Newsletter No 30 (Jun 19th, 2012)

Hi,
Do you really need an introduction to the summaries of book reviews compiled in the newsletter? In this complicated world let’s make it simple this time if you promise to keep reading the newsletter and I promise that you won’t be disappointed by our choice.
Sincerely Yours,
Curious Book Fans

Tolstoy by A. N. Wilson

There have been countless works devoted to the Russian author, a man whose colourful life and complex beliefs make for a thoroughly thrilling and entertaining biographical work, but this one stands out thanks to Wilson’s engaging style which presents key periods of Tolstoy’s life against the backdrop of nineteenth century Russia, showing how the prevailing ideas and politics influenced his thinking.

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We Had it So Good by Linda Grant

Some people believe that life consists of a series of problems with solutions, whereas others believe that there are simply situations which have their own internal life and momentum. This difference is an important one in We Had it So Good by Linda Grant.

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HHhH by Laurent Binet

HHhH is Laurent Binet’s first novel and won two major literary prizes in France. It tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during the second world war, the events leading up to it and some of its aftermath. It is, therefore, a work of historical fiction, telling a story which I knew in outline, but in a way which made it seem fresh.

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Booze for Free by Andy Hamilton

With the Chancellor adding another couple of pence to the price of a pint, those who enjoy a tipple might well think of making their own booze. For those who decide to go for it, Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free is a highly useful read. 

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The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper by James Carnac

I am far from being a ripperologist, but do have an interest in true crime and have read a number of books about Jack in the past. The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper is something quite different from other things I have read, however.

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The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

There are many strong aspects to this novel – the voice and personality of Judith, her relationship with her father, the portrayal of the Church and its congregation and the reality of bullying in the school. There are also some unexpected aspects…

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The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco Da Gama by Nigel Cliff

In the late fifteenth century, the small country of Portugal was neither particularly rich nor particularly significant. One of the five Kingdoms of Spain that had arisen in the wake of the Spanish Crusades, the young country was “Europe’s Wild West”; a poor cousin in largely backwater corner of the world.[read more…]

A Mountain of Crumbs – Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain by Elena Gorokhova

What I love are the “Here’s my life. I’m nobody you’ve ever heard of or ever met, but this is my story – take it or leave it”. Such a book – and a fine example indeed – is Elena Gorokhova’s book A Mountain of Crumbs – Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain.

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The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell

The Making of Us is about a set of disparate people who have never met but who are intrinsically linked by a twist of fate – they all share the same father. This would not be so unusual were it not for the fact that their mothers had never met their father either…

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The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki

The Flying Man of the title is Maqil but he could more accurately be called the Fleeing Man because that’s what Maqil does. He makes his fortune, makes a mess and then makes a speedy exit.

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Ten Years On by Alice Peterson

Ten Years On is the latest book from Alice Peterson and tells the story of Rebecca and Joe who, as the title might suggest, have not seen each other for ten years. A lot has happened in the intervening years and it is only because of a devastating turn of events that they meet up again.

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Tamarind City: Where Modern India Began by Bishwanath Ghosh

A city is a lot like a woman. You may fall for it because of a certain physical attribute — the eyes, the smile, the dimple…That is how Bishwanath Ghosh looks at Chennai in his Tamarind City.

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That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba

That Woman by Anne Sebba is a biography of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, wife of the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII, and blamed for his decision to abdicate in 1936. Hated by the royal family, particularly Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and mocked by society, history has painted her as a manipulative and cunning woman…

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The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

The Lost Wife is a painful but worthwhile read. For all the details of the camps and the ill treatment of the prisoners, it is the portrait of a deep and unbreakable love that sticks in my memory. Highly recommended.

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Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s style of writing and always look forward to her new books with relish. I’ve just read her latest book, Before I Met You, and I have enjoyed it just as much as all her others. What I particularly liked though was the fact that it was also very different from her other books and was a really refreshing read.

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