Quick sum up: Most of this book was pretty terrible. The awful love triangle keeps trying to take over wh...more 3 Stars - Review when I get back from holiday
Quick sum up: Most of this book was pretty terrible. The awful love triangle keeps trying to take over what little plot there is and the whole book is even more poorly paced than the previous ones. But it is very readable.(less)
Another fun little novel from my childhood by Dick King-Smith. A bit of a departure from his normal ‘farmyard fantasy’ (Dick King-Smith is a pr...more 4 Stars
Another fun little novel from my childhood by Dick King-Smith. A bit of a departure from his normal ‘farmyard fantasy’ (Dick King-Smith is a prolific author of books featuring talking pigs, mice, and various other animals), Tumbleweed is a fantasy-comedy featuring a very clumsy, nervous, knight who meets a friendly witch, befriends a lion and a unicorn, and goes off in search of damsel to rescue from a dragon.
As a kid I loved stories of knights and castles, so when, aged about 8 or 9, I picked this up for weekly ‘read aloud’ sessions with one of my primary school’s teaching assistants, I absolutely adored it – despite it being a very short and easy read. So my four stars rather than three is completely driven by nostalgia. It’s probably one of those children’s books that’s best read when you either are a child or have children to read it to/with. But it is fun – and I did love Jones, the Welsh Dragon – I hadn’t picked up originally that he used actual Welsh speaking patterns so that got a little laugh out of me, I could definitely hear the accent when I read it this time. It also has some fun jokes and really cute cartoonish black and white illustrations that I don’t remember from reading as a child, but really loved this time around.
If you’re reading with kids and like to discuss themes and messages with them then it’s got a couple of those too; ‘what is courage?’/'can you be brave and afraid?’, as well as judging people on appearances, what makes a good friend, and the morality of taking credit for other people’s actions.
Not as totally awesome as I remember, but still a cute and funny story aimed pretty squarely at younger readers.(less)
So far have just just skimmed over the section dealing with the period I'm studying (The Crusader Kingdom pp.207-274). Plan on sitting down and readin...moreSo far have just just skimmed over the section dealing with the period I'm studying (The Crusader Kingdom pp.207-274). Plan on sitting down and reading it cover to cover sometime after I finish my degree.
You can tell it's aimed at mass market (no bad thing) because it's accessable enough that there's no need for any prior knowledge of the subject. Montefiore takes a very readable narrative and 'great men' approach; rattling through all the different rulers and what happened in their reigns. This meant, in the section I've read so far, that it almost seemed more like a history of the kings of Jerusalem than of the city in some places. But then the kings and queens of Jerusalem were a pretty interesting bunch.
As a basic overview it works pretty well, but don't expect accademic analysis or questioning - it's a narrative, not an argument. This meant that there were points when certain things I might contend with are stated as fact and that I was slightly disappointed that some things weren't really touched on as much as I would have liked. But given that the book covers 3,000 years, of which the period I'm familiar with is only a tiny part, I wasn't expecting much more than an overview and some basic context - and the book does this well.
I will definitely be reading the rest of this book once I've finished my degree and can read history books for fun once more. Will be taking some of the statements with a grain of salt though - there is always more than one opinion about how things happened and what bits are the most important to include.(less)
I love J.K. Rowling so fucking much. Harry Potter, her ridiculously huge donations to charity, and then thisthis cover anyway, it’s fucking b...more 4.5 Stars
I love J.K. Rowling so fucking much. Harry Potter, her ridiculously huge donations to charity, and then thisthis cover anyway, it’s fucking bland – the original illustrated red cover on the hardbacks I would totally have picked up) and I was prepared for anything from mild disappointment to vehement dislike, judging on the mixed reviews it recieved, but actually I really really liked it. It’s not going to be for every Harry Potter fan of course, and I can understand why so many of them really didn’t like it – it’s bleak, it’s depressing, it’s full of swearwords and sex, it’s very very mundane, and none of the characters are really ‘likeable’. But that’s actually what I liked about this book. It was 'ordinary', but it felt incredibly realistic. And doubly so because I actually live in a town very very like the fictional Pagford myself.
I’m not in the West Country, like Pagford and Yarvil, and my hometown’s probably a bit bigger, less chocolate-box pretty, and less self-important than Pagford, but I am in a staunchly conservative, overwhelmingly middle class, almost entirely white town in rural England. I even have old-schoolfriends (so guys only in their twenties) who do fucking door to door canvasing for the tories – it’s that sort of place. So yeah, lots and lots of the social issues this book examines, and lots of the characters and attitudes felt familiar to me. The classism, the disdain for people in council housing/on benefits/dealing with addiction, the ignorance surrounding other cultures, the ridiculous self-importance of local politics, and the general smug, superior attitude of some of the characters.
And those characters, though not always likeable, were brilliantly complex and realistic. The Casual Vacancy is in fact almost more about the character studies than about the story. There are no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’. Like real people, everyone has their own flaws and motivations. So Krystal, the sixteen-year-old who brings up her baby brother on a council estate, constantly trying to get her mother to quit drugs, is no self-sacrificing saint but is also a foul mouthed teen who will beat you up for being related to the wrong person. And Parminder the parish councillor and local GP who gives everything to the community is a pushy parent completely oblivious to her own daughters utter misery or the racist bullying she faces. While Samantha; loud, brash, snide, and obnoxiously petty, can sometimes be very sympathetic in her utter hatred of the place and the people she spends time with. The only character I could find absolutely nothing to like or sympathise with was ‘Fats’, the middle-class teenager determined to find himself and be ‘authentic’ by being a total shit to everybody.
The story starts with the death of popular Parish Councillor, Barry Fairbrother, and follows the reactions of individuals and the community, to his death. But as well as leaving behind a grieving widow, children, and friends, he also leaves a seat on the parish council to be filled – and it isn’t long before both ends of the local political spectrum are pushing for their own candidates to give them the winning edge in the debate on whether to cut off the local council estate and close down the addiction centre. As I said, it’s a pretty mundane in terms of story and setting. But what it does do, the characters, and the way it peels off the veneer of ‘pretty little quaint english town’ to highlight very real social issues, it does very very well.
I can imagine this is quite a divisive book, but I loved it. And I’ll definitely be lending my copy to my best friend next time I visit her in London. Because I just know that it will remind her of home (and certain people here) too.
Of note – for those that have already read the book – the goodreads exclusive Rowling did on crafting her characters for this book is a really interesting read. Warning: contains massive spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet.(less)
Without a doubt the darkest volume of Fables yet, this volume is also the best addition to the series for a long time. It’s not up to early Fab...more 4 Stars
Without a doubt the darkest volume of Fables yet, this volume is also the best addition to the series for a long time. It’s not up to early Fables standards, and I’m still not quite sure that the series was best served by continuing after the main plotline of the Adversary was concluded, rather than ending it on a satisfying, epic conclusion – Fables has been starting to show the wear and tear of a story stretched out beyond it’s initial plotline for a while now – but this has restored some of my faith.
I can’t really say I enjoyed this volume, it’s a pretty horrible story, but it was also a very powerful one. The cubs have been a constant presence in Fables since their introduction but, apart perhaps from Ambrose, I’ve always found them rather one-note and rather underdeveloped until these last two volumes – almost indistinguishable save by their gender and hair colours. Yet Cubs in Toyland, despite a few pacing issues, got me invested in their fates and managed to land some pretty emotional punches too.
And the artwork, I’m sure, played a big part in that. I’ve loved Mark Buckingham’s art since the beginning of course (though his Pinocchio took some getting used to) but it worked particularly well in this story. If you want bleak, hopeless, and more than a little terrifying, he’s obviously your guy.
As for the story. I’m not quite sure how and where it fits into the wider Fables plots going on at the moment, but obviously it’s going to have a huge impact on the Bigby/Snow family in future books. Therese (the blonde girl cub) is magically kidnapped by a creepyass toy boat and taken to a creepyass magical Toyland peopled by broken dolls and dismembered teddybears who declare her their queen. Only living in a decaying castle full of decaying toys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (who knew?) and in a land of inanimate objects there is nothing for a human girl to eat. It’s up to her family, and particularly her brother, ‘pack leader’, Darien, to find and rescue her before she slowly starves to death.
As well as the Toyland plotline we also got a look in on the training of the new North Wind (my joint-favourite of the cubs), an intriguing vision of their future (my least favourite bit of artwork in the volume – magic hair colour change and stupid posing), a short story from Bigby Wolf’s past that promises an interesting future for another of the cubs, and the set up for nasty bit of backstabbing and treachery down the line in the main Fabletown plot too.
As I said, this book has a few pacing issues, the conclusion isn’t entirely satisfactory, and could probably do with a bit more exposition about certain plot elements, but it is the most raw and powerful instalment Fables has had in while. So while not ‘enjoyable’ per se, and while still far from my favourite volume, it still gets a high star rating from me.
But I will be happy to get back to the grown-up, better developed cast in the next volume.(less)
I hesitate to call this book the best in the series only because Rivers of London holds a very special place in my heart that is absolutely...more 4.75 Stars
I hesitate to call this book the best in the series only because Rivers of London holds a very special place in my heart that is absolutely impossible to replace. It was an impulse buy and the first book I read after seeking help to manage my depression – and as such marked the first time I had managed to truly and unreservedly enjoy anything for months, possibly years. But, if I try to remove that from the equation, Broken Homes is definitely the best written and best plotted of the Peter Grant books so far and, without a doubt, has the most exciting climax.
A brief explanation for the uninitiated – Peter Grant is a London Police officer. He is also an apprentice magician. In that order. One of the best and most unique elements of this urban fantasy series is that – though there might be magicians, river goddesses, dryads and fairies – it’s actually very ‘realistic’ in tone. Peter and his partner, Lesley, do real policework, not the ‘maverick cop’ or ‘lose cannon’ stuff you see in most crime novels and TV, but real PC plod stuff, slowly putting together a case and working with, rather than against, their superior officers. It's a really refreshing approach - though often the rest of the police would really rather not have anything to do with the ‘weird shit’ Peter’s department specialises in.
So when said ‘weird shit’ starts happening, mutilated bodies turning up in the woods, a man cooked from the inside out, a very suspicious suicide, and a stolen book of magical spells, Peter is the one who has to piece it all together while the local police work on their separate murder enquiries. And all clues seem to lead to a council tower-block in South London, and Peter’s nemesis, the Faceless Man.
It’s a bit slow to get started at first, with Peter being given case after seemingly unconnected case and the links between them forming quite slowly. For the first few chapters, I actually quite enjoyed that, it’s part of the ‘realism’ of the series and I really like the way Peter describes crime scenes and police procedure. Around the point where there was an interlude for Peter and Lesley to police a magical festival I got a little irritated though. It seemed a bit plonked down and nothing to do with anything, the net result of it only being a couple of slightly tiresome ‘why aren’t you fucking Beverly?’ conversations later in the book (Peter’s narration is really best when it’s not talking about women he fancies). But after that brief interlude things really started to come together again and the last half of the book is absolutely brilliant.
I just love this series (with the exception of the second book). The characters are great – more so now that Lesley has moved from ‘romantic interest’ to ‘close friend’ – the magic system is unique, and it’s just full of oddball but wonderful ideas. The narration, a first person account from Peter, is really well done, and London is portrayed as the diverse city it really is rather than peopled (and policed) by exclusively straight white dudes. The series keeps adding to the rich world-building with each book and there’s lots of new stuff to learn here without it ever really feeling particularly info-dumpy.
This book also turns the Faceless Man into a real threat for me. Maybe he already was, but he was introduced in Moon Over Soho and I found that book so crushingly disappointing (lots of too-stupid-to-live moments and sex scenes that jarred with the tone) that I’m not sure I really took in much about him until this book. But, despite Peter’s boss Nightingale insisting that he’s ‘no Moriarty’, this book showed him to be a calculating and very credible threat that I look forward to seeing more of (though I have to say that Moriarty is a shitty villain who was defeated in his first story by being pushed off a cliff, most master criminals in most books are better villains than Moriarty). Also, this book finally let Nightingale show off just how badass he is is and it was AWESOME. Finally a full on wizard's duel!
A really really great book with an absolutely brilliant ending. A couple of pacing issues in the first half are really all that’s holding me back from awarding five stars – but I am sorely tempted.
Very very much look forward to the next book in the series and I’m going to continue buying these in hardback the moment they’re released.(less)
This is one of the first books I read all by myself. My year one teacher, Mrs. Heath, kept a personal stash of decent children’s books in a cup...more 4 Stars
This is one of the first books I read all by myself. My year one teacher, Mrs. Heath, kept a personal stash of decent children’s books in a cupboard and after taking a week or so to ascertain that I was reading beyond the required level of ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper' she let me and a couple of others plunder from this cupboard as much as we liked during school hours – with the one stipulation that we couldn’t take the books home, so these books were read in short snatches during 'quiet reading time' and wet-play when it was too rainy to take breaks outside. So rereading this at almost 25 the first thing that strikes me is how much shorter it seems to be than when I was 5. It is still, however, a very fun little story about animals that it’s hard not to love. Seriously, who doesn’t love dodos?
‘Oh, Beatrice!’ cried Bertie. ‘You are the most beautiful dodo in the whole wide world.’
The whole wide world was, for the dodos (though they did not know this), a smallish island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There were no dodos anywhere else on earth.
The date (though they did not know this) was AD 1650, and before very long (and, luckily, they did not know this either) there would be no dodos anywhere at all on earth. The dodo would be extinct.
Or that’s what everybody has always thought.
So opens a very funny, charming little story about the extinction of an entire species.
Beatrice and Bertie, a young dodo couple are among the first to witness the arrival of the first ship carrying ‘sea-monkeys’ to their previously uncharted and uninhabited island. With no natural predators, the dodo are a naturally trusting (and comically stupid) bird, so it is to everyone’s horror when the sea-monkeys start massacring them for food.
Even when the sea-monkeys depart, leaving behind Sir Frances Drake, a friendly green parrot, the danger is not over yet. For the island has become infested with vicious rats from the ship and Bertie and Beatrice must be constantly vigilant to protect their newly laid egg. And when the rats begin to overun the island, Bertie, Beatrice and a small group of friends and relatives, led by Sir Frances Drake, put to sea in an abandoned boat to found a new dodo paradise elsewhere.
Of course it’s not exactly an accurate portrayal of how the dodos were wiped out – it took longer than the book implies, humans rarely ate dodo, and, as well as rats, deforestation and the introduction of domestic dogs, cats and pigs (now believed the most important factor) meant sudden competition for limited food. But it’s a nicely compressed kiddies version of the basic idea – and it is certainly the interpretation of the extinction that most people are familiar with (or at least that I was as a child interested in natural history in the 90s).
But what the book is, is a story that, despite not being historically accurate, does have a lot of educational value as an introduction to the concept of human-aided extinction and the environmental impact of invasive species, while also being a very funny book with loveable characters an exciting and fantastical plot and a silly but happy ending.
As one of Dick King-Smith’s less known books, I’m not sure if this story is even still in print but I do highly recommend it as a book for young children. At 79 pages it’s not intimidatingly long, and split into 12 chapters and a postscript it’s easy to digest in small chunks. The language is simple and easy for an early reader without the content of the story being patronising or babyish, it invites questions and discussion about natural history and extinction, and its got funny parts that both parents and kids can appreciate (I know I didn’t pick up on the Hamlet reference when I read it as a kid). Easily a four star read for me.(less)
Whilst the Sisters Grimm series still suffers from all the problems I went into a little in my last review – mainly inconsistent pacing, tone,...more4 Stars
Whilst the Sisters Grimm series still suffers from all the problems I went into a little in my last review – mainly inconsistent pacing, tone, and writing – I liked this book a lot more than Tales From the Hood. Finally, finally, the ‘mystery’ formula has been dropped to allow the overarching plot takes centre stage and the villain’s have started acting like the competent bad guys they appeared in the alternative future of Magic and other Misdemeanours and not the bumblingly ineffective bunch of petty villains with patchy motivations they have always appeared in the other books. This is a book that, to be honest, should probably have come a lot sooner in the series, but I am glad that, even if it only happened in book seven, the plot is making some forward movements.
The Everafter War picks right up where the story left off in Tales From the Hood, with Golidilocks and the three bears standing on the Grimms doorway offering to help break the sleeping spell put on Sabrina and Daphne’s parents. Only when they do wake up, it’s not quite as Sabrina was hoping. Her father still treat her and Daphne as if they’re the age they were when he fell asleep two years ago and it’s plain to see where Sabrina gets her bouts of total dickishness from. Henry Grimm vowed before his daughters were born that he would never return to Ferryport Landing and now he’s awake he fully intends to drag his family out of there, impending civil war or not. Instead of a joyful reunion, Sabrina and Daphne find themselves babied and witness to huge family arguments, bickering, and sulking.
Meanwhile the baddies in the Scarlet Hand have finally grown a backbone, the Sheriff of Nottingham amazing everyone when he actually uses the weapon he was pointing at someone. Army lines are being formed, side characters are being killed, and dragons are being released to terrorise the town. The dark future Sabrina and Daphne caught a glimpse of in book five finally seems to be on its way.
Except…well it all happens a bit too suddenly really. When the Grimm family visit Charming’s rebel camp he and his followers have built a full on fort to protect themselves and their ranks have swollen through refugees from the town. Only…well all this has happened in a single day and Mr Canis’ flippant explanation that ‘we work fast around here‘ is one of the biggest arsepulls I’ve ever read. In one day (probably less than in fact), Charming has built a fort and declared war on the Scarlet Hand, Snow White has started training an army, Mr Canis’ memories have started to return ‘slowly‘ (lol) and the Scarlet Hand have conducted a campaign of fear extreme enough to drive every friendly everafter out of town. It just doesn’t add up, and when the author’s had 6 previous books to get this stuff rolling properly there’s absolutely no excuse for it.
Also I have to question the logic behind all the friendly everafters being able to find the fort no problem while all the unfriendly ones seem to find the task impossible. And why is it suddenly Charming in charge when it was Robin Hood and his Merry Men (surely a better choice of commander) who left to found it in the last book, with Charming really only tagging along. Robin Hood (in any incarnation) will always be much better than any fancypants Prince Charming.
But, niggles aside, this book steps up its game over most of the previous ones. There’s tension and deaths and big plot revelations (at least one of which is even surprising!). Because it doesn’t have the ‘detective mystery’ framework of the earlier books to hold it together it can sometimes feel a bit like lots one thing happening after another without much plot, but if the plot of the single book suffers, at least the plot of the overall series is being advanced.(less)
I’ve given all the previous books in this series four stars but that’s a probably bit misleading. Although I have really enjoy them that is des...more 3 Stars
I’ve given all the previous books in this series four stars but that’s a probably bit misleading. Although I have really enjoy them that is despite a lot of issues present throughout the series – but that came to a bit of a head for me in this book. The overarching plot is very drawn out with some of the books (2, 4, and 6 so far) failing to do anything much to advance it, Sabrina’s character development keeps going two step forwards in each book only to be followed by one step back in the next whilw no one else really gets much character development at all, and the writing is often a bit clumsy. Buckley’s method of opening each book in medias res with a snippet from the climax before going back a few days to start the story again at the beginning is only the most blatant example. Rather than adding to anticipation or tension, I find it detracts from it and tends to make the climaxes anti-climactic. What I have given the previous books four stars for is entertainment value - the execution isn't always great but it's a fun series full of neat ideas. This book had those good ideas but I didn’t find it anywhere near so fun to read.
And the primary reason for that was something that first cropped up to a lesser extent in the third book. Red Riding Hood’s portrayal and the way the characters view and describe her is horribly, horribly ableist. Sure, in book three she was the primary villain and set a Jaberwocky lose on the Grimms. But she’s also assumed to be suffering from PTSD and the language used about her was something I found genuinely jawdroppingly ignorant and offensive. ‘The little lunatic was probably having another delusion' 'Not the nutcase' 'She’s what we in the medical profession call a loopty loop' – the first two of these are from the heroines, Sabrina’s internal monologue and Daphne’s dialogue respectively, the last is from Red’s nurse. It’s all sorts of problematic and made worse by the fact that it is never called out or portrayed as a problem in the book. Only Robin Hood out of all the heroic characters registers any sort of concern for her treatment or outrage at the response that she isn’t getting any. Sabrina, who has been consistently told off for her rudeness and bigotry since book one and spends a lot of this book getting punished for having doubts about Mr Canis is never once told off for her use of ablest language about Red. Nobody in the book seems to have a problem with her being described as ‘crazy’ ‘nutcase’ ‘lunatic’ ‘disturbed’ or ‘delusional’. And a major part the plot pretty much revolves around her mental illness. I even get the impression in some parts that the author believes he's portraying it sympathetically.
It’s…eugh. If reading this series to or with a child I would strongly recommend a long talk about mental health, PTSD, and what is and is not acceptable language.
But away from the bits that made this a less fun than the previous books and onto the story! The last book ended with Mr Canis being arrested for crimes the Big Bad Wolf committed against Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother. In this book he goes to trial, with the Mad Hatter sitting as judge and half the jury members of the Scarlet Hand determined to find him guilty. The Grimm family employ Robin Hood and his Merry Men (litigation lawyers who sue from the rich to give to the poor) to defend him. But with the trial so prejudiced against Mr Canis, they have to do their own detective work to find out what really happened to Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.
Meanwhile Uncle Jacob is trying to track down Goldilocks, the only person who can break the sleeping spell on Sabrina and Daphne’s parents. With the help of Hans Christian Anderson’s travelling chest, the chase takes him and the girls from Venice to Paris as they try to persuade her to come back to Ferryport, where she will once again be trapped forever, to break the spell (why they don't just arrange to take Henry and Veronica out of Ferryport and meet her in the human world is a plothole that is never addressed).
But really, this book doesn’t do much to advance the ‘main plot’ at all until the very final page. The hellish vision of a future ruled by the Scarlet Hand is never mentioned, Prince Charming becoming a member of the red hand in the last book is resolved in this one without it ever serving any particular purpose, and the villainous Sherrif of Nottingham seems to act as the plot dictates, ignoring and flouting the law most of the time but then following it when the author wants the Grimm family to get off. It’s very weird and inconsistent and after the work done in the last book to make the Scarlet Hand a credible and real threat, this just helps to bring them right back down to incompetent mooks again in this one.
So yeah… this book is a lot more tied into the main plot than a couple of other books in the series (book 2 and particularly book 4 are very much ‘breather episodes’ from the main plot) but things are still very slow to move, and the way mental health is addressed here meant that I couldn’t enjoy it as much as previous books. (Though Robin Hood as a sexy redhead gets my approval – I’ve been a big fan of sexy redheads ever since the Weasleys.)(less)
My last couple of forays into non-fiction historical writing have been kind of disappointing three-star affairs. This book, however – whether i...more 4 Stars
My last couple of forays into non-fiction historical writing have been kind of disappointing three-star affairs. This book, however – whether it’s the more academic tone or simply the subject matter – I really enjoyed. First published in the 70′s it probably contains some disputed or out-of-date ideas and evidence by now, but it was one of (if not ‘the’) first academic texts to thoroughly examine women’s roles in Ancient Greece and Rome. So, as a woman who is interested in Ancient Greek and Rome, and who gets irritated with 50% of the worlds population being treated as unimportant – and sometimes even completely ignored – by history textbooks*, I had to read.
And it’s a very interesting read. Perhaps a little dry in places but I preferred that to an overly informal tone and I have read plenty much, much, drier – so I think this book probably got the balance about right for me. It’s well footnoted (always a plus, even if I don’t read every citation I like to know they are they in case I ever do want to check out the original source) but, most of all, the subject matter is really interesting. The book examines female roles from Ancient Greece – predominantly Athens as that’s where most of the literature and archaeological evidence comes from, but also Sparta and other city states which were generally lot more favourable towards women’s rights than ‘the birthplace of democracy’ was. From the more passive roles in Classical Greece it then moves through the Hellenistic period towards ancient Rome, where women, although second-class citizens, were considerably more free and even gasp allowed out of the house! It's political correctness gone mad, I tell you!
As someone who is more interested with Ancient Greek literature and legends than the ins and outs of city state politics (and who is less interested in Rome than Greece), I found the early chapters; discussing the iconography and roles of Greek Goddesses, the portrayal of women in Homer, and the way women were depicted in Classical tragedy and comedy, more interesting and more accessible than some of the chapters based more on the historical facts. But that’s a personal preference, and I do think Pomeroy gives enough context in this book that you don’t have to be an expert on the politics of ancient Athens or Rome to understand it.
Although the blurb asks many questions, Pomeroy avoids giving too many answers in the book. The evidence, both literary and archaeological, is sparse and fragmentary for anything to do with how the less privileged classes of Greeks and Romans lived. The literary evidence is almost entirely written by educated men and most histories of the period and analysis of the archaeological evidence has been done by men too. So often, rather than give a definitive answer, Pomeroy will promote a number of theories that both she and others have come up with. The only one of these I really couldn’t stand was when she mentions the Freudian Psychoanalytical approach to examine why male Greek playwrights wrote abut women in the way they did. I guess it was the 70s, but many Freudian ideas are now no longer regarded as sound in actual psychology so they need to start getting the fuck out of disciplines like History already. While there’s nothing, in theory, wrong with psychoanalysis and examining how a person’s childhood shapes the person they become, straight up Freudian psychoanalysis is full of all sorts of misogyny and bollocks and just needs to die. Also it's an approach that really works a lot better when you actually know something about the person's childhood and can use that to interpret how it informed their writing. If all you have is the writing, then you're just making shit up to fit your own theory - and that's just bad history.
Over all, though, a very interesting and informative book. A lot of the Greek stuff I was at least passingly familiar with from A level Classics and First-Year Ancient History modules, but there were several ways of looking and interpreting things (such as the case for female primogeniture in Homer and the Troy myth) that somehow I’d missed myself and had never been mentioned by my teachers, so that was really interesting for me in a really geeky way. Also I know shamefully little about Roman history beyond the bits everyone knows: ‘gladiators!’ ‘The occupation of Britain!’ ‘Baths!’ ‘Pompey!” and ‘Ripping off the Greek Gods, changing their names and stealing their myths!’ – so the chapters on Roman society were really informative for me as well. And I am glad (though not at all surprised) to see that Roman women weren’t treated quite so badly as the poor old Athenians were. Seriously, Athens was a shit place to live if you were a girl.
From the look of Amazon, most of Pomeroy’s works now seem to be out of print or really expensive, which is a shame. But if I ever spot one going cheap in a second-hand bookshop I will probably pick it up. I thought this was a very well written book that got the balance right between not patronising those familiar with the time frame and not alienating those who weren’t. Also, if anyone here is taking GCSE or AS/A level Classic Civs, I would really recommend reading the chapters on Homer and the Greek tragedies. I kind of wish I had.
* The introduction here contains the ridiculous examples of ancient history books where the word ‘women’ was not included in the indexes, and a book on Ancient Greece that stated the only two unenfranchised classes were ‘resident aliens’ and ‘slaves’, conveniently forgetting that no women of any social class in Greece were enfranchised either. But I'm sure the writers weren't actually misogynists - they just momentarily forgot that women existed, that's all! And then so did their proof-readers, editors, and publishers. And that's almost worse.(less)
Another sunny few days, another Jeeves and Wooster. I didn’t enjoy this one quite so much as The Code of the Woosters or other previous books b...more4 Stars
Another sunny few days, another Jeeves and Wooster. I didn’t enjoy this one quite so much as The Code of the Woosters or other previous books but I’d be very had pressed to try to pinpoint why.
Joy in the Morning (Jeeves in the Morning in the US) sees Bertie forced to visit the village of Steeple Bumpleigh to help facilitate a meeting between his Uncle Percy and the brilliantly named US businessman, J. Chichester Clam. Whilst there Bertie also becomes embroiled in an old schoolfriend’s increasingly disastrous attempts to win Uncle Percy’s permission to marry his ward and finds himself the very unwilling ‘snake in the grass’ to in ‘Stilton’ Cheesewright’s relationship with Bertie’s dreadful former fiancée, Florence Craye. Highlights include a fancy dress party, a house fire, a Sinbad the Sailor costume (complete with ginger whiskers), a staged robbery, an increasingly vindictive policeman and, of course, Bertie Wooster’s wonderfully narrated first-person perspective on everything.
All in all it’s typical Wodehouse stuff, very much of the same mould as the earlier Jeeves novels and short stories, which are all very much in the same mould as each other. So much so that every time my dad (being a fellow Wodehouse fan) catches me with a Jeeves and Wooster, after curiously inquiring which one, he always and invariably admits to not knowing whether he’s read it or not, asking for a plot point, and then going ‘well that pretty much describes all of them’. But, well, that’s all part of their charm. It’s like watching a favourite sitcom: you always know what you’re going to get when you pick one up. Not my favourite in the series, but still very enjoyable.(less)