HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for May, 2008

Book Review: June Barraclough – Emma Eliza

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

This turned out to be a really interesting historical novel.

It starts out being told in the first person by Emma, who started life in Norfolk and went into service when she was old enough to work. She eventually marries a widower with two daughters, George Starling, and they move to Yorkshire, where there is more work.

When Emma’s own children start arriving, the story moves to the third person and is taken up by her granddaughter Lily, who follows the fortunes of the growing family in Yorkshire, where rather than “going into service”, when old enough to earn, you “go into the mills”.

There is a constant thread running through the book of someone called Baz whom Emma remembers from when she was a very little girl, and whom she thinks is the same person as a Jabez Smith that she encounters later on.

Only when we get to the very end of the book does his significance finally emerge.

A very worthwhile family saga.

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Book Review: Andrew Klavan – Man and Wife

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

Of all the books I have finished recently, this was the one I most considered abandoning.

It is told in the first person as a confession, and keeps referring to a murder, but it turns out to be one of those books where the murder is what the book is leading up to, rather than the murder being the starting point of the book.

It contains a quite weird characters in the form of the teeneaged Peter Blue, who appears almost visionary, but who has landed in hot water due to setting a fire in the local church, which has landed him in the local psychiatric unit.

We spend a lot of time going over the suicide of the main character’s older sister, but the book is really about the marriage of the main character Cal Bradley and his wife Marie, and her “past” prior to meeting Cal.

I didn’t find this a very satisfactory read.

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Book Review: Anne & Todd McCaffrey – Dragon’s Fire

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

I thought that Todd had now taken over the Pern novels from his mother, but this one is a collaboration between the two of them. This is a sequel to Dragon’s Kin, on which they also collaborated.

I don’t recall the concept of the Shunned cropping up on Pern before, but these are a group of criminals who have been cast out from the various holds. The problem is that their children, who may have done no wrong, are also effectively Shunned, and with Thread due in a few more turns, neither the criminal parents nor their mainly blameless children have protection and the Harper’s Hall is becoming concerned that the Shunned may attempt to obtain shelter from thread by forceful means.

Therefore a Harper is sent out to infiltrate the Shunned with a view to attempting to improve their lot.

Meanwhile, in another theme within the book, the last dangerous firestone mine explodes and there is nowhere for firestone to be obtained to supply the dragons for when thread falls. A new firestone mine is discovered, but study of old manuscripts leads some young Harper students to believe that the dragons used to use a less dangerous form of firestone, so a quest to rediscover it is started.

This is a good yarn, as are most of the McCaffrey books. I have to say that these collaborations have worked better for me than the one solo Todd McCaffrey Pern book I have read so far. Maybe Anne thought so too and decided that Todd needed to collaborate for a bit longer!

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Book Review: Catherine Sampson – Out of Mind

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

This is a the second book in which Robin Ballantyne features as the main character, and although it stands alone, I wonder whether I would have got on better with it had I read the first one before tackline this one.

Robin Ballantyne works for the BBC, where she is directing a ‘missing persons’ series. The trouble starts when she decides to include a missing colleague, Melanie Jacobs, in her series. She gets warned off from high places, and makes people outside of the Corporation quite upset as well.

The action shifts between England and South East Asia as Robin puts together Melanie’s recent projects as a camerawoman and tries to find out who she was close to and who she might have upset.

We also get a glimpse into Robin’s personal life, where she is the widowed mother of young twins; has a relationship of sorts with a detective she met in the previous book which I haven’t read; and has a criminal father who has popped up and then conveniently disappeared again when he realises that his family are onto his latest scam.

I finished this book, but I’m ambivalent about seeking out further examples of Catherine Sampson’s work.

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Book Review: Edward Marston – The Parliament House

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

This is a Christopher Redmayne Mystery

Christopher has designed new premises forFrancis Polegate, but at the party to celebrate the opening of the new premises for businesses, one of the guests is shot dead on the doorstep.

Could the real target have been Sir Julius Cheever MP? Christopher thinks so, and subsequent attempts upon the life of Sir Julius back this up.

Christopher and his Puritan police constable friend Jonathan Bale go about unravelling the mystery and keeping Sir Julius out of harm’s way. The action, as in most of this series, is largely within the City of London, and in this book I noted that Leadenhall Market played quite a part.

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Book Review: Ann Barker – The Other Miss Frobisher

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

Elfrida Frobisher has been carrying around the tag “The Other Miss Frobisher” since being overshadowed by her elder sister Anthea years before. She has, thanks to an inheritance, settled into a comfortable existence in the country, and is considering the advances of a clerical suitor.

All that changes when her elder sister asks her to come to London to chaperon Prudence, her elder sister’s daughter, who has formed an undesirable attachment. Anthea, who is retiring to the country to await the birth of her second child, wishes Prudence to finish her London Season and has hopes that she will receive an offer from Rufus Tyler.

Prudence has other ideas about all of this, and although she has indeed formed an attachment which her parents would consider undesirable, it is not with the young man whom they believe her to be entangled with!

Elfrida finds chaperoning Prudence to be fraught with pitfalls, and as the book progresses, it turns out that Rufus Tyler is paying more attention to Elfrida than he is to Prudence.

There is some good junketing around the countryside, elopements which aren’t all they seem, compromising situations in inns which aren’t all they seem – and a rather aggrieved clerical suitor thrown in!

An enjoyable Regency novel.

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