A Long Way From Gregory

26 01 2013

Seventy Times Seven by John Gordon Sinclair


Danny McGuire doesn’t like his job, but he’s good at it. Since his brother’s murder eight years earlier he has become a professional killer: a hit man for hire, bent on retribution. The Job: Danny’s been contracted to eliminate the ‘Thevshi’ – the Ghost – the most elusive informant that has ever penetrated the Republican movement in Northern Ireland. But there’s a problem: the Thevshi claims to know who’s responsible for his brother’s death. Danny’s never killed someone he needed to talk to first. The Target: When Finn O’Hanlon (A.K.A. the Thevshi) is attacked in a bar in Alabama he realises that his past has finally caught up with him. Forced to flee, he embarks on a desperate journey to find Danny McGuire before it’s too late. The Complication: But Danny and Finn are up against someone who’s spent years hiding a secret, and it’s a secret they’ll go to any lengths to protect.

It’s an entertaining enough thriller. I don’t know why I should be so surprised that John Gordon Sinclair, he of Gregory’s Girl fame from my youth, has produced it but I am. I did find myself speculating whether writing in such a way about armed Republicans was such a great idea but it does make for some convincingly unpleasant incidents. Let’s hope he keeps writing.

3 star

Heaven Knows I’m Les Miserables Now

19 01 2013

I won’t believe the hype

Miserable? I certainly am

Miserable? I certainly am

This is the puff on this blockbuster five star Oscar shoe in sensation:

Les Misérables is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year. Helmed by The King’s Speech’s Academy Award®-winning director, Tom Hooper, the Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh production stars Hugh Jackman, Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

In January 2013, the world’s longest-running musical brings its power to the big screen in Tom Hooper’s sweeping and spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale. With international superstars and beloved songs—including “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” and “On My Own”—Les Misérables, the show of shows, is now reborn as the cinematic musical experience of a lifetime.

But I’m afraid I don’t care. It may be the best film ever made. It may be the best musical ever. I may end up being the only person in the country never to see it. But I really just don’t give a stuff. There is nothing at all in anything I have read or heard about the musical or the film which gives me the slightest wish to go anywhere near it. I’ve not read the novel either but may now do so just to be even more annoying about the whole thing.

I’ll get my coat.

Still very much the way we live now

12 01 2013

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope


Trollope’s masterpiece…its examination of how hopes of easy money can corrupt individuals and sections of society remains relevant today… It is all too easy to imagine the “Great Financier”, Augustus Melmotte a shadowy, egotistical and tyrannical swindler, at the top of a contemporary investment bank. (Observer )


This really is a terrific novel which looks remarkably prescient. Trollope’s tale of a dishonest financier who buys his way into a corrupt society whose members are all too easily swayed by the opportunity to get rich quick and seduced by plans offering extraordinary returns does have striking parallels with our most recent economic and political woes. Sadly, still very much the way we live now. A big book in every sense and one I would wholeheartedly recommend.

5 star

Love in the seventies

5 01 2013

An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel


It is London, 1970. Carmel McBain, in her first term at university, has cut free of her childhood roots in the north. Among the gossiping, flirtatious girls of Tonbridge Hall, she begins her experiments in life and love. But the year turns. The mini-skirt falls out of style and an era of concealment begins. Carmel’s world darkens, and tragedy waits in the wings.

An Experiment in Love is a pretty compelling coming-of-age tale set in Seventies London (that’s the 20th Century, no Tudors involved). The challenges faced by a convent-educated working class northern girl trying to make her way in the rarified atmosphere of a university hall are quite convincingly represented and the spirit of the times seems to me to be extremely well captured. Overall it’s a really good read.


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