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Sue Kichenside
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A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War and a Ruined House in France
A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War and a Ruined House in France
Price: £8.54

3.0 out of 5 stars Searching for answers., 19 April 2015
This is the account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot's infatuation with her irrepressible, spiky grandmother, Anna. When the book opens, Anna and her ex-husband Armand are in their eighties and live on different continents. As Jewish fugitives from war-torn Europe in the Second World War, this terrifying period still casts shadows over their lives. They have not spoken to each other for five decades. Miranda is seeking answers.

I was completely baffled as to why Miranda felt unable to come right out and ask them about what had caused their irreconcilable break-up. She goes round and round the houses. The author's imagined 'reconstructions' of episodes from her grandparents' escape from France come across as inauthentic and cheesy. And her realisation of the painful impact Armand's role as a translator at the Nuremberg Trials must have had upon him arrives uncomfortably late in the narrative.

Although the writing itself is good, the author obsesses about what could have driven her grandparents apart without ever resolving the issue satisfactorily. A Fifty-year Silence is about Miranda's obsession, not ours, and unfortunately she failed to make it of significance to this reader.


Bedroom Athletics - Katy Ballerina Slipper Womens - Brown - 6 UK
Bedroom Athletics - Katy Ballerina Slipper Womens - Brown - 6 UK
Offered by Cloggs
Price: £17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and snuggly., 18 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These sweet, snuggly slippers have had lots of compliments! Unfortunately, the stripes don't match up across the pair which is a shame. Be sure to order at least half a size up on your usual shoe size as they are elasticated and come up quite small. Good value at the current offer price.


We Could Fall
We Could Fall
Price: £3.41

4.0 out of 5 stars "How does that make you feel?", 16 April 2015
This review is from: We Could Fall (Kindle Edition)
This is the most useful question in the psychotherapist's toolkit and it certainly comes into its own here. Emmy's life changes when she is asked by an old friend to take on a new client, the famous movie star, Duncan Grier. Emmy's marriage is in a precarious position: years earlier, her husband had a child with another woman. They have three children of their own and Emmy has stayed with Jack for the sake of the family. Now she feels it could be time to move on. Will Duncan be the spur that's needed to finally make that decision? The chemistry between them certainly leads us to think so.

It's an interesting story line but this novel could have been much improved by reducing the length by at least a hundred pages; cutting out all the exposition would be a good place to start. Also I found that the early scenes when Emmy first starts counselling Duncan were unrealistic and unprofessional. There was an opportunity here to ratchet up their attraction to one another in a far more subtle - and therefore more thrilling - way. Kate Moschandreas would benefit from a good editor but this is a promising debut. 3.5*

*I received a free copy of this book for review*


Fifty-Year Silence, A
Fifty-Year Silence, A
by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Searching for answers., 14 April 2015
This review is from: Fifty-Year Silence, A (Paperback)
This is the account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot's infatuation with her irrepressible, spiky grandmother, Anna. When the book opens, Anna and her ex-husband Armand are in their eighties and live on different continents. As Jewish fugitives from war-torn Europe in the Second World War, this terrifying period still casts shadows over their lives. They have not spoken to each other for five decades. Miranda is seeking answers.

I was completely baffled as to why Miranda felt unable to come right out and ask them about what had caused their irreconcilable break-up. She goes round and round the houses. The author's imagined 'reconstructions' of episodes from her grandparents' escape from France come across as inauthentic and cheesy. And her realisation of the painful impact Armand's role as a translator at the Nuremberg Trials must have had upon him arrives uncomfortably late in the narrative.

Although the writing itself is good, the author obsesses about what could have driven her grandparents apart without ever resolving the issue satisfactorily. A Fifty-year Silence is about Miranda's obsession, not ours, and unfortunately she failed to make it of significance to this reader.


An Unnecessary Woman
An Unnecessary Woman
by Rabih Alameddine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

4.0 out of 5 stars In which the narrator is the narrative., 11 April 2015
This review is from: An Unnecessary Woman (Hardcover)
Aaliya Saleh, 72, lives a life of solitude surrounded by books in her shabby Beirut apartment. Words are infinitely preferable to people; no-one is welcome to intrude on her quiet life. Except for...us, the readers of this book. Aaliya tells us of her life as a bookseller, her life as an unpublished translator of great works, her life without friends (except for Hannah, long dead), her life without family - she has shunned them all.

Truth be told, I didn't actually like Aaliya very much. Aaliya, meaning 'the high one', is a cold woman. And although as a child her mother favoured her half-brothers, Aaliya's rejection of her family seems extreme. Likewise, her attitude to the friendly and rather jolly women who live in her apartment block is brusque to the point of rude.

However, Rabih Alameddine's writing is so gorgeous that this book is a pleasure to read. There is wit: "I don't hesitate when buying green bananas, but I'm slowing down." There are insights into the great writers and philosophers like Spinoza: "We so desperately need a Beiruti Baruch, a knight to slay the ecclesiastical dragons, or at least declaw them." There are new words to discover when she talks of contemporary writers: Junoz Díaz and Aleksandar Hemon's "wonderfully macaronic language". And she is pithy on the politics: "At the heart of most antagonisms are irreconcilable similarities." Aaliya's love of words is infectious.


Arab Jazz
Arab Jazz
by Karim Miské
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Murder in a melting pot., 2 April 2015
This review is from: Arab Jazz (Hardcover)
Elements of a conventional murder mystery play out against the background of Paris's cultural melting pot in a moderately intriguing plot that keeps readers on their toes (it's quite hard to follow). This opens with the discovery of the murder victim by blood dripping from the woman's body onto the young Arab owner of the balcony beneath. The apartment block is situated in a neighbourhood where Salafists and Orthodox Jews co-exist peaceably by ignoring one another. The murder victim is the daughter of Jehovah's Witnesses. Religion swirls around the various tangled threads of the story, as do the mysterious blue pills that are suddenly flooding the city. Which will be the key to unlocking the case?

This is an unusual thriller that borders on the literary and yet I found it curiously unengaging. Whether this is due to the shortcomings of the author, the translator or this reader, I honestly don't know. The writing veers between the present and past tense and between the clumsy and the adept. There is a great deal of exposition, even - and unforgivably - in the dialogue. An odd book, this. Its contextual setting makes it relevant to the world we live in today but towards the end, the plot descends into abject drivel.


One Night, Markovitch
One Night, Markovitch
by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Debut author puts the 'irk' in quirky., 30 Mar. 2015
This review is from: One Night, Markovitch (Paperback)
This is set in Mandate Palestine on the cusp of Israel's statehood. The plot is promising: a kind of '20 Brides for 20 Brothers', the brothers being a band of Irgun paramilitary fighters who are ordered across the sea to marry young Jewish women and thus provide them with an escape route from war-torn Europe. The story focuses of two of the men who are best friends and polar opposites. Despite an excellent translation by Sondra Silverston, the arch quirkiness of Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's writing becomes very wearing, very quickly.


Family Life
Family Life
by Akhil Sharma
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Folio winner proves less is more., 30 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Family Life (Hardcover)
This slender novel not only hits home - it has also hit a home run. Akhil Sharma's tragi-comedy has recently been awarded the Folio prize for excellence in writing. It has been fourteen years since Akhil Sharma's debut, An Obedient Father. The answer as to why it has taken so long for his second book to reach us is perhaps contained in its semi-autobiographical pages.

When Ajay's accountant father sends airline tickets for his wife and two sons to join him in America, their whole Delhi neighbourhood comes out to celebrate the family's good fortune. Ajay is eight and can't quite believe this is really happening. As many an immigrant experience story has shown, the Mishras' new life in 'the land of opportunity' is a challenging one for them to navigate. But it is a devastating accident that changes everything more fundamentally for the Mishra family - and for Sharma's readers.

This is a deeply moving, funny, tragic, absorbing and brave account with an engagingly honest narrator. The author compels the reader to examine some of life's darker questions by leaving much unsaid and demonstrates here that less really can be more. A novel of 'distilled complexity' and 'deceptive simplicity' said the Folio judges. I agree.


Red Notice: How I Became Putin's No. 1 Enemy
Red Notice: How I Became Putin's No. 1 Enemy
by Bill Browder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billion-dollar Bill., 27 Mar. 2015
In terrifically readable style, Bill Browder takes us from the communist background of his family (his grandfather led the American Communist Party and twice stood for president) through to his defiant determination to carve his own career path in capitalism. And carve it he did.

Identifying a timely opportunity to capitalise on Russia's opening up of the markets, 28-year old Browder doggedly pursued wealthy global investors whose input enabled him to form his own investment company, Hermitage Capital, a roller-coaster hedge fund that saw phenomenal profits as well as devastating losses.

No-one will be surprised to hear that Browder made some ruthless enemies along the way, eventually leading to his being barred from the country. This is the story of a man who wouldn't allow the sinister Russian machine to steamroller over him and of the collateral damage that was inflicted on his associates by a corrupt system. The message is clear: mess with Mother Russia at your peril.


Mad Men and Bad Men: What Happened When British Politics Met Advertising
Mad Men and Bad Men: What Happened When British Politics Met Advertising
by Sam Delaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Party animals., 24 Mar. 2015
For anyone who is interested in politics or advertising, this eminently readable book will provide fascinating insight into these two worlds that perhaps have more in common than they would like to think. First and foremost, they both have to sell themselves. (As an agency boss once said: "My assets go down in the lift every night.")

Sam Delaney treats us to some rather wonderful anecdotes and demonstrates the strained relationships that have always existed between political parties and their advertising agencies: the clash of egos, the creative challenges, the fact that both politics and advertising are inexact sciences where the proof of advertising's ability to influence elections is well nigh impossible to verify.

How timely to read this in the run-up to the 2015 general election!


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