SUSIE DENT – The Language Report

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21 Jan 2007 – Birthday present from Matt

A series now, this was another excellent look at developments in English language during the past year – new words, new uses for words, new trends in talking about language etc. A good book to pick at or go straight through – and I have a standing birthday/christmas order with Matt for these!

KAY LANGDALE – Redemption

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Acquired via BookCrossing 24 Mar 2007 – BookRing

A really interesting and well-done book. It studies the different lives and marriages of six women.

Rather than weaving the characters’ lives together too self-consciously from the beginning, she leaves them their own space, with a stream-of-consciousness narrative rooted so firmly in the domestic that it leaves you tear-struck with the beauty and poignancy of all those little moments in a marriage or a parent-child relationship. I found myself wondering where each woman would fit in – then an ah, yes! moment. And the final chapter seemed natural and took the viewpoint further outside the women, darting in for a close-up occasionally, and very moving.

Heartily recommended.

RICHARD LEWIS – The Encyclopaedia of cult children’s TV

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Acquired Feb 2007 – lend from LindyB and family

I have decided this “counts” as I did read all the sections on programmes I actually remembered. Very well done, a good balance between sentimentality and sarcasm. Brought it all back!

AHDAF SOUEIF – The Map of Love

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Received 21 January 2007 – birthday present from Audrey/Scotsbookie

Wow – I’m on to my birthday books in March!

A wonderful book that I’ve really enjoyed reading. You need long bursts of time at this, so at the beginning I found it a little disjointed, because I was reading it in small amounts of time. Anyway, a beautiful tale of love, echoes and politics, the history of Egypt and the universals of love.

And my review from September 2002 (borrowed from Ann, read, I think, on holiday in Croatia)

“Excellent, totally absorbing novel of Egypt in 1900 and 1997. Political but not heavy, intertwined love stories, sweet but not at all saccharine, long and satisfying. Really excellent.

R.K. NARAYAN – The English Teacher

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Mar 2007 – BookRing

A strange, meditative, poignant little book. I hadn’t realised it was the sequel to Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts, which made it all the more poignant. The usual Narayan features of the hapless narrator, capable women, a cast of secondary characters with various and unusual characters was supplemented by a supernatural – or is it? – element which was interesting.

Glad I got to read this.

VICTORIA FINLAY – Buried Treasure: Travels Through The Jewel Box (DNF)

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Acquired via BookCrossing 11 Mar 2007 – BookRing

Did Not Finish.

I’m afraid that I couldn’t really get on with this one and I’m going to give up. I’m not sure what it is, I have read her other one fine. It just seems a little perfunctory, like she’s ticking off the boxes – here’s the history, here’s where I go and look at x, here’s where I go and look at y – and I found myself having to force myself to read a few pages a night. So I’m going to admit defeat and will send it on at the weekend.

MURIEL SPARK – The Finishing School

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Acquired via BookCrossing 15 Mar 2007 – BookRing

Jealousies in a rather odd Swiss finishing school. What a peculiar little story (not in a bad way!). The narrative voice was quite distanced and had echoes of course of Spark’s earlier work, but also of Penelope Fitzgerald and Iris Murdoch, both mistresses too of the community of oddities. There was a palpable feeling of discontent and warning all the way through, and I was glad that the terrifying climax I’d imagined was in fact something a little more gentle!

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