I do have full book reviews coming soon, but to fill the gap (again), here is another round-up of some pre-blog capsule reviews that I wrote back in 2006 for you.
Crucifix Lane by Kate Mosse
The world is just the same but also oh so different 11 years into the future in Kate Mosse’s future chiller, as clubber Annie finds out when she wakes up after a fall in Crucifix Lane. Adopted into a group of do-gooders who ostensibly help London’s ghettoized poor, she falls for their leader, Kellen. However he has other motives. At its heart the real star of this novel is the omnipresent river Thames – dyed blue to make it look good, but slowly creeping up in level waiting for its big chance to drown decadent London. The eco-science theme behind the main story gets its message across without ramming it down your throat. Intelligently written with believable characters – I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
[Yes, this is by that Kate Mosse, published in 1998 it’s been out of print for ages, and I wish I’d kept my copy – it’s now very collectable! – Ed]
The Time-Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This was a Book Group choice – and I was rather ambivalent about it before starting it. The first 50 pages or so were rather hard going, then a sense of the timeline kicked in and I was able to dissociate myself from the reality that time travel is impossible(?) and from thereon in I was hooked. The central love story between Clare and Henry was so wonderful, and I cried at the end!The time travel in this novel is so refreshingly different from all the science fiction norms. Niffenegger has managed to escape being labelled SF, getting a wide readership for this superb debut. I look forward to her next novel immensely. (Published 2004)
Ghosting by John Preston
This is the story of Dickie Chambers, who gets his lucky break to become a radio announcer which kick-starts his career into the new world of television in the 1950s. His suave and polished performances as a charming presenter however, hide a dark side to his personality, which eventually reveals itself leading to his fall from grace. The young Dick experienced the drowning of his father and subsequent destabilisation of his mother into mental illness, leaving him a loner and sexually inadequate, incapable of forming lasting relationships in his later life. Preston charts his descent into depression and schizophrenia with a sympathetic touch, giving us hope that Dickie will eventually manage to pull himself out of the darkness, while sparing no punches about its effects. A gripping and accomplished first novel.
The Cloud-Spotters Guide by Gavin Praetor-Pinney
This is a delightful book, written for enthusiasts, but containing enough good science to satisfy more expert readers. It does this and manages to be thoroughly entertaining too. The author’s text is eminently readable and the technobabble is negligible and is augmented by clear diagrams and photos. Interspersed throughout are digressions, discussions, cloud-lore and experiences relating to clouds, whether it be Turner’s paintings or the effects of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Some of these asides do tend to be somewhat whimsical, but fit in with the overall style of the book. The star anecdote has to be the experience of the jet fighter pilot who had to eject into the middle of a cumulonimbus thundercloud and lived to tell the tale. The only thing missing is loads more colour photos. A fun and informative read.
The Travelling Horn Player by Barbara Trapido
I’m not sure that I really liked this book while reading it, but I certainly couldn’t put it down! However with the benefit of hindsight I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Her characterisation is very strong, and although we meet a lot of different people, we are not spared their flaws; each one having at least one weakness, infidelity, or individual tragedy and all different! Where the book succeeds is that each chapter and serial part of the story is seen through the eyes of one character, and this gives a real sense of interaction between plot and people. Trapido’s central premise of linking the whole to a Schubert song cycle about a Miller’s daughter may have given the inspiration for the story, but is too academic for the general reader – but you don’t need to know that to enjoy the book.