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Lizzy Siddal

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  1. Love, love, love, every single word of this post! (I so hope it's not a spoof.) Would also be mighty interested in your blog, too.
  2. I actually laugh out loud at the puns. Different audiences and all that ....
  3. Oh, well done you! I was going to have a go, but the thought of rereading "Day" was too offputting. Oops, shouldn't have told you that! But maybe you'll like it - the Costa Judges did, after all! Oh, and if you get through and you're looking for a companion to accompany you to the glittering award ceremony .......
  4. I have to agreen, MinxMinnie - a very enjoyable read. Adamson, one of the most psychopathic killers you'll meet for a long time. Here's my full review: ----------------- Sassenachs like myself can sometimes feel a trifle uncomfortable north of Carlisle. Like the time, I took my German friends round Edinburgh castle pretending to be of Teutonic stock because the very Scottish guide, Rab (I jest not), was relishing a little too much his descriptions of what happened to the invading English army as the boiling oil was poured over the ramparts. So it is that, when a character in a novel by a Scottish author says “independence is a slogan, not an option” , I’d better believe that there’s a nationalistic subtext. Andrew Greig’s latest novel can on one level be interpreted as a love letter to Bonnie Scotland. As his characters chase around the Borders, the Lochs and the West Coast in search of a missing historical artefact, Greig, the keen mountaineer, describes his country with an observant poetic eye. A couple of examples will suffice. "Grand it was to be driven at decent speed through the thawing Borders, snowdrops bending under dripping trees, flash of yellow from crocuses, breeze puniching blue holes through a sky that had been lowered like a dustbin lid over the country from months …." "And when they came upon yet another silent inland lochan, or scrambled the cliffs of The Oa with the western ocean loud below, or walked the Rhinns from Bruichladdich to Portnahaven through one afternoon of dark clouds, rain and brilliant glitter, Leo found himself murmuring inwardly “sweet as, sweet as”, until the words tailed off and there was no comparison left." But I’m giving the wrong impression here. Greig hasn’t written a geography book, he’s written a thriller in which Scotland is a colourful backdrop. The missing artifact is nothing other than the Stone of Destiny, taken as spoils of war in 1296 by Edward I of England. The history of what happened next can be found here alongside the myth (fact?) that Edward actually confisicated a forged stone. In Romanno Bridge, the original stone has been hidden away in a secret place ever since, its location known only to the Moon Runners, the custodians of 3 rings, engraved with runes revealing the hiding place. A suicide in Rothiemurchus forest triggers the race to the stone. It’s a case of the 3 contemporary custodians finding the stone before the psychopath with a £20 million commission. Ah yes, the psychopath. Really, really chilling descriptions of the terror he inflicts. Controlled cruelty always much more frightening than frenzied bloodlust. On the opposite side of the emotional spectrum is a tender middle-aged romance between a chaste Free Presbyterian policeman and his Canadian girlfriend. Somewhere in the middle of the human ranges are romances of a more modern kind between other life-scarred individuals. Greig as tender and patient of his character’s foibles as he is of the rugged beauty of Scotland. He looks at them and finally sees it is not that some people are incautious, stupid or simply unlucky, while the rest of us will be all right. None of us will be all right. Mountains, sunsets, good times, bad times, mates, children - nothing endures. Nothing. No exceptions. Nihilism it isn’t. While the events of the novel trigger existential crises in some of those caught up in the maelstrom, the final message seems to be: The old life has been kicked into touch, right? Best we can do is catch the new one and run with it. As with the previous novels I read, Greig paints humanity in true flesh and blood tones. The suspense elements are also excellent - tension building slowly until the crisis point is reached. Historical and geographical backgrounds adding depth and pattern to the book. Romanno Bridge is a palette of colours that could easily clash with each other. But once the correct blend has been reached (and that’s not quite true in the first quarter), the pages keep turning seemingly of their own accord. *** 1/2
  5. Bravo! A positive review of a book that is being slagged off something rotten ... I was having my doubts about reading it. So thanks, MrHG, I'll put it back on the TBR.
  6. Aye, but then you're in good company! Here's another list to add to your - er - list of lists. Around the world in 80 crime novels
  7. Canongate sent me a review copy on spec but, after reading the general discussion, I've decided it's not something I would particularly enjoy. That's not to say that another BGOer wouldn't like it. Just PM me if you'd like my copy to read. I'll send anywhere in the world. Surface mail to non-UK destinations.
  8. Anne Donovan’s debut novel, Buddha Da, was both critically acclaimed and avoided with a large bargepole by myself. Probably due to the fact that it is written in Scots. However, with a few more years in Scotland and the successful completion of Sunset Song, under my belt, I was ready to tackle the trials and tribulations of an adolescent Glaswegian female, particularly when Libarything offered me a copy for early review. Ok, so I’m a little late for this review to qualify as early. The book was published in the UK on 1st May. It was the Scots and the imagined effort that made me pick it up and put it back down again a few times. Anyway I finally dived in …. and do you know, I was swimming within a couple of pages. No effort involved with the dialect at all! The Emily of the title is Emily Bronte, with whom Fiona, the heroine, is fixated from a young age. It’s the Wuthering Heights syndrome. But Fiona is bright and can differentiate in a way that not many Heathcliff/Cathy fixated fans do. Nice means you bumble along, no giving anyone offence, you’re no specially anything anyone can put their finger on, you’re nice. No one in Wuthering Heights is nice. Good, bad, mad, yes, but no nice. Fiona’s life mirrors that of Emily in certain respects: a lost mother infuses tragedy, colour, confusion and trauma. Then there are the usual adolescent issues - inappropriate passion which adds self-imposed trials to her tribulations. In the vernacular, it’s a bit of a guddle. Yet, throughout Fiona remains a sympathetic character despite breath-taking thoughtlessness on one or two occasions. Her anger is channelled into her art: smashed barbies, burning houses, which allows her to stay close to home and her dysfunctional family. But can she escape the legacy of Emily’s ghost? The dramative pull of the narrative is strong but spoiled slightly with ends that are far too neatly tied - a sugar-coating provided by an implausible saintly Sikh. Fiona’s story won’t live long with me, I’m afraid, in contrast with the portrait of the city of Glasgow. While the descriptions won’t make the heart of Glaswegians rejoice, they are guaranteed to raise a cheer in the city on the other side. Glasgow’s always putting on festivals but Edinburgh always manages to dae it bigger and better; there’s something feels haund-knitted about the way we dae things. Mibbe all the folk that know how tae run them get snapped up by Edinburgh and we get left with the has-beens. Mibbe it’s because Glaswegians cannae seem to go anywhere without leaving trails of sweetie wrappers and fast-food packages lying around behind them. Ot that we don’t know how tae dress. Or talk. Or something . As a hand-knitter, I’ll forgive the insult, but aye - it’s certainly true that Glasgow has some catching up to do with regard to the book festival. The following pages, however, describing Fiona’s night out at the Glasgow Festival of Light have me entranced. Anyone know the dates for 2009? ***
  9. OK, Leyla. I've been debating the to-read-or-not-to-read question for a long time now. A review like that reserves a place for the book in my holiday suitcase!
  10. I'll be touring beautiful Bavaria.
  11. I have a system when going on holidays. This is how it will apply in 3 weeks time for an 8 day trip to Germany. Book 1: For the trip out - a short story in German and something relating to my destination. Not necessarily a travel guide. Could be a novel set in the relevant country. Book 2-3: Easy reading. Book 4: Some Scottish writing for the plane journey home. Right now the favourites are: 1) Critique of Criminal Reason - Michael Gregorio 2) The Semantics of Murder - Aifric Campbell 3) My Latest Grievance - Elinor Lipman or Hearts and Minds - Rosy Thorton (or both) 4) Cleave - Anthology of Scottish Women's Writing I think 4 should be enough ..... As you can see, I'm all for taking a choice of smaller volumes.
  12. In which case you got two for the price of one ...
  13. There have been many requests for a negative review on this thread. Does this suffice?
  14. I agree, Leyla. It's a good read, though flawed. Here's my own review in full -------------------- Nancy Huston, a bilingual Canadian living in France, won the Prix Femina in 2006. She has since translated her French novel into English and now finds it shortlisted for the 2008 Orange Prize. That Prix Femina augurs well. It’s a French prize judged by a purely female panel ….. Huston’s novel is told in reverse chronological sequence. It’s not a device of which I’m particularly fond. The danger of knowing the end that is about to be uncovered can lead to a loss of interest and a failure to read to the end (as in my case Sarah Water’s The Night Watch). Not true here, I’m pleased to say. Fault Lines tells the tale of four generations of the same family. The spacing of 20 years between each episode (2004, 1984, 1962, 1944-45) and the diverse locations (California, Haifa, Toronto, Germany) distingush the details in each section sufficiently to keep the reader turning the pages. Events in section 2 revealing the root causes of the dysfunction of section 1 etc. Dysfunction and misanthropy increasing as events become more contemporary. But there’s actually no way of knowing that until you’ve read to the end … … which means that the obnoxious child narrator of section 1, Sol, is an absolute shock to the system. A spoilt 21st century brat of a magnitude unrivalled, reared by modern, indulgent, over-protective parents. He is the culmination of the ripple effect. The child narrator of the 4th section, the one most badly served by history, however, is the most sympathetic of them all, with debate to be had as to at which point in her troubled history, the damage was done. This makes Huston’s novel not only a fascinating commentary on the effects of history and war but also a commentay of the effects of bad parenting. Less successful, however, are the narrative voices, in particular that of Sol. How many 6-year olds with a fully fledged messiah complex would pleasure themselves while watching brutal internet images of events in Iraq? Fortunately the successive (or should that be the preceding) generations become less flawed until the final, most emotive, section rings true. That reservation aside, this is a very readable work, despite the heaviness of its themes. No idea how it compares to the rest of this year’s shortlist, but I definitely preferred it to last year’s Orange prize winner. *** 1/2
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