Friday, 13 November 2009

Jasper FForde - Something Rotten

This is the fourth book in the excellent Tuesday Next Series. In this the Goliath Corporation has decided to become a religion. The Prime Minister is a fictional character on the run, and announces, in a chilling parody of the Weimarcht, that the Danes are public enemies. Danish books are burned, absurd claims are made...and all just as Hamlet comes to stay with Tuesday! Ophelia is making a bid to take over the play - of course she is mad.....Very, very funny. I also loved the World Croquet League and of course the wonderful president of GB - George Formby and the, could she be Danish, romantic novelist, Daphne Farquitt.

Rose Melikan - The Blackstone key

This is a great historical read in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier.

Set in 1795, it cracks along at a lively pace and is an easy and compelling read. Our rather charming and somewhat naive heroine embarks on a journey to meet her wealthy uncle who she has never met. Various exciting episodes unfold on the journey and at the end. It is very hard to review it without giving too much away. It involves spies, and smuggling at a time when Britain was at war with France.It kept me beautifully entertained on a long train journey and back.

It was well plotted and although I thought I knew who the real "baddy" was I was on tenderhooks to see if I was completely wrong!

A very satisfying read for this time of year, curled up warm or to take on holiday, or a long journey. It is the first part of a trilogy, and I have already ordered the second in the series. However this book does stand alone, all the loose ends are tied up.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall

I can confirm that I am rather shallow. Once again I am unable to enjoy a Booker winner.
I was so excited when this won as I love the Tudor period, and Cromwell is such a complex and interesting figure at that time.
I found this though, very hard going, yes Hilary writes well, but it is very dense, the minutiae became tedious, and too objective. I found her dialogue very confusing as she always used "he said" and I would read a page and then realise I had no idea which 'he' and then had to re-read it again.
I also had hoped to gain some insight into Cromwell's character, this is fiction after all, but we the readers were so distanced from him, we gained nothing, in fact he came over as rather boring, why did he behave the way he did? Who was he? I do not want to guess, I like to be led by the author, to engage in the characters. With a total lack of investment in these characters, I am afraid I gave up about two thirds through, read the end and left.
At least with The Tudors on TV you have something to discuss, debate, despair and ultimately engage with no matter what you think, this book left me cold.

Ben Richards - The Mermaid and the Drunks

I read this for a Reading Group. It was a Richard and Judy title and quite old now. Having just read Dan, I have to say what struck me with this novel was the quality of the writing. I think there will be much here to engage a Book Group.

This is essentially a history of Chile with the emphasis on modern Chile and what maybe has changed. I am sure this will cause a great deal of debate, as to how, why and what can be done.

The ending was somewhat unsatisaftory as in effect it just fizzled out, but then isn't that true to life, people come into our lives and some of them just fade away and are gone before we often realise it.........

Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol

This book really is just what it says a Dan Brown novel. It is not some esoteric clue to enlightenment or a huge conspiracy expose.It has a mystery, there are arcane clues that need decoding, our hero is improbable ,( does anyone else think that Tom Hanks is hopelessly miscast????) and he attacks a powerful organisation. This time he has taken on the Masons and the USA!!

When he is on the subject of clue solving and history the book cracks along, and I did want to find out the solution. The philosophy and neotics were great. Not sure how accurate the history was though....... and as for the destruction of the Library of Congress - shame! However, his dialogue is not good, and in one place I fell about laughing (and it was not meant to be funny) as it read like a spoof melodrama. I also had a wry chuckle over his aggrandisement of Washington DC - exerting an almost mystical power; the Masons Headquarters - replica of a pre-Christian temple; The Jefferson Memorial - America's Pantheon; The Lincoln Memorial - America's Parthenon; the centrepiece - America's Egyptian Obelisk and all built and ordered by Masons! - and America apparently is still run by them............

I suspect that Dan Brown may have a problem with his next book, but as a best selling author perhaps he will not be fazed, any book after his last effort was going to be a disappointment, can he continue the roll, does he care?