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    Does anyone actually write reading in here? :-), cats, going to gigs, dreaming.
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  1. The Larkins are such great literary characters :-) but beware you may find yourself craving a 'Full English' for breakfast, probably with champagne as well
  2. Published in 1954. Airey Neave former prisoner of war himself (later to be murdered by the INLA in a bomb attack outside The House of Commons) based this factual book on interviews he conducted with Andree de Jongh (nickname Dedee) and known as the Little Cyclone. Dedee created the Comet Line, a resistance group that operated in Belgium and France and helped allied Airmen and soldiers return to the UK. This short book gives an account of their practices and the brave (extremely brave) people who daily risked their lives to help the war effort and bring the end of the occupation of their countries and aid the downfall of Hitler and Nazism. Hundreds of helpers including Dedee ended up in concentration camps in Germany. These ‘ordinary’ people who opened up their houses to the escapees, who stole or forged papers, who dealt on the black market to provide food, who moved the men from location to location. They were captured and tortured and imprisoned. Twenty-three were shot, one hundred and thirty three perished of starvation and brutality. But their sacrifices saved eight hundred men of the allies. Not just saving lives and adding to the pool of men able to keep on fighting but bolstering the moral of those airmen daily (and nightly) taking the war to Germany. Dedee was 24 in 1940 when she started the line. She herself escorted 118 servicemen over the Pyrenees. Dedee survived incarceration for more than two years. She was awarded the George Medal. After the war she trained as a nurse and was working in a hospital in Belgium at the time of the interviews with Neave. The chapters in this book are filled with courageous selfless people who sought to free their nations from tyranny. They worked long hard dangerous hours week in week out constantly living with fear of capture and potential death. Throughout the book I kept thinking of the many self-serving, greedy, corrupt and yes thieving politicians we now have here in the UK and around the world. Of course we have always had corrupt leaders, humanity doesn’t seem able to shake off these parasites. But when we compare their nefarious manipulations of people and state with the men and women of the escape lines……….. Perhaps next time we stand in a voting booth considering which politician to vote for we should ask ourselves would this man or woman risk their lives in the same way as the operators of the escape lines. If as I suspect the vast majority would result in a no then perhaps we are voting for the wrong people and perhaps the sacrifices of those brave people should teach us to challenge corruption and demand a better world. (steps down off soap box ) On reading up on this chapter of history on Wikipedia I found this quote about some of the numbers involved on all escape lines - "The authors of the official history of MI9 cite 2,373 British and Commonwealth servicemen and 2,700 Americans taken to Britain by such escape lines during the Second World War. The Royal Air Forces Escaping Society estimated that there were 14,000 helpers by 1945.[3]”"
  3. Laura McVeigh

    Thank you Mr HG another on added to the list.
  4. H E Bates

    Obviously I hope you'll like his books Luna but either way will be good to hear your opinion.
  5. H E Bates

    I've just finished this novel and enjoyed it so much I had to write up a small review and then on searching BGO I find we already have a thread for this book. So here are my thoughts on the book. Bates seems to be out of fashion these days. When I mention him to fellow readers they either don’t know his work or turn their noses up as if to say they wouldn’t bother with such mundane stuff. Published in 1949, set in Burma during WW2. Japan invades. A small English community fights its way to safety. Within this community we find the usual mix of tensions, sexual, racial, petty squabbles based on class and insularity, familiarity and contempt. Paterson, manager of a rice mill gathers what’s left of the community together for the journey north to India. Much to the annoyance of some of his fellow passengers he also takes his Burmese mistress and her brother. With an immediate connection we join them on the journey. Through the heat and the flora, the light and dust of Burma. Through the arguments, the mistakes and the deaths. This isn’t some hermetically sealed message, no literary undertone, no pretence of genius just the telling of a story. The enveloping us in a time and place, characters deep enough to relate to, sympathise with, envy or despise. But not too deep that the well of wishes turns to delusion and literary allusion. A short novel, one that encompasses so much of human history. Invasion, empire building, suppression, rape of land and person, hidden hatred, hidden truths leading to laziness and failures then once again invasion. H. E. Bates never fails to make me care about his characters, he keeps me interested and wanting more.
  6. Thanks Tag, was just a thought. I'll stick to my old fashioned ways of logging off. As I use different computers it is for me a good habit to have.
  7. Thanks MM but I'm an old fashioned person who likes to log off sites :-)
  8. I was reading an article in a magazine for writers the other day and it was lamenting how difficult it is for writers to make a living these days. With the speedy demise of magazines, people paying less and less for books etc the article gave many examples of professional writers who were now struggling to make ends meet and were worried about their retirement because many of them had never earned enough to properly invest in a pension. So perhaps we may forgive the writer trying to create interest in their next project? But of course if it still rankles then perhaps an email to the publishing company? If they don't know the inclusion of the last line irritates the readers they will keep doing it.
  9. Not too sure if this is the right place to put this but here goes. Whilst reading a review by Mr HG I wanted to add the book to my Amazon wish list. So I then had to go into Amazon, sign in and find the book and then add to the wish list. I know, first world problems, but if we have technologies that can make things easier/quicker.................. Given that we have the Amazon link would there be some way for the computer wizards to have some link attached to the book's title that takes us straight to it in Amazon? I'm sure Amazon would be happy with this as it has the potential of increasing sales. Perhaps even the linking of names/passwords so that we go straight into our own account in Amazon? Though some may feel there might be a security risk? Maybe Amazon would want too much from us to facilitate the link? Be good if we could have a general discussion on it with a final decision by the MOD's.
  10. Magnus Mills

    I've never heard of this author MrHG so thanks for the review. The book sounds interesting, I'll add it to the never ending TBR.
  11. http://www.ett.org.uk/whats-on/silver-lining An English Touring Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston world première production On one dark and stormy night in the upper day room of the Silver Retirement Home, 5 elderly ladies are trading stories of their remarkable lives. With the storm floods rising and no rescue team in sight, the ladies are faced with the sudden realisation that in order to survive they are going to have to do what they have done for their entire lives – do it themselves! Silver Lining is the hilarious new comedy by Sandi Toksvig. It tells the tale of 5 extraordinary yet forgotten women, who come together one treacherous night to recreate The Great Escape – senior citizen style! This production contains strong language and sexual references. An age guidance of 12+ is recommended. I went to see this on Tuesday evening at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Highly recommended if you want a laugh out loud fairly fast paced comedy. My only gripe would be the way in which some of the backstories of the ladies were told. Instead of drip feeding into the story line they were often just info-dumped in one big block of talking which slowed the play down. But over all a great night out.
  12. I've just finished Full Dark House, my first Bryant & May book. For me it was the WW2 setting that drew me to this book but unfortunately I never really felt like it was wartime even though there were continual references to bombs, blackouts, rationing etc. I read this on audio and the narrator chose to give Arthur Bryant an old man's voice which just didn't work when the WW2 aspect of the story had Bryant at 22 years old (though I assume the reason for the older voice is because other books are set when he is an old man?). It took me a long time to settle in to this book but eventually I grew to like the characters and the multiple murder plot was intriguing enough to keep me reading. So I liked the characters but I don't know if I'll read anymore of them given the rest seem to set in modern times and I would much have preferred them to be set during the war.
  13. Chris Cleave

    I read this a few years ago and remember enjoying it but if I hadn't read your review Luna I couldn't have told you what it was about. Now where did I leave my brain ........
  14. Thanks iff, not heard of any of those but will keep an eye out for them. Haven't had time to type up my thoughts on my annual Keswick Film Fest yet but will post soon (hopefully!)
  15. Murakami’s third novel continues the story of the Rat, a character that featured in the first and second novel. The Rat is once again not the main character, more a catalyst for the exploration of mystery the unnamed narrator is sent on. Apart from the Rat I don’t think anyone is named in the novel. Even the narrator’s girlfriend is just talked about as she etc. As always Murakami heads down avenues of thought that on the surface seem commonplace but with just enough twist to make the tale seem surreal. I always come away from a Murakami book with more questions than answers and perhaps that’s another reason why I love them. They don’t explain everything. Life is mostly an unresolved wander to death and Murakami seems to reflect that in his writing. This novel seems to be the beginning of his interest (obsession?) with religion and cults. Having read some of his later novels I can now see the germinating seeds of thought in this novel. The story flowed easily as good tales of travel and mystery do, possibly making this a good place to start if you want to explore the other horizons found in Murakami’s work. Also even though it is the third in the Rat trilogy you don’t need to have read the first two to follow this story. http://www.murakamibooks.co.uk/books/info/?t=A-Wild-Sheep-Chase#reviewsbox-5