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sharon smith

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  1. Berlin Novels by Christopher Isherwood. Really good. Set in Berlin (surprise surprise) just before Hitler is Chancellor. Full of gay young men, such as the novelist, doing gay young things.
  2. Recently finished reading this. Highly recommend this if you enjoy novels where not much happens! More character driven than plot driven. Set around the 1930's I think, in Hungary, and tells the story of a young military officer who during an invitation to the local nobleman's dinner party, commits a bit of a faux pas. The story is really about the consequences of this, the decisions he makes etc. On the face of it, it doesn't sound very interesting, but what kept me turning the pages was the utter convincing characters and the fascination with how this will be resolved. Many times I found myself completely in agreement with the character and therefore found myself hooked. Very beautifully written - not a book you would want to skim, and evocative of the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
  3. Found this little hard back book amongst other bits and pieces whilst tidying up (clearly I don't do this often enough). This is a really great read - a memoir of Sir Paul Dukes who appeared to have done a lot of remarkable things during his long life. This memoir tells about his time as a British agent in the early days of the SIS when he was in Russia, I think around 1920's or thereabout. His memoir really captures the danger and isolation of being a spy during that time, how dangerous it was to stay in one place for more than one night, having to cross the Finnish border to meet up with his british contact. He refers to people caught up in the same game such as John Buchan, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham - all who are famous as novelists rather than as spies. The 'ST 25' refers to his code name of Stockholm which is where his messages are received and dicyphered. One of the nice outcomes of reading a book like this is the links to other books such as Ashenden and the Gadfly - the latter I haven't read yet.
  4. Just started 'Moon Tiger' by P Lively. So far so good.
  5. Just this minute finished this book, and feel quite drained as a result. Very powerful story, lots going on at many levels - probably more than i have actually realised. its about a lay community - mixed bag of very interesting people - who are preparing for the arrival of a new bell which will be installed. Two of the community find the old bell at the bottom of a lake and try to swap the new bell for the old as a 'miracle'. It all sounds a bit odd and possibly rather dry. However, I was hooked from the word go. The complexities of the people are such that the plot drives forward at a pace that gets steadily more urgent. its not a particularly long book, but each chapter resonates and as such is not a book that one can skim. Very worth reading, and one that i will re read.
  6. This is probably my third or fourth time of reading it. The thrill and expectation of wondering whodunnit remains. I love the different narratives, Betteredge is certainly my favourite and I would love to know more about Mrs Betteredge. Very strong narrative drive, and wonderful characters. Not one soppy woman anywhere. Even Ms Clack's voice is fun to read, particulary her 'generosity' with her pamphlets. Poor Ezra Jennings - what are we supposed to understand from his illness and his past. Does anyone have any ideas?
  7. Just started reading 'The Bell' Iris Murdoch. I've heard lots of great things about it. Am hoping it won't be too highbrow.
  8. This book actually has four or five short stories - the last being the longest. The stories do not appear to be linked in any way. Written/published 1946. The stories tell of bombers flying over head. A real sense of British rural life - tramping over fields, walking the dog at night along the country lanes, amateur theatricals. All the ingredients that goes towards a 'nostalgic feeling' book about the way it used to be. Not written with any melancholy or romanticism, just a true picture of what life was like. I recommend it.
  9. Re-reading 'the Moonstone' - Wilkie Collins, and trying to finish 'Hard Times'
  10. Bowen's 'A World of Love' is perplexing - can't get into it and have read the first 20 or so pages two or three times now. I will probably abandon this. Lehmann's 'the Gypsy's Baby' on the other hand is beginning well.
  11. Not as good as i had expected it to be. Recommended by a colleague, whose taste i respect. This is the sort of book that as soon as a particular character begins to get interesting, the plot moves on and you are left stranded with no closure. It is certainly a well written book, with characters which are delightfully described. However, often I was irritated and then i gave up caring for the characters, until i eventually grew bored and stopped reading it half way through. Lots of other books to read!!
  12. This is the first Margaret Forster book I have read, and I thought it a super read. The plot is fairly straightforward - a picture that changes hands over time and its owners - but it so cleverly written. It intertwines, sometimes making you refer back to little snippets. It could be described as 'historical' as it begins during the Edwardian era, but there is nothing 'saga' ish about this book. She writes so well about women, not just during that period but also as a comtemporary setting. During the week whilst i was reading it, i felt she had captured the 'essence' of each of her characters and that they were real people, a skill of character development which is so missing now. I will be reading more of hers.
  13. I admit to really struggling to enjoy this book. it reads very easily and i find myself skimming lots without seeming to have missed anything. does the book need to be so long?! I don't care enough about Clare as she seems to be too sensible and Henry is only mediocre. i am reading it as a love story but have yet to 'feel' any emotion. i.m half way through and am very tempted to throw the towel in but it was a friend's recommendation and she was very moved by it. this book won't stay in my memory for long, but it does put me in mind of something along the same lines, but it was ages ago that i read it - has anyone read Time Enough for Love'. i can't even remember why i am reminded of it - can anyone help.
  14. Hi, i'm new on board and so far so good. found the website through trail and error. been to a few 'real' book groups but the range of books under discussion tend to be too broad for me. i love reading classic literature, (probably a frustrated English teacher) and have set myself the target of reading some Dumas by the end of the year -heigh ho!!
  15. I am desperately trying to finish Time Traverllerss Wife so that i can read House of Mirth. TTW is not all that it cracked up to be and so i am skimming as much as possible - a style of reading that i normally detest.
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