Dear me, I read this nauseating collection of flowery driblets which are *based on* Sappho's fragments, thinking they were Sappho's poems too, that ma...moreDear me, I read this nauseating collection of flowery driblets which are *based on* Sappho's fragments, thinking they were Sappho's poems too, that makes two pretenders to Sappho that I've read, thanks to wholly inadequate descriptions at the iTunes store.
Apparently Mary Robinson, nee Darby (1757-1800) was an English poet and novelist and during her lifetime she was known as the English Sappho. Poor Sappho, to be so cruelly debased!
Moral: stick to real books publisher by real publishers who describe their contents accurately so that you know what you're getting.
*smacks forehead* I read these thinking that they were Sappho's. Moral: don't buy books from the iTunes iBook store because their descriptions aren't...more*smacks forehead* I read these thinking that they were Sappho's. Moral: don't buy books from the iTunes iBook store because their descriptions aren't adequate. (less)
I am indebted to Marilyn Brady for her recommendation to read Malla Nunn’s A Beautiful Place to Die. Not being interested in crime fiction, I most cer...moreI am indebted to Marilyn Brady for her recommendation to read Malla Nunn’s A Beautiful Place to Die. Not being interested in crime fiction, I most certainly would have missed reading it if not for Marilyn’s enticing review, and that would have been a pity because A Beautiful Place to Die is much more than genre fiction. It reminded me of the best of Graham Greene in the way that the novel explores how context and culture impact on crime and justice, and how survival in an intransigently corrupt society involves an existential struggle between integrity and resignation to the inevitable.
I bought a copy of the book not long after reading Marilyn’s review but it was still biding its time on the TBR when I saw it available as an audio book at the library. Truth be told, although the title and author seemed vaguely familiar I forgot that I had the book at home, and didn’t find it until after I had finished the audio-book and I was *blush* shelving some other new acquisitions on the N shelf. I am not at all sorry that I made this mistake, because I think this is a rare example of the audio-book being a better way to ‘read’ the book.
Humphrey Bower is a remarkable narrator: I have enjoyed many of his readings before, but this one is astonishingly good. In the course of this novel Bower has to convey a multiplicity of accents because A Beautiful Place to Die is set in South Africa. In Jacob’s Creek deep in Boer Country near the Mozambique border where the story takes place, there are Boer-Afrikaners, Zulu, ‘British’ South African, German-Jewish and Indian accents, and Bower convincingly recreates them all. I couldn’t fault it.
Set in the early 1950s when apartheid was becoming rigidly institutionalised through legislation, Detective Inspector Emmanuel Cooper is sent by his ambitious boss Van Niekerk to investigate the murder of Captain Willem Pretorius, the well-respected Afrikaner local police officer who rules Jacob’s Creek with more authority than his position entitles him to. Cooper barely has time to interview Pretorius’s thuggish sons before the Security Branch arrive with their own agenda, which is to locate a likely ‘Communist’ suspect who can be beaten up in order to extract a confession. (I invite anyone who thinks this unlikely to remember Steve Biko, and to note the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, see #123).
**spoiler alert** So disappointing! This novel started off really well & progressed at a thrilling pace for about 2/3 of the story. A sociopath wh...more**spoiler alert** So disappointing! This novel started off really well & progressed at a thrilling pace for about 2/3 of the story. A sociopath who likes killing women in the most repulsive way is used by a CIA-type secret organisation to kill those on its mysterious hit-list. Two innocents (both anti-heroes, very ordinary, the female is an aimless nobody who likes sex over-much, and the male is an inconsequential agent) are sucked by mistake into Hollis's hideout (an improbable closed baseball stadium). Improbable escapes occur - it would make a great action B-movie with a young Harrison Ford in the lead). There are several times when a character 'dies' (falling from tall buildings, raging infernos etc.) only to miraculously recover. It's a jolly good read (in its own genre, that is) until the plot twist is revealed. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER The great cover-up is not to conceal some presidential corruption or CIA machinations, but to conceal and alien invasion. And from the moment this is revealed, the plot degenerates badly, with silly mystic experiences and totally unsatisfactory plot endings. Where was the editor who let what could have been an entertaining thriller end up like this mish-amsh? (less)
It was this book that put me off reading Fay Weldon. I was becoming disenchanted anyway, she seemed to have moved on from wicked black humour to bitte...moreIt was this book that put me off reading Fay Weldon. I was becoming disenchanted anyway, she seemed to have moved on from wicked black humour to bitterness, but when she succumbed to payment for product placement in this novel, I no longer felt as if I could trust her as a commentator on contemporary life. Sad really, because I had read almost everything she had written, starting with Life and Loves of a She-devil and reading everything else I could get hands on, buying it when it was affordable or borrowing it from the library when it wasn't. (less)