Monday, 9 September 2013

BLOG IDEAS (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

Finding your way inside the blog

The archive on the right lists items under the years when they were written. Further down on the right are the names of authors with a book reviewed on the blog.

And the blog itself just keeps on going downwards ...... in a spacial sense! When you come to the end - you haven't! Look for Older Posts and click on that.

Monday, 5 August 2013

An Italian detective.......and a British author.

Cover of "Back to Bologna"
Cover of Back to Bologna
Michael Dibdin's novels set in Italy featuring Commissario Aurelio Zen, an Italian maverick policeman, are set in a different parts of Italy, and one in Sicily. Sicily! The name alone makes you wince for the fate of a policeman in the home territory of the Mafia. He survives.
The Aurelio Zen books are:
  1. Ratking (1988)
  2. Vendetta (1990)
  3. Cabal (1992)
  4. Dead Lagoon (1994)
  5. Cosi Fan Tutti (1996)
  6. A Long Finish (1998)
  7. Blood Rain (1999)
  8. And Then You Die (2002)
  9. Medusa (2003)
  10. Back to Bologna (2005)
  11. End Games (2007)
 Start where you like, there may be brief references to an earlier story but nothing vital to enjoyment of the current one. You get a feeling of what it must be like to live with Italian bureaucracy and politicians  - and how similar they are to the British versions. Yes, corruption in public and business life; we have them too and they are continually coming to public knowledge. They have always been there. We just prefer to read of them in other countries, or at least I do. There is plenty of excitement and suspense, too; plus Zen's love life and his mother's influence.

Of his other books, the one I have read so far is set in the USA, in the Seattle area with scenes in Texas and the East. It is called Dark Spectre and shows an understanding of American life-styles and idiom. The latter put me off on my first try but when I later read the book to the end it was one element that made the story almost believable.

Unfortunately, Dibdin, a British born writer, died in 2007 at the early age of 60 after having settled finally in Seattle.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Professional Reviews

Follow the link to find hundreds of reviews.

Recently I found there a review of

Canada by Richard Ford

a most unusual story told through the eyes of a boy of school age who realises along with his slightly older sister that their parents have committed an astonishing crime. What happens to the boy as he grows to manhood in a remote part of Canada where he is taken to be looked after when his parents are ...........
Eight out of ten!

Finding this review reminded me of an earlier book by Richard Ford, The Sportswriter - the setting is American sport. But the intensity of the story makes the type or location of the sport irrelevant. It's a great read. Nine out of ten. And I intend to read 'Independence Day' when I get hold of a copy.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Crusader's Tomb by A J Cronin c. 1956 New English Library

I knew the story was not about medieval Crusaders from the illustration on the front cover. I also knew that I wanted very much to read the book when it was handed to me by a friend. The name of the author stirred a memory of enjoying a book by Cronin a very long time ago.

The story starts in a rectory in Sussex in the early years of the 20th century. The main character is a vicar's son with an Oxford education who fights family expectations of him remaining in the family rectory and continuing his father's work.

The hero Stephen Desmond travels in France and Spain and lives in Paris and London after he leaves home  on the Sussex Weald. When the 1st World War begins he refuses to return to England to join the army. By now fixed on enduring a life as an unacknowledged painter, he becomes in thrall to a circus girl and seeks her company by joining the company and doing instant portraits. Eventually returning to Sussex after the war is over, he moves on to London after painful public shame.

English life has changed for the worse since the war, reliable servants are no longer easily found - so says his sister a plain spinster resigned to looking after their father for the rest of her life.

Stephen has by now toughened himself to a life of poverty, and of painting for its own sake. Luckily, in Stepney he finds a life in painting the river Thames, boats and boatmen, in all weathers. Will he find a greater fulfillment, or does he even want one?

It sounds a very downbeat story but it is highly enjoyable. Open the book and enter a vanished Europe.