Profile for Hilary Shepherd > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Hilary Shepherd
Top Reviewer Ranking: 336,545
Helpful Votes: 13

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Hilary Shepherd

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
The Baobab's Covenant with Rain
The Baobab's Covenant with Rain
by Isam Babiker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sudan from the inside, 19 Jun. 2014
I read this novel because it was sent to me by the author, who is a Sudanese psychiatrist living in Bristol, and I am so glad to have read it. It is an insider’s view of Sudanese society at the end of the 60s, a period of great change and promise but also of political instability. Interestingly (since the author is a man) it is told through the eyes of a young woman. Asha is sixteen and has been taken out of school by her hated stepfather at the beginning of the book. When the stepfather finds a husband for her and Asha rejects him, a train of events is set in motion that take her to Khartoum and a new school, but there are secrets in her family’s past lying in wait for her.

This is no rosy view of a traditional world, although there are beautiful scenes in it and it is, at the centre, a love story. The repression of women by men, the oppression of women by other women, circumcision, racism, slavery – the novel faces all these issues head-on through the questioning persona of Asha. Allowed at last to exercise her intellect at the school in Khartoum, Asha also finds a true home with her aunt’s family and she grows into an intelligent and purposeful young woman. When she falls in love with her best friend’s brother, the rules of the society she lives in – whether she believes in them or not – must be adhered to or she will be destroyed. But disaster, when it comes, is outside her control

The novel raises many questions about religion and society but cleverly avoids laying down any answers and the ending – even though you guess as a reader what is coming – is still somehow unexpected because of this. I will be thinking about this book for a long time…


Left and Leaving
Left and Leaving
by Jo Verity
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left is what you feel when you finish it and have to let go of the characters, 14 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Left and Leaving (Paperback)
On the surface this is a brief tale of two people meeting by chance at particular stages of their very separate lives (older man who has sidestepped his past by coming to London from Australia, thirties-something woman who is at a cross-roads in her life, whether she realises it or not) and what happens to them over the peak of one very snowy winter. These are ‘ordinary’ people who you might pass in the street without looking back, but they turn out to be deeply fascinating characters, surprising, contradictory, often spikey. They draw you deep into their story and leave you with such a sense of being left at the end it is almost painful. I had just finished The Luminaries when I read this and ‘Left and Leaving’ is everything that book is not – satisfying, stimulating, and not nearly so arm-breaking to carry around.


Mermelada
Mermelada
by Pete KJ
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Short novel set in Mexico City, 13 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Mermelada (Paperback)
This novella is a lot of fun as the story moves in and out of different lives in Mexico City. Just ordinary people, to whom only small things happen, but you get to care about them and through their stories the city comes alive.


The Coins
The Coins
by Pete KJ
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.55

3.0 out of 5 stars A very modern tale of international relations, 13 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Coins (Paperback)
The storyline moves between Ghana, where Jude the struggling lab technician was born and grew up, Singapore where he is now living with his Chinese wife, and Chile, where the woman Noemi dispenses energy and blessings all over the world from a dial-up connection in a small house in Valparaíso. The stories weave in and out as Jude struggles to maintain his footing in the laboratory where his experiment is going all wrong and considers his options and his past, in the course of which he enters an internet conversation with a woman he’s never met, Noemi. This is one of those tales where it looks as if the hero is on the brink of disaster but he just manages to keep a grip and in the end the issues are resolved, if not in the way he envisaged. The descriptions of Jude’s boyhood in northern Ghana are very vivid, and his life in present-day Singapore is an eye-opener. Noemi’s world in Valparaíso is also vividly evoked.


War Before Mine, The
War Before Mine, The
by Caroline Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to give to all your friends, 13 Mar. 2014
This review is from: War Before Mine, The (Paperback)
I was so impressed by this book, I read it twice in quick succession and I'm looking forward to reading it again before too long. A lot of people got it from me for Christmas the year before last! The writing is clear and confident, moving through historical event as if the author had experienced it first-hand, and the book stays with you afterwards. The title is very powerful – I knew I wanted to read it long before I got round to buying it, and I wasn't disappointed. The cover is pretty good too!


The Luminaries
The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What's the point..., 13 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
What is the point of writing wonderfully and clever if you don't take your readers with you? The ending is like a pack of cards falling off the table - the characters are left in the reader's head but all the substance has faded away...


Page: 1