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4.3 out of 5 stars
34
4.3 out of 5 stars


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on 15 August 2017
Good novel based in Liverpool around the Second World War. Great characterisation. Worth reading.
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2016
I had picked this novel up to read it several times previously but always put it down again after the first couple of books. Something made me keep it though and I'm glad I did. Timing and mood worked together on this occasion and I enjoyed reading the literary take on the architectural aspects during war (World War Two) through the eyes of a man who is searching for his place in the world.
The phrasing and musicality of the prose is lovely but it took me a while to get used to the unusual words that the author writes - I am fairly well read but still found myself regularly checking definitions. Out of the ordinary phrasing makes this book one which needs to be read properly rather than skimming it - eg rather than describe someone as private the author says "a natural fugitive from disclosure".
Diaries are often used to show comparisons between time periods and how the human spirit is constant. This works well here, with our narrator looking back to a little known Liverpudlian architect in the 1860s.
I didn't find this book easy to pick up at every chance but enjoyed reading it quietly so that the language could be absorbed. It is a mature book which wants the reader to think about what it is saying and I was surprised when I found out this was a debut novel.
Another example of the thoughtful prose is "a family is only as happy as it's unhappiest member" - not sure I completely agree but it made me think for a while.
The build up to the ending was completely in keeping with the light touch of the whole book and the ending itself was perfect - natural with many questions left unanswered.
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on 4 November 2013
this would have been better as non-fiction. the author loves his architectural history, but his novel is leaden and unconvincing. it only springs to life in descriptions of the Blitz destroying buildings as the rescue men crawl thru them: the only exciting and believable bits. (the 1860s backstory, with its faux victorian language, may be completely skipped as it adds nothing whatever to the whole and is in a typeface that can suck your eyes out.) i kept reading only for the history, which is great.
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on 26 May 2011
This is one of those novels which steals over you slowly, gradually entrancing you and trapping you in its narrative web. At first, the story of Tom Baines, an intellectual loner who doesn't really have a place in society, comes across as somewhat dull. But Baines grows on the reader, and when he falls for Bella you really feel for him. Also, you come to admire the courage and resilience of the men who worked in Heavy Rescue during WW2, a branch of service which has never been properly recognised by historians or the general public.

Counterpointing Baines's story is the tragedy of Peter Eames, an architect who was despised and vilified in his own lifetime, but whose work was later recognised as that of a genius. The two narratives - Baines's story and Eames's journals - sometimes sit awkwardly together and give the story a somewhat disjointed feeling, but by the end of the novel I could understand why the author had done it this way.

I did wonder why the author referred to some people by their surnames and some by their first names, and I would have preferred him to be consistent about this. It got annoying when he mixed them up all the time - Tim replied, Wallace sighed, Baines noticed, Jack nodded, Richard said, and so on. Why?

I enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about Liverpool both before and during WW2, and I'll certainly read Anthony Quinn's next novel.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 February 2009
The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn is a very well crafted and quite gripping love story. The book has a curious structure simultaneously working in the run up to the Second World War, with the main character Thomas Baines, and also in the Victorian period following the object of Baines interest an architect Peter Eames. Baines has been commissioned by a local publisher to make an architectural record of significant buildings in Liverpool and it is this activity that awakens his interest in the seemingly tragic and forgotten disciple of Ruskin working in the city in the 1860s.
Quinn, a native of Liverpool, evokes very well the cityscape of the Liverpool of the two periods. His descriptions of the work of the Heavy Rescue Team during the Blitz of 1941 are exceptional and the characters are well drawn and very believable. The romantic element in the book, both 1940s and 1860s, is handled sensitively and is very convincing without being trite or hackneyed. This excellent and very well written novel will appeal equally to those looking for first rate romantic fiction reminiscent of Greene's 'The End of the Affair' and for those interested in the history and architecture, and deeply layered nature, of our everyday surroundings in our towns and cities. The book will have a particular attraction to any native of Liverpool current or exiled.
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on 13 March 2015
A lovely novel rich in historical architectural detail enough to make one want to visit Liverpool, a previously unimagined desire. However I am puzzled as to what the hero actually did to make a living!
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on 14 October 2013
This is a difficult review to write as there was so much that I loved about this book. Perhaps I can best describe it as 'natural' which encompasses 'believable, easy to read, accurate, or even perhaps written from a diary'. The author, rather than just telling a story, gives his characters real opinions and puts much of himself in the book. Either he is an incredibly fine writer or he really does care about architecture, about Liverpool and history. The scenes of wartime rescue are poignant and convey a sense of realism -beautifully done.
Hence 5 stars. I thought about giving 4 because I feel he can do better and will emerge as a superior talent but already this is so much better than many other books out there that I will give the benefit of the doubt. Worth buying.
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on 13 September 2013
In the later 1930s Thomas Baines is writing a book on the architecture of Liverpool. A photographer, George Tanqueray, is helping him. Thomas falls in love with George's wife. The novel is partly an account of this affair. When war breaks out Liverpool is one of the more important targets for enemy air attacks. Thomas joins a squad of people who rescue those trapped in bombed buildings. His understanding of architecture gives him an interesting take on destruction. His role supplies the title of the novel.
The focus of Thomas' prewar research was a long forgotten Victorian architect, Peter Eames. Using the latter's diary the somewhat sad life of the architect is reconstructed or rescued, if you will. The sections from the diary were 100% convincing; I have to assume there is a historical figure who parallels the fictional Eames. I found the story of Eames more intriguing and romantic than that of Thomas. There are some neat plays with chance and mischance in life and war.
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The Rescue Man of the title is Tom Baines, an introverted, self-contained architect whose passion is the history of the landmark buildings of his home city, Liverpool. His wartime story is interspersed with extracts from the Victorian diaries of another Liverpool architect, Peter Eames. The 1860s was a time when Liverpool was undergoing a building boom, in sharp contrast to the devastation which took place during WW2. At first Eames comes across as a light-hearted, confident man, but as his cutting-edge designs are pilloried in the press and his family life disintegrates, he becomes more and more morose until his diaries come to an abrupt halt shortly before his mysterious death.

Baines becomes obsessed with finding out more about this iconic but forgotten architect, but as war breaks out his knowledge of buildings and how they 'behave' is put to more practical use in his work as a rescue man. The horrific bombing of Liverpool's docks and architectural landmarks is vividly brought to life as Baines and his team put their lives at risk to rescue those trapped inside collapsing buildings.

For me, reading about the history of some of the buildings I pass on my way to work every day was fascinating and I could visualise Baines' journey as he walked through the streets. I'm not sure how interesting this would be to someone who is not familiar with the city, but I'd still recommend the book as it's very atmospheric and I'm sure the story of the rescue operations and Baines' tangled relationship with the husband and wife photographers will be enough to keep you turning the pages.
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on 3 June 2014
Never read one of Anthony Quinn's books before but took a chance as is set in Liverpool. A good story with lots of "facts" some of which may even be true, and I know that some are, that grounds the whole book in reality. A book that I am looking forward to reading again.

This copy was purchased to give to a friend having been reminded of it during a conversation - its that good you will buy it for other people!
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