Tag Archives: fiction

The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

house of the spirits, novel book cover, book review This book is on the reading list for one of my Birkbeck modules this year. The debut novel of a Chilean author, Isabel Allende, and originally written in Spanish, this is an English translation.

The style of writing is rich and dense. With a host of eccentric characters, a story line that spans many years and a meandering style that goes off on numerous digressions, it reminded me of Continue reading The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende

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Rates of Exchange, by Malcolm Bradbury

Rates of Exchange, Malcolm Bradbury, reading review by Ruth Livingstone This book is set in a mythical mid-European country. It opens with a 10 page travel guide to the imaginary city of Slaka and the first chapter follows with an account of a plane touching down on the tarmac. Aboard the plane is a Dr Petworth. He may or may not be an important character in the story to follow. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you whether he was, nor can I tell you what happened to him – as I read no further Continue reading Rates of Exchange, by Malcolm Bradbury

When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro

When We Were Orphans, Kazuo Ishiguro - Ruth Livingstone reviews this bookThis book was published in 2000 but, the story is told in the first person and was ‘narrated’ during the 1930s. There is an authentic, old-fashioned feel to the writing. It is not a particularly easy read, being told in a non-linear fashion and with complexly constructed sentences. It took me some time to get into it.

The narrator – Christopher Banks – is brought to England as a small boy, after both his parents disappear. Initially, it is unclear whether he is, or isn’t, one of the orphans alluded to in the title. Continue reading When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro

A Good School, by Richard Yates

A Good School, Richard Yates - book coverThis is a semi-autobiographical book, describing the experiences of a group of boys at an American boarding school at the start of World War 2.

The book begins with a first-person ‘Foreword’, describing how the author came to be enrolled in this particular school – the Dorset Academy, and ends with a first-person ‘Afterword’, describing what happened to the author and to some of his school-mates Continue reading A Good School, by Richard Yates

Now and Forever, by Ray Bradbury

Now and Forever, Ray BradburyI was delighted to find this particular book in my local library. There is so much of Ray Bradbury’s work I haven’t yet read.

This book contains two long short-stories:

1. Somewhere a Band is Playing is a strange little story, with the main character being an aspiring journalist who sets out to report on a small town that is destined for demolition.

The tale blends romance with mystery, and features a town of immortal egyptian characters who hold the knowledge of the books of long-lost libraries in their memories. Part horror story, part fantasy, part ghost story Continue reading Now and Forever, by Ray Bradbury

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany -cover of paperbackI am ashamed to confess: I have never read this story. I saw the film, of course. But I never read the book. It is universally regarded as a great story and, when I saw it in my local library, I had to take it out.

Yes. It is a wonderful story. Here are some things that surprised me and some things that delighted me, in no particular order: Continue reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

Damnation Alley, by Roger Zelazny

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny - coverThis is a unputtadownable book. But, luckily, it is also quick and easy to read in one sitting (I read it over the course of a long train journey on a single day).

The story is a fast-paced action adventure set in a dystopian future. The story follows the classic ‘journey’ format. The main protagonist is an anti-hero, who is asked to take part in an impossible mission in exchange for a pardon from life-long imprisonment. I won’t tell you much about the futuristic scenario, except to say it is set in the USA and involves how life has changed post nuclear-war. The dangers include the usual stuff – radiation and lawlessness – along with fiercesome storms where solid objects rain down with deadly consequences. Continue reading Damnation Alley, by Roger Zelazny