Posts Tagged ‘saga’

Only Time Will Tell – Jeffrey Archer

Posted in Historical Fiction on April 9th, 2014 by admin – 2 Comments

13518131I think I was about 15 when I read my first Jeffrey Archer, Kane and Abel.  In the 80s we didn’t have the wonderful range of YA titles we have now and I moved from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer.  Archer’s early novels were great fun with gripping storylines and larger than life characters so I was quite intrigued at the prospect of revisting his writing 35 years later.

Only Time Will Tell is the first of a pentology, The Clifton Chronicles so be prepared for a sweeping saga.  The first novel covers the first 20 years of the life of Harry Clifton, born in Bristol in 1919.  He’s always thought his father died as a war hero but things are not quite as they seem.  His early years are tough but thanks to a series of serendipitous events (more on that later…) he manages to secure a scholarship to St Bedes where most of the pupils come from an extremely privileged background.  We follow the sometimes dizzying swings and roundabouts of Harry’s early years, never quite knowing what’s coming next.

Jeffrey Archer is a master storyteller and I whizzed through this novel in a couple of sittings.  Is it great literature?  Will it change my life?  Is Harry destined to oust Heathcliffe from my affections?  Nope to all of the above but it was sheer mindless entertainment, extremely readable and filled with ridiculous plot twists and fortuitous events – ideal for your sick bed or sun lounger.  It reminded me of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, another saga which I enjoyed immensely.  I’m not sure if the bookseriesphobe in me will allow me to follow more of Harry’s adventures but you know,  he’s quite addictive so a library reservation might be in order.

Pure escapism – switch your brain off and enjoy.

PS Book Four in the series is already out.  Published by www.panmacmillan.com

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The Midnight Rose – Lucinda Riley

Posted in Historical Fiction, Saga on January 20th, 2014 by admin – 6 Comments

Midnight Rose

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (16 Jan 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1447218434
  • My Rating – 3.5 stars

Sometimes I need a good dollop of escapism in my reading material, especially during the dreary Winter months when sunshine is in short supply.  Fortunately I had The Midnight Rose, Lucinda Riley’s latest novel, to keep me entertained when the Christmas festivities had fizzled out.

This is the story of Anni (Anahita) Chavan, a tale which spans four generations and two continents.  As Anni celebrates her 100th birthday in Darjeeling, India, surrounded by her extended family, she decides to entrust her great-grandson, Ari, with the task of uncovering long buried family secrets – secrets which will lead him to Astbury Hall and the staid world of the English aristocracy.

As the novel progresses, we see the vivid colours of India at the height of the Raj; a warm, vibrant setting which contrasts sharply with the cold, reserved atmosphere which awaits Anni when she comes to England.   The characters are larger than life, particularly the strong women in the shape of Anni and her nemesis, Lady Maud Astbury.

The Midnight Rose is a thoroughly entertaining read which will appeal to those who enjoy historical sagas in the style of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Lesley Pearse and perhaps fans of Downton Abbey.  Yes, there are a few predictable elements but there’s no doubt Ms Riley can spin a good yarn to keep her readers captivated.

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Paris – Edward Rutherfurd

Posted in Historical Fiction on July 29th, 2013 by admin – 6 Comments

Competition Picture

Published
27/06/2013

Publisher
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Source
Amazon Vine

My Rating
A fantastique five stars!

 

I’ve only visited Paris three times and in very different circumstances – once as a 14 year old on a whistle-stop tour of Europe, then again as a university student when I was more interested in Pere Lachaise, Montparnasse and the Flea Markets and finally as a French teacher accompanying pupils on a trip which included Parc Asterix, Eurodisney and the Bateaux Mouches.  I’d love to go back but, in the meantime, I can satisfy my wanderlust with Edward Rutherfurd’s latest tome.

It’s a bit of a monster at 752 pages but this is the norm for Rutherfurd’s epic sagas of different geographical locations. This story revolves around 4 central families ;  the aristocratic de Cygnes, the bourgeois Blanchards, the working class Gascons and the revolutionary/socialist Le Sourds.  I gather that the author’s usual ‘formula’  is to relate epic stories spanning several centuries in a chronological fashion but Paris represents a break with this tradition as it begins in 1875 tending to stick with the events of  late 19th century to mid 20th century but also returns to other centuries beginning with the 13th when Paris intially became France’s first city.  Even though there is a family tree, I found it useful to compile my own diagram detailing family relationships in order to avoid confusion.

I can’t help admiring the author’s skill in structuring such a complex novel.  It’s as if the characters move around a giant chess board with Rutherfurd as Grandmaster!  Yes, there are major coincidences en route and a lot of suspension of disbelief required in certain sections but it really is a beautiful ode to the wonders of Paris and an excellent way to tread the streets of this beautiful city and trace its eventful history without leaving the comfort of your “fauteuil”!  I know it’s a weighty tome and some have recommended purchasing on Kindle to preserve one’s wrists but, if you can ‘bear’ it,  I think this is a book best read the traditional way where you can flick to and fro, reminding yourself of previous events/centuries and consulting the family tree.

A highly recommended easy, engaging read which has made me fall in love with Paris all over again.

Pere Lachaise cemetery
Including graves of Oscar Wilde, Moliere, LaFontaine, Bernhardt, Jim Morrison and the Communards’ Wall

Constructing La Tour Eiffel

You can find out more about Edward Rutherfurd and his other novels on his website here.

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And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

Posted in Literary Fiction, Proofs on April 11th, 2013 by admin – 6 Comments

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (21 May 2013)
  • Source : Amazon Vine
  • My Rating : 4.5 stars

It’s been six years since the publication of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns and his fans have been eagerly awaiting his latest novel.   Hosseini has said that it focuses more on the relationship between siblings rather than tales of fatherhood and motherhood.  This is true but it also differs from his previous novels in other ways.

This is an epic multi-generational family saga starting in the 1950s with a variety of settings – from Afghanistan to France, from Greece to the United States.  Siblings Pari and Abdullah are devoted to each other but their paths take very  different directions early on in their lives.  Hosseini uses his skill as a master storyteller to weave a complicated pattern of family stories which take off in different directions.  The narrative is quite complex, flitting between eras, characters and locations but Hosseini is always firmly in control, pulling the strings and easing the reader’s journey.

I found the descriptions of siblings Abdullah and Pari’s childhood the most evocative and moving.  Also, the story of their Uncle Nabi in Kabul and his dedication to his employer left a big impression on me.  Less effective for me were the Greek interlude and the story of the Afghan Warlord Baba Jan – yes, they were linked to the main story but I found them less engrossing and found myself mistaking Baba Jan for a reincarnation of an earlier character – mea culpa!

The final section of the novel, set in the US, was the piece de resistance for me.  I won’t give away any spoilers but, suffice to say, Hosseini expertly captures the effects of age with quiet, understated but supremely powerful writing – a quiet domestic scene between siblings can be as, if not more, effective than all the battle scenes one can conjure.

And The Mountains Echoed lacks the gut-wrenching impact of Hosseini’s previous novels but it remains a compelling read.  I have no doubt it will be a bestseller.  Now, how long do we have to wait for the next volume??  Not that we’re impatient…

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