ltd
Price: £23.73

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mirror, mirror on the wall ..., 14 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A most attractive mirror for our shower room, elegant and well made. Would certainly recommend this - it is most stylish.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6