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Reviews Written by
CP James "CPJ" (London)

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Campion's Ghost: The Sacred and Profane Memoirs of John Donne, Poet
Campion's Ghost: The Sacred and Profane Memoirs of John Donne, Poet
Price: £5.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go and catch a falling star..., 14 Mar. 2015
Donne, even in an irreligious age like ours, is endlessly fascinating, with the sacred always underpinning the profane. O'Connor doesn't disappoint with this delicate balance between the two, in this shrewd portrait of the great 'metaphysical'. Recommended reading.

Paul Scofield: A Life (The Great British Actors Series)
Paul Scofield: A Life (The Great British Actors Series)
Price: £8.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Scofield, an English Great, 14 Mar. 2015
O'Connor, a noted biographer of major theatrical figures, is at his incisive best in his account of this giant of English stage and screen. A required read.

Some Lessons in Gaelic
Some Lessons in Gaelic
by McCawley Grange
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rites of passage in southern Ireland, 24 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Some Lessons in Gaelic (Paperback)
1950s southern Ireland is not a native place for Gilla Christe, an eleven-year-old English boy. 'Some Lessons in Gaelic' is a rites-of-passage tale charting his childhood to adolescence, in which, due to financial misfortune, Gilla and his family have been transplanted to rural Ireland in the 1950s. We share his minor triumphs. We share his lesser successes with unsympathetic country boys. We sigh for ourselves when we watch his awkward interaction with the adult world. Girls are another species, and because unobtainable (to him) frustrate rather than satisfy his first sexual cravings. Much of this goes on under the watchful eyes of the Christian Brothers, who at times exhibit a matter-of-fact brutality, at others sympathy and understanding. It's a well-plotted novel, with dark undertones and memorably drawn characters, and is told with candour, humour and a genuine sense of humanity.

Kisses on a Postcard: A Tale of Wartime Childhood
Kisses on a Postcard: A Tale of Wartime Childhood
by Terence Frisby
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kisses on a Postcard, by Terence Frisby, 20 Oct. 2009
Playwright, actor and director Terence Frisby's most famous play is There's a Girl in My Soup, the West End's longest running comedy. He and older brother Jack, aged seven and eleven respectively, were WWII evacuees, in the Cornish hamlet of Doublebois, where they lived with `Uncle Jack', a former Welsh miner with good old-Labour views, and his warm-hearted wife `Auntie Rose'.

The brothers remained in Cornwall for three years, and fully entered the rural life there, whose outstanding personalities ranged from Miss Polmanor, a starchy Wesleyan Methodist, to Miss Polmanor's charge Elsie, a highly sexualised teenager, who succeeded in getting herself impregnated by one of the many American GI's billeted here throughout the course of the war.

As a kind of watermark permeating the whole living texture of this charming wartime memoir is the benign presence of Uncle Jack and Auntie Rose, two very warm-hearted, gentle and generous people, for whom Jack and Terry's well-being is uppermost - one imagines not automatically the fate of child evacuees in wartime.

The story has previous incarnations as a play, Just Remember Two Things: It's Not Fair and Don't Be Late, and as a stage musical based on that play.

What critics and bloggers have said:

`Terence Frisby has done something difficult: he has made good times and good people more fun to read about than any melodrama, in a book that leaves one feeling grateful and happy.' Diana Athill

`I will say it again, a lovely lovely lovely book.' Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover

`Frisby's book is an antidote to those misery memoirs which crop up everywhere.' `I predict a classic.' Stuck in a Book

`Perhaps the best sign of how enchanting this book was to me, I didn't want it to end.' Banter Basement

Kisses on a Postcard is a real treasure; it's told with love and fondness and humour and I never normally read memoirs by men so it's been refreshing and illuminating to have a male point of view on childhood for once. It really is a wonderful book that shows the tenacity and generosity of the human spirit, and I highly recommend it. Book Snob

This is a lovely book. I felt lonely when I'd finished it...Auntie Rose and Uncle Jack finished me off. I needed a hanky.... What a lovely book. T Frisby and I worked together on Playschool long years ago...but it's just the sort of book I LOVE so thanks... Phyllida Law

Orchids for Aphrodite: Aegean Odyssey
Orchids for Aphrodite: Aegean Odyssey
by Ursula Haselden
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life as a Live-Aboard, 20 July 2009
Review by CP James with Jane Chancellor

I've just read such a lovely book. It left me hoping that many other people will share my pleasure in it. Ursula Haselden has written vividly and beautifully of her experiences sailing an elderly wooden boat, Cappelle, round the shores of Greece and Turkey and across the Aegean Sea. A widow, never having sailed before, she set off bravely with shipmate Bob ("The Captain"), regarding herself as Cabin Boy. Bob was an experienced sailor and clearly a delightful companion, with a sense of humour that matched her own.

The great thing about Orchids for Aphrodite is that no aspect of this huge adventure gets left out. She writes as much about the dangers, hardships and mishaps of life as a "live-aboard" as she does of idyllic swims in warm blue seas and the scent of flowers growing on the hills behind.

Knowing something of Greek customs and language, her awareness of their myths and history, her trusting friendliness (and no doubt her long blonde hair and petite stature) endeared her to local people many of whom, including the shopkeepers, become quite protective, as indeed they did in Turkey. Just as well, for there were some horrors of course, and some pretty ghastly people on board charter yachts. But most of the other boat people sound extremely nice, helping each other out with a mixture of camaraderie and competition and sharing a lot of fun. Sailors will appreciate her evidently increasing skill in handling the behaviour and quirks of Cappelle. There are maps showing their routes.

Then there is Wacky, the kitten they rescued from the water, who hung onto them for dear life, literally, and quite took them over, developing a strongly individual character and undertaking adventures of his own ashore that gave rise to heart-stopping concern from time to time.

The book is full of colour and light. There is a lovely passage as they are leaving the Aegean with Ursula alone at the helm under the stars feeling at one with the vastness of the Universe. Boat, cat, Cabin Boy and Captain made it safely home and - reader, the Cabin Boy married the Captain.

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