The Grim Soldier

27 01 2007

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Good Soldier

4 star

An outstanding book but really not terribly uplifting – may not be quite “the saddest story” ever but it’s up there with the grimmest of them. Having said that, it is brilliantly written and has a real lightness of touch throughout despite the content.

Reluctant to give too much away but the interaction between the two central couples – the narrator and Florence and Edward and Leonora – and the relationships which crumble among and around them over the course of the book are subtly and compellingly recounted.

Well worth a go (although suspect have come to this rather late and everyone else has been there first) but not the cheeriest of tales so pick your time.

The lady vanishes

21 01 2007

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell


4 star

I think this is a pretty darned good read. Esme, banged up since a teenager and existence denied by her family, suddenly re-emerges creating something of a shock for the next generation. The history of Esme’s disappearance (vanishing act no 1) and her capacity for enduring institutional life (via vanishing act no 2) are really rather movingly presented. O’Farrell writes terrifically well as ever and this really is a well-constructed and powerful book.

Noticed though in a recent interview the author’s critical comments of her time living in North Berwick but it doesn’t seem to stop her using it in her books, including here.

University (not very) challenged

14 01 2007

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

starter for Ten

3 star

I must admit to finding this really rather enjoyable. Almost completely predictable plot but nevertheless an entertaining ride. The anonymity of the host university was a tad annoying but the book captured the era exceptionally well I thought and there were a few really good laughs in there too. Worth a rapid read (but don’t expect anything too deep).

Independence days?

14 01 2007

Independent People by Halldor Laxness

5 star

Very good stuff indeed. Perhaps not quite the lifechanging experience suggested by some reviewers but, nevertheless, absolutely outstanding.

laxness 1

For me the banal brutality in places was reminiscent of the sagas (bit obvious that) but the real difference are the political and emotional dimensions. Bjartur, after years of servitude, craves independence and everything is subjugated to this imperative. The consequences of this are really quite extraordinary and I have to say that I really have not read anything quite like it.

A brief hiatus…

5 01 2007

As consequence of house move, absence of broadband and new job, there is to be a wee break in proceedings here.

Will be back up and running within a couple of weeks I hope with at least four new book reviews (you lucky things) and a thank you note.

%d bloggers like this: