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All reviews - TV Shows (1) - Books (13)


Posted : 11 years, 6 months ago on 18 December 2006 08:09 (A review of Poldark)

I was a mere toddler when Poldark was first broadcast in the mid 1970s, but I am greatly enjoying catching up with this well-regarded British TV drama.

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Don't let the critics put you off

Posted : 11 years, 7 months ago on 5 November 2006 11:15 (A review of The Righteous Men)

Respected Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland has received a fair amount of flack for penning this thriller under the name of Sam Bourne. Even the pen-name is designed to prompt associations with best-selling Dan Brown. I don't know whether the name was Freedland's own idea or some marketing person at his publishers. Nor is it just the name that is reminiscent of "The Da Vinci Code", there are other similarities too - code breaking, religious ideas and page-turning adventure, however, it is much better executed. This is an enjoyable read about a journalist who uncovers a conspiracy by religious fanatics to bring about the end of the world. It's not great literature, but it is a lot better than some of the critics have suggested.

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Not an easy read

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 22 October 2006 11:30 (A review of Destiny)

If good art should disturb and unsettle us, then this book may well have merit as a work of literary art. It puts on the page the narrator's stream of consciousness in a way I found very uncomfortable. My 2/10 rating is simply a measure of my enjoyment of the book - or lack of it.

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More than just crime fiction

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 13 October 2006 08:42 (A review of The Various Haunts of Men)

This is the first in a series of crime novels by Susan Hill, featuring a detective called Simon Serailler. There are echoes of both Dalgleish and Morse in Hill's creation. He shares the creative
side of Dalgleish, being an artist of some renown, and shows the refined tastes of a Morse. Thef ictional cathedral town setting also nods in the
direction of Dexter's Oxford. However, it would be wrong to view these books as any more derivative than is inevitable when writing within the
confines of crime fiction. In any case, these novels refuse to be confined. They are as much about relationships as crime, and in the
familial as well as the romantic sense. Serailler comes from a family steeped in the medical profession and is regarded almost a traitor for
finding a different vocation. It is partly on account of this that his relationship with his father is difficult, but this is offset by a
strong bond with his twin sister. In his romantic attachments, Serailler is less successful. The blame for this seems to lie on his own shoulders. In the second of the books, his sister his highly critical of the way he treats the women in his life.

Susan Hill was already well established as an author when "The Various Haunts of Men" was published in the summer of 2004. When I picked it up the jacket notes made it clear that it was part of a series. This made the ending, which I wont give away, all the more surprising. A situation
that appeared to be being set up to run through a series of books was brought to a shocking climax. If anything the second book, "The Pure of
Heart," published in 2005 is even better than the first.

The first two Serailler books are now available in paperback. I have still to read the third in the series "The Risk of Darkness" which was released earlier this year, but I'm very much looking forward to picking up the story.

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Gladstone 1809-1898 review

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 12 October 2006 07:07 (A review of Gladstone 1809-1898)

The definitive academic biography of the great Victorian Prime Minister by the late Colin Matthew. For non-academic readers the Roy Jenkins version is more accessible.

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The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next) review

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 12 October 2006 07:01 (A review of The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next))

A quirky and strangely moving tale with an underlying literary theme. There's more than a touch of the sci-fi and fantasy genres here, neither of which I genrally go for, but I still enjoyed it.

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The Benefits of Passion review

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 12 October 2006 06:53 (A review of The Benefits of Passion)

An entertaining novel about love and vocation.

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Not for me

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 11 October 2006 06:50 (A review of The Accidental)

I have given higher ratings to books that are less deserving in literary terms. This is undoubtedly the work of a clever writer. It was special enough to be short-listed for the Booker Prize in 2005. I read it from front to back, but I just couldn't warm to it.

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After You'd Gone review

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 10 October 2006 06:24 (A review of After You'd Gone)

Simultaneously serious and heart-breaking.

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A charming book about a decent bloke

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 10 October 2006 06:10 (A review of Richard by Kathryn: The Life of Richard Whiteley)

I don't watch a vast amount of television and would not have described myself as a big "Countdown" fan, nor do I make a habit of reading celebrity biographies, but I really enjoyed this touching portrait of the late Richard Whiteley. He was clearly a good friend to many people. Those who would look down their noses at reading something like this will miss out on a great deal of warmth.

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