Category Archives: book review

Is the clockwork octopus the most endearing character in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley?

Natasha Pulley’s imagination fizzes with ‘what ifs’ – and the ‘what ifs’ are followed up, not just then this would happen, but then this could, and this is likely too. Continue reading

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A book that is more than the sum of its parts? On the Marsh Simon Barnes

What is this book about? Ostensibly about maintaining a wildlife area, actually about so much more. Reading anything written by Simon Barnes is a delight, I can even enjoy reading about sport when he’s written the analysis. Continue reading

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Why should we buy some books from local bookshops? The Bookshop Penelope Fitzgerald

If I’m talking about books with messages in this post, then the message I read in The Bookshop is that for a book shop to fail it is only necessary for local readers to do nothing. So I’m going out to Steyning Bookshop where I’m usually tempted to spend more than I planned, but always come out with more than I bargained for. Continue reading

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A book about a dog? Or something else? Flush Virginia Woolf

It’s a foolish reader who goes to Virginia Woolf for advice on canine exercise and diet. Continue reading

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Does the onlooker see more of the game? Klara and the Sun Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro has created an android. Klara is sympathetic, engaging and considerate, she has to be – that’s how she’s programmed. Her story has poignancy and pathos – that’s how Ishiguro writes. Continue reading

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Too eccentric to be believable? Nero Wolfe novels by Rex Stout

Can characters be too eccentric? Nero Wolfe is a sedentary man mountain, almost as difficult to move to any kind of action as the dark mountains of his birthplace – Montenegro. Continue reading

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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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