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I bought The Essex Serpent a few weeks ago and made a start but was easily distracted by another book which I was itching to read. I’ll go back to it but it’s interesting to learn that author Sue Purkiss found that the book didn’t quite capture her imagination.

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, is a very good book. But somehow, it didn’t quite seize my imagination. It’s probably just me; maybe I haven’t read it at the right time – because there’s no doubt that it’s absolutely beautifully written, and it’s won some seriously impressive prizes. Perhaps it’s a book you should read in the winter, in an isolated house, by a cosy fire, with…

Source: A fool on a hill…: The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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Way back in 2011, I wrote this blog post about something I’d been sent in the post. It was called Curiocity and was a tiny fold-up magazine that featured arcane trivia on one side and a weird…

Source: Curiocity – the book | The Great Wen


Primo Levi tells us about human identity crushed and corrupted by unspeakable evil; his work is powerful because it squares up to that reality…

Source: The Mystery of Primo Levi


Originally posted on Culture and Anarchy.

As the review of this book in the Guardian points out, Ian McEwan is fascinated by roles and institutions of authority, and how the playing of such a role affects his protagonists. In The Children Act, (which is a novella, really – I read it in an evening) we are invited to consider the intricacies of the life of a high court judge, both professional and personal. Fiona Maye is in her fifties, a distinctly-delineated character whose devotion to her work is only paralleled by her lack-lustre marriage to Jack, who wants to have an affair. Specialising in family law and with a history of difficult cases, she is haunted by the children who might have suffered from her decisions, and overwhelmed by the need to make the ‘right’ decision in the interests of children – whatever ‘right’ is. And this is the central question of the book: who gets to decide? Who knows what ‘right’ is? And ‘right’ in what sense?

The law collides with faith in Fiona’s next case, where a Jehovah’s Witness boy refuses a blood transfusion which will save his life. After meeting him, talking to him and agonising over her decision, she concludes that he is not old enough to make this decision, perhaps being unduly pressured by his family and church. I won’t spoil the novel by detailing what happens next, but the novel asks, ultimately, serious questions about what is important in life: relationships, art, career, faith? Are they reliable enough the build a life around? What happens when you lose one of the pillars which…

via Book Review: The Children Act | Culture and Anarchy.


You could have knocked me down with a feather, and all the other clichés, but I’ve read my first vampire novel and loved every minute of it!

L E Turner was looking for blog followers to read a proof copy of her book and, even though it was not my cup of tea, I offered myself up on the strength of the flash fiction on her blog.

About the Nature of the Creature is a compelling tale, written from the vantage point of Constance, whose human life is cut short during her Edwardian childhood in Bristol. After a back story the author doesn’t reveal fully until further on, we find her a century later settled in Egypt, at which point some unknown urge prompts her to return to the city of her birth.

She is faced with the changes wrought by a hundred years and the danger of a religious sect determined to eradicate her kind. There are rivalries and jealousies amongst her tribe and Constance realises it is she who has to find a way to overcome the dangers in the hope of survival.

One of the reasons I was drawn into this story is the humanity, if one can call it that, of the creatures – the good and the bad. For example, the last thing Constance desires is the death of another but the need for blood is how she is made; if she can therefore acquire blood without killing a human she will always choose thus. Turner manages to give her heroine human and vampiric qualities which don’t seem at odds. I started caring about Constance and urging her forward. I wanted her to be happy!

Turner is adept at pacing and knows exactly where to place her twists and turns of plot. Even in the best books, one can predict certain events. Not in this case. The author kept me on the edge of my seat to the extent that when my computer went down and had to be rushed to hospital where it stayed for a month, all I could think about was getting back to the story on my Kindle app!

The other characters, human or not, are as well-drawn as Constance, giving the story an edge that I suspect — generalisation warning — many bandwagon books do not. Turner’s knowledge of Bristolian history is lightly interwoven, giving a lovely Gothic depth to the piece.

Will my enjoyment make me pick up another novel about vampires? Probably not. It will, however, make me buy and read the sequel to About the Nature of the Creature, which Turner is currently writing.

The only criticism I have is that there were a number of typos and some erratic punctuation but I’m sure these were ironed out before publication.

Thank you, L E Turner, for sending me a copy!

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Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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