A very French affair

21 02 2015

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

 

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PARIS, JANUARY 1895.

Twenty thousand spectators are baying ‘Death to the Jew’ as Captain Alfred Dreyfus is denounced as a spy. Sentenced to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island, his case seems closed forever.

Newly promoted to the head of ‘the Statistical Selection’ – the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus – Officer George Picquart begins to suspect there is something rotten at its heart.

Despite official warnings, Picquart continues to pursue the truth until he realises he has more in common with Dreyfus than he could ever have imagined.

 

It’s an excellent tale of power, corruption and lies in high places. Combining historical detail and espionage with a gripping plot line its a terrifically exciting read.

 

four stars

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Mischievous

14 02 2015

Their Lips talk of Mischief by Alan Warner

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High up in the Conrad Flats that loom bleakly over Acton, two future stars of the literary scene – or so they assume – are hard at work, tapping out words of wit and brilliance between ill-paid jobs writing captions for the Cat Calendar 1985 and blurbs for trashy novels with titles like Brothel of the Vampire. Just twenty-one but already well entrenched in a life eked out on dole payments, pints and dollops of porridge and pasta, Llewellyn and Cunningham don’t have it too bad: a pub on the corner, a misdirected parental allowance, and the delightful company of Aoife, Llewellyn’s model fiancée, mother of his young baby – and the woman of Cunningham’s increasingly vivid dreams.

It’s a fantastic tale of shambolic and dissolute literary lifestyles in Thatcher’s Britain. There’s more than a touch of Withnail & I about it too. And, although it’s London rather than Warner’s more familiar Oban, the settings are thoroughly convincing. A really terrific piece of writing.

stars-4-0._V5268001_





Gig nostalgia

7 02 2015

Everything But The Girl – January 1985

This academic year Edinburgh University Library has been publishing, each week, the edition of Student from 30 years ago. 1984-85 was my second year as a student at Edinburgh and every one of these brings back some great (mainly) memories. One of my favourites from the 31 January 1985 paper though is this review of the first Everything But The Girl gig I attended:

 

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It’s a rubbish headline obviously and not quite how I remember the gig which to my mind was uniformly wonderful.

That’s nostalgia for you though.








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