I loved the banter, not only between the hero and heroine. I also loved the scenes involving hooped petticoats! This was my first Loretta Chase, I'llI loved the banter, not only between the hero and heroine. I also loved the scenes involving hooped petticoats! This was my first Loretta Chase, I'll be reading more....more
Her style is all her own but she goes off at times on hilarious wee tangents aboDaft. Dazzling. Original. Inventive. Funny. Moving.
I loved this book.
Her style is all her own but she goes off at times on hilarious wee tangents about characters whose paths cross those of the main characters only briefly in a way that reminds me of the late, great Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame. ...more
I found this book astonishing and not in a good way. I understand the ms was found among Josephine Tey's papers after she died - in 1952, I believe. II found this book astonishing and not in a good way. I understand the ms was found among Josephine Tey's papers after she died - in 1952, I believe. I think her publishers should have left it there. It's a bitter little book, threaded through with the most appalling prejudice against Scots and all things Scottish. This is all the more unpleasant when Josephine Tey was herself Scottish. So was her fictional detective.
Over the last few days since I finished The Singing Sands I've really swithered about writing this review. As a writer myself, I never publicly review a book I really didn't like or thought was poorly written. It seems like professional discourtesy.
My other reservation is that The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, featuring the same Inspector Alan Grant as The Singing Sands, is one of my favourite books. I expected to love The Singing Sands but it's left a really unpleasant taste in my mouth.
There's some great writing in here. Tey was one of the doyennes of the Golden Age of crime fiction, after all. There's an intriguing premise, a mysterious poem, some fantastic descriptions of landscape and unflinching descriptions of Alan Grant's experiences while going through a nervous breakdown. However, none of it really knits together and makes a coherent whole.
It's hard to forgive the snobbery. The aristocracy and gentry are all humorous, intelligent and self-effacing. The lower orders, both north and south of the border, are stupid, criminal or comical.
There are side-swipes at Scotland and Scots threaded throughout the book. Nobody in Scotland can cook or bake anything palatable. Gaelic songs are poor efforts, sung by people with expressionless voices. Anyone who advocates Scottish independence is to be mocked or possibly reported to Special Branch.
Even Scotland's buses are painted "that most miserable of colours: blue." London buses, by contrast, are a cheerful red because "...the English, God bless them, had had gayer ideas." At which risible point - even Scotland's buses are rubbish - I snorted audibly in derision.
The killer comment comes towards the end of the story. Grant's posh cousins are amused by their son speaking "clotted Perthshire". They do actually live there, so that doesn't seem too odd. However, Grant hopes they won't wait too long before they send the young boy away "...to his English school. The quality of Scotchness was a highly concentrated essence, and should always be diluted. As an ingredient it was admirable; neat, it was as abominable as ammonia."
If that had been written about any other nationality?
I find it very sad that such a talented writer should clearly have felt the need to do down her own people. In Scotland, we call this chip on the shoulder lack of self-esteem the Scottish Cringe. I'm glad to say it's rapidly fading into the past. I'm sorry that Josephine Tey isn't around to see the much more confident Scotland that exists now.
I loved this spare, elegant thriller set (and written) in the late 1930s, as Europe is hurtling towards war. Author Charles Latimer is travelling rathI loved this spare, elegant thriller set (and written) in the late 1930s, as Europe is hurtling towards war. Author Charles Latimer is travelling rather aimlessly until he meets Turkish chief of police, Colonel Haki, a man who is outwardly jovial but as hard as steel beneath the surface. The body of wanted criminal Dimitrios has just been fished out of the Bosphorus and Haki offers Latimer a real-life mystery to solve. Latimer's resulting obsession with Dimitrios leads him through the continent and into real danger. I think this book has wonderful characterisation and a great sense of place and peril. It also has one of the most perfect final sentences I've ever read. Planning on reading all of Eric Ambler's books now. ...more
This is an entrancing book and the author clearly knows and loves the Cairngorms. He writes lyrically and with quiet passion about the vast CairngormsThis is an entrancing book and the author clearly knows and loves the Cairngorms. He writes lyrically and with quiet passion about the vast Cairngorms plateau. Taking the reader with him as he walks, he communicates his sense of wonder - and sometimes fear - at being alone in this huge wilderness. Those who have been there before him include Landseer, the Victorian artist, fugitives from justice, prospectors searching for the precious stones known as Cairngorms and, sadly, climbers who fell foul of the weather and a wartime RAF air crew, whose plane crashed on the hill.
I'd have liked colour photos and a map or two but that's a small criticism.
Planning on re-reading this book, it transported me to somewhere I've admired from afar but don't expect ever to be in reality. ...more
I wondered if this book could live up to my memory of reading it when it was a big hit back in the 1980s (when I think it was first published.) I haveI wondered if this book could live up to my memory of reading it when it was a big hit back in the 1980s (when I think it was first published.) I have to say that it did, so much so that I'm immediately re-reading it because I don't want to leave the atmosphere of the story quite yet and the way Robert James Waller tells it.
One could find things to criticise. I wasn't entirely convinced that Francesca was Italian in origin. Robert Kincaid occasionally gives philosophical speeches, talking in paragraphs rather than conversing with Francesca. I actually liked the descriptions of taking photographs, it's all about seeing the light and capturing it.
Those are small quibbles. I found this a magical book, lyrical and poignant. It's a modern classic.
A mysterious manuscript surfaces. It appears to be an early American Gothic novel by a previously unknown female writer. Young Professor of English KaA mysterious manuscript surfaces. It appears to be an early American Gothic novel by a previously unknown female writer. Young Professor of English Karen Holloway is tremendously excited by the discovery. Finding a new female American author of the late 1700s/early 1800s could be just what she needs to advance her career in academia.
Karen's not the only scholar who's interested. When she goes to the small town and big old abandoned house way out of that town where she suspects the author of the manuscript once lived, things begin to hot up. In the hands of the wonderful Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters, Houses of Stone becomes an eerie mystery, a thriller, an intellectual romp and a slow-burning romance. Make that two romances.
Barbara Michaels also gives us a great cast of characters, lots of humour and some pointed, yet still funny, observations on the criticisms female writers have had to face over the past few hundred years.
I read this in three or four gulps. An absolute pleasure from start to finish.
Alan Johnson is a British trade unionist and Labour politician. In his time he has held different portfolios as a cabinet minister, including servingAlan Johnson is a British trade unionist and Labour politician. In his time he has held different portfolios as a cabinet minister, including serving as Home Secretary.
Having read his memoir of his life as a young man, I went back to read this story of his childhood. He grew up in Notting Hill/North Kensington in London in the 1950s and 60s. The district was full of slum housing back then and he, his big sister Linda and their mother Lily lived in a couple of damp and crumbling flats in buildings that should have been condemned. Many subsequently were, some swept away to allow the development of the Westway road. Lily always had to struggle to feed and clothe her children and to put food on the table. When Linda and Alan's dad left, that struggle became even harder.
It's a poignant read, sometimes almost unbearably sad. Lily, who did not keep well, earned money by taking on too many exhausting cleaning jobs. She always dreamt of having a house with her own front door and never managed to achieve that.
On the plus side, Lily brought her children up to value education and good manners and to have their own dreams. Both she and Alan Johnson's sister Linda shine out of this story. Linda fought like a lioness to keep the family going and together.
Often a sad story but well worth a read. It's a different view of London in the early 1960s, although Carnaby Street and Swinging London are in there too. Alan Johnson aspired to be a pop singer and despite all the odds stacked against him did achieve some early success before fate intervened and he ended up taking the political road instead. On the night he met his first wife he was at a party where Nights in White Satin by The Moody Blues was playing on the record player and observes how songs can spirit you instantly back to the past. ...more