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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edged humour from a pessimistic prophet
Ariel Leve's selection of short columns is something of a surprise. In a world which emphasises and expects individual happiness to be the end-all of existence, the stark honesty behind this book is a breath of fresh air. Pessimism is the order of the day here, ranging across a variety of topics - relationships, travel, health, each approached with the view that things...
Published on 22 July 2009 by Christopher Meadows

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, but...
Ariel Leve is an award winning investigative journalist who writes for The Times. Her credentials are impeccable and she certainly can write. As well as her more serious work she writes a column called Cassandra, in which, like her mythical namesake she predicts woe, woe and woe.

The articles revolve around her life, her neuroses and her obsession with her...
Published on 31 July 2009 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edged humour from a pessimistic prophet, 22 July 2009
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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Ariel Leve's selection of short columns is something of a surprise. In a world which emphasises and expects individual happiness to be the end-all of existence, the stark honesty behind this book is a breath of fresh air. Pessimism is the order of the day here, ranging across a variety of topics - relationships, travel, health, each approached with the view that things are a) already pretty bad and b) are likely to get worse.

The title, The Cassandra Chronicles, suggests someone providing prophetic truths, which everyone else ignores - and that seems to be part of the context of the book, the author a lone realist in a society of people who wake up in the morning with a smile on their faces.

One of the strengths of the text is the universality of the issues presented; reading it, I often thought "I know how that feels". I imagine most readers will feel the same, though their responses to the situation described might be less pessimistic than those presented. This link from the text to the reader, a staple of stand ups everywhere, is transmitted very well here.

That each column is loaded with wry, self-deprecating wit is an added bonus.

The text specialises in creating a particular mood, and then injecting it with the above humour. In both instances, it succeeds excellently. This may make the text a victim of its own success - I would advise reading this book in short burst, as otherwise the `down' mood can begin to feel oppressive. However, each item in the book can be read separately, and so provide short bursts of melancholy entertainment.

This is an extremely well written collection, which made me smile throughout, interspersed with laughter, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Sharply humorous, with a great insight into every day life, this is a book that proves very hard to put down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, but..., 31 July 2009
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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Ariel Leve is an award winning investigative journalist who writes for The Times. Her credentials are impeccable and she certainly can write. As well as her more serious work she writes a column called Cassandra, in which, like her mythical namesake she predicts woe, woe and woe.

The articles revolve around her life, her neuroses and her obsession with her health. This book is a compilation of the articles as well as some previously unpublished material.

Each article is short and pithy and the articles are grouped together in thematic chapters. It is the perfect coffee table or loo book. Something to dip into every now and again when you want to read something funny, gentle and untaxing.

And she is funny. My problem with the book is that individually the articles work beautifully, clumped together in one volume they tend to become a little bit repetitive. Reading this for review I felt compelled to read it from cover to cover, to give a fair opinion of the book, but it would have worked better had I the time and luxury to dip in and out as and when I felt like it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could I be a Cassandra ?, 12 Aug 2009
By 
Ann Fairweather (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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When I started to read the 'Cassandra Chronicles', I got a shock : it felt like something I could have written !...The more I read, the more I discovered someone who is very much like me : a pessimist ! Nowadays, this kind of people are rare, or they keep quiet, overwhelmed as they are by the legions of forcefully cheerful, 'happy' sort who dictate joviality everywhere. So, how refreshing, how astonishing to read stuff from someone who dares to say that, yes, life is not too short but possibly too long, that going out is a bore, that not doing much with your life is ok, and so on.... A very very funny book if you can take the bleakness of Ariel's outlook on life. (well it's not that bad )
I did not know her columns in the Sunday Times, but the book did not feel like columns put together, but rather like very witty, sarcastic, wry musings and ponderings on every day life. I really want to congratulate Ariel Leve on putting out a book with such audacious views, that so many people will perceive as 'negative'. Well, maybe they are, but thanks god for the change !!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wry and witty, but a little weary at times, 12 Aug 2009
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SilentSinger (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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This book based on writer Ariel Leve's famous Cassandra column, which was a prominent feature of The Sunday Times Magazine. Cassandra was the Greek Goddess who granted a special gift of being able to prophesise the future, but a curse placed on her by the scorned Apollo meant that nobody believed her. Leve believes that she's afflicted by the same issues and as a result, her meanderings about life in New York and London are dismissed by her more cheerful friends, acquaintances and business associates.

The book is split into various chapters including topics such as `other people's relationships', modern manners and `health concerns' which will strike a chord with most readers. Leve writes in a pithy, witty and extremely engaging way, although this is one of those books that are best read in little nibbles instead of big bites because the constant paranoia and hypochondria becomes rather wearing after a few pages. I did find myself chuckling away at some articles and thinking `thank goodness it's not just me then!' Therefore, I'd recommend this book for anyone's bookshelf who's ever indulged in introspective self doubt and would maybe put a small health warning on the back stating `this book may cause a slight misery in the more sensitive reader.'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book ....., 11 Aug 2009
By 
Dr. D. E. Goldwater "dodiceleedoo" (Bushey, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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Being a man, I was not sure if this book was going to be for me. The thought of a New York/London based neurotic, single woman spilling her thoughts on paper made me a little nervous - but ....

This is a gem of a book. There is something for everyone in this book. I would not like to read it cover to cover in one sitting as I am sure this would defeat the object. I am ploughing through the book more at random than following the chapters. I have laughed out loud three times so far.

Each small essay is very easily digested. Ariel Leve is full of wit and I would imagine she is a delight to have at a dinner party. She has an angle on practically everything and although she is constantly claiming to be neurotic, with most of her essays, she makes you realise that each of us shares her neurosis. She is an every day neurotic just like you and me!!

I would really recommend this book to everyone. It has brought me a lot of pleasure.

A strong 9/10
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight, hilarity, neurosis and endless wit!, 1 Aug 2009
By 
Ms. Felicia Davis-burden (Staines, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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Ariel Leve is concisely witty, deliciously cutting, delightfully neurotic and brilliantly fatalistic. This collection of columns couldn't be more entertaining if Peter Ustinov, Julie Birchill and Matt Parris had collaborated on it!

Leve delivers fascinating, cynical and often surreal suggestions about how life - specifically her life - could maybe be improved: Medically-Induced Coma, her own Clone, Fake families, the up-side of setting one's kitchen on fire by toasting a rice-cake, which of your friends would make a space in their diary to assist you in your last deed? All this and more is discussed with salty brio, bringing on many laugh-out-loud moments.

I recommend Leve's joyous pieces to anyone needing a refreshing look at life in all its annoying, puzzling, inane and plain crazy minutae. This book is an absolute treasure!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worrying Takes Practice, 22 Aug 2009
By 
Lulu (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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Cassandra mistrusts life; the highest compliment she can be paid is that she is not quite as neurotic as expected. Her chief objection to being cloned would be that her clone might turn out to be exactly like her, but happy.

She likes staying in. She has friends, but prefers telephone contact to seeing them in person. She expects, rather than fears, old age, illness and death. Despite these unfortunate attributes she manages to be perceptive, funny and likeable. A typical remark: "I'm terrible at giving gifts because I always get people what I'd want. If I could, I'd get everyone I cared about a free MRI scan".

She dreads change, hates taking risks. If at first you don't succeed, she might well say, pack it in. "Every time I've ever tried something new, it's led to nothing but trouble". She prefers the weather to be overcast and rainy since there is no pressure to be cheerful or, worse still, to go outside, on wet days. The Met Office plan to make the weather forecast more optimistic finds no favour with her, because, as she explains, "When forecasters say `mostly dry' we'll expect it to be, and then when it rains we won't have an umbrella, so on top of being emotionally unprepared we'll have ruined our favourite boots".

But it's not all doom and gloom: she has a Henry vacuum cleaner, always a sign of a basically healthy mindset in my experience, a large collection of shoes unsullied by contact with the street, and a medicine cabinet with a remedy for every ailment, real or imaginary. The perfect read for anyone fed up with relentlessly positive self-help books telling you how fabulous everyone could be could be if only they were not the way they are, and a perfect book to keep in your handbag for those awkward moments when you are trying to avoid having to talk to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but needs perserverance, 10 Aug 2009
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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This is the type of book I really enjoy normally - humorous essays written with a sharp eye on the world, from a woman's perspective. I had read some of Ariel's Half Empty Guardian columns so knew what to expect, but I found all the pieces I liked least in the first third of the book. I nearly gave up then and posted a really negative review but luckily for me things improved. Ariel isn't Erma Bombeck, but her cutting wit does have its place. There were no laugh - out - loud moments for me, but lots of wry smiles towards the end of the book.

My favourite piece was the saga of the Unwanted Gift Cardigan. Any man setting out to buy a woman a present should be made to read it before stepping over the threshold.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuggets of pessimistic gold, 28 Aug 2009
By 
C. Cousins "PoppyCorn" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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I really liked this book.

Firstly because I could dip in and out of it; it's a collection of her columns from `The Sunday Times' magazine and `The Guardian' online. Secondly it's divided into themes, which are listed on the contents page, so for the lazy reader, like me, I could just flip to her views on `romance', `sweating the small stuff' and `personality defects', to judge whether or not I could relate to it. If I couldn't relate or I found her too perky and bright, I would have shelved the book until I had nothing else to read. As it turned out she was just the right side of cynical and witty to keep my attention.

I am aware that as a successful columnist, and published author Ms Leve would seem to have little to complain about, but that's what I found most amusing. I doubt she is really depressed or as cynical as she seems, because she writes of good friends, dinners, and parties, all of which points to an emotionally balanced well rounded personality.

I did read it out of page order, as I kept saying to my self `ooh I'll just read this little bit, and I'll start at the beginning on the morning journey to work' until alas, I had read all the articles and the front intro. So I finished it over the weekend and was left to scrabble for an abandoned Metro, along with the rest of the plebs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too negative for me, 10 Sep 2009
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Cassandra Chronicles (Paperback)
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There's a fine line between being realistic and being unduly negative and pessimistic and to my mind this collection of essays crosses that line. There are some amusing comments especially about life,love and relationships in general but a lot of it is just too negative and downbeat for my taste. The author has a sharp eye for people's foibles including her own which does make for amusing reading. Some of the topics did strike a chord with me - for example the one about recycling and how she hates being made to feel guilty if she asks for a plastic bag when she is out shopping. She suggests she is doing her bit for the environment by not having children and points out that adopting a child must be the ultimate in recycling.

These short essays - hardly more than a page in length - are well written in a dead pan understated style and they are easy to read. The book is probably best read in short bursts otherwise you might start thinking your own life is all negative. I found the glimpses into American health care very interesting especially in the light of the current debate on the subject. The author writes about both America and the UK as she divides her time between the two countries. If you enjoy Ariel Leve's column in the Sunday Times Magazine you will love this.
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The Cassandra Chronicles
The Cassandra Chronicles by Ariel Leve (Paperback - 3 Aug 2009)
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