JOSEPH McKENNA – Birmingham: The Building of a City

Leave a comment

Bought 25 Jul 2006 – Amazon

Informative book about the building of Birmingham’s corporate structures, roads, and housing developments. There isn’t a general map, so you have to know your Birmingham to follow it, but I know the areas quite well, so it wasn’t a problem. Lots of detail and diagrams make it interesting and informative, but never dull.

JANE GARDAM – God On The Rocks

Leave a comment

Bought 29 Jul 2006 – charity shop

A short novel with the usual excellent Gardam themes of slightly wonky religious sects, mad families, the Northern seaside and batty old ladies, all seen from a child’s point of view. Interestingly, the main event of the story is not seen directly, but is told obliquely, from a multi-layered point of view, years after it happened.

LINDA GILLARD – A Lifetime Burning

Leave a comment

Recieved 25 Oct 2006 – sent to me by the author (waves to Linda)

Wow. An amazing book. I have had a copy go through my hands before, and I was a bit put off by the cover art and by the (well-known) fact about the central character at the beginning. But then Linda talked to me about it and sent me a copy and I decided to give it a go. Well, I was hooked. I read most of it in bed this morning, mouth hanging open and eyes popping. A LOT of things happen in this book. But, while a great deal of them are shocking, it is in fact a very moral book, when you look at the outcomes for the various characters. It reminded me a little of a Restoration Revenge Tragedy, all tangles and action and shock. I even swore aloud at a couple of points!

Very glad I read it! I do prefer Emotional Geology, for the spaces between the words, and the beautiful landscapes, North Uist becoming a character in the drama. There are plants and domestic landscapes, but not much description in this one (hence I was able to read it so fast). But that is not to put this one down as EG was one of my all-time favourite reads EVER! This is very different, but equally valid.

MARGARET ATWOOD – Curious Pursuits

Leave a comment

Bought 25 Jul 2006 – Amazon (this is where all those from that day were from – I suddenly remembered!)

Excellent collection of essays from the 1970s to 2002 – book reviews, pieces for papers and journals, introductions to various books, and some obituaries. I’d read the one on visiting England in her early 20s already – and all the others were as good, even when I hadn’t read the book in question. Some fascinating insights into her life while she was writing various of her works – even though I’ve always subscribed to “Death Of The Author” (ie the author’s life has no bearing on your reading of their works – it saved me having to read too many secondary texts at University and does help you bring a more open mind to people’s books) I did like this aspect!

EVE MAKIS – The Mother-In-Law

Leave a comment

Acquired 18 Oct 2006 – won a signed copy in a competition on the author’s web page!

I started this a couple of days ago then read about the last third of the book sitting up in bed after a coughing fit at 3.30 am! This was excellent. Feeling more serious than Eat, Drink, and sometimes a slightly uncomfortable read but only due to the fact that the observation was so wonderful and the mother-in-law situation so resonant, even without such a large cultural difference! I loved all the main characters, especially Aunt Miroullis, larger than life in all ways but providing Electra with the Greek culture she so desperately needed in cold England, and Alvaro, the 6 year old who thinks he’s Elvis. Oh, and Sean, sketched in of necessity but SO lovely. An intricate plot and great observation (esp of the interactions between adults and kids) made this a gallop of a read but with enough substance to keep one satisfied too. As in Eat, Drink, too, we learn something about what it is like to live in a different country from one’s homeland, and what the partition of Cyprus really was, and is, like.

Can’t wait for the next one!

NB this is the author who is coming to Birmingham 25 November to do a talk – sign up on BCBirm or BCUK if you’re a BookCrosser, let me know you’re coming if you’re not!

NOEL STREATFEILD – The Circus is Coming

Leave a comment

Bought 28 Jul 2006 (charity shop?)

A lovely 1965 paperback by a favourite author. Peter and Santa are spoiled children living with their snobbish aunt. When she dies, they run away to try and find their uncle, little realising that he works at a Circus. Charming and full of life – a sweet read.

GURNAM GILL – Half A Century

Leave a comment

Axquired via BookCrossing 25 Jul 2006 – at the BCBirm curry night

Oops – read this a week or so ago and forgot to journal it! I really enjoyed this story of first, second, third and fourth generation immigrants from the Punjab to the UK. Skillfully told so as to seem to reflect their actual speech patterns and experiences, we watch the families settle and interact. Slight in pages but not slight in character and value.

Older Entries