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Lady Fancifull "Tinkerbell"
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PWR Plus Recover (5 Bottles) Natural Sports Recovery Pomegranate & Red Grape Drink (5 X 330ml)
PWR Plus Recover (5 Bottles) Natural Sports Recovery Pomegranate & Red Grape Drink (5 X 330ml)
Offered by OVIVO Wellness
Price: £12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious taste - but, as with all juiced fruit sugar content is high!, 29 July 2015
I was sent this drink as a review product, and was pleased to try it as it is pure fruit juice and most importantly contains nothing unnatural - no added sugar (the juices are sweet enough) no dreaded artificial sweeteners (the juices are sweet enough) nor does it have preservatives or artificial colourings

The contents are : from concentrates juice of red grape, aronia, pomegranite, red grapefruit, Acai puree - and the only ingredient i would have liked to have found out a little more about 'natural flavours' as I'm not altogether sure what these might be - as I understand it it is anything derived from (generally) a plant but it could be from animal origin, and only means it is not an synthesised chemical component. I'm a big reader of ingredients

This does have a strong, particular, astringing bitterness behind the sweetness - and that will of course be the natural tannins in red grapes. Pomegranite and grapefruit also have those astringing bitter flavours. Some might find it a little too earthy and biting, and may prefer to dilute the juice with water - but I love these flavours and happily downed the bottle.

My only note though, as with ALL concentrated fruit juices, is that you are taking in a lot of sugar 41.3 grams - that's 10 teaspoons - 46% - nearly half of the recommended level of sugar in this one bottle. You can happily eat the fruit, because the effort involved in chewing, grinding, churning and generally digesting fruit in its normal fibrous form does not result in sugar spikes instantly in the bloodstream, and it would be a rare person who could eat enough whole fruits in one sitting to give them 46% of their sugar intake.

Okay, I had done 45 minutes running, but still, this is not something I would be consuming every day, even after exercise. But that is the case with all fruit juices.

This is something I'd like to have as a standby for convalescence, after flu, for example, where you might not be able to stomach eating, and be feeling weak. A high dose of natural energy would certainly come in handy in such situations


Circling the Sun
Circling the Sun
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Beryl Markham : The Splendid Outcast, 28 July 2015
This review is from: Circling the Sun (Kindle Edition)
Paula McLain''s well written second book, Circling The Sun, a biography-as-fiction of Beryl Markham, aviator, horse-trainer, free woman, adventurer, leaves me with the same kind of uneasy questions as did her first novel, The Paris Wife, another biography-as-fiction about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson. Namely : questions about the ethics of biography-as-fiction, particularly with those who may have still living children.

Biography itself may of course be flawed, even `facts' are subject to interpretation, but the general tenet of a good biography is not to assume the fictional mantle of identifying what the subject was thinking and feeling - unless of course they left evidence of this, or perhaps there was a third party who reported conversations and recollections (those these of course may be subjectively and selectively filtered by that third party)

The problem (and of course the beauty) of biography as fiction is that the fiction writer deals in what a character feels and thinks, not merely what they do, or have done to them by others. The adding of the fiction writer's inventive, empathetic, imaginative skills to `real' people, makes the fiction biography SEEM more real than the objectively researched biography, merely reporting verifiable facts. This is precisely because we are taken into the added dimension of understanding and thinking and feeling what a person is like, which the fiction writer has imagined, invented, supposed, and which has been filtered through their own sensibilities.

Beryl Markham was an unusually bold, free-spirited woman, even amongst the adventurous time and place which was the British ex-pat community of British East Africa between the wars. Born Beryl Clutterbuck, the daughter of a racehorse trainer, the family emigrated from England when she was 4. At a remarkably young age, barely out of her teens, she was forcing her way into the world of racehorse training under her own steam. This was a male-only commercial activity, and Beryl was the first woman in Kenya to gain a license to train horses - something she continued to do until her 80s. In 1936 she achieved another first, after discovering another passion - flying. She was the first woman to make the solo Atlantic flight from East to West - that is, against the prevailing winds. The first solo Atlantic crossing by a female, Amelia Earhart, from West to East, WITH the winds, had happened 4 years earlier. Earhart of course became a symbol and a figurehead. She mysteriously died young, when, on another flight, her plane disappeared. She was also a woman who undoubtedly did good works, and channelled her adventurous, free-spirit into activities which were of use to society at large - promoting both flying itself and training and championing other female aviators. Markham's rackety personal life was probably in part responsible for her fall into obscurity

My unease with McLain's book is this : had this been a fiction about invented people `like' Beryl Markham, Denys Finch-Hatton, Karen Blixen and the rest - using different names, with an explanation that it was closely modelled on known events of their lives, I would absolutely, unreservedly, have five starred this. But the presentation is that this fiction is true, because the events are true - it is an `as if' biography. I was really interested to find out more about Markham, and what I found seemed to make her an even more interesting and far more complicated - and - perhaps, a less admirable (according to our morality) character than McLain makes her. For example, she seems to have been a a woman who bestowed her sexual favours much more widely than McLain suggests. There is a kind of noble sanitising going on, within the pages of this book. And in a strange way, this kind of dishonours the reality of who someone was, as if their reality is not acceptable. Of course, this is made more difficult by the fact that by all accounts neither Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) or Markham herself, in their own writings about Africa and their lives, are showers and tellers of the stuff we are always so fascinated by - what goes on beneath the sheets.

A biography of Markham was written, by Mary S. Lovell, who interviewed Markham in her 80s, and the biography was authorised by Markham. It also suggests that `the love of her life' was not the one which is the central one in this book. So, again, I was left very uneasy that this woman's 'truth' had been manipulated because it made a better story.

As stated earlier, this fiction is a beautifully written, captivating one, but it is probably more of a fiction than a biography, and it is a shame that that is not made clear in the afterword.

"By then we'd climbed above the coffee plants and thorn thickets and a narrow, twisting riverbed winking with quartz. The hill flattened out into a kind of plateau, and from there we could see straight down into the Rift Valley, its crags and ridges like pieces of a broken bowl. The rain had finally cleared, but a billowy ring of clouds rested over Kilimanjaro to the south, its flat top painted with snow and shadows."

One of the real strengths of McLain's writing is the evocation of place, the longing for, and meaning of place. I underlined many passages which rather stopped the breath, painting a vision of landscape which was both intensely itself and `more than', both real and metaphor. She is excellent at describing that yearning for `more' - not more goods, but more meaning. And a life as large, wayward and brave (not to mention, wilful) as Markham's undoubtedly was, rather suggest a person whose drive was to be unconfined.

"There are things we find only at our lowest depths. The idea of wings and then wings themselves. An ocean worth crossing one dark mile at a time. The whole of the sky. And whatever suffering has come is the necessary cost of such wonders....the beautiful thrashing we do when we live"

I certainly recommend this as a piece of fiction, but not as a truthful biographical fiction.

I was offered this as an ARC, for review purposes, by the publishers


The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Fairy-tale mash-up bon-bon, 27 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Firstly - a word of warning. Do NOT get this as an ebook. As Chris Riddell's illustrations are 50% of the delight of this, you will rue the day if you do eread. (I did, and I do) And secondly, this is not really for children - at least not young ones, its too sophisticated and unsettling.

Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and The Spindle, is a kind of mash-up hybrid of Snow White and The Seven Dwarves (except that austerity has obviously hit fairy-land too, as we are down to only 3) and The Sleeping Beauty - though there are sly little nods to several other fairy tales which creep in as well - it's a bit like `spot the fairy celebrity!' and I won't reveal them because it would spoil a reader's enjoyment and `aha'! moments

Part of the delight of an earlier Gaiman novel, The Graveyard Book (which I have in paper version) was Riddell's illustrations, so I was expecting good things with this one. Sometimes illustrations fare reasonably well in the ereader format, but this is not the case here, as Riddell's style is so full of fine details, which can't really be seen properly, as if you try to zoom in, to get detail, you then lose the whole. This story (it is a mere 72 pages long, with several pages of illustrations) though full of some lovely little twists and spooky strangenesses, not to mention redundancies of princes, who needs them! - is a moderately long short story, a mere mouthful of a read. It seems overpriced on eReader, purely because those lovely illustrations, black, white, gold, which you can see on the Look Inside, don't translate into the dedicated eRead format

The story on its own is probably a little slight; unillustrated, I'd probably have felt a little cheated and wished that Gaiman had published several different shortish fairy tale mash-ups in one volume.

1 star for eReader version : however, if I HAD got it in the proper format, 3 ½ so I have rounded up to 4


Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio
Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio
by Misha Glenny
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clearly carefully researched, but writing style grated, 26 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sadly, I found reading this book a little like a penance. There is a style of writing which seems a little 'Reader's Digest' and I think this fell into that. There was a combination of obsessive detail, such as information about the precise laying out of the roads in the favela, along which our hero traverses as he goes to his first meeting with the favela Don, and there is also a kind of breathless overblown gush, where tension gets stacked up as if the book were a page turning thriller and the author emotes for us what the subject of the book is feeling. Neither element held me.

Unfortunately, until a book is published, prospective readers can't avail themselves of the 'Look Inside' facility, so you won't know whether you would find this readable or not. A writer's voice is always a personal thing, for the reader.


The Pursuit of Love
The Pursuit of Love
by Nancy Mitford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars "My immediate impression was that he did not seem at all like a husband. He looked kind and gentle", 24 July 2015
This review is from: The Pursuit of Love (Paperback)
Re-reading Nancy Mitford's stylish, witty tale of an eccentric, aristocratic family fiddling whilst Rome burns (or, as the 1930s advances towards war) was the perfect weaning/antidote to my recent immersion in a couple of major, towering, American novels

The problem with reading enormous, wonderful, meaningful writing, is that it becomes impossible to follow. Writers of brilliance only mean that more mundane writers are met with an expression of distaste, by this unforgiving reader. A well written re-read, a world away from the towering ones, is of course, the answer.

Enter Nancy Mitford - who was of course, one of the Mitford Sisters : Mitford's own background as the daughter of Baron Redesdale with her 6 siblings, clearly provided the imaginative springboard for the eccentric Radlett family of this book.

The Radletts are a remarkably opinionated and individual family. Paterfamilias Matthew is an irascible high Tory, his wife Sadie is permanently surprised that she seems to have produced a large brood of children. The central story of The Pursuit of Love is that of the second daughter, beautiful, sentimental, romantic, wilful Linda, and it is told by her cousin Fanny, who is a much more sober, grounded character. No doubt in response to the fact that her mother, known to all as `The Bolter' abandoned her at an early age to `bolt' in rackety fashion, with a succession of unsuitable lovers. Linda shows some worrying signs of being drawn to overwhelming love affairs, from an early age, emulating Fanny's mother.

The joy of the book is that the voices of the characters are wonderfully drawn, succinctly observed, and there is a sure narrative drive, and a kind of snapshot of a class and a time, of course cranked up into `types' which could be clichés if they were not written with such sparkle and sharp observation.

What really struck me in reading the book is that although the manner is frothy, there are some quite painful events within the pages - abandoned and unloved children, war, death. But the manner in which tragedies are experienced is pragmatic and rather `not talked about' It's a world away from our emoting culture. Some of the characters certainly appear to behave extremely shallowly, and have shallow concerns, but it would be a mistake to believe they ARE shallow. It's more that the approved manner of being is to make light of misery, to get on with things, not to indulge emotions

Here is a typical little gem. Linda has given birth and Fanny (who is pregnant) is visiting her in hospital

At this point the Sister came in and Linda introduced us......She went away and presently returned carrying a Moses basket full of wails

`Poor thing,' said Linda indifferently. `It's really kinder not to look'
`Don't pay any attention to her', said the Sister. `She pretends to be a wicked woman, but it's all put on'
I did look, and, deep down among the frills and the lace, there was the usual horrid sight of a howling orange in a fine black wig.

`Isn't she sweet,' said the Sister. `Look at her little hands.'

I shuddered slightly, and said:
`Well, I know it's dreadful of me, but I don't much like them as small as that; I'm sure she'll be divine in a year or two.'

The walls now entered on a crescendo, and the whole room was fulfilled with hideous noise.

`Poor soul.' Said Linda. `I think it must have caught sight of itself in a glass. Do take it away, Sister'

This is (to my mind) wonderfully funny, plus saying stuff which is/was probably unthinkable - a lack of maternal feeling - but exploding the received `normal' idea of mother and child instantaneous bonding with a feather light, nonetheless razor sharp barb

Mitford is frothy, light-touch, sharp and elegantly understated in her humour. `Pursuit' is at its best, for me, in the early stages of the book, where the central characters are in their early teens, on the verge of no longer being children, but young girls who will soon `come out' and enter the marriage market.


Stadler Form Jasmine Aroma Diffuser, Berry
Stadler Form Jasmine Aroma Diffuser, Berry
Price: £47.77

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of 3 aroma diffusers in this house, so comparisons happen!, 24 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As stated in the title, this is my third kind of diffuser. One I bought, SOTO Aroma Diffuser - White with Colour Changing Mood Light - Ultrasonic, Aromatherapy, Ioniser and is also a 5 star, and I was offered another one free for review purposes, which I was less enamoured with, but did have one advantage over the Zen Soto, Calily™ Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser Aromatherapy with Relaxing & Soothing Multi-Colour LED Light - Perfect for Home, Office, Spa, Etc., but was never going to be a favourite. This Stadler Form Jasmine provides what I was really after with the Calily - the ability to use it overnight.

The Soto remains the favourite for living room use, as it is visually the most pleasing, like a little space ship. It also has the advantage which it shares with Calily of giving the restful and beautiful light change as well as misting, or setting on a single fixed light. The problem with the Soto is that even when you set it NOT to show any light, the design of it makes the 'power on' light far too visible and bright for the bedroom (though beautiful in a darkened room, listening to music)

The Calily only has a small green glowing point, easily masked by turning it away from the bed and/or sticking something up against it or over it, so it is more suitable (though pretty ugly/cheap plasticky looking) to use overnight. Except, that when the water dries up, it either has a few moments of flashing brightly before it turns itself off (waking the soundly sleeping) or it beeps (same difference) Models seem to be randomly variable. Mine is a flasher rather than a beeper. Another advantage to the Calily is there are several 'strengths' of humidifying, from a mere trickle, to something more vigorous. However, the cheap and nasty material its made of means that should you forget to empty it and not use it for a while, THINGS will have begun to grow, as I discovered to my surprise (you should empty them rather than leave the water and essential oil in there - however, the Soto, where I also forgot to do this had no unpleasantness inside, being of a different kind of plastic

So....finally to the Jasmine. Well, it is only an aroma diffuser, and won't do the son et lumiere (it is very silent in use, and so perfect for through the night). The illuminated power buttons are a muted colour, and tiny, so turning it round and away from facing the bed should be sufficient. But what makes the Jasmine special is that it can run for 21 hours, so using it through the night - for example, if you have a cold, with suitable essential oils to assist clear breathing, becomes possible. What Jasmine has which none of the others do, is the option to set 'intervals' - 10 minutes diffusion, 20 minutes off, 10 minutes diffusion, 20 minutes off and so on. It doesn't diffuse as vigorously as either the Soto or the Calily, and it is this, as well as the intervals, which gives it all night use.

Visually, its not the most elegant thing in the world (the Soto wins out) , but it does come in different colours - currently berry, like a combo of raspberry and fuschia, but there is also yellow, black, white and metallic - but I note that some of the reviews of the other colours mention that they come with European two pin plugs. THIS one is clearly for the English market, as it has a 3 pin heavy duty type plug

I'm very pleased with it, and fortunately this fits my bedroom decor. Restful aromatic nights when needed now possible. I've been after something like this for a while
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2015 9:22 PM BST


Simon & Tom Soft Peeling Gel - Gentle Facial Cleanser that purifies, removes dead skin cell, excess oil and any traces of make up. Rich in Moroccan Argan Oil and other natural extracts. Suitable for All Skin Types. 50ml
Simon & Tom Soft Peeling Gel - Gentle Facial Cleanser that purifies, removes dead skin cell, excess oil and any traces of make up. Rich in Moroccan Argan Oil and other natural extracts. Suitable for All Skin Types. 50ml
Offered by Beauty Solutions Ltd
Price: £49.90

5.0 out of 5 stars A little weird and rather wonderful!, 21 July 2015
Firstly, it's important to say that I was offered this as a free product for an unbiased review - which this is

I am very impressed by Simon and Tom as a company. They don't attempt to pressurise to get positive reviews, and I have noticed that where reviewers have had a negative experience, there is no suspicious voting down activity (this happens with some companies) Instead, the company leaves helpful problem solving answers.

I don't need any helpful problem solving with this one - it's a great product. However, if you are used to granular exfoliators eg with something like a slight sandpapering effect as the grains scratch away the surface of the skin - sometimes leaving the skin perfectly smooth but a little reddened and irritated, this will be a weird experience at first.

You take a pea sized quantity of the sticky, elasticky product, and massage, spread, roll it over your face - it's a little like using an eraser on paper, where you get rubbery flake detritus, on the paper. You will then need just to wash the rubbery stuff (which is YOU!) off with water

Because it is quite a pricey product I don't use it as a cleanser, but after cleansing, and instead of the granular exfoliators

I left my skin completely smooth, as if I had exfoliated, but with none of that slightly scratched feeling

I know we like products which also look attractive on the dressing table or bathroom shelf, and this one is beautifully presented - a black box, and what looks like a shiny large pearlised crystal ball, satisfyingly hefty. I shall certainly be cannibalising the container (s) - I'll be buying this again when it runs out - and filling the containers with lotions and potions of my own making!

The one area Simon and Tom could do a little more for us is the inclusion of a product leaflet.

They sent me an email to advise how to use it , here is a cut and paste :

"The Soft Peeling Gel is a great cleanser. We recommend that you use it twice a week. After removing your make-up apply a small amount to your face and for around a minute gently massage the Gel into the skin. It is a gommage cleanser, so you'll see little bit of the Gel forming. After a minute or two of massaging, wash the Gel off with warm water.

Now, how much should you use, well, some customers like to slap it on whilst others, me included, we just like a small amount. I start with a pea size amount."

I particularly like products with plant chemistry, rather than synthesised individual chemical components which are found in plants, as the synergy of 'whole plant chemistry' is very different from individual synthesised isolates which may create problems that the whole plant WITH the 'active' chemical component doesn't. Simon and Tom products are primarily plant based, and do not use the chemistry we are all learning is potentially toxic, over time, and in a cocktail with other products also containing them.

PS - you will see some very outrageous price differentials on Amazon - buy Simon and Tom from THEM, not from third party sellers who are hiking the price!


Rio Sonicleanse Pure Facial Cleansing Brush
Rio Sonicleanse Pure Facial Cleansing Brush
Price: £94.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Facing the facts, 20 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must come clean and admit I would never choose to buy this, because the price as currently shown (July 2015, effectively, £100) This is a fairly astonishing price tag, and I would be unconvinced that it would perform in a fashion to deserve it. After all, massaging exfoliator into one's own face is easy enough anyway. If I went for a facial, I would certainly want hands on, rather than machine on!

Offered this for review purposes was therefore a bit of a treat.

What I like:
1) The brushes; There is an inner, smaller one for the nose, and a larger surround, using the two together for the rest of the face. And those brushes are soft, and certainly the lower of the two speeds worked well for me. Not harsh at all, but effective

2) The charging - there is a little clip which attaches to points at the base of the device, and the other end is a USB which is easily used in a power plug with a USB port, such as is so common these days for charging many devices

3) The internal rechargeable battery is well sealed, and this means, oh joy, this can be used in the bathroom. In fact, you could exfoliate in the shower - especially as the steam and heat opens the pores so this is the best time to do this

What I didn't like:
1) That excessive price tag - looking around it seems (on paper) this is little different from some other waterproof models with internal rechargeable batteries. Many of the `rivals' are a deal less expensive and offer more - a case/pouch; a stand for recharging - like an electric toothbrush; even, more brushes, such as a firmer one for body exfoliation and even a pumice style for the soles of the feet as well

2) If you follow the instructions, you should use this for only 60 seconds, and it will then automatically shut off. It pulses to move you onwards. The routine is supposed to be 20 secs, forehead, 20 secs nose (using the smaller brush) and chin, 10 secs each cheek. Firstly, that pulse was virtually undetectable. Secondly............its not that easy to remove the outer brush (for the nose) and then replace it mid use again! Which kind of makes a nonsense of the timings, and means the nose should be done separately.

3) Brushes should be replaced when they get worn - fair dos - except they certainly don't currently seem to be available on Amazon, and there is no indication that the brushes of an earlier Rio model will fit this one. Without knowing the availability and the cost of replacement brushes, this would be something else which would lead me to look elsewhere if I wanted to buy a facial brush

However, it's certainly far superior (as it should be, given that price tag) to the battery operated plastic model from China with 7 brush heads which I was offered for review purposes some weeks ago. A device which is not waterproof and should have its AA batteries removed after each use.


Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.79

5.0 out of 5 stars The long, little emptiness of life, 19 July 2015
This review is from: Revolutionary Road (Paperback)
Revolutionary Road is as bleak a novel about the mismatch between the hopes and dreams of youth, and the realities of maturity, as any I have read. It's a novel which breaks the heart to read - not just because of the way Yates makes us feel for his characters, but the way it confronts the reader with themselves. It's a kind of Everyman morality tale, except there are no gods, there are no demons, there are no solutions. And yet...and yet..this is so far from some kind of nihilistic howl of rage and despair. What saves this, what makes it bearable is that Yates does not condemn his characters, indeed, he does not separate himself from them. Neither does he separate himself from us, nor us from them.

However flawed the central characters are, their flaws are human, and a result of that mismatch between a hope of happiness and personal fulfilment, of individual striving and the long littleness which most of us will inherit. The genius of Yates (aside from the masterful writing) is that we are brought to care about these flawed, disappointed, bruised characters, because they are us. . Yates makes us peel off the mask of someone else's persona, and discover our hurting own, beneath

The central characters, Frank and April Wheeler, see themselves as special, or about to be special, standing outside the mainstream. Frank views himself as `an intense, nicotine-stained, Jean-Paul Sartre kind of man'. He is working deep within a soulless corporate, a company making advanced calculation machines - on-the-verge-of computers. Frank sells them, but does not understand them. His workplace is full of corporate clones, but he believes himself different because he mocks them in his head, and consciously wears the mask of being one of them. He doesn't quite realise they are all consciously wearing the mask and believing themselves different. April had `attended one of the leading dramatic schools of New York less than ten years before' She wears this badge as something to set herself as more than the haus-frau she is, having married a man she has told herself (and him) is 'the most interesting person I've ever met' Frank believes April is `a first rate girl' almost out of his league. Neither see each other, or themselves, clear, without terror, hatred and rage at what their reality is. Needless to say, beneath the carefully constructed veneer, huge cracks are spreading.

Their closest friends are Shep and Milly Campbell, a less shiny and glamorous couple but one who also believe they are somehow more than cut from a mould. Despite the close friendship, underneath they despise and distrust each other, as couples and as individuals

The elderly real estate broker and her retired husband, Helen and Howard Givings, with the skeleton in a cupboard son, (John is an inmate in psychiatric hospital) give a third portrait of a marriage which is bleak, inside its superficial veneer. Yates offers us the small, lacerating image of the wife who prattles endlessly on in a pretence that everything in the garden is lovely, though his description of her physical life - tell-tale hands twisting in her lap - belie the bright, social manner. Meanwhile Howard sits blissfully, phlegmatically silent, reading the paper. He has turned off his hearing-aid, as is his habit and the two are in isolation, lacking awareness or willingness to be aware of each other.

Yes, the book, with its inevitably tragic movement shows the bleak underbelly of the American Dream, but it goes far further - it shows the bleak underbelly of the hopeful, growing dreams of 'being special' which is part and parcel of adolescence and twenties, and presents the sour regret of maturity for opportunities missed, mistakes made, and the necessary accommodations which most of us will make. And where can we salvage a true meaning? Is there any hope? Yates doesn't offer much - in his view of Frank and April's parents, and what we see of the potential little Frank and April in their already neurotically developing, vulnerable children, Niffer and Michael, the previous generation set the seeds for this, and the next generation are already struggling hard to please and be whom they think their parents would like them to be, pretending also that the life-garden is full of pretty things, and studiously shutting their eyes to the hard, unforgiving rocks beneath

And yet............in with the sour despair, there is a wit within the dialogue, the characters play their parts in being bravely ironic for each other - and ARE amusing, and do invite the reader to appreciate their sometimes mordant humour. It's the mark of a brilliant writer to do this, so that the book is lifted out of unremitting angst. The brittle, sophisticated surface is like some modern version of Restoration Comedy; the knowing wearing of the mask and of the misery beneath play brilliantly against each other. This is both darkly tragic and full of sharp, amusing touches, which makes the reader wince whilst laughing

This is a wonderfully rich book, with a multiplicity of layers and meanings. One of those magical books where the reader discovers that they can go deeper and deeper, and discover more and more, that the craft of Yates' writing is extraordinary, the images he offers, both economical, subtle, and deep. We are not smacked in the face, instead, small touches, reflected upon, will bring more and more realisations, thoughts, reflections.

As an example, the opening of the book is the staging of a play by a newly formed community theatre group. It is meant to be the foundation of an aspirational, sophisticated, intellectual circle of people who will challenge the status quo, who are more than duped swallowers of 1950s corporate, consumerist, sentimentalised capitalism. The play they are performing is The Petrified Forest, by Robert Emmett Sherwood, later made into a film with Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. The play/film has as its central characters a writer (Howard) trying to discover the meaning of existence, to find some reason for his being, some purpose, an aspirational artist who feels suffocated by the narrowness of her world (Davis) and someone living on the margins, outside the norms (Bogart) who is the challenge/catalyst. There are parallels in the lives of the central couple in Revolutionary Road, who are just such a pair, Frank Wheeler, still on the edge of that expansive, excited feeling from youth that he might `be something' and April Wheeler, his wife, whose dreams of being a fine actress never lived up to the reality of the modest talents she really had, but who is feeling that suffocation of the narrowness life offers, as a wife and (reluctant) mother. John Givings, the son of their landlady, an inmate of a mental hospital, brought out from time to time on rehabilitation visits, is the outsider catalyst whose analysis of the Wheelers, his parents, and society at large is the brutal, revealing lamp showing the Wheelers their own reality.

And then, there is the title of the play `The Petrified Forest' - a forest is a lovely thing, dynamic, life giving, life creating, endlessly transforming through photosynthesis, sappy, magical - but, when petrified, ossified, it is stifled and stifling. There are echoes of this elsewhere - Giving's mother Helen, the successful real-estate broker, gives Frank a box of sedum plantings, for the garden he is in theory constructing. It's an unwanted gift, given at the wrong moment, and gets shoved in the cellar and forgotten. The box is discovered, later, by Helen `all dead and dried out', and she bemoans how `a perfectly good plant, a living growing thing' has been completely neglected.

Recommended? Of course, and how


Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield 30 ml
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield 30 ml
Price: £55.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Eating my sceptical hat, 19 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm pretty sceptical about beauty products making sensational claims. And that scepticism only increases when bizarre terminology which sounds a bit waffly is introduced. Offered this product to try, initially I passed it by, as 'Invisiblur Perfecting Shield' and a pretty high price tag led me to believe this would be Emperor's New Clothes big-time.

And then I saw the 5-star reviews from several reviewers whom I know to be trustworthy and sensible folk........so I surrendered, as the offer to try this was still there.

I used the Invisiblur Protecting Shield as instructed. Now the instructions tell you to avoid the eye area (something which worried me a little as I wondered what was in there which might irritate if applied to close to the eyelids/beneath the eyes)

This was a very nice smooth gel, went on and absorbed instantly, and did not irritate.

Now, I rarely wear foundation, just eye-make-up and lippy. I noticed that this suggested it could be used on its own (without foundation) or would be a base for foundation to be more smoothly applied.

I noticed nothing different after using this, and just did my usual eye make-up and lipstick, and went out to a party. And then the compliments began rolling in.....One friend, a professional photographer, was particularly fulsome, and thought I was wearing a little more (skilfully applied) make-up than I usually do - a foundation ironing out imperfections. But I was only with my normal eye and lip stuff.

So others were seeing differences I couldn't see. Hat munching in order, as however bizarre, Invisiblur Perfecting Shielding had clearly happened.....I may even have sold my soul to the devil and keep on using this when I need to buy, rather than be lucky enough to have a freebie try, of my very own Invisiblur Protecting Shield!


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