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Helen David "literary addict" (UK)

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Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
by John Eliot Gardiner
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and assiduously researched.., 23 Jan. 2014
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I could not put the book down - which meant that I have spent most of the last week bent over it. I am giving it four stars rather than five, as I found myself running two intense threads of concentration: the main text and then the footnotes.... the footnotes could have constituted a book in themselves!

It is a tremendous read and informs and reminds one of the vast complexity of the provenance of Baroque European thought: wars, famines, ecclesiastical power and the shadow of paganism. It is a triumph in its expansiveness. I felt at every stage it deserved a pause and a lengthy conversation after each chapter.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2014 11:59 AM BST


Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert
Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert
by John Drury
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant exposition of an extraordinary man, 23 Jan. 2014
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This book is written with a passion for the historical context within which we can understand the poet, the priest and the social conflicts that existed to make his life an extraordinary one and his poetry so spiritually humble. I cannot recommend it more highly, not only for its understated scholarly content, but its gripping style.


Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East
Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East
by Arto der Haroutunian
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic Vegetarian staples, 15 Nov. 2010
As a relatively recent convert, thanks to Diana Henry, to Middle Eastern flavours, I bought this book to complement my growing library. It is a wonderful compendium of the use of local foods. The only reason that I am not giving it five stars is that it is virtually impossible to make anything on the lighter side, but all perfect winter fare or for those who spend hours working in olive groves..


The Sorrows of an American
The Sorrows of an American
by Siri Hustvedt
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jumbled, self indulgent mess, 26 May 2008
I forced myself to finish this book as it had been a gift. It is one of the worst pieces of fiction that I have read for years. It has no real direction, but sits and wallows for 300 interminable pages, revolving around the same story, told again and again under the auspices of separate, interwoven stories. The prose is relentless: precis is not the gift of this particular author and we are subjected to details which do not add anything other than irritation. A very hefty dose of editing might have helped. We are bounced from 9/11 to the great depression to boring relations and their predictable infidelities. One of those stories on its own might, with the right kind of concentration, have made for a piece worth reading.

Suffice to say, I do not recommend this book for any reason whatsoever, unless it is the last one remaining on the beachfront bookshelf..
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2009 4:00 PM BST


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