Monthly Archives: February 2021

Close-up or long view? The Commissario Brunetti Novels Donna Leon

What to re-read after The Darkest Evening? I chose Donna Leon’s books about Commissario Brunetti, a Venetian police inspector, doing his best to circumvent his politically ambitious boss so that he can do his job properly. Continue reading

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The persistence of images The Darkest Evening Ann Cleeves

It seems images make stronger impressions on our brains than sounds or print. So when I read The Darkest Evening, Brenda Blethyn stalked across the Northumbrian moors, and waded through the snow. Continue reading

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Is there a good reason to (re-)read this book? Peter Abelard by Helen Waddell

At the time I first read Peter Abelard I had not heard of the story of Abelard and Heloise, and knew almost nothing of their world. I think Helen Waddell would have expected her readers to know more than I did then. So, although it may be a plot spoiler, I am going to tell some of what is known of the history of Peter Abelard and Heloise of Argenteuil. Continue reading

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What makes a character engaging? A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

We meet Harry, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s novel, as he endures horrific psychiatric ‘therapy’ in an asylum. Why then, for almost the first third of the book, do I find it so hard to care about Harry? However, this changes, by the middle of the novel I was gripped by the story, and cared a great deal about what happened to Harry, and to his friends. The story unfolds against a convincing background of hostility to homosexuals, emigration from Europe to ‘the colonies’, persecution of Native Americans, WW1, Spanish flu, and (at-the -time) novel psychiatric treatments Continue reading

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