Having recently read read and enjoyed Coe's Expo 58I picked up this novels from my local library, after seeing that Florita gave it 5 stars & BetHaving recently read read and enjoyed Coe's Expo 58I picked up this novels from my local library, after seeing that Florita gave it 5 stars & Bet gave it 4 stars here at GoodReads.
It's a bit Gothic, but mostly black humour/satire, set (mostly) in 1980's Britain, with occasional flashbacks to the 1940's and 1960's. I'm sure a lot of the political jabs and other context went right over my head, but I still got the main gist of Coe's theme.
The storyline jumps around quite a bit between different members of the Winshaw family (old money & mostly dreadful people) and Michael Owen, a struggling lower-middle class author who is tapped to write a history of the family - with occasional side visits to other minor characters. And not only does the storyline shift - but so does the viewpoint - it sometimes took me a page or two to figure out who "he" or "I" was in any given chapter. It all feels a bit much at first (I was tempted to start taking notes/ drawing diagrams), but things come together quite nicely at the end.
Michael Owen is quite the quirky character (as are most of the Winshaws) but Coe still manages to make him likable. The various and sundry Winshaws are also well-drawn caricatures, but come off as rather beastly (yes, even Tabitha!)
The subtitle is a reference to the 1961 film also known as No Place Like Homicide!, which itself plays a fairly important role in Michael Owen's development. In fact, the climax of the novel draws heavily from the film, and others like it, while still providing a few surprises here and there.
I enjoyed Coe's style of storytelling, although I felt this novel was a lot slower than Expo 58. For me, I think a little Coe will go a long way. He's still on my list of authors to explore further (the library has The Rotter's Club and The House of Sleep) but I don't think I'm in any hurry.
This novel was my March Amazon Prime Lending Library choice - I'd seen it in a Kindle Daily Deal and the description piqued my interest.
Thomas Foley,This novel was my March Amazon Prime Lending Library choice - I'd seen it in a Kindle Daily Deal and the description piqued my interest.
Thomas Foley, a minor civil servant in the Central Office of Information is tapped to represent his country at Expo 58 - the World's Fair to be held in Brussels in 1958. Specifically, he is to keep an eye on The Brittania, the focal point of the UK Pavilion at the fair. He is uncertain at first about the assignment, as it will take him away from his wife and young daughter for six months, but soon discovers a sense of freedom inspired by the modern, optimistic environment of the Expo.
But all is not well - it is the height of the Cold War, and the Belgians have put the United States pavilion smack dab next to that of the U.S.S.R -- with representatives from both countries treating the Brittania as semi-neutral territory. Thomas finds himself bumping into two rather odd men who appear to be emissaries of the British Secret Service.. and then there's the lovely Anneke - one of the Expo hostesses who seems to have taken quite an interest in Thomas...
This is the first Jonathan Coe novel I've read, and I may have to track down more of his work. In some ways, this novel is a bit of a sendup of 1950's spy novels; but at the same time, it's an interesting character study of a mid-century, middle-class, middle man like Thomas. The plot runs along well, with both humourous and tense moments. The world building is nicely done - I had no idea that the Expo '58 actually existed & if/when I ever get to Europe, I'd love to see what remains of the site....more
Finally got around to reading this noir classic - The snappy writing is right up my alley - love the language & atmosphere! Marlowe himself, I'm nFinally got around to reading this noir classic - The snappy writing is right up my alley - love the language & atmosphere! Marlowe himself, I'm not quite sure about yet - seems he brings a lot of the situations on himself. The plot kept me involved throughout , tho I didn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on; rather I just wanted to enjoy the ride.
While it seems from its title that this would be the final volume in the Bloody Jack series; I didn't realize until the audiobook intro that its authoWhile it seems from its title that this would be the final volume in the Bloody Jack series; I didn't realize until the audiobook intro that its author, L.A. Meyer had passed away last July. I have truly enjoyed this series and was sad to hear of his passing.
The book itself is another delightful romp with Miss Jacky through various trials and travails; unjustly accused of treason, she must flee Boston and go into hiding. First she takes a job as a governess to the Polk family in Plymouth. Going by the name Annabelle Lee, she must face off against a "high-strung" (aka spoiled brat) boy named Edgar Allan Being her devious self, Jacky manages to outwit Edgar and eventually win him over. Events force her to run away and join the circus as an Russian aerialist. However, as the cover of the book portrays Jacky standing on the deck of the gallows, moments away from the noose, it seems Jacky's bloody past will finally catch up with her.
While L.A. Meyer may have stretched history a bit (I'm not sure the lyrics Jacky sings to the Hooche-Coochie song existed before the 1890's, for example), the overall story feels true to the era. Meyers also makes multiples callbacks to minor characters from the entire series and wraps the overall story arc up in a satisfying way.
Despite not exactly being target audience; I have loved this series and am sure I will be revisiting it again in the future - especially with the superb narration provided by Katherine Kellgren. ...more
Some may consider my tastes simplistic, but I prefer novels where the protagonist is likable (one reason I've yet to read Lolita, I suspect). However,Some may consider my tastes simplistic, but I prefer novels where the protagonist is likable (one reason I've yet to read Lolita, I suspect). However, I found this novel quite an engaging read, despite my feelings towards the two main characters, the Serena of the title and her husband Mr. Pemberton (yes, just "Pemberton"; even his wife uses his surname when addressing him!).
I wanted to like Serena, as a strong female character proving her worth in the man's world of a Depression-era South Carolina lumber camp; however, her heartlessness and self-interest soon turned me off. Not only did she become a cold blooded killer, but her husband also takes a life (albeit with the excuse of self-defense for his act of manslaughter). Being lumber barons playing dirty pool in their fight against the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park didn't endear them to me, either. Admittedly, my own sociopolitical views may color that last remark, despite being the great-great-granddaughter of a lumber baron.
Rash's historical novel paints a detailed picture of a time and place, with well-developed characters and a compelling story, even if it starts a bit slow. Pemberton himself feels a bit flat, but I believe that is intentional. Serena is perhaps the most detailed character, despite her mysterious past. Rachael is pretty much is the only sympathetic character, and she's a bit on the one-dimensional side as well.
I first heard part of this novel on Dick Estelle's Radio Reader show back in December 2009 & ran across it while browsing the Indiana Digital Media site and am glad I finally had a chance to read it. Recommended to fans of historical fiction in a rural, early 20th century setting. ...more
Thanks to a mention in the "Top Ten Books You Read in 2013" thread over on the SDMB, I checked out the audiobook version of this novel from the localThanks to a mention in the "Top Ten Books You Read in 2013" thread over on the SDMB, I checked out the audiobook version of this novel from the local library. While I missed out on the illustrations by Randall Wright, I did quite enjoy the narration by Katharine Kellgren (she could read the phone book and I'd listen!) with Robin Sachs contributing the Charles Dickens interludes.
Skilley, a street cat living in Victorian London schemes his way into a mousing job at the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese inn, despite not actually wanting to eat mice at all. He finds an ally in Pip, a mouse residing at the inn who has some unusual talents. Together, they deal with a missing "person" whose disappearance has potential foreign relation repercussions. They must also cope with a cranky cook and a an evil tomcat bent on exposing their friendship as well as the secrets of the mice of the inn. Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance as a frequenter of the inn and an astute observer of the animals' interactions.
It is a middle grade book - aimed at 8-10 year olds, so the story isn't terribly complex, but still quite charming. Adults will get the references to Dickens and Wilkie Collins, while kids will enjoy the story of the friendship between the mouse and the cat, which develops organically with some bumps along the way. There are some moments of peril and a couple of minor characters die, but it's handled well and there's some good lessons to be learned.
Recommended to fans of animal fantasies and stories for all ages....more