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Reviews Written by
Victoria Field "fal" (Canterbury, Kent, UK)
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Re-Enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World
Re-Enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World
by William Ayot
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A strong case for the use of rituals in contemporary Britain, 1 Mar. 2017
Highly recommended for many reasons.
It's a compelling memoir of how the author came to understand himself, his childhood wounds and his place in the world through engagement with rituals of various kinds. The story is a moving and powerful one.
It's a manifesto for the need for more and more meaningful rituals in the current world and it's full of useful references and leads. Never pompous, the writer is often self-deprecating and well aware of how this subject could seem arcane to outsiders. It left me wanting some more depth of analysis of how ritual might work but the excellent bibliography gives plenty of leads.
It's also a very enjoyable 'read', well written and pacy.


TransAtlantic
TransAtlantic
by Colum McCann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars or the sad selling of a much-loved house at the end, 17 Feb. 2017
This review is from: TransAtlantic (Paperback)
Complex and moving - and really a book about moving - whether flying from Newfoundland to Ireland, emigrating to the US, flying into Belfast for the peace process talks, or the sad selling of a much-loved house at the end. It's also a self-conscious book about story-telling and it's impossible not to be watching the author's craft as he ties up loose ends and sets up echoes and connections. Life of course is full of echoes and connections although not as dense as in a novel. The first-person contemporary book-ending of the novel is satisfying and also highlights the way history goes on and yet for the character who has lost her son, there is no next generation.


Days Without End
Days Without End
by Sebastian Barry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking prose and a reminder of how the line between good and bad runs through every human heart, 6 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Days Without End (Paperback)
This novel is a masterpiece in many ways but for me it was the voice of the central character, with its repetitions, odd similes, archaisms, hokey and profound philosophy that carried me through the gruesome but never gratuitous violence of the massacre and battle scenes. It's also a reminder of how recent were the atrocities of the Great Famine in Ireland which led to the mass emigration to the US and so many Irish serving in the army during the Indian Wars and later the American Civil War. Fiction, with its specific details for me is the quickest way to feel as well as learn about a particular period, albeit from one angle. The tenderness of the love between the two men and their adopted daughter is beautifully handled and provides a seam of goodness in a brutal world. Sebastian Barry is a master.


The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
by Andy Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A great rallying cry for great books, 26 Jan. 2017
I totally loved this book about the pleasures and importance of reading. I like the lists, the anecdotes, the self-deprecating tone and the way the writer is set outside of book-blah land, coming as he puts it from sub-urbia. I bought this at a talk Andy Miller gave and am so glad I did - in spite of the jokey tone, the message of the book is one of great importance, asking questions of our relationship to art, books, each other and ultimately to what we value in ourselves.


Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty
Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty
by Catherine Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Very highly recommended, 26 Jan. 2017
This book was a revelation - it was the first time I really understood the nature and origins of the British class system, the complexity of the relationships between labour, capital and land, all told through the story of one mining district and the families there. Couldn't put it down - the whole of the twentieth century in one story.


Falling Out of Time
Falling Out of Time
by David Grossman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating and original account of grieving, 1 Jan. 2017
This review is from: Falling Out of Time (Paperback)
Almost unbearable to read - the pain of grief described in a mixture of poetry, prose, drama and monologue. A skilled translation of what must be even more powerful in the original.


Burial Rites
Burial Rites
by Hannah Kent
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and disturbing novel based on fact, 1 Jan. 2017
This review is from: Burial Rites (Paperback)
Unusual and fascinating - a real reminder not to romanticise the past with its detail of rural life in the north of Iceland, the position of women, the weak clergy, the wild climate and grim living conditions. Felt like the book had been channelled.


The Book of Questions
The Book of Questions
by Pablo Neruda
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Master at work, 1 Jan. 2017
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This review is from: The Book of Questions (Paperback)
One of his last manuscripts published posthumously. Enigmatic, humble, multi-faced poems as questions and best of all parallel text with the Spanish and lively translation. Beautifully produced book too.


The Sunlight on the Garden: A Family in Love, War and Madness
The Sunlight on the Garden: A Family in Love, War and Madness
by Elizabeth Speller
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of the fault-lines in a grand family, 1 Jan. 2017
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Compelling and moving memoir of growing up in a family of larger-than-life characters with difficult marriages against a backdrop of two world wars. I bought this some years ago after I'd chaired a session with Elizabeth Speller talking about her novels at the Daphne du Maurier festival and can now see where she found much of her source material.
Having such a wealth of detail about one's ancestors - there are extensive family trees at the beginning - must be a mixed blessing at best and in this account, the author sees a connection with her own later mental ill health. At times I felt there was a lot of redundant information being given but ultimately, the story is immensely moving.


There Are No Foreign Lands
There Are No Foreign Lands
by Mark Holihan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the blurb writers uses the word 'patient' which I think is spot-on - these poems are wonderful antidote to pat, 23 Oct. 2016
Ever since I first heard Mark Holihan read at an open mic, I was captivated by his poetry so to read so many in this carefully thought-out collection is a real treat. These are 'talking' poems, mostly in long single stanzas where images, ideas and memories connect both within in the poem and through the whole collection. As the title suggests,the speaker of the poems travels widely and there is often the traveller's yearning to be elsewhere or the complex mixture of emotions experienced by any ex-pat thinking about 'home'. One of the blurb writers uses the word 'patient' which I think is spot-on - these poems are wonderful antidote to pat, anecdotal, neatly tied-up poems - they wander, engage in asides, are confident to move slowly through the world and to bring it vividly to life, conveying universal themes and concerns via precise, closely-observed invocations of the specific.


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