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William D. Freeman "wdavidfreeman" (Southern California)
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The Lady in the Van: The Complete Edition
The Lady in the Van: The Complete Edition
by Alan Bennett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting "Complete Edition", 20 Dec. 2015
I first read the original short-story version of The Lady in the Van years ago and followed that up with the script of the play. Yet I still enjoyed and recommend this newest incarnation and here's why:

1. The introduction by Nicholas Hytner, who directed the film and the play, provides further illumination.

2. Alan Bennett's own new introductory material is substantial and entertaining.

3. I enjoyed re-visiting the original story.

4. The film script is a nice take on the story, better I think than the stage version. The many colour stills from the film are a delight.

5. The sketches certainly enhance the book as a whole.

I bought a signed copy at Hatchard's—so did not purchase through Amazon as I normally would do. As always, the Amazon price is unbeatable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2016 1:54 PM GMT


Captain in Calico
Captain in Calico
by George MacDonald Fraser
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

2.0 out of 5 stars Grim Tale with No One to Like, 18 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: Captain in Calico (Hardcover)
At first glance this appears to be a classical swashbuckler, and it starts out that way. But half way through the story, things turn bleak and stay that way to the end. There is no humour, not even gallows humour, although the opportunities for it abound. There are simply no likable characters.

The book reads as though GMF started out to write a romance with a pirate hero only to accept along the way that there is nothing heroic about pirates—by definition they are bad people, and the protagonist here is no exception. He leads an attack against innocent sailors to steal loot that never properly belonged to him.

The classical GMF mechanics are mostly there, but the artistry is missing. Characters that you expect to return to the story do not, which suggests he originally intended a sequel. The result is closest among his mature works to The Candlemass Road, another bleak tale.


Tolkien
Tolkien
by Raymond Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably not for the casual reader but a very good book, 28 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Tolkien (Hardcover)
Raymond Edwards neatly compliments Humphrey Carpenter's official biography and the excellent studies of Tom Shippey by explaining to readers in detail the intricacies of the scholarly world in which Prof. Tolkien operated. Edwards is also well versed in the works that influenced Tolkien and those produced by his contemporaries. All this will probably put off readers with only a casual interest in JRRT, but for the serious minded there is much here of value in helping us to understand Tolkien's life and career.

Edwards makes clear that a vast amount of Tolkien's papers remain off limits to research. This, then, is probably as good a biographical study of JRRT as we can hope for at present. More detail will come in the fullness of time, but none of it is likely to alter significantly the picture that we now have.


Not George Washington (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE)
Not George Washington (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE)
by P.G. Wodehouse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rare work finally re-published in a quality edition, 2 Jun. 2014
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Back in print as a hardcover book for the first time since it was published in 1907, this has always been one of the most difficult to obtain Wodehouse titles. Collectors pay large sums for the first edition, but here it is at last in a fine edition at a bargain price.

Wodehouse authority Richard Usborn dismissed this as "a very poor novel", but biographer Robert McCrum noted that it is nevertheless an important and overlooked work written primarily by Wodehouse despite his protests to the contrary when it was published.

The significance here lies in the fact that, at least up to a point, the main character is an autobiographical depiction of Plum's early days as a writer. The result is what might be expected if Wodehouse had written Jack London's novel "Martin Eden", which was published around the same time.

I found the book to be not so bad as Usborne judged and definitely worth reading at least once if you have a deep appreciation for the Master.


The Collected Stories of Rumpole (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Collected Stories of Rumpole (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled: this is not THE Collected Stories, 13 Nov. 2013
The misleading title may cause prospective buyers to think that this anthology represents the complete works of Rumpole. It does not. Instead we are offered yet another re-packaging of a selection of stories, in this case 20. This may be a good introduction to Rumpole for the uninitiated, but then so are all of the original collections and preexisting anthologies.

A total of 81 original Rumpole stories have been published in book form. Of these 77 are short stories (some VERY short) and 4 are novel-length tales. This does not include the scarcely-begun final story that Mortimer abandoned due to terminal illness and published in the last anthology before this "Forever Rumpole." There do remain, however, a tiny handful of brief stories originally published in periodicals or read out on radio broadcasts through the years that have never been collected in book form.

The world still awaits the publication of the "complete" Rumpole.


The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
by William Manchester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.60

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Roar!!, 20 Nov. 2012
Paul Reid has done it! He has produced a worthy successor and final volume to the series started by William Manchester. It has been a long wait, but readers will not be disappointed by the result. Manchester published the first volume in 1983 and the second volume five years later. After completing research for the third book and starting in on the text, his health failed. Before he died, Manchester asked Reid to finish the project.

This volume begins just after Churchill took over as Prime Minister in the spring of 1940. At 1053 pages of closely printed text, it takes some time to read, but not one minute is wasted. The style closely follows the tone set by Manchester, and the scope of research, understanding of subject matter and presentation will impress ordinary readers and historians alike. Reid admires his subject but doesn't try to cover up Churchill's faults or mistakes.

In some ways this is a history of the war disguised as a Churchill biography. About 90% of the text covers the war while the last hundred pages or so takes the reader to the end of Churchill's life in 1965. But the approach serves to place Churchill's actions in their proper context.

I don't believe that there has ever been a Churchill biography that so underscores how desperate the situation was for both Britain and Churchill during the early years of the Second World War and how decisions taken during that time could not forsee how events would eventually unfold or that Britain would even survive. Millions of people truly believed and still do that Churchill was the last bulwark standing between them and a Nazi-dominated future. This book vividly makes clear why their adulation was justified.


The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin
The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin
by Philip Larkin
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for Larkin less two stars for Burnett, 7 Mar. 2012
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Philip Larkin was a very good poet indeed. Alas, his complete body of work has now been embalmed in this massive tombstone of a book.

Larkin's poetry makes up the first 329 pages. There follows 400 PAGES of editorial commentary, which should never be read by anyone in their right minds least of all lovers of poetry.

Obviously this "scholarly" work is intended for the shelves of university libraries where it can be duly ignored. Faber's edition of the collected poems of Auden does without the academic trappings. Why was it necessary to burden Larkin with all this analysis by exhaustion? Certainly it does not make for an easily-held book let alone an inviting price.

Will Faber & Faber please give the world a reader-friendly edition of Larkin's complete work?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2012 12:54 AM GMT


The Adventures of a Book Collector
The Adventures of a Book Collector
by Philip Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-read for Bibliomaniacs, 20 Feb. 2012
Dr. Philip Murray has a fever: book fever to be precise. In this case the only prescription is confession. Murray, a retired Irish GP, has spent his life reading and collecting books. He has formed wonderful friendships with many authors whom he admires including Seamus Heaney as well as the booksellers with whom he deals. In this wonderful little volume of his own, he shares his passion.

A sure sign of Bibliomania is the enjoyment of reading about the habits of fellow sufferers. You will enjoy these true-life stories about trawling through used-book stores around the world, serindipitous discoveries and tracking down that particularly hard-to-get author's signature on a book.


Hands
Hands
by Moya Cannon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Hands of a master., 18 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Hands (Paperback)
This is, I believe, Moya Cannon's fourth collection of verse. Hopefully there will be many more volumes to come. If you love poetry, you will love Moya Cannon.

Most of her poems are quite short, but you can't help re-reading each of them over and over before moving on to the next. Thus it may take you much longer than you think to get through just 55 pages of poetry.

These poems will haunt you longer after you close the book.


J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life
J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life
by Arne Zettersten
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £66.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for the serious student of Tolkien, 24 Dec. 2011
Professor Arne Zettersten of the University of Copenhagen had the privilege of getting to know J.R.R. Tolkien personally in the last dozen years of Tolkien's life. Like Tolkien, Zettersten specialized in the philological study of the English language as it developed in the Middle Ages. The two men had many face-to-face discussions and exchanged many letters which illustrated how Tolkien's love of language inspired his own essays in fiction.

While not a traditional biography, this book esentially provides Zettersten's insights through following the story arc of Tolkien's life. This book is not for the casaul reader or even someone new to Tolkien studies (who should indeed start with Humphrey Carpenter's classic biography). For those who are serious, though, about the study of Tolkien's life and work this book is an instant classic.


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