welcome to our book reviews and news page

recent publications and classic reads revisited
covering a wide range of genre, taste and style
please join in the discussion

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Doctor, The Plutocrat and The Mendacious Minister

by Glyn Pope

DOCTOR LATYMER arrives on a council estate in Leicester, England, full of hope after dreadful experiences of the war. He happily settles into life on the estate trying to forget the nightmare images in his memory. The young doctor quickly becomes the local miracle worker when he cures the attention seeking hypochondriac Reginald, and takes the time to befriend a sad little boy who has lost his Mother. However, when food poisoning strikes the estate residents, Doctor Latymer sets out to right injustices that he doesn't fully understand. He tangles with Sir Brian Britley, the Plutocrat, and Sir Henry Norrington, the Mendacious Minister for the British Government. In the process, he unravels the delicate balance between rich and poor, and the struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market. Doctor Latymer's story is written in authentic British English, adding to the richness that brings the local characters to life as the reader is whisked back to 1948 post-war Britain. (Book blurb)

Being an English woman who grew up post war during the late 1950's, and reached my teens in the 1970's, I could relate to much of what was written in this delightful book, although it is set in the 1940's post war period.

I lived on the edge of a new housing estate that linked with a UK government council estate. There was an adult class divide during this time period, and Pope captures it so well in his storyline.

The doctor has a humble side that comes across so well, I fell for his character straight away. I enjoyed following how he came across class barriers, and was overwhelmed by those he met in higher circles. The more his character developed, and the events that changed his life, made his convictions for right and wrong stronger. I was hooked, and had to find out more about his new career and those he met along the way. The characters all fall into place and each one comes alive in one's mind. I could see the women with their cardigans and pinafores draped over a large bosom, gossiping on the doorstep. Men with cigarettes hanging from the corner of their mouths, children with socks rumpled around their ankles, yet the author describes none of these things. He shares the characteristics and surroundings so well that everything falls into place and allows your imagination to do the rest.

This is not a book that will only interest the British reader, it is a great fiction story with an historic background. If you enjoy a light hearted book with meaning and tenderness, corruption and victory, this is one I recommend for your shelf.

Reviewed by Glynis Smy

Published by Cactus Rain Publishing and available here.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A Clash Of Innocents

by Sue Guiney

I can’t praise this book highly enough. I absolutely loved it.

My knowledge of Cambodia was limited when I started to read ‘A Clash Of Innocents’; I was aware of some of its dark history in the time of the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields but only in a very sketchy way. Reading ‘A Clash Of Innocents’ really brought the country alive for me. It is set in 2007 and so is very much an evocation of present-day Cambodia, but there is enough sensitively placed historical detail to show how the past is still impacting on the present.

Delicately placed within this richly detailed setting is the story of an American woman, Deborah, who has made her life in Cambodia in an attempt to escape demons from another place and another time. She is joined at the orphanage she runs by a younger American woman Amanda who, if anything, is running from even darker demons.

When I finished reading this book I was left feeling that I was really going to miss the characters. They are all so beautifully drawn and real that I genuinely felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. From Amanda and Deborah, with their complex relationship and connections, to the very individual young Cambodian residents of the orphanage to the dazzling Australian Kyle, all are achingly real and deeply engaging.

This novel has everything – history, romance, tragedy, mystery. The plot has multiple layers and strands and feels perfectly balanced. At the close of the story Sue Guiney resists the temptation to tie all the ends up too tightly. There are questions left unanswered, but overall a very satisfying ending.

Please add this book to your wish list. It is wonderful.

Thanks to Sue Guiney for providing a review copy of the book.

It is published by Ward Wood and you can buy a copy here.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt