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Kay Cliff (Hertfordshire, England)

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Aged thirteen in Felpham 1949
Aged thirteen in Felpham 1949
by Hazel K. Macaulife
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A seaside village postwar, 12 Jun. 2009
Authentic extracts from the diary of a teenager in a seaside village after the war.

Kay Macaulife: Women Take the Stage
Kay Macaulife: Women Take the Stage
by Hazel Kathleen Bell
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars An actress of the 49s, 12 Jun. 2009
A part of theatre history -- the career of an actress in repertory theatre at Bognor Regis after the war, and subsequently in London as a playwright.

A Stage Mother's Story: We're Not All Mrs Worthingtons!
A Stage Mother's Story: We're Not All Mrs Worthingtons!
by Hazel K. Bell
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An unheard voice, 11 Jun. 2009
The experience of being a stage mother, bringing up an actor, has not previously been recorded in the media.

Civil to Strangers and Other Writings
Civil to Strangers and Other Writings
by Barbara Pym
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pym's juvenilia and miscellanea, 13 May 2009
The title story is Pym's second novel, though it was published only posthumously, in 1987. Art is here close to life; the heroine of the title story, Cassandra (developed from Pym's dream-name Sandra at Oxford?) is the submissive, ironic wife to a writer of fiction and poetry, Adam, named from Paradise Lost, another who is much given to reading aloud to his lady, as did Pym's fellow student Henry Harvey to her. The book is recognizably suppositious as to the author's possible marriage to Harvey -- wishful thinking plus self-abnegation and a dose of shrewd realism. Cassandra travels to Budapest, as Pym and her sister did in 1935.

Harvey went to Finland in 1934, lecturing at a university, and married a Finnish girl in 1937; Pym wrote her `Finnish novel', which began as letters to him there and finished in 1938 as `Gervase and Flora'. Set in Helsingfors, this is truly a story of unreciprocated love bravely borne.

When World War II began, Pym remained at her parental home in Oswestry, and worked in a military canteen from 1939-41. During this time she wrote the three war stories: `Home Front novel', `So Very Secret' and `Goodbye Balkan Capital'. These all treat of the early years of the war as experienced in the English countryside, and the involvement of English women.

`Home Front Novel' opens with a First Aid class practising bandaging, goes on to show the arrival in a village of a batch of evacuees and the conversion of gardens to vegetable growing.

`So Very Secret' has another Cassandra heroine, `a country woman in early middle age ... My life is filled up with all the activities of a country village in wartime -- Red Cross and canteen work, besides church brasses and flowers'. We see Cassandra doing her canteen duty before she enjoys an espionage adventure in familiar Oxford, a London hotel, and a train from Paddington to the countryside, with an escape into another Red Cross lecture.

In `Goodbye Balkan capital' Laura, a member of the ARP Casualty Service, proud of her tin hat, listening to the radio news, learns of the dangerous position of a diplomatic body that includes a former university lover of hers, besieged in the Balkans. This derives directly from Pym's recorded hearing that the Belgrade Legation to which Jay belonged was missing (noted in her diary, April 1941).

In 1972 Pym retired to live in Finstock village, Oxfordshire. In `So, some tempestuous morn', early in the decade, she reminiscently shows us a young girl in Oxford pining for unattainable undergraduates, embarking on flirtation. `The Christmas visit', written in 1977, deals with Christmas observances in the English countryside.

`Across a crowded room', written in 1979, records an actual visit to an Oxford College for an anniversary dinner, as her real-life escort there, portrayed as `George', in fact Edwin Ardener, told the Barbara Pym conference in Oxford in 1986.

The Book of Margery Kempe (Penguin Classics)
The Book of Margery Kempe (Penguin Classics)
by Margery Kempe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first autobiography in English, 28 April 2009
This is the first autobiography in English. It was written in 1436, lost for centuries, rediscovered 1934, and is here translated for the first time from Middle English into fully comprehensible modern language. In it Margery Kempe describes her `madness, financial ruin, religious ecstasies, marital problems and dangerous treks to distant shrines' over a period of 40 years. Strong stuff.
Margery Kempe was married, and had 14 children. She lived in Norfolk in the 14th century. After becoming a visionary and mystic she went on pilgrimages, preached, and was tried. Her `special talent', for which she was both revered and castigated, was the way in which she responded to her visions -- visions such as these:

In chapter 36, God deifies and marries Margery, inviting her to kiss him, embrace him and take him to bed' - a graphically described scene. In chapter 81, she has a vision of the crucifixion and subsequent events: `A little later, I thought I saw our Lady walking towards her home ... Once our Lady was home and resting on her bed it occurred to me to make her a nice hot drink, but when I took it to her she told me to throw it away'.

Invisible Forms 2 (HB)
Invisible Forms 2 (HB)
by Jackson Kevin
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Widely researched and wittily written, 24 April 2009
This review is from: Invisible Forms 2 (HB) (Hardcover)
Jackson offers here a collection of essays on `unacknowledged genres and curiosities of writing' - dedications, prefaces, footnotes, indexes, etc.: `all the minor elements and dressings which help serve up the principal contents of a book to its readership ... known to scholarly specialists as "paratexts".'
The various genres are described with much wit: Elizabethan dedications as `a standard part of the courtship dance between plebeian author and aristocratic patron'; recondite epigraphs as `broadcasting a connotative signal ... "Me brainy. Me read clever books. Me someone to treat with heap big respect" ...'. Distinction is drawn between foreword, `usually plugs ... an endorsement of the work by some authority or celeb', and preface, `a sort of largely superfluous, throat-clearing exercise'; between footnotes to printed sources (`implicitly promise, "Look, I can prove this"') and oral (`Sorry, you're going to have to take this on trust'). Of marginalia Jackson writes, `Their characteristic notes of thwarted aristocracy or pedantry, their howls of rage, their inchoate craving for some tiny measure of immortality are a few of the qualities which establish them as blood relatives to that large-scale, public form of marginalia we call "graffiti".'
As well as discussing these various genres, and providing many examples from the greats of literature in illustration - there are plentiful quotations from such as Johnson and Joyce - Jackson exemplifies them in the presentation of his work. Thus, the chapter `Lectures' is delivered in lecture form, its final paragraph including, `as the clock on the wall informs me that our hour has almost come ...'; `Marginalia' is much adorned with underlinings and scrawls; `Stage directions' ends with a bracketed, italicised account of the author getting wine from his fridge and settling wearily to continue his writing.
Jackson gives full acknowledgement to his predecessors in this obscure field: to Isaac D'Israeli, `the first English writer ever to apply himself vigorously and directly to the kind of paratextual and quasi-paratextual matters that are the subject of this book' and likewise of Curiosities of Literature (1791), to Adrian Room on dedications and pseudonyms, Anthony Grafton on footnotes. Other noteworthy littérateurs feature as the prime practioners of various forms: Freud as lecturer; Fernando Pessoa, who wrote prolifically under several different names, representing `heteronymity' - a heteronym `meaning a full-blown literary alter ego' rather than a mere pseudonym. `Follies' features chiefly the works of Georges Perec, who wrote novels that were palindromic, that used only the vowel e, that excluded the letter e, or featured other strange distortions of vocabulary. Coleridge, `certainly the most prolific of all marginalists, probably the most brilliant', to whom books were lent `in the expectation, seldom disappointed, that they would be returned suitably adorned', dominates the chapter, `Marginalia'.
The final chapter is `Indexes', declaring, `A good index has the satisfying qualities of all skilled workmanship; an inspired index may be a thing of joy -- sometimes wittier, more eloquent and more enlightening than the book whose train it follows with such deceptive humility'. Sadly disappointing, then, to find it followed only by an `Index Nominum', listing merely the names of people - giving no titles or topics, both highly likely to be sought in this most informative book. Among the five-line listing of undifferentiated page references for Samuel Johnson, there is no way to pick out passages on his collection of books, his comments on editions of Shakespeare, lectures, patronage or Roman Catholicism; D'Israeli's or Keats's comments on him; his English Dictionary, Life of Savage, Lives of the Poets, prefaces, Rambler, or `The Vanity of Human Wishes'. Topics are traceable only through the contents list, which gives only the main subjects of chapters: references to others, such as collaboration, criticism, jokes, Latin, lipogram, plagiarism, pornography, satire, translation and copyright, cannot be located. (Possibly just as well in the last case: the assertion beginning, `our copyright laws now acknowledge that ...' (pp 285-6) cites in support a publication of 1978).
These flaws apart, the book makes a wholly fascinating read, widely researched and wittily written.

Indexing Books (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing)
Indexing Books (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing)
by Mulvany
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All kinds of readers in the world of publishing can profitably read this book., 24 April 2009
Misleadingly simple a title, this one: We have here no brisk "how to do it" manual. Indeed, its author, a professional indexer who teaches indexing (at the University of California Extension in Berkeley), opens with caveats: "I do not believe that indexing can be taught ... Indexing books is a form of writing ... a mixture of art and craft, judgment and selection ... Indexing skills can be nurtured and rules can be learned, but the indexer's ability to thoroughly digest the intentions of the author and anticipate the needs of the readers, thereby producing a knowledge structure that is sensible and useful, involves the application of abilities and skills that are inherent in some individuals and not in others."

Wannabee indexers would nevertheless do well to start here, receiving good, basic guidance from "Getting Started" onwards. The book production process, relationships between the various parties involved, the skills needed by indexers, structure and arrangement of entries, typography for indexes, computer programs -- all are covered. Mulvany defines an index as "a structured sequence --resulting from a thorough and complete analysis of text -- of synthesized access points to all the information contained in the text ... a network of interrelationships ultimately an interface between the author and the reader".

All kinds of readers in the world of publishing can profitably read this book. Publishers can learn from it how to draw up clear and professional contracts for indexing, how to brief the indexer, what the style guide should cover and of proper costs and copyright for indexes. Authors can learn how to plan ahead for the index, how to find an indexer, how to help or antagonize him or her, how to review and edit the index. Editors can learn how to assess indexes and to salvage the least worst calamities. Information technologists can study details of electronic line numbering, codes for subentry levels, formatting indention levels, embedded indexing tools, user interface design and appendices dealing with ASCII tables and generic coding for special characters. And distributors should note her comments on the effects on potential buyers of a bad index.

As for adept indexers, they can relish the detailed consideration of extreme niceties and complexities of indexing, such as intellectual versus algorithmic analysis of text; reference locator formats; listing much-married women, or names of other nationalities; transliteration; multi-author and multi-volume works; spelling out 80486 CPU for alphabetization; KWIC, KWAC and KWOC listings; tracing a name occurring only in a note reference back to its relevant text passage. There is speculation, too: should indexers scrupulously follow rules of practice not likely to be known to users? How intense should cross-referencing become? "The index should not be a vehicle for the indexer to demonstrate prowess in tracking down the genealogical roots of every individual mentioned in text," Mulvany admonishes.

But, as she emphasizes, indexing is an art, no mere set of precepts to be correctly followed: there is bound to be disagreement among concerned practitioners. Indexers too have fervent disputes as to best practice.

Who could dispute that this is an author eminently qualified to index her own book? But instead, for reasons she cogently adduces, including exhaustion and over-familiarity with her text, she delegated this work. No doubt she followed her own precepts regarding author-indexer collaboration. She thus gained her book an excellent index, boasted at its head as "Written by Carolyn McGovern", and expatiated in a footnote on its own first page (which is itself indexed) as "alphabetized letter-by-letter. Leading function words in subentries are not alphabetized. The page-number compression style follows that in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed, section 8.69. The index was prepared with the Macrex Indexing Program. Using the formula on page sixty-four of this book, this is a 7% index. There are 2,062 entries, averaging seven entries per page."

The virtues and excitement of indexing (yes!) come through loud and clear. `The phrase automatic indexing is an oxymoron," Mulvany insists, and demonstrates. "The index is molded and remolded through the first `sweep' through the text ... As the indexer adds new entries, old entries are constantly being manipulated. A biological metaphor for this process would not be far off the mark. New cells grow and old cells divide; synergy is at work that results in a functioning organism in which renegade or mutant aberrations have been identified and eliminated. Index writing integrates substantive editing into the intitial creative writing process. This index goes beyond the words in a text. It provides a gateway to ideas and information ... Master the art of book indexing, and you will experience the magic of sharing knowledge."

That's indexing talk, that is.

Reading Groups
Reading Groups
by Jenny Hartley
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, enlightening and enjoyable, 24 April 2009
This review is from: Reading Groups (Paperback)
'Jenny Hartley has conducted a survey of 350 reading groups in the UK, and here she gives a
full and detailed report of her findings. Tables of statistics analyse the characteristics of the
groups - their age, size, location, place and frequency of meetings; the age, sex, education and paid work of members; the type of books read (a total of 2,816 titles), with date of first
publication, numbers of times titles recurred in the lists of groups' reading, the nationality and
sex of the authors; the top 50 authors and top 30 books read by groups. These are ontrasted
with lists of UK bestselling and most popular books and authors. It is all quite fascinating.
There are appendices listing publications, guides, websites and sample group booklists. And there are cartoons - but, alas, there is no index.

Six lively chapters comment on the findings, and consider other topics such as what
constitutes a reading group, how they were started, how the books are chosen, how the
discussions are structured and how recent discussions had progressed, other groups around the world, and what members most enjoy about their groups. This central text is full of most interesting information, comments, anecdotes, accounts, descriptions, - but, indexless, they cannot be specifically detected or located. You cannot tell where to find accounts of consideration of standards; reading guides provided by publishers; the strict rules imposed by some groups (`You must have read the book; If you miss the meeting you must send a written critique; All come unless there's a real emergency; No gossip; We never mention domestic circumstances); all-male reading groups, one enjoying `mouth-watering spreads' provided by wives and sisters, another whose host `takes the day off to prepare the meal served, and the next to recover', a third with a strict rule, `the bottle of whisky is opened at ten o'clock and must be finished by the end of the evening'); groups for which `eating is the driving force', such as the one in New Jersey, `Mostly We Eat'; groups in Australia, France or Greece; group leaders (or advisers, co-ordinators, counsellors, facilitators, therapists, and `enhancinators', sometimes in costume - Good Books Lately is a book group consultancy in Denver). You cannot find references to the reading groups of Marks & Spencer's head office; the effect of reading groups on the suffrage movement; to feminism. You can't find the discussion of group favourites, the supper menu compiled from dishes featured in novels, a social historian's definition of conversation, or what a group thought of Jane Austen:

`One member loved Austen, one gave up after two pages, and most people thought it
okay. Didn't go far.'
It would be splendid to be able to look up particular authors and titles, to find various
groups' reactions to them. The names Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Forster, Ted
Hughes, Proust, frequently recur. Some forthright verdicts would be well worth the seeking.
On Henry James's The Wings of the Dove: `complicated sentence structure made it a real
chore to read - although we all plodded through it, hopefully, but it didn't improve; however,
we liked the cover of the book.'
Beryl Bainbridge attracts particular criticism: `She appears 44 times on lists of books
read recently, with five different novels, so groups are reading her, but protesting as they do'.
Her novel about the Titanic, Every Man for Himself, read by 27 groups, was greatly disliked:

`Not one member of the group enjoyed it; in fact we all thought it was so bad that none
of us wish to read Beryl Bainbridge again. We found it boring and without any substance
`We hated the characters and couldn't wait for the Titanic to sink.'
This book should provide all book groups with a fascinating read - and it's full of ideas for such groups. There are suggestions for paired texts - reading Arabella Weir's Does
my Bum Look Big in This? alongside Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch; a novel by Scott
Fitzgerald next to a biography of Zelda; Michael Cunningham's The Hours with Virginia
Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Themes are suggested - the Setauket Library Club Reading Group
found `The topic of US presidents and their wives was very interesting ... We devoted two
semesters to these readings. In most instances the wives were more impressive that the
elected presidents. We read updated biographies and hoped the author didn't try to rewrite
history.' The overall favourite for group reading in 1999 was Captain Corelli's Mandolin;
next, Angela's Ashes, then The God of Small Things.
Informative, enlightening and enjoyable - a useful reference work for book groups. And, in itself, an ideal book for group discussion!

The Business of Lunch: A Bookman's Life and Travels
The Business of Lunch: A Bookman's Life and Travels
by Ian Norrie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales of travel and of publishing, 24 April 2009
As well as containing family history and many stories of travels, it includes insider accounts of London bookselling, the High Hill Bookshop, the Booker Prize, the National Book League, Booksellers' Association, Society of Bookmen and the National Life Story Collection. Informative and enjoyable.

The Book in the United States Today
The Book in the United States Today
by W. Gordon Graham
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars LOGOS on the US market, 23 April 2009
Here we have a version between hard covers of the first
single-theme issue of LOGOS(vol. 7 no. 1, 1996). Twenty articles review between them all the topics suggested by the book's title (`from publisher to library by
way of book dealers and wholesalers'), and more besides:
`Journals face the electronic future' (Pieter Bolman) and `The mixed blessings of Society publishing' (Judy Holoviak), as well as `Electronic publishing and the
indispensability of publishers' (Sandra Hasler), `University presses face the 21st century'
(Naomi Pascal), and an overall view of medical publishing in the US (Eric Newman).
In a `Postscript', Gordon Graham points to two recurring
themes in the collection of essays: concentration of companies into large agglomerations which have
substantial holdings in media other than books and little interest in the past, self-sufficient and aiming to serve primarily their shareholders; and `the electronic onset, which claims that the past is irrelevant'. This book aims tocompensate for the distressing `shortage of collective memory'that Graham sees in the US book industry today. Each contributor recounts something of the history of their field of expertise, as well as analysing the contemporary scene and forecasting its future.

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