Archive > November 2011

Cloyne Court

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Cloyne Court (Paperback) By (author) Dodie Katague, book reviewStudent days are for many people the best days of their lives. Free at last from parental supervision and not yet encumbered by the responsibilities of work, marriage and mortgages, the years at university can be fantastic – more so perhaps in the past before the introduction of massive student loans and tuition fees. Cloyne Court by Dodie Katague is a student ‘coming of age’ novel set in one of the wildest times and settings. As California turned on, tuned in and dropped out in the mid-1970s Berkeley students benefited from the widespread availability of drugs (many of them not yet illegal), access to the pill and plenty of alcohol and made the most of what life had to offer. It was a time before the shadow of AIDS fell across promiscuity and drug use when the sense of ‘anything goes’ was on the increase. At that time there was surely no place wilder or more easy-going than Cloyne Court – a co-ed (i.e, mixed gender) student co-operative.


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Murky Undercurrents

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The Muddy River, P. A. Krishnan, book reviewLike its title, Muddy River is a very muddy indeed, a murky tale of a kidnapping and bureaucrat Ramesh Chandran’s quest to have the victim released from a group of terrorists with politicians and policemen clouding the issue even further. Chandran turns his quest into a novel – which is presented to the reader in typewriter font and this is occasionally commented on by his two friends, one a Bengali and the other a British lecturer based in Ampleforth and reviewed by his wife, Sukanya who also occasionally enters the story.

Chandran and Sukanya have a tragic history – they have lost their five year old daughter Priya which has created divisions between husband and wife.


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1222

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1222 by Anne Holt, book review“Twenty-four hours ago, there were 269 people on board a train. Then we became 196. When two men died, we were 194. Now there were only 118 of us left. I thought about Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I immediately tried to dismiss the thought. And Then There Were None is a story that doesn’t exactly have a happy ending.”

On her way to a medical appointment in Bergen, wheelchair bound former police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen is injured when the train she is travelling in is derailed during one of the worst blizzards in Norwegian history. She passed out when a piece of metal is impaled in her thigh and when she comes round finds herself with the other passengers in Finse 1222, a hotel so called because of its height above sea level.


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What They Do in the Dark

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What They Do in the Dark,  Amanda Coe, book reviewWhat They Do in the Dark is a story about childhood in the 1970s, and opens with a chapter evoking 1970s nostalgia. Gemma describes her regular Saturday routine, going swimming with her friend, then buying comics and sweets in the shop, before going home to watch her favourite telly programme, It’s Lallie. Lallie is just 11, one year older than Gemma, and in the programme is on her own with servants in a mansion, enviably free from adult controls over what she does.

Pauline is dirty and smelly, from a poor underclass family. No one wants to be her friend, certainly not Gemma. She is very keen though to talk to Gemma, and Gemma finds herself inexorably drawn towards Pauline’s ideas.


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The Red Ants: The Evolution of a Novel

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Martin PevsnerCurious Book Fans are grateful to author Martin Pevsner for revealing to our readers the creative process and the background of his second novel The Red Ants.

This last twelve months have been a time of great change for me. After fourteen years teaching English language at a local further education college in Oxford, mainly to asylum seekers and refugees, I quit my job. I found a new one a few weeks later. For the first time since graduating over twenty-five years ago I have found employment in a non-teaching capacity. It feels very liberating.

Equally exciting, I had my first book published this time last year, a novel called Divinity Road (Signal Books), set mainly in Oxford and Africa, that sought to describe the vulnerability of life as an asylum seeker (see review here). Needless to say much of the inspiration for the novel came from my relationships with students over the years.


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The Red Ants – Prologue

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©Martin Pevsner 2011

You wake though you can’t remember sleeping, one moment you’re hunched between lawnmower and wheelbarrow, sideways prone on damp shed floor, strands of dried grass clinging to your cheek, shivering cold in midnight hour. Then next you’re jerked alive, scrabbling to your feet, peering through smeary window at the pale dawn.

Someone’s lying in the garden no more than ten feet away. You peer more closely. The back is to you but the shape looks female. You are pretty sure she wasn’t there last night. You wonder if she could be asleep, imagine her stirring, sitting up, yawning. But you know it’s unlikely.

You stand for a few moments, your ear tuning in for sounds. At your feet lies the canvas bag filled with ipod and penknife, a few scrabbled clothes, your phone and the trumpet. You stand stock still straining to hear but the silence is eerie, no more screams of the hunted, no more back-and-forth calls of the huntsmen.


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The Night Before Christmas

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The Night Before Christmas, Scarlett Bailey, book reviewScarlett Bailey is a new author and The Night before Christmas is her first novel. For a début, it really is very good and is a lovely seasonal read in the run up to Christmas. I pretty much loved all of it and it had an absorbing storyline that grabbed my attention and kept it from start to finish.

As the title would suggest, the story takes place over the Christmas period, culminating in all sorts of things going on during Christmas Eve. The central character is Lydia who, with her boyfriend Stephen, is heading to the Lake District ready to spend Christmas with her closest friends, Katy, Alex and Joanna.


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Monsters in the Movies

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Monsters in the Movies (Hardback) by John Landis, book reviewJohn Landis, writer and director of films such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “An American Werewolf in London,” among many others, has put together this superb tome that gives a guide to a huge range of monsters from the world of film. Lovers of vampires, zombies and ghosts can feast their eyes on these fantastical creatures in the images, principally from the Kobal Collection, that are reproduced here. In his introduction, Landis describes the book as “a pictorial overview of monsters from the movies” that he thinks are “cool.” He aims to be entertaining rather than scholarly.


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Golden Treasury

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The Best of Quest, Laeeq Futehally, Achal Prabhala , Arshia Sattar , book reviewI started with an article by Professor P Lal, a rejoinder to Jyotirmoy Datta, on why he wrote in English, ‘We do not write in English because it is a pan-Indian language of the educated; we write because we cannot write as well in any other language’, revisiting the incisive words of the man who was the doyen of Indian Writing in English, or Indo Anglian literature. Then I went onto Khushwant Singh at his vigorous best writing about Delhi, in a collating of some of his columns. There was a piece about the notorious Sashtibrata, writing letters in English for Delhi’s shoeshine boys and turning up in rags at tatters at the Delhi offices of The Statesman.

And of course, there were the usual subjects, s review of Nirad C Chaudhuri’s Continent of Circe, an interview of Naipaul by Adrian Rowe-Evans, a review by Saleem Peeradina on Satyajit Ray’s films.

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The Litigators

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The Litigators , John Grisham, book reviewA few years ago I was an avid reader of John Grisham books but recently seemed to lose interest in them. However, when I saw his latest book, The Litigators, it caught my interest and I decided to give him another go. I am really glad that I did as I really enjoyed this book and it has rekindled my interest in John Grisham so much so that he is now firmly back on my ‘must read’ list!

The Litigators seems to be a typical John Grisham legal thriller and courtroom drama where the little man takes on the big guns. In this case the little men are the ’boutique’ firm of Finley and Figg and the big guns are a pharmaceutical company called Arrick which has a drug on the market called Krayoxx that is designed to reduce cholesterol levels in overweight people.


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