The title is rather misleading. It's the tragic and violent history of a Dominican family. I didn't find much humour, it's dark, violent and not uplif...moreThe title is rather misleading. It's the tragic and violent history of a Dominican family. I didn't find much humour, it's dark, violent and not uplifting in any way.(less)
Bathsheba Everdene is a strong spirited girl, and whilst she thinks she knows her own mind she has not a clue with regards to the workings of a man’s...moreBathsheba Everdene is a strong spirited girl, and whilst she thinks she knows her own mind she has not a clue with regards to the workings of a man’s mind.
Farmer Boldwood is a confirmed bachelor and even the beauty of Miss Everdene can’t turn his head at market. Bathsheba’s maid points out Boldwood’s indifference to her so, out of fun or maybe girlish spite, she sends him a Valentine Card sealed with a stamp marked ‘Marry Me’.
This frivolous throw away moment changes everything.
Boldwood becomes a man desperate to possess her, and presses her for her promise to marry to the point of breaking her spirit. Bathsheba had already turned down a proposal of marriage from the kindly Shepherd Oak when she first arrived in Weatherbury and Oak’s status looked like it was improving but, as her own situation improves by taking on her late Uncle’s farm, Bathsheba is in no hurry to lose her independence. Unfortunately, during her unwanted courtship with Boldwood, she is dazzled by a rake (Sergeant Troy), who has already ruined one young woman, and the chance of future happiness begins to unravel for all.
Through this emotional drama Shepherd Oak remains a staunch and loyal friend, putting aside his own feelings to manage Bathsheba’s farm and trying to morally guide her. In a time when propriety means everything, he has to withstand gossip from the neighbourhood which insinuates that he’s just hanging around Bathsheba and ‘biding his time’.
Set in Wessex, I loved the country setting and also the minor characters that work the farm. Their dialogue and actions hark back to simpler times which consisted of manual labour, cider and gossip.
This novel highlights the fickleness of young women in matters of love. In an era when a promise is a promise, and solemnly binding, there’s no room for mistaken feelings. I’m not usually sentimental but Bathsheba’s realisation of Oak’s true friendship towards the end of the novel, and Oak’s realisation of his one dream, had me fighting back tears.
As for the title of the novel, it was taken from the following:
Far From the madding crowd's ignoble strife Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray
Throw away your bodice rippers, and read a love story with real class! (less)
I was contacted by the author via Good Reads requesting a review of this book. I’d read a few Matt Reilly’s and this was touted as being a comparable...moreI was contacted by the author via Good Reads requesting a review of this book. I’d read a few Matt Reilly’s and this was touted as being a comparable novel. To be fair, I haven’t read a Matt Reilly in a while and my tastes run towards 19th Century fiction these days, but I read the novel in its entirety and what follows in my honest review.
The Chimera Vector is a science fiction action novel which proposes that the economy and politics of the world are run by psychopaths (possibly a correct assumption) and a group of re-programmed Fifth Column operatives aim to break this stranglehold on humanity.
So far so good, but the story is much more complicated than that. The theme is inspired by current events (being the ‘War on Terror’). The premise is that the war on terror is a façade manipulated by the secretive agency ‘The Fifth Column’. I started writing down key points as they came up, but I must confess that the book lost me in the end. Encryptions and viruses, counter encryptions and viruses, double agents, triple agents, quadruple agents …… an Axolotl vector which enables the carrier to heal like a Salamander and a bad guy who has found the fountain of youth……. I can only suspend my disbelief so far. That is not to say that this book isn’t well written, it is, but I felt it tried to be too clever by half.
It wasn’t as fast paced as a Reilly, and it wasn’t as much fun. I didn’t care about the characters and ‘Damien’ and ‘Jay’ didn’t work for me as major character names. It’s not until three quarters of the way through the novel that the pace actually picks up but I had trouble visualising the scenes and locations as there’s not much in the way of descriptive writing.
This is Book #1 of the Fifth Column series and will, however, probably gain a following from the target audience (which I believe would be young adult males who are into a bit of techno action) - it just wasn’t for me.(less)
This is the first time that I have waited in anticipation for the release of a book by a home grown author. Knowing that the style was inspired by one...moreThis is the first time that I have waited in anticipation for the release of a book by a home grown author. Knowing that the style was inspired by one of my favourite writers, Robert Aickman, I was very keen to read it.
Aickman has the ability to unsettle your nerves when writing about everyday events that at first appear normal then go slightly off kilter. I can honestly say that I wasn’t disappointed. These short stories are very well constructed, and the unsettling nature of each varies in degrees as does the strangeness.
Abraham’s Bosom was one of my favourite stories as it brought to mind how I felt on my recent visit to Rangitoto Island. My partner and I had walked off the beaten track looking for lava caves and I became increasingly alarmed when I couldn't hear any of the other trekkers and was unable to orient myself to where we should be on our map. This story of a jogger becoming separated from his running mate and experiencing a supernatural event reminded me not only of Robert Aickman but also of Alfred Noyes’ "Midnight Express" by the last passage.
"Building Bridges" I found to be a nice cloying story about a father wanting to reconnect with his family however forces move against him during a visit to a museum exhibit.
"The Next Terrace" is the perfect opening story and lays the foundation to what can be expected within the following pages and "Playing Tag" I thought was a beautifully written story which really evoked the grounds of an English stately home.
"La Tarasque" was probably my least favourite of the collection but mainly because I couldn't identify with any part of it, and I’m still trying to work out the title of the last story ("Fingerprinting") although I did really enjoy the story itself. I’m staying in some obscure small towns at the end of the year on my first ever Aussie road trip, so I shall bear this story in mind!
This whole collection has been put together very nicely; Some of the stories are very subtle whilst others grab at you, but what I liked most about these stories is that they are very identifiable as being Australian.(less)
If you can accept the premise that people will meet their post apocalyptical fate with dignity then there is a story here albeit an awfully sad one. I...moreIf you can accept the premise that people will meet their post apocalyptical fate with dignity then there is a story here albeit an awfully sad one. It's just the writing is so damn wooden, chauvinistic, and the characters one dimensional. It's extremely dated. I like to read for use of language as well as a good story, and I was very disappointed here.(less)
The Shelter is a novella by the independent writer James Everington in the style of Stephen King's The Body which resonated with me in the fact that i...moreThe Shelter is a novella by the independent writer James Everington in the style of Stephen King's The Body which resonated with me in the fact that it is about a group of children (in this case four boys) getting up to no good during a school summer holiday. Set in England, it brought back memories of those long six week holidays, with not much to do except going exploring with friends. It is something we probably don't let our children do today but, without Foxtel, Apple, X-box or PC's, our options for entertainment back when I was a teenager in the late 70's and early 80's lay in the outdoors.
The story of The Shelter is related by a thirteen year old Alan Dean who, with his best friend Duncan and two older boys that he knows from school, goes in search of an old air raid shelter that supposedly lies outside of their village. When they get there it's location seems a bit bizarre with the shelter being located in the far corner of a field, the atmosphere changes too with the incessant buzzing of wasps and a feeling of rising anger that threatens to overwhelm the boys themselves.
Driven by excitement and fear, and wondering if this is the resting place of Martin, a local schoolboy whose disappearance has dominated the news reports lately, they open the metal lid that covers the entrance to the shelter. Everything appears normal until a simple prank leaves Alan in a terrifying situation and open to a supernatural event. But did it really happen?
As children we are ready to accept the unknown, and in a state of heightened terror we can imagine any amount of horrors. Yet for all those nights of being too afraid to look under the bed, or in the closet or at that bundle of clothes thrown on the chair that looks like something unimaginable.......... did any harm ever come to us? This then brings doubt and cynicism into the mind of the adult, and the realisation that there never was anything there at all. This is the thought that the older Alan will ponder as he reviews the events of that summer.
The writing style does need some polishing, and the idea itself of using a group of bored children to propel the story along isn't all that original - just read Stephen King and Dan Simmons - but I found that I really liked it because of the memories that it stirred up for me and I almost (almost mind you) felt a pang for a genuine English Summer. (less)