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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Romantic Novel Set in 1940s and 1860s Liverpool
The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn is a very well crafted and quite gripping love story. The book has a curious structure simultaneously working in the run up to the Second World War, with the main character Thomas Baines, and also in the Victorian period following the object of Baines interest an architect Peter Eames. Baines has been commissioned by a local publisher to...
Published on 13 Feb 2009 by Dr. R. Brandon

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good history, bad novel
this would have been better as non-fiction. the author loves his architectural history, but his novel is leaden and unconvincing. it only springs to life in descriptions of the Blitz destroying buildings as the rescue men crawl thru them: the only exciting and believable bits. (the 1860s backstory, with its faux victorian language, may be completely skipped as it adds...
Published 12 months ago by Zangiku


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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Romantic Novel Set in 1940s and 1860s Liverpool, 13 Feb 2009
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Hardcover)
The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn is a very well crafted and quite gripping love story. The book has a curious structure simultaneously working in the run up to the Second World War, with the main character Thomas Baines, and also in the Victorian period following the object of Baines interest an architect Peter Eames. Baines has been commissioned by a local publisher to make an architectural record of significant buildings in Liverpool and it is this activity that awakens his interest in the seemingly tragic and forgotten disciple of Ruskin working in the city in the 1860s.
Quinn, a native of Liverpool, evokes very well the cityscape of the Liverpool of the two periods. His descriptions of the work of the Heavy Rescue Team during the Blitz of 1941 are exceptional and the characters are well drawn and very believable. The romantic element in the book, both 1940s and 1860s, is handled sensitively and is very convincing without being trite or hackneyed. This excellent and very well written novel will appeal equally to those looking for first rate romantic fiction reminiscent of Greene's 'The End of the Affair' and for those interested in the history and architecture, and deeply layered nature, of our everyday surroundings in our towns and cities. The book will have a particular attraction to any native of Liverpool current or exiled.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent story of love and war, 18 May 2010
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Paperback)
Anthony Quinn's debut is one of the best I read while judging an exceptionally strong shortlist for the Author's Club First Novel Award, and it won for a number of reasons. It's a superbly evocative portrait of a lost city, Liverpool, once an exquisite Georgian city built largely on the profits of the slave trade. It's hero Tom Baines is a man in his forties, emotionally and professionally adrift. Unable to commit to anything, either personal or professional, he is left looking in at life from the outside, with only his fascination for architecture to connect him. He is obsessed by an obscure Liverpudlian architect, Eames, and part of the novel's cleverness and assurance is that, like AN Wilson's Who Was Oswald Fish it it a double narrative which gradually reveals the genius mixed with tragedy of the past.

The Rescue Man opens on the eve of the Second World War. With uncertainty in the air as the world seems on the brink of disaster, Liverpool is a city tense in anticipation of the coming conflict. Baines is an architectural historian who gets commissioned to write a book about the glories of his city, a job that brings him into contact with an elegant and intriguing woman photographer - the wife of his most admired colleague in the Heavy Bomb Disposal unit, or the Rescue Men, retrieving the wounded and dying from bombed buildings. In wartime, ordinary rules are suspended, risks taken and Baines finds himself caught up in a love affair that can only lead to disaster.

The tone of the novel is that of a fully fledged writer, confident and mature, with an interest in character, memory, emotion and place that engages a reader from the start. As other reviewers have noted it has something of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair about it, but it's also an excellent addition to a growing body of fiction set in Liverpool from Beryl Bainbridge, Linda Grant and Barry Unsworth.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rescue Man, 12 July 2009
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Hardcover)
The Rescue Man of the title is Tom Baines, an introverted, self-contained architect whose passion is the history of the landmark buildings of his home city, Liverpool. His wartime story is interspersed with extracts from the Victorian diaries of another Liverpool architect, Peter Eames. The 1860s was a time when Liverpool was undergoing a building boom, in sharp contrast to the devastation which took place during WW2. At first Eames comes across as a light-hearted, confident man, but as his cutting-edge designs are pilloried in the press and his family life disintegrates, he becomes more and more morose until his diaries come to an abrupt halt shortly before his mysterious death.

Baines becomes obsessed with finding out more about this iconic but forgotten architect, but as war breaks out his knowledge of buildings and how they 'behave' is put to more practical use in his work as a rescue man. The horrific bombing of Liverpool's docks and architectural landmarks is vividly brought to life as Baines and his team put their lives at risk to rescue those trapped inside collapsing buildings.

For me, reading about the history of some of the buildings I pass on my way to work every day was fascinating and I could visualise Baines' journey as he walked through the streets. I'm not sure how interesting this would be to someone who is not familiar with the city, but I'd still recommend the book as it's very atmospheric and I'm sure the story of the rescue operations and Baines' tangled relationship with the husband and wife photographers will be enough to keep you turning the pages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An historian and the war on the home front, 21 Oct 2014
By 
Douglas Kemp (Northamptonshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rescue Man (Hardcover)
This is first novel of Anthony Quinn, film critic of The Independent, and a most impressive debut it is. Liverpool 1939 and Tom Baines, an architectural historian, waits for the world to stumble into another ruinous conflict. Baines, who is a natural prevaricator and has delayed writing his book on the architectural heritage of Liverpool, is plunged into the horrors of the bombing raids on the city when he volunteers as a rescuer – someone who burrows into often dangerously teetering bombed buildings in an attempt to retrieve buried people from the rubble. He is certainly not unique in discovering that the War gives his life an immediate meaning and value that he has hitherto not appreciated. It is not just the exposure to daily danger, but he also embarks on a clandestine love affair with his best friend’s wife, Bella. Interspersed with this narrative are lengthy extracts from a manuscript diary of Peter Eames, a visionary Liverpool architect of the 1860s. Tom investigates his life and makes a surprising discovery at the conclusion of the book, which acts as an appropriate coda to his life and struggles. In the midst of the War, Tom is faced with the deaths of close colleagues and friends – some of which are perhaps just a little too obviously flagged up in advance. This is an intelligent and well-paced novel, however, and Quinn has a fine ear for language, and penning original and shining similes. There are many, many novels written about the Second World War – this is a very good one.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rescue Man, 13 Feb 2009
By 
P. White (North west England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Hardcover)
This is an excellent debut novel which I think deserves wider readership than Liverpudlians. It is beautifully written with many strands of story cleverly interwoven and a very strong sense of place. At times I found it difficult to believe it was fiction.
I hope Anthony Quinn has a successful second career as a novelist, and I cannot wait until his next offering.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars good history, bad novel, 4 Nov 2013
By 
Zangiku (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rescue Man (Paperback)
this would have been better as non-fiction. the author loves his architectural history, but his novel is leaden and unconvincing. it only springs to life in descriptions of the Blitz destroying buildings as the rescue men crawl thru them: the only exciting and believable bits. (the 1860s backstory, with its faux victorian language, may be completely skipped as it adds nothing whatever to the whole and is in a typeface that can suck your eyes out.) i kept reading only for the history, which is great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Rescue Man, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Kindle Edition)
Recommended by my brother in law, this is a fantastic read for residents and lovers of Liverpool and Liverpool history. Two lives, different eras, used to explain and explore the city in both its commercial hey day and during the Blitz. Charming sense of the place and the people, gripping stories and a bit of heart ache. Thanks Phil for the recommendation. Hope lots of other people will read and enjoy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 3 Jun 2014
By 
Simon Markland (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rescue Man (Paperback)
Never read one of Anthony Quinn's books before but took a chance as is set in Liverpool. A good story with lots of "facts" some of which may even be true, and I know that some are, that grounds the whole book in reality. A book that I am looking forward to reading again.

This copy was purchased to give to a friend having been reminded of it during a conversation - its that good you will buy it for other people!
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4.0 out of 5 stars a very good book on the liverpool of the war years., 17 Dec 2013
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this is a well written book about life in liverpool in the war and of the great buildings saved by the fire fighters.
With good tail of life in the war years for a first book it very good .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, verging on great and this from a Yorkshireman with no love of Liverpool!, 14 Oct 2013
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This is a difficult review to write as there was so much that I loved about this book. Perhaps I can best describe it as 'natural' which encompasses 'believable, easy to read, accurate, or even perhaps written from a diary'. The author, rather than just telling a story, gives his characters real opinions and puts much of himself in the book. Either he is an incredibly fine writer or he really does care about architecture, about Liverpool and history. The scenes of wartime rescue are poignant and convey a sense of realism -beautifully done.
Hence 5 stars. I thought about giving 4 because I feel he can do better and will emerge as a superior talent but already this is so much better than many other books out there that I will give the benefit of the doubt. Worth buying.
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