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About cherrypie

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    Permanent Resident
  • Birthday 14/11/61

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Bedfordshire, UK
  • Interests
    Reading!!! Spectator sport (esp. tennis and cricket), gardening, travelling when possible, getting together with friends & family
  • Current Book
    The Sound and The Fury - William Faulkner

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  1. RG bought me this book a few years ago when it came out in paperback knowing that I had read all the previous DI Lynley books. It has sat on our book shelves ever since. Like most detective series that I have ever read, and believe me there have been a few, I felt as if this one had simply run out of steam. Hence the time on the shelf! We were away in Norfolk last week and I thought that this would make a good holiday read. I have always loved the two main characters of the series, namely Lynley and his odd sidekick Barbara Havers, as well as a number of lesser characters who pop up from time to time and as I have not read one of these novels in a fair few years I felt that I stood the chance of coming to this one with a fresh view. The story concerns Hadiyyah Upman and her father Taymullah Azhar who are the neighbours of Barbara Havers. When Hadiyyah disappears from her father's home with her mother Angelina Barbara is as devastated as the little girl's father. She has lived next door to them for a number of years and has become very fond of them both. As Hadiyyah is known to be in the care of her mother and as Taymullah isn't even named on the little girl's birth certificate the police are not interested. Barbara takes Taymullah to see a private detective but when confusion regarding Hadiyyah's whereabouts deepens she decides to take matters into her own hands and force the hands of the Met. As in previous Lynley novels Barbara jumps in with both feet regardless of who she upsets along the way. Lynley tries to save her from herself but again as usual his advice falls on deaf ears. The novel started well and for the first two or three hundred pages held my interest with ease. However at this point, as with many of the other later novels in this series, at this point my interest began to wane. My interest picked up again during the last hundred pages or so although I was a bit disappointed with the climax of the story. The book was simply too long. The best thing about the book as far as I am concerned are the characters themselves. I was able to re-acquaint myself with a number of well loved characters and found that my love for them had not waned. I felt that the book made easy holiday reading and as such have even ordered the most up to date novel in the series in readiness for our next holiday!
  2. John Banville is an author that I have only recently discovered but am rapidly coming to love. This is the third novel of his that I have read and like the other two in my opinion it did not fail to deliver. His books tend to have a theme around which a slow story develops although it seems to me that the given theme is more the point of any of his books rather than any story so if you are looking for an action packed read I doubt that John Banville will be for you. Ancient light has two time lines, the 1950s when Alexander Cleave the main character of the book is 15 and Alexander's present day when he is in his mid fifties. The earlier time line is set in a small town in Ireland and describes Alex's illicit meetings with the 35 year old mother of his best friend. This is his first love although he has no idea why she has chosen him. He becomes totally obsessed with this woman. The second time line is set best part of a century later when Alex is grieving for the loss of his daughter. While trying to deal with his grief he recalls the affair and tries to make sense not just of the boy that he was then and the man that he has become but, as the back of the book describes, " the needs and frailties of the human heart." Once again this book is very character driven which is always a great bonus for me and in many places forces the reader to consider their own feelings as well as those of the main character. Once again the language used is superb. John Banville obviously loves words and has a wonderful ability to paint pictures using those words. In many places I felt almost as if I could feel the atmosphere in which Alex finds himself almost as well as Alex himself. This is a book I would highly recommend but as I have already said the story or stories themselves are pretty slow so if you crave action it is not for you. Once again a book that will remain with me for some time and may well be read again in the future.
  3. I finished this book last night having taken about a week to read it. The time taken to read it does not suggest that I loved the book, such books are rare and read in a couple of days if possible, but also did not suggest that I found it a struggle. Far from it. The book is easy to read although a little unsettling at times. From what I can understand the book is based on the author's own relationship with her younger sister who has a learning disability. At the beginning of the book Beth, the younger sister, is described as being mentally retarded. This is an expression which has long gone in these more enlightened days thank goodness. She is 39 and lives alone some distance from the rest of her family but does have a care team who monitor her progress fairly closely. She also has a long term boyfriend, Jesse, who lives alone too and suffers from a learning disability himself. She does not work to support herself although she has done for short periods in the past but spends her time riding the buses from early morning until early evening. She has friends amongst the drivers who look out for her but she is also disliked by other drivers and some passengers. At the beginning of the book she challenges her sister Rachel who has an extremely busy working life to spend a day a month riding the buses with her for a period of one year. Rachel agrees and begins to take more part in her sister's life learning as much about herself as she does about her sister. The book is written in two time lines, the present which is told in ordinary print and the sister's childhood which is told in italics. The book raises many issues concerning learning disability but also deals with life in general and what we all find important in life. It is described on the front of the book as being "an amazing book......it touched my soul.". I am not sure that I would describe it in quite such glowing terms although it is a good book. I felt that it started really well and held my interest until about half way through when I found that it began to drag a little. I expected the book to end in some sort of "light bulb" moment between the two sisters which never really came. In reality I was probably a little naive to expect this I now realise. We are all different with different needs, abilities and personalities. Having a learning disability does not negate this fact or fit a person into a certain box. The only conclusion that the book did come to if it came to one at all was that there are no real answers. With life in general as with learning disability we just have to deal with any situation in the best way that we can. An interesting read. Not quite the uplifting read I expected but maybe a bit more. If I had to describe it at all I think that I would have to say that it is thought provoking.
  4. what is everyone doing?

    Hope you enjoy it Momac. I know that you read Fair Stood the Wind for France fairly recently. The Purple Plain is written in much the same style but I felt that it felt a bit more real. The action intrudes upon the personal stories a little more which I know that both you and RG found a little odd about FSTWFF.
  5. The Purple Plain

    This is the fourth book by this author that I have read, excluding The Larkin novels of course, and my admiration for him is just growing and growing. If I was pushed I think that I would have to say that of the four this one may well be the best. It certainly reduced me to tears on more than one occasion! I found it to be virtually unputdownable, if there is such a word which I seriously doubt, and finished it almost out of breath myself. The book is based in Burma in 1943 and on the back of the book it states that it is about three men, Carrington, the young navigator, Blore, a flabby and frightened officer and Forrester, a pilot embittered by the death of his wife in the blitz, who are all aboard an RAF plane when it is forced to crash-land. What it does not tell you is that this only describes the second part of the book. The story is told by Forrester and although I would not necessarily describe the novel as a stream of consciousness novel at times in the book we are privy to his every thought. The first half of the novel leads the reader up to the fateful flight and the reader follows a couple of life changing days in the life of Forrester. At the beginning of the book Forrester hates just about everyone and just wants it all to be over. However thanks to Harris, the squadron doctor, he changes from a man that just wants to die to one that will do almost anything humanly possible to stay alive. The back of the book also says that the book will haunt you not just for it's suspense but also for it's portrayal of the three men. I would have to say that in my opinion, for once, this description is not an over exaggeration. The most wonderful thing about this book for me is the beauty and strength of the human spirit and the lengths to which, when pushed to their limit and beyond, individuals are prepared to go not just for themselves but for the sake of others which the book portrays. There are many wonderful characters apart from the main three, Harris the doctor, Burke an Irish nurse with a blistering temper, Miss Macnab a missionary and Anna a young Burmese girl who has marched across Burma from Rangoon with Miss Macnab and up to 500 others only to be one of the few to survive, mentions just a few of them. They all add to the overall impression of the human race trying to survive and find hope and comfort in the most trying of circumstances. The book also tells us a lot about our need for one another and the desperate affects of and fear of being alone. Just being needed to help others enables the human race to continue almost beyond human indurance when if we were trying just for ourselves we may well give up much sooner. I found this element of the book very humbling. RG and I saw the film of Dunkirk earlier this week and after the film he said that he was not sure that such an operation could take place today as we are so insular these days and many are less willing to help others. I sincerely hope that he is wrong but have to say that this book left me with a similar feeling. My only hope is that "if push came to shove" we would find a way. I found this to be a wonderful book and suspect that I will not read many as good this year. I would highly recommend it.
  6. Fair Stood The Wind For France

    Having read a few books by this author the fact that the danger was implied rather than being completely "in the face" of any reader did not completely surprise me. I find his writing, apart from the Larkin books of course which were all very different, to be very understated and the stories to be as much about the atmosphere that he was so very good at creating as about the stories themselves. With this story in particular, as you have suggested Momac, I felt that his main point was to emphasis the strength of human nature when faced with danger and the pride that we all like to feel in our own nation. The story also emphasises the fact that love can blossom in the most difficult of circumstances. Not your more obvious of war stories I must admit but I did not feel that it was any the less powerful because of that.
  7. I was leant this book by a friend who described it as being a bit like The Kite Runner but much easier to read and it actually states on the front cover of the book that if you like The Kite Runner you will love this true story. It is true that the book is easy to read, in fact I found the language used a bit basic although it does have to be remembered that English is not necessarily the first language of the author. The story starts in 1978 when a small boy, Mohammed Khan, and his younger sister are snatched from their English mother by their Pakistani father and taken to Pakistan. After a few years they are bought back to England to live with an aunt until their father again returns to England bringing his Pakistani wife and family with him. The family all moves in together and life is fairly happy for Mohammed until his father dies unexpectedly and he falls into the hands of his stepmother's sadistic brother Rafiq. The next few years of Mohammed's life are horrible in ways that he could never have imagined. This true story is certainly worth reading and at times made me cringe with the horror of it. My biggest criticism is that there is a fairly long build up to what I think to be the main part of the book which really was absorbing reading for a short time followed by a rather long and drawn out wind down. The end of the book then comes in a bit of a rush and is all over before the reader knows where he is. This is an horrific true story and well worth having been written I just wonder if it could have been told a little better. Having said that I do feel that it is a worth while read. Maybe not on the same level as The Kite Runner but certainly an amazing story of a young boys race for survival from a relentless nightmare of devastating betrayal and unthinkable cruelty against all the odds.
  8. The Sound and the Fury

    Thanks for the advice Binker and Luna. I might give Absalom, Absalom a miss for now but may well try one of the other two. Not sure if I am quite ready for something even more demanding than The Sound and the Fury just yet!!
  9. The Sound and the Fury

    I bought this book a while ago following the comments of other BGO readers on various threads throughout the site. It has been sitting on my book shelf for a while as although other readers had praised the book they had also stated what a difficult read it was. They were not wrong there! As usual for me I started the book without reading the description on the back of the book or the comments on this thread. I always like to come to a book knowing as little about it as possible to avoid spoiling anything. Having now finished the book and read through most of the discussion here I am not sure whether in this particular case that was a good idea! I have especially enjoyed Binker's comments and advice on reading the book and in some ways I wish that I had read her spoilers before starting the book. Having read through the discussion however I think that in some ways I am glad that I read the book cold. From all that I have read here it seems that I have understood the book pretty well which I find rather rewarding. I found the first two sections told by Benjy and his older brother Quentin really difficult although strangely compelling reading. While reading the two sections I told RG that I felt as if I was reading through a fog. Every so often the fog would clear a little and I would feel as if I was beginning to get a grip on both the story and the characters involved only for the fog to thicken again and be back in total confusion. I plodded on in the hope that all would eventually become clear. I could not help but believe that at least some of the story would become clear as so many other readers had praised the book. I am so glad that I persevered. Unlike many other readers I loved the third section told by Jason the eldest brother. He really has to be one of the most horrible of characters! His bitterness oozed from him. His attitudes revolted me but somehow they made his character more real for me too. I like to feel something for my characters and although I felt nothing but revulsion for Jason I found the book difficult to put down while reading his section. Like many other readers I found the fourth section a little of a let down. It was far easier to read than the first two but nowhere near as compelling reading as the third section. By the end of the book I felt as if I had understood most of what had happened to bring the Compson family to their present position although I am sure that some of the deeper meanings of the book passed me by. The Compson family really are a pretty awful bunch of people. Living with such little love or concern for one another just led to the break down of the family. While reading the book I thought that I would not be reading anymore of Faulkner. Having finished it I am not so sure. Although a difficult read it really is a brilliant book. I am very glad that I carried on through my difficulties and finished the book. It has been a really rewarding read.
  10. The Blue Guitar

    Look forward to reading what you think of it Binker. I hope you find it as engrossing as I did.
  11. Fair Stood The Wind For France

    I loved both Love for Lydia and The Jacaranda Tree too Meg. Along with The Larkin novels and Fair Stood the Wind for France they are the only H E Bates novels that I have read too but I do have his two novels set in India on my TBR shelf. I am glad to see that others are beginning to read him too. As Momac has said he has a way of drawing the reader into his books. At times I felt as if I was there with the characters, almost looking over their shoulders. He certainly made me care about the outcomes of the three main novels which I always feel is an indication of a good writer.
  12. The Blue Guitar

    Thank you for your kind remarks Dan and Luna. I love reading the comments of other BGO readers and have read many books based on such postings. Like you Dan I have read very little Banville but have loved what I have read so much so that I have ordered Ancient Light today.
  13. I bought this book earlier this year at random having read The Sea by the same author. Although not necessarily an easy read I felt The Sea to be compelling reading and had high hopes of this book merely because it was by the same author. I did not even bother to read what the book was about before buying it I was that sure of the author! I was not disappointed! The story is told by one person, the main character Oliver Orme, who describes himself as a thief and successful painter. As he admits himself he always desires what belongs to others to such an extent that he has an affair with his best friends' wife. When his friend finds out about the affair instead of facing the fallout Oliver simply runs away and ends up at his old childhood home. He finds himself unable to paint and tries through memories of the past to work out how he has arrived at this point in his life having so casually ruined not only his own life but also those of the people who mean the most to him. Once again I have found Banville to be a compelling read, I simply did not want to put the book down. The language used is wonderful and Orme himself although a completely self absorbed and selfish person is strangely likable as he slowly comes to terms with the mess that he has made and how little he has left himself with. The reader spends virtually of the whole of the book within the mind of Oliver Orme and is made aware of his every thought. I felt that I was in a strange way learning a little about myself as Oliver admitted his failings to himself and dealt with not just his present feelings but his feelings too about past events. Sounds a bit over the top I know but Banville seems to understand the human state to such an event that some of the conclusions that Orme comes to about himself and his life could apply to almost anybody. He seems to think about things that I have thought too but have not realised! A book that I am sorry to finish. As stories go not a great deal happens but the characterisation is brilliant. I think that I need to order another Banville book! One I would recommend.
  14. Fair Stood The Wind For France

    Think you will enjoy it Momac. I have suggested that RG read it but as he has just finished Birdsong I suspect that he may want to read something a bit less demanding next! I have a couple of other books by H E Bates which I am looking forward to. I find his characters very real and the feelings that they describe very human. It is a shame that he is considered a little old fashioned now and so less widely read.
  15. I was lent this book some time ago and for some reason have kept bypassing it when choosing a fresh book to read. However I felt like a change and so without reading the back of the book I decided to give this book a go. Am I glad I did! The book tells of the lives of four people, Lynnie a women with an intellectual disability and Homan a deaf man with only sign language to guide him both of whom have escaped from The school for the Incurable and Feebleminded, Lynnies daughter Julia and Martha who answers their desperate knock on her door while they are on the run. The story has a number of storytellers and moves easily between them all as the years unfold. The reader slowly learns about the brutal institutions to which those with learning disabilities were sent. The book starts in 1968 and finishes in 2011 and the reader travels with the four through some harrowing times. It is the sort of book which will make you cry in many places but will also make you smile. Although it tells of the horrible lives which some of the most vulnerable in society have been forced to live it also tells of great love and great kindnesses. I loved this book and found it very difficult to put down. In fact I read it in just a few days. Certainly one which will stay with me and certainly one which I would recommend. The characters were very well drawn and easily believable and the story was beautifully told. I was really sorry to come to the end. The Story of Beautiful Girl is described on the back cover as "a mesmerising novel which will captivate readers everywhere." For once I did not feel the praise to be over egged!