Book Review: Tiger’s Eye by Inga Clendinnen

Tiger's Eye by Inga ClendinnenI’ve mentioned in other posts that I like reading book blurbs. Rightly or wrongly, I often judge a book by its back cover.  The blurb for Tiger’s Eye, actually an extract from a review in the Australian newspaper The Age, absolutely sold the book to me, while strangely revealing little about the book’s content:

“This is a rare book, and rare in its own time.  It is memoir, history, fiction, a documenting of filial gratitude and ingratitude, and a record of the cauldron experience of a near-fatal illness, all bundled, coherently – that’s the miracle – between covers.  And written with a white intensity that assaults the way a Southern Ocean breaker does: first, shock, then – exhilaration…

The paradox of this intensely personal, powerfully intelligent memoir is that it lets the reader through while leaving Clendinnen and the people she anatomises with their skins on and mystery intact…I am reminded of Sylvia Plath’s last poems, not because Clendinnen is derivative – she is indelibly herself – but because she, too, can extrude clarity out of chaos.”

I knew nothing about the writer and had never heard of the title, but standing dithering in the bookshop I decided that at only £1 it was worth a gamble, so I took it home.  Then I spent months not reading it and looking at its glossy black spine, questioning the impulse which had made me buy it – would I be wasting my precious reading time by even starting it?

But when I finally read it, I loved it.  Absolutely loved it.

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Book Review: Judith by Lawrence Durrell

Judith by Lawrence DurrellI wrote a review a little while back on My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell: an autobiographical account of the author’s unorthodox childhood in Corfu.  I liked the book very much and enjoyed getting to know Durrell’s pets, neighbours and eccentric family members.

Judith is written by Gerald Durrell’s older brother Lawrence.  Lawrence Durrell is in fact much better-known as a writer, having published a huge range of work including novels, travel writings, poetry and plays throughout his long literary career; I just happened to chance across Gerald’s work first.  I’m glad I did, actually, as I felt as though I had already got to know Judith’s author to some degree.  I was pleased to find that the same type of humour and clever character sketches which made me warm to My Family and Other Animals were also present in this novel, even though this is a very different kind of book.

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Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane AustenPersuasion was completed when Jane Austen was already a successful writer, and was published shortly before her death, aged 41, in 1817.  It’s her most romantic and best-loved novel, in the opinion of some, and her weakest and most mournful according to others.  It has a reputation for dividing her fans into one of these love/hate camps.

If you’ve read my Classically Challenged introductory post, you’ll know that I’ve already planted my feet squarely in the romantic camp.  I love Persuasion for so many reasons!  I’ll take you through a few of them…

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