C by Tom McCarthy (Book Review)

24/08/2011 § Leave a comment

In ‘C’, McCarthy follows Serge episodically throughout his life; beginning in his family’s estate, which doubles up as a silk factory and school for the deaf, before travelling to Germany for WW1, then London and finally, Egypt. The entire novel feels like an overindulgent introduction, which centres hedonistically on the concept of transmission whilst leaving even its central character deliberately two dimensional and impassive. Serge as a character is merely a vessel for the author’s immoderate and dense philosophical musings. The overly literary style of this novel detracts from its own story telling, leaving the reader distant, unmoved and disengaged.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman (Book Review)

15/07/2011 § Leave a comment

Pullman, in this self-proclaimed ‘story’, skews biblical events by providing Jesus with a familial antithesis, a twin brother; ineffectual to the plot in all but assuming an act of a pre-existing canonical ‘scoundrel’. This is a whistle-stop tour of the life of the Christian saviour that fails to deliver the controversy its title implies. Misgivings about organised religion, whispered with subtlety in His Dark Materials, are shouted brashly via the implausible and bias hindsight of Jesus. Biblical diction is used inconsistently, and paraphrasing of famous quotations diminishes their impact. Further, supposed insights into the development of stories are simplistic and unoriginal.

Sweeney Todd, or The String of Pearls by James Malcolm Rymer/Thomas Peckett Prest Review

20/06/2011 § Leave a comment

The earliest version of this famous story bears witness to the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Thornhill, the details of which only his faithful dog seems privy to. The mutt proceeds to obstinately skulks around a certain barber shop on Fleet street, which lies in close proximity to the famous Lovett’s Pie shop. Its mysterious persistence leads interested parties to unravel a unique story of murder, treasure and love. Sweeney Todd is darkly humorous, with a quintessentially British eccentricity and matter-of-fact divulgence of gloriously gruesome discoveries. The deliciously bizarre plot and wit as sharp as Sweeney’s barber blades make the original version an undervalued gem.

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield Review

11/06/2011 § Leave a comment

Xeo is the sole Spartan survivor of the bloody battle of the Thermopylae, held captive so his defeaters may learn how 300 men kept the Persian hoards at bay, only to be vanquished by betrayal. Reading Pressfield, it’s easy to understand why producers of 300 considered basing their picture on Gates of Fire. The factual basis of the ultimate underdog story is expertly utilised to envelop readers in an alien world, where war and death were a way of life. Intimately researched, with a narrative as relentlessly engaging as its subjects, Gates of Fire is a gloriously rampant gore fest.

Night Waking by Sarah Moss Review

30/05/2011 § Leave a comment

Anna is a mother on a remote island struggling to manage her marriage, workload and two young children when she discovers a baby’s skeleton in her garden. She proceeds to neglect all domestic duties in favour of investigating the child’s untimely demise. The narrative is bleak and repetitive, and the subplot of the island’s historically high infant mortality rate is mediocre.  It could be said to effectively mirror the trials of daily life with children and an unsupportive husband. But whether anyone would want to experience that over 375 dreary pages, which culminate in an anticlimactic ending, is another matter.

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