Monthly Archives: October 2010

Gallery Girl – Wendy Holden

This was just a light, easy read.

Here is the blurb …

Zeb Spaw is the contemporary artist of the year, even more so after his latest work Prostheseus Bound recently sold for £20 million, but will he be able to keep the masterpieces coming, or is it all downhill from there? Alice loves working in Palladio, a traditional art gallery, and loves boyfriend David more, but with him working longer hours their relationship is reaching breaking point.
Maeve’s husband Ciaran has decided to re-launch his boy-band Boyfriend after the recent successful re-launches of Take That and Boyzone, but what about Maeve and her desire to begin painting again? Dan, a less than successful portrait painter, has moved to the country in the hope of finally getting his big break but ends up holding life classes. When Alice is catapulted into the world of contemporary art, she doesn’t know what to do with herself. And when Maeve walks into one of Dan’s art classes, there’s no telling where it will end.

Read it when you want something that requires no effort and is fun.

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Cheerful Weather for the Wedding – Julia Strachey

The above image is from the end papers from the Persephone edition.

It was a very quick read, but I don’t think my mind was in the right place. Although I admire the writing, I didn’t enjoy this novel.

Here is the blurb …

This is a very small book but a very perfect one, revealing a rich sense of humour and very great literary and dramatic skill. The situation of a girl on her wedding morning trying to stifle her doubts and dull her knowledge that she is making a frightful mistake is painful; the collection of ill-assorted guests who have gathered together on the bright and bitter March morning is as agonising  and as inappropriate as such a crisis in life itself … The most striking thing in the book is its funniness. We are not dealing here with the circus jokes of a PG Wodehouse, for the characters here are living people. The humour is profounder, for it arises out of the characters and illuminates and exhibits them to us, It is a book full of the funniness of painful situations, of the sort of humour which enables us to look back with laughter at the things which have hurt us most in life.

Here are some other reviews …

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Perfect Proposal – Katie Fforde

I’ve written before about being a Katie Fforde fan – I was disappointed with the last two novels. They just seemed a bit formulaic and I didn’t like the heroines. However, this one is a return to the Katie Fforde of old.

Here’s the blurb …

Sophie Apperly’s family has never taken her seriously. Fiercely academic, they see her more practical skills as frivolous – whilst constantly taking advantage of her. So when her best friend Milly invites her over to New York, she jumps at the chance. It’ll do her ungrateful family good to do without her for a while. What’s more, she’s on a quest – America holds the key to solving her family’s financial woes, even if they don’t deserve her help.

From the moment Sophie hits the bright lights of Manhattan she’s determined to enjoy every minute of her big adventure. So when an evening at an art gallery throws her into the path of Matilda, a spirited older lady who invites her to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, Sophie willingly accepts much to the dismay of Matilda’s grandson Luke. Undeniably attractive, but infuriatingly arrogant, he seems to doubt Sophie’s motives for befriending his grandmother. No match for the formidable Matilda, he eventually admits defeat, but first he has a proposal to make. He’ll help Sophie in her quest to save her family from financial ruin if she repays the favour. But just what does he have to do in return …?

This is a quick easy read – sometimes a bit contrived, but Katie Fforde is a guilty pleasure not improving literature. It is a romantic comedy with the focus completely on the relationship between the heroine and the hero; you know the type ‘girl meets boy, they overcome some obstacles and live happily ever after’. Having said that I enjoyed reading this novel –  it is a perfect escapist read.

Here are some other reviews …

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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

I was intrigued by the title of this novel and simply had to read it. I’m not religious but I am fascinated by religion. This was simply written and a very quick read.

Here’s the blurb …

In this genius spellbinding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told.

Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws a fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. Above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

Pullman retells the story of Jesus. However, Jesus had a twin brother Christ. In this story many of the miracles are explained; for example the water into wine at the wedding of Cana miracle was simply Jesus telling the stewards to bring out the wine they had hidden away. Here is the passage describing the conception of Jesus:

One night in her bedroom she heard a whisper through her window.

‘Mary do you know how beautiful you are? You are the the most lovely of all women. The Lord must have favoured you especially, to be so sweet and so gracious, to have such eyes and such lips …’

She was confused, and said ‘Who are you?’

‘I am an angel’, said the voice. ‘Let me in and I shall tell you a secret that only you must know.’

She opened the window and let him in. In order not to frighten her, he had assumed the appearance of a young man, just like one of the young men who spoke to her by the well.

When Jesus is baptised Christ sees a dove fly above them and settle in a tree. Christ decides it’s an omen. It is Christ who tempts Jesus in the wilderness. He wants him to perform miracles to convince the simple minded plus he has visions of a ‘kingdom of the faithful’

[…]Groups of families worshipping together with a priest in every village and town, an association of local groups under the direction and guidance of a wise else in the region, the regional leaders all answering to the authority of one supreme director, a king of regent on earth!

Jesus is horrified.

About this time Christ meets an enigmatic stranger (is he an Angel?).He tells Christ that he is the ‘word of god’, that he and Jesus’s names will both be remembered, and that sometimes truth is outside of history (i.e you might need to manipulate history to make it true). He encourages Christ to make a record of Jesus’s ministry.

I don’t want to reveal too much more or I’ll spoil the story.

This novel is about the making of myths, about how the telling of a story can change it from something ordinary to something magical. The prose is simple almost spare, but it is very thought provoking. I think if you are religious, then you might find this story offensive. I, however, thought it was clever and interesting and might even lead me to read the relevant sections of the bible.

Here are some other reviews …

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Book Of Lost Threads – Tess Evans

My mother picked this book – based on the cover and truth be told I would have picked it too. It’s been sitting in my pile for a while and I’ve overlooked it several times. However, once I started I was hooked. It’s a gentle story about loss, grief, guilt and redemption.

Here’s the blurb …

‘It was so long ago. The person he was then no longer existed. What was he supposed to say to this … this interloper who had materialised on his doorstep? Crouching down on his haunches, he poked at the fire and looked at her covertly from under his eyebrows. She was obviously waiting for him to say something. He frowned. There was something not quite right … What was it?’

Moss has run away from Melbourne to Opportunity on the trail of a man she knows only by name. But her arrival sets in train events that disturb the long-held secrets of three of the town’s inhabitants; Finn, a brilliant mathematician, who has become a recluse; Lily Pargetter, eight-three year old knitter of tea cosies; and Sandy, the town buffoon, who dreams of a Great Galah.

It is only as Moss, Finn, Lily and Sandy develop unlikely friendships that they find a way to lay their sorrows to rest and knit together the threads that will restore them to life.

Moss has two mothers and no father. When she discovers the secret of her conception she breaks off contact with one of her mothers and goes in search of her father. Finn, who was once called Michael, was involved in a dreadful accident and hasn’t been able to forgive himself. Lily’s husband was killed during the war and their child was still born. Sandy’s father abused his mother and he did nothing. These four people are lost, lonely and guilty, but through simple acts of kindness to one another they heal themselves and create a new family.

Dark things have happened to these people – particularly Lily – but this novel focuses on what happens after the event. How people move forwards (or not) and how to make amends.

I loved the story of Lily, her tea cosies and the ‘quartermaster of the United Nations’ and Sandy and his desire to build the Great Galah tourist attraction (a bit like the big pineapple). I didn’t want to put this novel down. I wanted to know how all the stories merged (or knitted) together and would they all find peace and happiness?

Here are some other reviews …

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