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  1. When we first meet George Washington Black, he is a field slave at the Faith Plantation, Barbados. The Plantation is taken over by Erasmus Wilde, a cruel and vindictive master who treats his animals with more respect than his slaves. Thus begins a well-told but fairly routine slavery+cruelty story. Then Washington’s fortunes change when Erasmus’s brother Christopher comes to stay. He is an idealist and inventor; he needs an assistant to help him build a giant balloon in which he hoped to cross the Atlantic. He is invited to live with Christopher, to call him Titch, to eat fine food and speak
  2. There are currently only 2 Patrick Gale books available in the United States, out of a total of 16 books. I hope very much that his other books make their way over the pond because he is really quite a writer. The book takes place at the turn of the last century. Harry Cane is the older of two sons from a very affluent family. Both parents die young and so the boys very much depend on each other. They marry sisters and are adopted wholesale by the family of the sisters. Harry doesn't have mistresses, but he does have homosexual love affairs and behaves very stupidly in one of them,
  3. A Tale for the Time Being is a very strange novel. Broadly, a lonely and isolated writer of Japanese heritage called Ruth (who could that be?) finds a diary washed up on the beach, wrapped up with a watch and some other papers in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, on the beach in British Colombia. In equal measures, Ruth reads the diary (written in first person by a Japanese 15 year old called Nao) and has her own story told in third person narration. The story veers constantly between the very mundane of at school, poverty, loneliness through to questions of purpose, existence, suicide and time. At its
  4. Gosh this is boring. An interminable story with characters you cannot tell apart who are supposed to be fictional ciphers for a real life fictional family in Canada. Heaps of musical references and if you love Bach you might get them, but I don't. Also, interspersed with Chinese writing and poems that don't seem to add much. Creating something this dull from such an exciting period of history is an impressive achievement that has rightly been recognised by the Booker judges. *0000
  5. The cover of Station Eleven seems to target itself quite clearly at a young female market. That’s a pity; this novel is good enough to pitch to a wider audience. It’s one of those novels that has multiple narrators/points of view, zipping back and forth between the present day and the near future. This creates a rich and varied patchwork of a story; the story never gets stale because it always moves on when the reader still wants more. It is tempting to say that the book is the story of Kirsten, a young girl in the opening chapters who kind of ties everything together. Or perhaps to say that
  6. These books were recommended to me by Momac, for which she has my sincere thanks and eternal gratitude as they have given me great pleasure, enjoyment and welcome relaxation. Also, an addiction to the writing of Louise Penny. The quiet village of Three Pines in rural Quebec has an interesting assortment of inhabitants including a poet, two artists, an antiques collector and a psychologist turned bookshop owner who meet in each other’s homes or the friendly local bistro to socialise, exchange gossip and enjoy good food. Strangely, for such a pleasant restful village,Three Pines does tend
  7. Don't know if anyone on the forum has read any of Linwood Barclay's books - he is a Canadian suspense writer and each of the books I've read have been excellent. The latest one I am reading, No Safe House, is no exception. Had to convince myself to turn off the Kindle and go to bed as my impulse was to stay up to see how the plot would get untangled. The family involved was recovering from trauma which had happened to them where the mother and daughter were almost killed. The mother is so protective of her daughter to the extent of trying to control everything about her life - this backfir
  8. Laura Curtis’s father has died. His car ran off the road and down the cliff. He had lost all his money trying to help a Nigerian girl in distress… As Laura unpicks the details, sifts through the e-mails, she is horrified at what she sees. It’s never quite clear whether she mourns her father or his money, but she is definitely at grief central. And so she arrives in Lagos on a mission. Meanwhile, we follow two stories in Nigeria. On the one hand, we have Winston, an internet scammer. Winston is articulate, personable and operates with a very warped sense of morality. He believes he has
  9. I have read 2/3 of the Sportswriter trilogy. I read both The Sportswriter (1986) and Independence Day (1995), but missed The Lay of the Land (2006), probably because it was 20 years after the first book and 11 after the second. But I plan to rectify that error because Canada was such a good book. And I'm kicking myself for buying it in paperback and not reading it immediately. I somehow decided I would keep it for a flight when I couldn't use my tablet and that's what happened (I read it on my recent trip to Baton Rouge, when my tablet was misbehaving). I wish I'd read it sooner. Open
  10. I seldom give up on books. Once You Break A Knuckle is the kind of book that makes me think I ought to do so more often. This is a collection of short stories set in a remote Canadian town of Invermere. The population is blue collar in both thought and deed. We find locals itching for beer-fuelled fights, going off into the mountains with guns, driving around in pick ups and working on building sites. Some characters crop up in multiple stories but there doesn't seem to be any bigger narrative thread or any real character development. The characters are as they are. Perhaps there is a slight
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