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4.0 out of 5 stars23
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 12 March 2005
I have never read any other book that is able to capture the spirit of a place quite like this book. As I small child, I can well remeber being taken to Netley Abbey on Sunday afternoons and the erie description the Hoare evokes is spot on.
Much of this book concerns itself with the pioneering military hospital, a close neighbour of the abbey and which too evokes a morbid fascination as what remains of the establishment is enveloped in a cloak of melancholy. Hoare explains the fate of the first inhabitants of the hospital, the secret experiments that are supposed to have taken place and even the odd ghost story. Wrapped up in this are a cast of diverse characters such as Jane Austen and Wilfrid Owen. The writer captures the decay of Southampton as a great transatlantic port with aplomb.
This is a book that I could not put down and that got passed around amongst family and friends who similarly were entralled by the extremely well-written narrative. Recommended, especially for all readers around Southampton.
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on 15 April 2003
This is a most unusual book that is hard to categorise. It combines history, recollection, literature and family history in a fascinating way. The one problem is that the photographs are terrible. They are very dark, and it's extremely difficult to make them out - which is perhaps why the writer gives a detailed description of them in the text! Surely the editor could have sorted this out?
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on 15 June 2002
This book starts off well, unfortunately the authors passion for his subject, is let down by the many historical inaccuracies in this book. For example the battle of the Somme was in 1916, not 1914 as stated in the book, Churchill was a Liberal Member of Parliament in the Edwardian era. These are just two of the many inaccuracies. However the book is well written, and easy to read.
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on 16 August 2001
I doubt if I'll read anything better this year. The first thing to say is how beautifully Philip Hoare writes; what a pleasure to read such clear and lovely English. But besides this, what really makes this book so special is the seamless way that the author weaves together his several narratives and I was very moved by his linking of a personal history to this extraordinary place. Strongly recommended.
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on 30 December 2014
Order processed fine. Mother in law very pleased to receive this. She knows the hospital and area well. She's only a few pages in but seems to be enjoying it so far.
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on 14 August 2015
absolutely fascinating book, couldn't put it down, and just had to go and look at the sites mentioned.
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VINE VOICEon 30 August 2002
At times Philip Hoare's refusal to write the excellent book his subject and his talents deserve seems almost wilful. The inter-locking of his own reminiscences and the history of Netley Hospital sometimes works well, more often not, and by the end the impossibly fey and self-indulgent epilogue has the reader gasping for the finish-line. Mr. Hoare seems to think that he has something significant to say about dreams and reality; if he has, it escaped me - except to note that he seems to have been (to still be?) highly imaginative in his youth. I can well understand the differences of opinion about how well he writes. Much of the time he achieves clarity and momentum, only to let himself down by extended passages of 'fine writing', filled with similes of dubious value. The strained comparisons between Netley Abbey and the hospital are among the more annoying, as are his far too frequent references to Stephen Tennant, the subject of a previous book by his. Equally perverse is the decision to reproduce photographs in small size on matt paper so that the reader cannot compare the descriptions of details in the text. The quality of research, the frequently efficient presentation of material and (above all) the fascination of the subject gave pleasure, but I am now going to see if Amazon stocks a book that actually tells the story of Netley.
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on 26 March 2016
Fascinating look at an extraordinary building and it's history and eventual demise.
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on 16 January 2015
BRILLIANT BOOK. HELPING MY FAMILY RESEARCH IN WW1 FOR RELATIVE
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on 18 October 2001
The most striking feature of this book is how poorly written it is. It concentrates more on Hoare's own childhood than it does on the military hospital. A complete waste of money and paper.
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