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.

More

Book Review: Memoirs of a British Agent by R.H. Bruce Lockhart

Memoirs of a British Agent by RH Bruce LockhartMemoirs of a British Agent became an instant international bestseller when it was published in 1932.  Robert Lockhart, the writer, was a British diplomat at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.  He candidly reveals his thoughts and actions at this exciting and pivotal point in Russia’s history.

Okay, I’m probably making it sound like a boring history lesson.  But trust me, this is still a really good read all these years after publication.  Lockhart’s friendly, confiding tone gains your trust and makes you want to read on to discover what happened to him next.

More

Book Review: Castles In The Air by Judy Corbett

Castles in the Air by Judy CorbettI’d never heard of this book before I picked it up a few months ago.  Nobody I know has read it, and I hadn’t seen any online reviews about it.  I just saw it in a Bargain Bin in a second-hand bookshop and was taken in by the blurb on the back cover.

Blurbs are funny things, aren’t they?  I love them: a browser like me relies heavily on them to persuade me to buy the book (and I am also swayed by a beautiful cover… I’m only human).  A bad or misleading blurb can be fatal for me, as was almost the case with One Day.  On the flip-side, I know people who refuse to ever read blurbs, preferring to be surprised by the content of a recommended book.

The blurb for Castles in the Air, a non-fiction read about a couple who buy a derelict Welsh castle and lovingly renovate it, made me stop for a moment and long to be a part of their adventure.  When I started reading the book itself, I wasn’t expecting an action-packed adventure; I anticipated a slow-paced, romantic (in the traditional sense) tale of a historical building, its inhabitants and the surrounding countryside.

More

Book Review: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald DurrellMy Family & Other Animals is, as hinted at by the title, a humorous, mostly autobiographical account of the author’s early years, which were spent in Corfu in the 1930s with his mother and three older siblings.  Not only do we become acquainted with his eccentric, very English family, we are also introduced to plenty of the locals: a mix of humans, animals, birds, insects and plant life.

Durrell’s family moved to Corfu when he was 8 years old.  Before this they had lived in India and England, so his was not exactly your average upbringing.  More