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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A snapshot of the current music scene
What can I say about this book? The style will come as no suprise to any fan of Mark Radcliffe's radio show as we follow Ed Beckinsale on his return to his home town after his sacking. He is quickly drawn into a burgeoning folk music scene at Northern Sky, the local folk club. He is accompanied on his journey through the music industry by long time friends whose history...
Published on 26 July 2005 by P. D. Sisson

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the best advert for the Folk music or real ale
I have listened to Mark Radcliffe on the radio for years now and I don't remember hearing a bad show from him, but unfortunately he has written a bad book with Northern Sky.
Nothing works in it. The main character is a bad tempered, ale swigging loser whose clever dick comments don't just get on the other characters nerves but they soon got on my nerves too. The...
Published on 17 Aug 2007 by Bantam Dave


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the best advert for the Folk music or real ale, 17 Aug 2007
By 
Bantam Dave (Bradford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
I have listened to Mark Radcliffe on the radio for years now and I don't remember hearing a bad show from him, but unfortunately he has written a bad book with Northern Sky.
Nothing works in it. The main character is a bad tempered, ale swigging loser whose clever dick comments don't just get on the other characters nerves but they soon got on my nerves too. The object of his affection is a limp, sensitive little flower who is too pathetic for words. His talented best friend is an extra from Lord of the Rings. In fact not one of the characters is remotely likeable, or believable.
The storyline is extremely flimsy and could be told in about a half the time, or a quarter if the author had have left out the constant name checks of many different types of beer. At times I wasn't sure if I was reading a novel or a real ale guide.
If nothing else I had hoped that I might learn a little about the murky world of folk music. Prior to reading this book I always thought, rightly or wrongly, that folk music devotees were eccentric, long haired tree huggers. Unfortunately this book does nothing to dispel this impression. If anything it strengthens it.
Mark Radcliffes first book, Show business, was excellent, so I know that he is a talented writer. He's just got it wrong with Northern Sky.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge his other books by this one. If given the choice, read his other books, 28 Oct 2014
This review is from: Northern Sky (Kindle Edition)
Having read a number of Mark Radcliffe's other books, I would heartily recommend them to anyone with even a passing interest in music. I would not call myself a particular fan of his in dj-ing terms as I was always a bit old for his radio 1 show (didn't like the music doc etc), but his semi autobiographical books are superb. Anyhow, I digress as this review isn't about those (reeling in the years, thank you for the days, that's showbusiness etc).
This novel is fiction rather than that other genre, and Mark doesn't seem as comfortable writing that. The characters are quite shallow and the conversations feel quite stilted and unreal. I can't promise that I will finish the book as I am not far in and struggling with it in a number of ways.
My advice if being truthful is to absolutely read Mark's other books as they are brilliant, but for this one, proceed with caution. If you haven't read any of his other work then please don't judge him by this one.
I suppose his descriptions of certain music, styles, beers etc are very witty and well observed, but they don't really work here as all the other bits that join them together are quite hard work
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish it, 27 July 2007
By 
E. Tilston - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
Mark Radcliff's late night radio one show practically defined my teenage years but I am sorry to say that I could not finish this book. Despite being very interested in the subject matter (folk music, Nick Drake especially), I could not get past the absolute lack of character development, the clunky, unbelievable dialogue, the name-dropping of beers and frankly, the misogyny. I can accept that Radcliff can't write -he's a brilliant DJ, we can't all do everything, but I expected his views on women to be a little bit more contemporary. In the half of the book I have read, there is one main female character; a delicate, anorexic little flower who Ed, the protagonist, is promising to defend at every turn. If Radcliff had spent a little more time defining his characters and a little less time marshalling every northern cliche he could find into action, this might have been a good book. As it is... awful!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A snapshot of the current music scene, 26 July 2005
By 
P. D. Sisson "peter45297" (Gloucester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
What can I say about this book? The style will come as no suprise to any fan of Mark Radcliffe's radio show as we follow Ed Beckinsale on his return to his home town after his sacking. He is quickly drawn into a burgeoning folk music scene at Northern Sky, the local folk club. He is accompanied on his journey through the music industry by long time friends whose history obviously looms large in their relationships. The book is funny, touching and the flaws in Ed's character are all too easy to identify with.
An excellent first novel and here's hoping it won't be the last!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mills and Boon do folk, 11 July 2007
By 
M. Dale "Yorkshireman" (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
Dear oh dear. This is an extended fifth form English story. The 'hero' of the story is a complete d*ckhead. Impossible to be interested in him. And then we are expected to believe that his 'wonderful' ex girlfriend would return to him and turn down the rich guy.

Next book in the series will no doubt detail their life together on benefits - complete with wife beating episodes, drugs, petty crime and prison.

Overall - a waste of paper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Folkie tales told in an unassuming manner, 15 Dec 2013
By 
K. Doerr (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
Compelling tale of the under dog nobody in a microcosmic world of beer, beards and folk music snobbery. Add unrequited love, the fey love rival and the overwhelming desire to be just somebody - without any effort - that's our 'hero's' world. You can see why Mark presents the Radio 2 Folk programme now.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive. Annoying. Dull., 8 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Northern Sky (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to like this book but the central character, Ed, is so unattractive, with his propensity to get stupefyingly drunk, start rows and lash out at people, that I found it impossible to empathise with him. The object of his amorous affections is a drippy folk singer who doesn't really want to sing (or perhaps even be alive), and he is otherwise surrounded by a bunch of friends he appears to resent. Ed's biggest bete noir is the 'star of the future', Lane Fox, and it is his antipathy towards Lane which is the most repetitive and numbingly dull theme of the book. This became so persistent that I ended up sympathising with Lane as he seemed to be getting an exaggeratedly bad press.

I found the dialogue overly facetious and irritating. The peripheral characters were more interesting than the idiot we were reading about, so it was disappointing that they remained so distant. I managed to finish the book but only by speed-reading the final few chapters. Nuff said.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Expectations dashed, 29 April 2012
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This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
Like other readers,I bought this book based on my experience of Mark's other writing and listening to his radio shows.
I expected lightness,humour, clever word play and some portraits of life on the folk music scene.
What I got was clunking puns,poorly sketched unattractive characters and a storyline which seemed to have been stitched from one of the chunky jumpers worn by one of the Rent-a -folk caricatures all set in a Northern cliche.
The worst part was feeling that Mark may have intended this picture to be affectionate,rather than cruelly lampooning.
By the way ,no-one needs a lecture on Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan but it filled a few lines in a patronising sort of way.
I'm sorry to say this but I will never read fiction by Mark again. The memoirs are fine.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could do better!, 15 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
This book has definitely been written by someone who knows the folk world, its famous artists, customs (quirks even), festivals and fans. The writer as everyone knows is witty, down to earth and cheery. And yet, and yet.... there's something missing from this book. The characters are a bit too typecast, moody/jealous/obsessive folk fan boyfriend, fey/introvert/yet gifted girlfriend, musically brilliant but stylistically 'so folkie' friend, and finally a good looking/repellent/big headed/modicum of talent 'baddie'. The story became obvious half way through, the dialogue is stilted and therefore unreal and the search for some pretty poor jokes/puns ultimately becomes annoying. I'm sure Mark Radcliffe can write a better book, his biography proves that, and perhaps he will. But unless you're after a very easy read, little thought required and have some interest in folk, forget it.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mushn't Grummmmmble, 5 Oct 2005
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This review is from: Northern Sky (Paperback)
I suspect this book will mainly be read by listeners to Mark Radcliffe which would be a shame. While regular listeners will get more out of the book, it is entertaining enough to deserve a wider audience. Regular listeners will recognize the references to some of Radcliffe's favourite topics: he manages to name-check all his favourite real ales (Black Sheet, Bombadier, etc...); his current real-life band, the Family Mahone headline the folk festival at the end of the book; his thoughts on what constitute bad taste in clothes; the main protagonist's mum actually saying a Mark Riley catchphrase "Mustn't Grumble", and so on... The dialogue is natural, humorous and does manage to capture the essence of being from the North of England. There are plenty of one-liners plus some good one-page jokes where you can almost hear the cymbal crash as he delivers the punch line. He obviously has a wealth of experience of folk music and the characters it attracts. My only criticism is the ending which appears to be tagged on with no particular purpose apart from to bring the book to a conclusion. The book may have been better ending 2 chapters early. While falling short of his friend and regular guest Simon Armitage's novels on life in the North - Armitage cruising through his prose in 2nd gear, while I suspect Radcliffe is at full stretch - the book is as good as anything produced by Tony Parsons or early Nick Hornby.
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Northern Sky by Mark Radcliffe (Paperback - 5 Jun 2006)
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