Archive for June, 2008
I heard Tim Harford on Start the Week a month or three back - I can't remember what he said now but it was interesting enough for me to order his book from the library. When the book turned up I wasn't convinced that I was going to find it that enthralling but I ended up loving it.
This is all about how the world is shaped by pretty much everyone making rational choices about the world around them and yet we end up with some things, like rough neighbourhoods or overpaid bosses, that don't appear to arise out of logic at all. The author is an economist applying the mix of mathematics and observation that's usually applied to finance to all kinds of other areas.
The book is nicely structured. It's one of those books where each time the subject changes I think the new subject won't be as interesting as the last one but each time I'm wrong.
I'll be looking out for Harford's first book "The Undercover Economist" now.
I was a little bit worried about this book. I've been looking out for a new book by Gillian Linscott since I finished her last one in 2004 and have been rather disappointed as time have gone on and no book has appeared. A few months ago I searched the web looking for a reason why she hadn't published another book and found out that she was now publishing under another name. Although I wanted to read this new author I was worried that a book under a new name would be a complete change of style and approach. The new book looks a lot girlier than the old ones and the heroine is a 22 year old called Liberty.
I needn't have worried. This is undoubtedly the same author with a new series breathing firey life into new characters. This story is set in 1837 - old King William is dying and Princess Victoria is about the ascend to the throne - and I'm sure that Liberty Lane would approve of Linscott's suffragette character Nell Bray should her later life ever entwine with the young Nell. In this book Liberty learns that her father has been killed in a duel at Calais. She's certain this is a lie and gets into an investigation that takes her across several strata of life in early Victorian England.
Overall it's a really good read; interesting characters, entertaining plot, nice detail, historically elucidating without getting boring. Much the same things I liked Gillian Linscott for really. I hope she picks up a new readership and doesn't need to change names again!
Purchased on 2nd June 2008.
A right load of tosh.
Perhaps I'm being a bit mean. I generally like Anita Shreve, both the writing and the stories. Here the writing seemed to verge on the pretentious and the story was like a car crash in slow motion.
Charles gets back in touch with SiÃ¢n who he knew briefly at the age of fourteen in 1960. It's now 1991 and they are both married with children. Will they still like each other? Will they wreck their lives for each other?
The dates are important as the plot details are mostly tied up with music of 1960 and the recession of the early 1990s. There's nothing wrong with this plot of course, it could produce a good book. And there's nothing wrong with having a couple of central characters that it's difficult to sympathise with. But taken altogether it was just too much to enjoy.
About the only thing going for this book is that it's short; had it been long I don't know if I would have finished it, but alternately, if it had been longer the peripheral characters might have had more page time which would have made for a better read. I appreciate that the close focus on Charles and SiÃ¢n was supposed to mirror the intensity of the relationship between them but it just wasn't interesting enough for me.
Funny how sometimes it's easier to say what you dislike than what you like.
2 copies of this book are available on BookMooch.