Showing posts from April, 2012

Book review: Revenge of the Tide

By Elizabeth Haynes
Published by Myriad Editions

It was there when I opened my eyes, that vague feeling of discomfort, the rocking of the boat signalling the receding tide and the wind from the south, blowing upriver, straight into the side of the Revenge of the Tide.

This is how Revenge of the Tide, Elizabeth Haynes’s second novel, begins. I don’t normally take too much notice of the opening sentence of a novel – I’m not one of those people who won’t read a book if they’re not intrigued from the very beginning – but in this case it was different. When I reached that first full stop, I knew that I would love this book.

Revenge of the Tide is the name of the houseboat that London sales executive Genevieve Shipley buys in Kent with the intention of renovating it and taking some time away from a hectic life that’s become too stressful. Not to mention dangerous, after her second job as a dancer in a private club has become more serious than she’d expected. She just wanted to make some easy mo…

Books through my lens #18

Oh, to be able to sit at that desk! Virginia Woolf's country retreat at Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex.

Green Books: E-reader vs Books – which are greener?

Welcome to the fourth post in my series about green books!

It's one of the hot topics for many people who love reading – to buy an e-reader or not. In this post I'll attempt to pull together some information on the environmental aspect of this debate.

I admit - I love books. Real books with paper pages. Plus I'm not a gadget person, to the extent that I don't even have a mobile phone. I can't imagine using an e-reader but I do want to find out whether my old fashioned attitude is environmentally damaging or not!

Comparing the environmental impact of e-readers and books is a tricky business. Most companies aren't exactly transparent about the environmental impact of their e-readers for a start!

Measuring the carbon footprint at the consumer end is relatively easy, though statistics I've read vary from 10 – 100 books being the number you need to read on an e-reader to reduce its carbon footprint to below that of new paperback books. So, if you read a lot it you …

In conversation with... Sara Sheridan

Hello Sara! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your latest novel, Brighton Belle. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you! Brighton Belle is the story of an ex-Secret Service agent, Mirabelle Bevan. At the end of the war Mirabelle feels her useful life is over – her skills are no longer required. Her boyfriend is dead and she moves down to Brighton to retire. Then she gets a job working for a debt collection agency run by the charismatic Big Ben McGuigan and before she knows it she finds her skills are useful because a mysterious case comes in….

Brighton Belle is set in Brighton in 1951. Why did you choose this particular time and place and how much research did you have to carry out?

A: The book had its genesis in a boozy lunch with my parents. My father was brought up in Brighton and London during the 1950s and he has some great stories of what that was like. It prompted me to look at setting a story there – I had a couple of months on my hands …

Book review: Smut

By Alan Bennett
Published by Profile Books

I first came across Alan Bennett’s writing a few years ago, when The Uncommon Reader was published. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to repeat such a pleasant experience but I’m so glad to have come across Smut on its recent release in paperback.

First published in April 2011, Smut is composed of two stories: The Greening of Mrs Donaldson and The Shielding of Mrs Forbes.

In the former, Mrs Donaldson has a complete change of lifestyle when her husband dies, thus bringing a dull marriage to an end. To make ends meet, she starts working at the hospital as a patient simulator, participating in medical training scenarios. She also takes in lodgers: a couple who, despite not playing loud music, are not perfect and are often in arrears with the rent. But who said that a non-monetary arrangement cannot be worked out? Mrs Donaldson soon finds out that acting, for her, is not limited to the hospital environment. And she likes it!

The Mrs Forbes of the s…

Books through my lens #17

I hate flying but some airports are not that bad! Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, July 2011

Book review: Portrait of the Mother As a Young Woman

By Friedrich Christian Delius
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
Published by Peirene Press

From its first page to its last, Portrait of the Mother As a Young Woman is just one long sentence. Yes, one sentence. Divided into manageable paragraphs, true, but still one sentence. If you don’t let this put you off, you’ll be rewarded.

The novella opens with a young German woman who, pregnant with her first son, sets off from her temporary home in Rome to go to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. We follow her along the streets and across the squares of the city, which we see through her foreign eyes, and we are permitted to share her thoughts.

Walking, reminiscing and thinking are her only actions and she doesn’t interact with anyone on her way to church. This, however, doesn’t make for a boring book, as you might fear. By the time we reach our destination, we know everything there is to know about this young woman - her upbringing, how she met her husband, the life she imagines by his side once he…

In conversation with... Natasha Farrant

Hello Natasha! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your latest novel, The Things We Did for Love. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Hello Silvia and thank you! THE THINGS WE DID FOR LOVE is essentially a love story set in France in World War 2 during the last months of the German occupation. I don’t want to give too much away but it is based on true events and, given the context, it is as much about heroism, sacrifice, betrayal and redemption as it is about true love.

The novel is set during World War II. What kind of research did you have to carry out? Did you complete all of it in advance so that you could then dive into the writing process undisturbed or was it more a research-as-you-go sort of process?

A: I had already done a lot of research into the Occupation for my first novel, Diving Into Light, which entailed interviewing people who had lived in France during that period, as well as reading a tremendous amount around the subject. For THE THING…