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Showing posts from August, 2013

Book review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

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Although Jane Austen may be known as a writer who cut through the veil of manners that surrounded English landed gentry, she was still a woman of her time and is unlikely to have ever imagined a book such as Jo Baker has written.

Longbourn covers the same set of events as Pride and Prejudice but from a firmly 'downstairs' perspective - although we should also include the attic where the servants seem to sleep.

Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are still recognisable, as are their balls, dinners and rendezvous with numerous gentlemen or soldiers of slowly determined character.

Getting wet and having a fever, being too slow to show your interest in a visiting clergyman, or too feisty to receive his offer, are all unfolded in Longbourn along with occasional glimpses of Mr Bingley, Mr Darcy and more detailed interaction with the constantly menacing - from the servant's perspective - Mr Wickham.

But this is much more than a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, although it …

Book review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

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Receiving the kindle version of I Am Pilgrim as part of a bloggers book tour, I settled into read the novel without researching the author or any broader publicity for the book.

The brief blurb I had read set it up as interesting thriller and to be honest, I wasn't even aware the author was Australian although references through the book, such as Dr Sydney, convinced me this was the case.

After turning the last page (or more accurately tapping the last screen) I read the book's credits and was impressed with Terry Hayes lengthy and stellar career as a journalist and screen writer which, by then, fitted well with my admiration for his first novel. (click cover to purchase)

I Am Pilgrim starts at a suitably rapid pace with a shocking crime scene, steamy sex references, fast-talking New York cops and a mysterious, intelligent, brooding figure from whose eyes the story is told.

Briefly I was worried it was going to be a trashy tale of blood and guts and tits and guns but after the…

Book review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Described as the best novel ever written by several authors and critics, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy feels at times like a remarkably contemporary story dealing as it does with illicit affairs, frustrations with bureaucracy, the shallowness of popular culture and the struggle between reason and faith.

Yes, there is a love story, or two, woven through the story and the compelling attraction of Alexis Vronsky and Anna Karenina is masterfully drawn and surprisingly intimate despite the dominance of manners and 19th century propriety.

So too the love lost, love regained relationship of Levin and Kitty which, unlike the tense and tragic dilemma faced by the scandalous adulterers, ends in a picture of relative domestic bliss.

But if you have put off reading this book because you think it is a Russian romance novel then it's time to load it on to your iphone like I did and add it to your list of reading accomplishments.

It has earned the respect of readers and writers over the centuries…

Book review: The Pain Book - Finding hope when it hurts by Philip Siddall, Rebecca McCabe, Robin Murray

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All books are created at least twice. There's the creation in the mind of the author and in the secret place of planning and plotting, drafting and editing. And then there's the creation of the setting of type, placement of headings and illustrations, designing of covers and the committing of print to paper or code to kindle, as it were.

In the case of The Pain Book: Finding hope when it hurts by Philip Siddall, Rebecca McCabe and Robin Murray, it is fair to say it is a book created many times over in the lives of real people who have found hope in their pain.

The three lead clinicians of Greenwich Hospital Pain Clinic, Sydney, have loved and laboured over this book for many years and more than that, have proved it week by week in the clinic they run, with the patients they support.

This process shows in the text which is disarmingly simple and relatively brief when the complexity and vastness of the topic is considered. It speaks of a well-honed message delivered many times o…