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Profile for Liz Hodgkinson > Reviews

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Liz Hodgkinson

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The Last Pub In Fleet Street
The Last Pub In Fleet Street
by Revel BARKER
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable romp through the golden days of Fleet Street, 29 Nov. 2015
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You can't have too much about Fleet Street in the olden days, or at least I can't, and Revel Barker was at its heart. Starting as a junior reporter aged 16 (you can't get into journalism like this nowadays) he progressed to the Daily Mirror and broke many big stories of the day. All young and aspiring journalist should read it to find out what they are missing in these days of online journalism, blog, self-publishing and low pay. In Barker's day, Fleet Street journalists lived high on the hog but my God, they delivered.


Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles: The Lives and Loves of Virginia Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group
Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles: The Lives and Loves of Virginia Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group
by Amy Licence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm a sucker for anything about the Bloomsbury Group, 29 Nov. 2015
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Yet another book about the Bloomsberries. Perhaps not much new to say but Amy Licence says it well and this book formed the basis for the TV drama, Life in Squares.


Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
by Marianne Williamson
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Nutty, 29 Nov. 2015
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Marianne Williamson had a new-age vogue in the 1990s and I believe officiated at one of Elizabeth Taylor's weddings. I found this book hard to read and a bit dated.


The mightier sword
The mightier sword
by Ursula Bloom
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars I - I - I, 29 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: The mightier sword (Hardcover)
Although largely forgotten now, Ursula Bloom was a household name in the 1950s and 60s. Here, she writes about her forays into journalism, particularly crime reporting. I bought this book for its description of Robert, later Roberta, Cowell, who Bloom knew both as a man and a woman. The description is harsh and unsympathetic and Roberta sued her for saying she was a bad driver (Robert was a champion racing driver) and won. It is mainly about how clever Ursula is and it's true that not many women in her day were so prolific and self-confident. Bloom was also a romantic novelist but this book is factual. It is bitty and unco-ordinated and reads as though it was rushed out in a terrific hurry.


The Unfriended
The Unfriended
by Jane McLoughlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was gripped from the start, 29 Nov. 2015
This review is from: The Unfriended (Hardcover)
Although novels about the interwoven lives of several women - starting possibly with Mary McCarthy's The Group - are not new, there is always a new twist waiting to be applied, and here Jane McLoughlin applies it. Four very different women arrive at Trinity College Dublin in the 1960s, not really knowing what they want out of life. Some have plenty of swagger while others are shy, retiring and bewildered. The four are among the first generation of women to go to university in large numbers and in a sense, they are having to forge their own way, as there are precious few precedents for them. They make their mistakes, they have their triumphs and tragedies and the novel takes us through many big themes - the Troubles in Ireland, abortion, death, murder (Jane is also a thriller writer of note) miserable marriages, affairs and grave disappointments. This is a very realistic novel about fast-changing times in the last half of the twentieth century, but it remains a novel and not a sociological treatise.
The only thing I would have liked more of, is one of the character's career as a journalist. Becoming a journalist in the 1960s if you were a woman, was not easy. It didn't just happen. But maybe that is a big theme for another novel.

As it happens, I went to Trinity College Dublin for the first time this year to film a TV documentary, and can understand the magic of the place. But even if you have never been to TCD, you will be transported there by Jane's unpretentious but deft descriptions.


Fresh Hell
Fresh Hell
by Rachel Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you would expect from this author, 8 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Fresh Hell (Paperback)
Lots of dialogue, perfectly caught, from this witty and observant author. Written with an amazingly light touch reminiscent of Nancy Mitford, this book accurately skewers the pretensions and aspirations of the current Notting Hill set. As a former inhabitant of Notting Hill myself,I can resonate with all the characters and their interactions with each other, plus the way that the slightest lapse from current ideas of good taste are noticed and marked down. But you don't have to have lived in the area to be aware that Rachel is an acute chronicler of modern mores. She comes from a talented and creative family but I sometimes wonder whether she might not be the most talented and creative of the lot.


Bloomsbury's Outsider: A Life of David Garnett
Bloomsbury's Outsider: A Life of David Garnett
by Sarah Knights
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating - but I wanted to know more, 28 Jun. 2015
This scholarly, easy to read and insightful biography puts David 'Bunny' Garnett where he belongs - as a talented, original and free-spirited member of the Bloomsbury set. But as one who knew all four Garnett girls, their half-brother William and also Bunny and Angelica, it left me wanting to know more. The biography is brilliant on Bunny's early life and recounts his professional and personal dealings in astonishing detail, but in my view, loses pace during the later chapters. Sarah Knights tells us that the 1960s is the decade of Bunny and Angelica's daughters - Amaryllis, Henrietta, Nerissa and Fanny - yet doesn't tell us much about them or their somewhat sad and unfulfilled adult lives.

There is a lot of emphasis on how 'beautiful' the Garnett girls were, and they certainly cut a swathe as teenagers in our dull home town of Huntingdon, but they all seemed affected by a curious lack of ambition, given their heritage. These days, it's not enough to be beautiful and I wondered how much Angelica's own lack of focus contributed to her daughters drifting, much as she had done, dibbling and dabbling in art, music and writing. Bunny 'adored' his daughters we are told, and yet he did not seem to encourage their talents, also allowing them to drift. Was there some kind of benign neglect?
As a teenager, I used to go to their home, Hilton Hall, a lot and do not recognise it from Sarah Knights' description. It was just the sort of home I would have liked to come from - full of books, paintings, lovely food and wine and a constant array of interesting guests. Angelica was very kind and generous to her children's friends, and we were always welcomed there, although we did not come from a literary and artistic background. Maybe I was too dazzled to notice the peeling paint, dust and untidiness mentioned in the book.

Perhaps there is another book to be written on the Garnett girls, only two of whom survive, as with the Mitford sisters?
This book has revived interest in the Bloomsbury set and given it yet another new twist.


Not Far from Dreamland
Not Far from Dreamland
by Val Hennessy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book so much I read it at a ..., 7 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Not Far from Dreamland (Hardcover)
I loved this book so much I read it at a single sitting.

As one of the country's leading literary critics, Val Hennessy has spent many years reviewing books and interviewing authors. Now she has written her own novel, and it's a triumph, sheer comic genius. A witty and all too accurate dissection of what it means to be old in our current society, Val never misses a trick. She has a keen ear for dialogue and amusingly skewers the foibles and also the surprises that come with advancing years. This is a comic novel with a high level of social comment, and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, not just those who qualify for their bus pass. There is page after page of laughs and it is painfully funny from beginning to end. Just the tonic that everybody needs to brighten up their day.


The Great Lover
The Great Lover
by Jill Dawson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book as I lap up everything about Rupert ..., 16 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Great Lover (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book as I lap up everything about Rupert Brooke but generally speaking I prefer biographies of real people to novels about them. I'm not entirely sure either that there are many gaps to fill in because there have been several big fat biographies of Brooke, and he is also anatomised in The Neo Pagans. Plus he was surrounded by writers and artists and we already know so much about Brooke and his circle that I'm not convinced there was much more to say. However, for fans of Brooke this novel is a readable and imaginative addition.


Private Eye a Cartoon History
Private Eye a Cartoon History
by Nick Newman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The cartoons are often the best bit about Private Eye and I loved leafing through ..., 16 Dec. 2014
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The cartoons are often the best bit about Private Eye and I loved leafing through this collection and revisiting some old favourites, such as the Builders' Convention. Because many of the cartoons were very topical at the time, some have lost a lot of their impact, but more than one might imagine have held up through time. I also loved the potted biographies of the cartoonists and they were a significant aspect of the pleasure of this book. A wonderful present but also a fabulous book as a personal treat.


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