Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce

DATE FINISHED: October 14th, 2011             

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Fern has been raised by the village midwife, Mammy, assisting at births since her early teens and catching glimpses of Mammy’s magic as she prepares folk remedies for those who don’t quite trust the NHS. But when a young girl who has visited Mammy for help dies soon afterwards, scandal and gossip runs rife in the village, and Mammy’s own health goes into rapid decline. Fern is left to cope with her grief over Mammy, the prospect of eviction, and the discovery of her own gifts and calling; but who can she trust to help her through?

THOUGHTS:  Although it sounds trite in synopsis, The Limits of Enchantment is surprisingly engaging and thought-provoking in the telling. Read more of this post

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The Judgement of Strangers by Andrew Taylor

DATE FINISHED: October 9th, 2011             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  When widowed vicar David Bycroft re-marries, his daughter returns home after finishing her exams, and they take in the son of a family friend for a couple of months. The anticipated familial harmony, however, is interrupted by a busybody parishioner, a missing cat, two young and mysterious new locals, and David’s wife’s research into local historical mad priest, Francis Youlgreave.

THOUGHTS:  The second part of the Roth trilogy, this volume is told from the perspective of the minor character from Part 1 who most piqued my interest: David Bycroft. Read more of this post

The Four Last Things by Andrew Taylor

DATE FINISHED: October 8th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  The young daughter of a vicar and a policeman is snatched from the garden of her child minder. Will the police be able to catch up with the child-snatcher before it is too late?  As Sally (the mother) is called out to various locations to identify various body parts dressed in her daughter’s clothing, time appears to be of the essence…

THOUGHTS:  This trilogy was first released as 3 separate stand-alone novels which interconnect to tell a fuller story/history behind the motives of a murderer. Read more of this post

The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker

DATE FINISHED: October 8th, 2011             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  On New Year’s Day of the new millennium, a group of bodies is found in the snow, echoing an earlier group suicide by members of the Faith. The local police detective, Schweigen, is reuinited with an old flame (the Judge of the title) to solve the mystery. When a curious book of undecipherable symbols is discovered near the scene of the crime, the Judge is led to the Composer, an irresistible attraction, and many questions without answers…

THOUGHTS:  The most mysterious thing about this novel was the consistently unprofessional behaviour of the protagonists. Read more of this post

Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

DATE FINISHED: October 5th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  9 year old Walt is plucked from the streets of St. Louis by the mysterious Master Yehudi, and promised that he will be taught how to fly. At a farm in Kansas, Walt is put through a tortuous 33 step program but his sharp wit sees him through, and after he stops fighting, realises that for the first time he is in the midst of a family that loves him. But with flight achieved and showbusiness stardom beckoning, is the future really as bright as it seems?

THOUGHTS:  On one level, I really enjoyed this book. Walt and Master Yehudi are great characters, and the story sucked me in immediately. Read more of this post

A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde by Kevin MacNeil

DATE FINISHED: October 2nd, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Robert (Lewis) is in a bad way after a cycling accident, but he is determined that it will not affect his casting in the lead role(s) of a new production based on Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  But it seems he must prove his worth over a new actor who has been brought in to play the same role(s) not to mention win back his erstwhile ‘girlfriend’ Juliette.  In fact, none of the cast or crew seem to fully appreciate either Robert’s bravery/tenacity in the face of his post-accident pain, or indeed his immense talent.  And somehow, everything in his life seems to be sliding dramatically from bad to worse…

THOUGHTS:  The bulk of the story is told by Robert, so given the aftermath of the accident, combined with the subject of the play, the logical reader expects some kind of Jekyll & Hyde manifestation within his character.   Read more of this post