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G. Coates (Surrey, UK)
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Me Before You
Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Life is only worth living if you can have sex and bungee jump........, 9 May 2016
This review is from: Me Before You (Paperback)
I know I am in the minority here, but I just didn't get this book at all. It may be 'loved around the world', but surely most English readers recognise (and yawn at!) every stereotypical character straight out of central casting: chirpy, working-class Lou with her quirky dress sense; the 'bit part' gay cafe owner; brittle, middle-class, twin-set-wearing JP Camilla (who can't come to terms with her son's disability); Lou's parents - long-suffering mum always scrubbing the doorstep and salt-of-the-earth dad on the verge of redundancy; granddad dribbling in the corner; arrogant, jet-setting, City slicker Will (who ends up paralysed from the neck down in Chapter 1); one-dimensional trophy girlfriend Lissy (who can't come to terms with her boyfriend's disability) and Lou's meat-head boyfriend (who can't come to terms with her getting a new job). Lord save us! Even Will's dad (yes, you've guessed it, a middle class former stockbroker, who also can't come to terms with his son's disability) has a bit on the side with 'red hair'. It had to be red of course. All tarts have red hair.
The plot is blindingly obvious from the moment Lou enters Will's life as a carer, employed by his mother to try to persuade him not to end his life at Dignitas. (If you haven't read it yet, pause here for a second to guess what happens....Oh, well done!)
Along the way we get more cliches. We don't meet a single person (apart from an MP who sits on a 'committee') who seems to have ever encountered anyone in a wheelchair. This is especially true of the working classes, apparently. Their is also a clear class divide when confronted by disability - all the working classes stare and talk loudly; the middle classes avert their eyes to avoid embarrassment. Good to know. In Moyes's eyes, however, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. People who don't help are criticised for their lack of understanding; those that do are accused of being patronising and 'well-meaning'. Ouch!
Having created such stereotypes, Moyes is not averse to engaging in a lot of sneering - at Lou's working class family; at her boyfriend and his running mates; at provincial life; at people without education; at Will's middle class family; at his erstwhile girlfriend and work colleagues. Sometimes Moyes is so busy sneering at the cliched lifestyles, she contradicts herself. Will, understandably, is bitter at the hand life has dealt him and longs for his old life of work, money, skiing holidays and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. However, when his ex marries his former business partner ('Rupert,' of course) we are encouraged to join in the sneering at the future they have together (more skiing holidays, 2.2 perfect kids and a weekend house in the Country ). But that is surely the future that she and Will would have had, and the one he can't imagine not now living.
And that's the most worrying aspect of this book - the suggestion that life is only worth living if you are a) able bodied b) are educated and c) have t
money to swan off to Paris, or skiing, or Kilimanjaro. Two out of three isn't enough for Will. Love certainly isn't enough, so in the end he hops it to Dignitas to end it all. Meanwhile he leaves his money to Lou so she can complete the set and - ta dah! - is able to escape from provincial life and make her life worth living.
It left a bad taste in my mouth. Having just lost a close relative who was quadriplegic (and who was 83 when he died), I found this 'life is only worth living if you are able bodied' message somewhat offensive and I guess a lot of people with disabilities will feel likewise. Not to mention the millions of people on this Earth who struggle to scratch out an existence, or live in war-torn regions, or who suffer at the hands of others, yet still find the strength to carry on and even find shreds of happiness in simple things in life. I'm not trying to be too deep here, I'm simply trying to argue that there is more to life than Moyes's utterly Western, middle-class assessment that you are only truly living if you can have sex or bungee jump!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2016 3:35 PM BST


The Fortnight in September
The Fortnight in September
by R. C. Sherriff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful celebration of a family holiday in 1930, 31 Mar. 2016
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Charming book. The deceptively simple plot about a family holiday to Bognor Regis in 1930 hides an insightful study of manners and a celebration of the ordinariness of life. A lovely little glimpse into days when everyday life was much more simple, but not without its own little adventures.


Argon Tableware Table Number Holders - 20cm (8") - Box of 12
Argon Tableware Table Number Holders - 20cm (8") - Box of 12
Offered by Rinkit Ltd
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality product, promptly delivered., 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Exactly what I wanted. Well packaged. Nice quality holders. Tall enough to stand out when people were looking for their tables. Added a bit of 'posh venue glamour' to our cricket pavilion! Arrived VERY quickly, which was another bonus.


Lacrosse Sticks Sports Cufflinks
Lacrosse Sticks Sports Cufflinks

4.0 out of 5 stars Great gift for lacrosse players, but you'll need to get your polish out....., 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought these as a Christmas present for my lacrosse-playing son, for wearing to team dinners etc. For this purpose they are great and fit the bill, so what's not to like? Well, the only down side is that in the flesh, so to speak, they are far less silvery than they look on the photo and are in fact a very dull dark grey, like tarnished pewter. It's not a bad look, but really quite different (and a bit cheaper looking) than the photo makes them look. I haven't tried a bit of metal polish on them, but that might buff them up a bit. The only other negative from my point of view was that I ordered them for Christmas but they did not arrive until 8th January, and my son had gone back to Uni by then.


Mink Faux Fur Throw 8 Colours , Large & Xtra Large 2-3 Seater Sofa / Bed Blanket (Large (150x200cm), Latte)
Mink Faux Fur Throw 8 Colours , Large & Xtra Large 2-3 Seater Sofa / Bed Blanket (Large (150x200cm), Latte)
Offered by Rynz Collection
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun throw, more TOWIE than Made in Chelsea!, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Don't expect realistic feeling faux fur at this price, but as a cheap and cheerful throw with a bit of impact it does the trick. I bought it as a bit of an in-joke Christmas present for my son's University digs bedroom as he loves my faux fur throw (ten times the price) at home. He thinks it's great! The large size is plentiful and he can easily wrap his 6ft frame in it on the sofa, as Uni students tend to do. The fur pile is not as long and luxurious as you might think from the photos, but again, what do you expect for this price?


[Knife Sharpening] E-PRANCE Knife Sharpener with 3 Stages: Emery, Wolfram Steel, Ceramic Notch for Sharpening Straight Blades from Blunt to Razor Sharp (Black)
[Knife Sharpening] E-PRANCE Knife Sharpener with 3 Stages: Emery, Wolfram Steel, Ceramic Notch for Sharpening Straight Blades from Blunt to Razor Sharp (Black)
Offered by EPRANCE
Price: £23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good, sturdy sharpener that does the job well, 27 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this as a sticking filler for my son, a keen cook who likes to look after his knives. He is very pleased with it. The handle allows for a good, sturdy grip (important when you are handling sharp knives - you don't want slippage) and it sharpens well. He is very pleased with it.


A Place Called Winter
A Place Called Winter
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving story of Edwardian gay man in Canadian prairie, 11 Nov. 2015
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This is a very moving story about a gay man in the Edwardian / World War 1 period, who is forced to leave his comfortable life in England for a settler's life in Canada when his 'secret' comes out. The English section is convincing and the characters generally well drawn, but it really picks up when he moves to Canada, where the hard life of a settler is described in great detail. From a historical point of view it is very interesting, opening a window on a way of life few of us know anything about.
For me, it had echoes of Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture and Rose Tremain's The Colour - one because of the asylum setting and the other because of the details of life in a young country (albeit Tremain's was New Zealand). But I enjoyed it more than both these books. Harry Cane is a lovely protagonist and you really engage with his trials. The ending is satisfyingly neutral - could life ever be 'happy' for a gay man in such a time and such a place?


How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food
How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food
by Nigella Lawson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An all time classic and a must for every kitchen, 10 Nov. 2015
Thought I'd review this classic cook book as Nigella's latest is getting some very mixed reviews. If you aren't that enamoured of her latest incarnation, co back to this wonderful book which shows Nigella it her best. I credit this book with teaching me to cook - it covers most things you will ever need from basic techniques to fancier stuff, all written in Nigella's inimitable style. If you want to know how to make a roast dinner - it is here. So are most basic Christmas recipes you will ever need. If you want ideas for diet recipes, they are covered too. So is cooking for children. I could go on. The late, great, Rose Gray said this book 'could become the staple cookbook for a generation'. She was absolutely right. It is probably the only actual book you ever need to buy a beginner - they can then just supplement their skills and tickle their tastebuds with recipes cut out of magazines or picked up from ubiquitous TV programmes. It is that good.


Pavel & I
Pavel & I
Price: £5.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Well paced dark and violent mystery set in post-war Berlin, 16 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Pavel & I (Kindle Edition)
Mystery story set in immediately post-War Berlin, a city torn apart by defeat and desperation. At its centre is the enigmatic Pavel who, by accident it appears, gets drawn into a conflict between the Russians, the British and the Americans who rule different sectors of the city. But who is Pavel - is he really the innocent, bookish bystander that he seems? The 'I' of the story is Peterson, a shady agent working for the British, who is tasked with teasing the truth out of Pavel over New Year 1947. The few days they spend together have a huge impact on Peterson, who can't forget Pavel and spends the rest of his life wondering what became of him and, eventually, writing the story down. But is Peterson a reliable witness? And how much of Pavel's story is true? As a mystery set just as the Cold War is beginning to break out, it works well. A few of the characters are predictable to the point of being almost caricatures (Colonel Fosko, for example, who is like the Bond villain even Ian Fleming was too proud to create) but the clever writing means that Pavel remains an enigma to the end


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Modern whodunnit set in suburbia where all is not what it seems...., 23 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
This was a good read and contained enough interesting characters and surprising twists to sustain the interest right to the end. The story is told as from the points of view of the three main women in the book. Each one had enough of an individual voice to stand out (not always the case with this writing style) and the female characters were well-written. I was less convinced by the male characters - the two main ones both being rather controlling types with a tendency towards violence when provoked. What's the chances of falling for two such men in your life (and them living just a few doors from each other?) Maybe it's just me, but I think I would have enjoyed the story a bit more if there had been bit more differentiation between the male leads. Still a good holiday read however.


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