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11 Reviews
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and melancholy account of Netley Hospital
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...
Published on 12 Mar 2005 by Ian Thumwood

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All that Glisters!!!
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...
Published on 15 Jun 2002 by Donald Joyce


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and melancholy account of Netley Hospital, 12 Mar 2005
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual book., 15 April 2003
This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
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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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All that Glisters!!!, 15 Jun 2002
This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I doubt if I'll read anything better this year., 16 Aug 2001
By 
NARJIT GILL - See all my reviews
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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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24 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Rubbish, 18 Oct 2001
By A Customer
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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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea - shame about the self-indulgence, 30 Aug 2002
By 
R. Simpson (South Kirkby, Yorks, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling and undecided what kind of book it is, 3 Aug 2006
By 
P. Osborne "P Osborne" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
I found myself skipping sections of this book. It was thin on those aspects of the Hospital I was interested in and was fluffed out with tenuous links and diverged into fanciful passages and recent personal memories from the author. Scant illustrations. I put the book down unsatisfied.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hospital Blues, 27 Mar 2014
This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
About half the book is a very interesting history of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, a building from the start not fit for purpose. There is much about the (mal)treatment of soldiers damaged in their minds which does not make pretty reading and the RAMC does not come well out of this in spite of the dedication of its better personnel. The author is plainly angry about the way the Army handled this and so should anybody be.

Unfortunately this narrative is overshadowed by the author's irrelevant, intrusive, at times emetic anger about other matters in the world at large, brought in via autobiographical material relating to his and his family's rather uninteresting lives as he grew up in next-door Sholing. That takes up maybe a quarter of the book and the remaining quarter is a history of Netley Abbey, relevant in the sense that it explains the origins of the hospital site.

Valuable for the facts, spoiled by too much of the author's personal stuff.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting fact filled book., 11 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
It was such a good price I ordered 2 - one for my brother one for myself - as it shed some invaluable light on our deceased fathers past as an Army medic in WWII and the place of my birth in the 50's. An incredible find, I came across it on Amazon purely by chance and would never have found it in any book shop. Both paperback books were in excellent condition, were delivered very quickly and mine has the surprising extra touch of having been signed by the author!
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3 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Southamptonian delight!, 15 April 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital (Paperback)
From Pat Moore (whom I knew) to Philip Hoare, this is quite the most evocative and beautifully written book that I have ever read. It is James Joyce with punctuation. It haunts me with memories of youth and not belonging, of small-town embarrassment and anonymity, but grows to a reconciling pride in our local character. The author's research into the history of Spike Island is a fascinating vehicle for his exploration of being young, emotional and curious. To me - and, I hope, to many others - this is the most well-constructed, entertaining, imaginative, haunting and compelling piece of writing that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. I was young again and having familiar memories reinterpreted. My sincere thanks to its author.
John Foley.
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Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital
Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital by Philip Hoare (Paperback - 26 Mar 2010)
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