3.5 stars. It was a surprise to read about the unusual childhood of Lorna Sage, a well known literary critic. While her father was away fighting in Wo3.5 stars. It was a surprise to read about the unusual childhood of Lorna Sage, a well known literary critic. While her father was away fighting in World War II, young Lorna and her mother lived with her grandparents in a vicarage in Hanmer, Flintshire. Her grandparents had a terrible marriage and were constantly fighting. Her philandering minister grandfather loved to frequent the pubs. He was very bright and passed on his love of reading to Lorna. Her relatives wondered if Lorna had inherited his "bad blood" because they had many interests in common. Her grandmother was useless when it came to cooking and cleaning, and spent most of her time complaining about men, eating sweets, and missing the comforts of her childhood home.
When Lorna's father returned to their village in Wales, she had a more normal life, but never felt that she fit in with her family. She felt that her parents were so close that they really had no need to let anyone else in emotionally. Reading and running wild outdoors were her salvations.
In the final section of the memoir Lorna became pregnant and married at age 16. She left the maternity ward one day, and took the first of her A-level exams the next day. She and her husband, Vic Sage, both graduated from the university in Durham with degrees in literature in 1964.
The book was an entertaining look at Wales in the 1940s and 1950s. Lorna's experiences as a child were both humorous and painful. The three parts of the book also showed how three different married couples related to their spouses, and how each couple faced the challenges of life. She seemed a bit hypercritical of her parents considering that she was not the easiest child, and later received an enormous amount of support and childcare while she was away attending university. Overall, the memoir was well-written, and was awarded the Whitbread prize for biography in 2001....more
An African gray parrot recites strings of numbers in German. The parrot came over to Sussex with a young mute Jewish boy escaping from Nazi Germany. DAn African gray parrot recites strings of numbers in German. The parrot came over to Sussex with a young mute Jewish boy escaping from Nazi Germany. Do these numbers have military significance, or do they have a different meaning? When a man is murdered and the parrot is stolen, an unnamed older retired detective takes time off from his beekeeping activities to solve the crime. Under his gruff exterior, the sleuth's kind heart has been touched by this boy who has lost his parrot, his closest companion. This is a warm, entertaining novella that imagines the famous British detective (Sherlock Holmes) as an eighty-nine year old. Lurking below the surface of the mystery are hints that the young boy saw some very disturbing things back in Germany....more
The rain was relentless. For years the winds roared, lightening cracked, vines whipped over toppled trees, water flooded abandoned buildings, and skinThe rain was relentless. For years the winds roared, lightening cracked, vines whipped over toppled trees, water flooded abandoned buildings, and skinny animals roamed the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. The government had transported people to areas north of "The Line" in evacuation buses, but a few survivalists and treasure hunters had remained. It was a lawless world where Cohen stayed in Mississippi, unable to leave his home full of memories of his beloved wife and unborn child who had both died. Cohen had lost everyone important to him, and was filled with regret that he had not taken his wife to a safer area.
After Cohen is attacked, and his Jeep and his precious mementos stolen, he goes searching for the culprits. He finds a group of people in damaged trailers, living under the rule of a Bible quoting cult leader. If he is able to help this group of women and children escape from their desperate circumstances, they will have to navigate blocked roads and avoid ruthless looters as they travel north to "The Line".
Throughout the book there are flashbacks to happier times when Cohen and his wife vacationed in Venice, a city covered with canals of water. There are also mentions of the novel Death in Venice where the protagonist refuses to leave Venice in the midst of an epidemic. The supernatural is also in the background, appropriate for a situation over which God and Nature are the controlling forces.
The book was bleak but very well written, and reminded me a bit of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It was very intense, leaving me feeling exhausted like I had been through a battering storm myself. (Or maybe it was because I stayed up to 3 am finishing the book!) I liked Cohen as a character--a good man who is capable of being tough to protect others, a man who had lost hope only to find hope rekindled. I enjoy post-apocalyptic literature that has the element of believability, and recommend this book to readers who enjoy this genre....more