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American Sycamore
American Sycamore
by Karen Fielding
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut novel, 31 Mar. 2014
This review is from: American Sycamore (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written first novel, with exquisite observation and attention to detail - in the descriptions of the landscape and the idiosyncrasies of the characters. Karen Fielding has a sharp sense of humour - expressed pithily in those inventive chapter titles - but she also conveys with great sensitivity the mental unravelling of Billy Sycamore. It is a funny and intensely moving story. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.


A Boy Called MOUSE
A Boy Called MOUSE
by Penny Dolan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enchanting, 26 Nov. 2011
This review is from: A Boy Called MOUSE (Paperback)
I was enchanted by this book. It has all the elements of picaresque adventure and just deserts that make Dickens so satisfying, but it went deeper. There is something delicately nuanced in the boy protagonist's reactions to his tragedies, dangers and triumphs: he never resorts to just what you'd expect. The writing is very beautiful, managing to be spare and profound at the same time. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time, whether for children or adults.


David
David
by Mary Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a treat, 28 Jun. 2011
This review is from: David (Paperback)
Mary Hoffman's Gabriele breathes off the page - breathes art, life and danger. The most beautiful youth in Florence is immortalised in marble by his milk-brother Michelangelo. Gabriele's beauty is so perfect that it is androgynous: he becomes an object of desire for both men and women. Yet Gabriele is ironically without personal vanity, and has skills of his own. Some of his skills are of the heart; others are of the mind and hand. He's not just the model - he's a participant in the drama that surrounded the birth of the world's most famous sculpture.

Gabriele has weaknesses - for women, for his own child, for his friends. These don't make him weak: they make him human. He is the perfect camera to capture a vivid moment of history. Just as the statue of David impersonates the defiant new Republic, Gabriele's personal dilemmas bring to life the factionalism of post-Savonarola Florence, a city in which the ashes of the Bonfire of the Vanities are still smouldering with violence and passion.

There's also a very enjoyable portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, who prowls the studio like a fastidious cat.

I was gripped. This book is definitely the crossover breakthrough that Mary Hoffman deserves. In fact, it seems to me more adult than many 'adult' books I've read lately: it illuminates, entertains and never talks down.

There's also a wonderful treat of a trailer on you-tube - don't miss it.


The Somnambulist
The Somnambulist
by Essie Fox
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars empathetic time-travelling, 28 Jun. 2011
This review is from: The Somnambulist (Hardcover)
Finishing The Somnambulist feels like coming back (somewhat regretfully) from time-travelling to Victoria's England. Essie Fox's descriptions of places are just wonderful. This writer has the neat knack of recapturing the mystical eccentricity of Victorian time and place without caricaturing it. I was totally drawn in.

Phoebe's innocence is very well done - enough to make her credible as the astonished camera to the events unfolding, but also to make us fear for her.
It is interesting to see how this writer also cultivates sympathies even for characters who might seem reprehensible. And Phoebe's grief was also wonderfully rendered.

I look forward to the next book from this writer.


Between Two Seas
Between Two Seas
by Marie-Louise Jensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the world behind the paintings, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Between Two Seas (Paperback)
This novel does everything I want a book to do: it takes the reader to another place and time, it allows us to spend time with a character rich in good qualities and interesting faults, and it creates a sense of hardship and danger, with a wonderful sense of catharsis when all obstacles are overcome. Marianne is a complicated, engaging character and a brilliant medium through which to introduce the hard yet magical world of remote Skagen. I'd previously seen the lyrical paintings. This novel shows the other side of life there, and I shall never look at those paintings in the same way again.


Fallen Grace
Fallen Grace
by Mary Hooper
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful sensation, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Fallen Grace (Hardcover)
There are moments in this book when vulnerability and decency meet abusive behaviour and murderous greed, and the reader believes that the forces of evil are going to win. The sensation this produces is incredibly powerful. You turn the pages feverishly, fearfully and with increasing urgency, as if that alone could save brave Grace from those who seek to hurt her. Yet, thanks to the sure touch of the writer, the reader never feels manipulated. The storytelling is deft, with all the different storylines unravelled in a highly satisfactory way at the end. Although this is an historical novel, it treats the theme of child abuse in a fresh and daring way, so that even the most modern, sophisticated internet-obsessed child could engage with barefoot, ragged Grace


Emily's Surprising Voyage (Walker Racing Reads)
Emily's Surprising Voyage (Walker Racing Reads)
by Sue Purkiss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pacy, touching and original, 18 April 2011
A touching encounter between privilege and poverty, compassion towards animals, the transforming power of a journey - this story teaches a lot about all these things but it doesn't ever lecture. It's far too much fun for that - far too pacy and original. The writing is so good that it gives a palpable sense of being onboard the ship. Every word of information is carried by the storyline with great skill. I also loved the character of the captain.


Saving Rafael
Saving Rafael
by Leslie Wilson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars a compelling read, 18 April 2011
This review is from: Saving Rafael (Paperback)
I loved this book. It speaks for the thousands of decent Germans who suffered the Nazi regime, and put themselves in danger to defy it. I felt the hunger, and the fear. And I'll never forget the image of the train of the bombed dead endlessly circling a burning Berlin.


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