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About Viccie

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    reading, writing, wine, dawdling around
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  1. I didn't enjoy this much either. Probably my least favourite of her books.
  2. One of my tour guests yesterday comes from Dallas and he shopped in that street too. He was dexcribing how one side of the street was untouched, the other flattened. I hadn't realised what a hnarrow path of havoc a tornado creats.
  3. I've had this on my wish list since seeing a pre-pubication piece on it. Sounds like it deserves its place.
  4. This very short book starts with an elderly man walking into a hotel room and shooting the even older occupant four times. He goes downstairs to the lobby, tells the receptionist to call the police and waits for them to arrive. So there's no mystery about who done it, just why done it, but Collini, the murderer, an Italian immigrant, refuses to tell his young lawyer why her killed a respĂȘcted and admired German businessman. I can't say that there are any grat surprises about the motivations, though the insights into German law are fascinating and the translation is fairly workmanlike but even so it grabbed me to the extent I couldn't put it down and finished it in a day. Some might find it too dry but I'd say definitely worth a go.
  5. The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie
  6. That must have been terrifying. The worst I've ever been in was what's called a hurricane in France even though I was told by an American visitor that it would only have been counted as a stiff wind in Florida. it was still frightening enough.
  7. Saroo Brierley was years old when, out on a nefarious expedition with his older brother, he crept into an empty train and fell asleep. By the time he was able to get out of the train he was in Kolkata with no idea of how to get home. He lived on the streets for a while, had some very narrow escapes, then was picked up, sen tto anorphanage and after fruitless attempts to find his family was adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, with only hazy and inaccurate memories of his train journey, he set about trying to find out where he came from and his birth mother. It's an incredible story, slightly marred by Saroo Brierley being at best a functional writer, it would have been so much better if he'd got a good ghost wroter to do the narrative for him. It has also been made into a film, called Lion, Saroo's nckname as a child, which a friend tells me is very good. It may be one of the few instances of a film being better than the book. Those reservations apart this is definitely well worth reading or seeing.
  8. I absolutely loved this book, I wasn't confused by the Triads etc but then I did live in HK for a while so it all seemed pretty normal to me! Unlike Mr HG I thought the weakest part of the book was Matthew,. John Lanchester is a fantastic writer and particularly good at giving individual voices to his narrators, which means that Matthew, who has basically a rather uninteresting personality, has a somewhat dull narrative tone. I felt it was a shame the book encded where it did though, I wanted to know what Tom thought of it all.
  9. Martin Eden is the story of a young sailor from Oakland who falls blindly in love with Ruth, the sister of a man he saved from a fight. Ruth is elegant, studying lierature at university, bourgois and rather patronising towards the working class, uneducated sailor who neverlheless loves poetry and has a burning desire to learn. Martin decides to make himself worthy of Ruth by educating himself and becoming a writer. The novel is about his struggles to be a success, rejection, the mind-numbing effects of too much hard work and the struggle to be yourself when all those around you don't believe you have it in yourself to fulfill your dreams. This is a book i'd never have picked up if it hadn't been chosen for one of my book groups and is a prime example of why I belong to them. I was completely caught up in it, it's written in a rather florid, muscular style whch I normally don't like but that didn't matter, it's one of those books where you're happy to have woken early because you've got something so good to read. I was devestated at the end. Apparently Martin Eden has been an inspiration for generations of aspiring writers. Highly recommended.
  10. I thought the programmes were interesting but disingenuous and simplistic in parts - for instance the assertation that limiting child credit to 3 children is a form of eugenics against the poor to stop them breeding. I doubt that very much, it's austerity just like cuts in hospiatl services etc. The geneticist they spoke to said it's impossible to make a designer baby, they simply can't re-arrange genes for blue eyes, manual dexerity and a liking for history. I feel that screening for horrible genetic problems is something else, it's not about improving the race, it's about trying to make sure that those who are born don't have dehibilitating illnesses. Yes medical advances mean that people with genetic problems now live much longer and with better health, but given the choice wouldn't they prefer to not have the problem at all?
  11. I have that problem with Tana French's books. They start brilliantly, I really enjoy the writing then then I start getting word weary.
  12. I'm really heartened by these reviews, i read The Handmaid's tale when it first came out and was very impressed by it, but didn't like the TV series at all finding it a bit overblown. I was put off the Testaments by hearing it was written in response to the success of the TV series but it sounds like it's definitely worth reading.
  13. "When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them." I don't know what to make of this book, the blurb makes it sound like a tale of a relationship beween woman and her initially unwanted dog, the reviews and quotes made it clear the writer was aiming at a lieterary market so i thought I was getting something a bit different. The problem is twofold, firstly it is mostly about the woman and the dog only has a bit part even though he's supposed to be driving the action, secondly, and most important there are lengthy musings on what other writers think about grief and the art of writing, so loads of quoting and little in the way of original thought. At times it seemed to descend into a form of literary navel gazing and I began to feel uneducated because I hadn't read and don't want to read many of the authors she's quoting. I did finish it though and the ending is horribly sad.
  14. Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronvitch. Seventh in the Rivers of London series and no signs of it running out of steam.
  15. Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. One of those books that remind you just what a sheer pleasurea good book can be.
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