book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to radioscilly.com.

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Philippa Gregory -The King's Curse

review written by Maggie Perkovic & read live on the bookshow 2nd october 2014.
I do like this author's writing skill,but I have an annoyance with the way she tweaks History for her own ends.
She did it in "The Other Boleyn Girl", making Anne Boleyn the older sister, which
everyone knows Anne came after Mary, hence her closeness to her brother as
they were not very many years apart.
In this book she tells of the "Curse" which fell on all those with a greater claim to
the throne than Henry Tudor. The Plantagents fell foul of this curse and having lost
many of her relations because of this, the Countess of Salisbury whose father was
close enough to the throne to be eliminated and she was living on a thread and
knew that the young Henry was ready to destroy any one who defied him and boasted
of their right to rule instead of the Tudors  whose claim was tenuous indeed.
The story is told in the first person, and she appears to have a strong connection
with Katherine of Aragon whose father ordered Henry VIII to get rid of her brother
before she would be sent to England with her considerable dowry. Despite this
they became very close and indeed the Countess cared for Mary, Katherine's
daughter when mother and daughter were separated.
Well written and absorbing but a few facts enhanced to make a good book I fear.
Even so, I do recommend this book.

Icons of England Edited by Bill Bryson.

review written by Maggie Perkovich & read live on the bookshow 2nd October 2014
This is an interesting book featuring contributions from some of our best loved writers and
broadcasters about what they consider English icons.You get pub signs, chimney spires,
bonfires nights, seasides, country churchyards, estuaries, ancient trees and hares.
Lots of other icons also feature including Alan Titchmarsh's choice wild flowers.
Prince Charles wrote the foreword, perhaps an English icon himself?? I loved it.
Very highly recommended. Maggie Perkovic.

Penny Vincenzi - A Perfect Heritage

review written by Babs Simpson & read live on the bookshow Sept 2014

WELL, PV HAS DONE IT AGAIN - ANOTHER WONDERFUL, ABSORBING, DELICIOUS NOVEL PACKED FULL OF FASCINATING CHARACTERS, AN IMAGINATIVE AND CLEVER PLOT, ALL SET AGAINST A BACKDROP OF AN OLD ESTABLISHED COSMETICS COMPANY.
THE HOUSE OF FARRELL WAS ESTABLISHED IN CORONATION YEAR IN 1953, BY ATHINA AND CORNELIUS FARRELL AND HAS FOR YEARS, TRADED SUCCESSFULLY, MOSTLY ON THE BACK OF ITS MOST FAMOUS PRODUCT - THE CREAM.  NOW IT'S 2011, CORNELIUS HAS DIED, ATHINA, IN HER 80'S, IS STILL VERY MUCH IN EVIDENCE, AN AUTOCRATIC LADY WHO REFUSES TO THINK OF MODERNISING AND THE COMPANY HAS ALMOST RUN INTO THE GROUND.  EVENTUALLY LADY FARRELL MUCH AGAINST HER BETTER JUDGEMENT, IS PERSUADED THAT URGENT AND DRASTIC ACTION IS NEEDED TO SAVE IT AND A FIRM OF VENTURE CAPITALISTS IS BROUGHT IN TO INJECT MUCH NEEDED CASH AND BRING THE COMPANY INTO THE 21ST CENTURY WITH A RE-LAUNCH.
BIANCA BAILEY IS THE WOMAN CHOSEN TO PERFORM THIS MIRACLE AND HER TASK IS NOT AN EASY ONE.  SHE IS MARRIED TO PATRICK AND THEY HAVE 3 CHILDREN.  BIANCAS JOB IS OBVIOUSLY VERY DEMANDING, INVOLVING LONG HOURS OVERSEAS TRAVEL, BUT PATRICK, WITH HIS ROUTINE 9-5 ACCOUNTANCY POSITION, IS ABLE TO BE AT HOME WITH THE CHILDREN.  THEN HE IS OFFERED A NEW EXCITING OPPORTUNITY AND THERE ARE INEVITABLE CLASHES.
FLORENCE HAMILTON HAS BEEN WITH THE HOUSE OF FARRELL SINCE ITS INCEPTION AND LOOKS AFTER THEIR ICONIC SHOP - A BOUTIQUE IN THE EXCLUSIVE BERKELEY ARCADE.  FLORENCE IS LOYAL, CLEVER AND HAS A SECRET THAT MUST STAY HIDDEN.
THERE'S A LONG WAY TO GO UNTIL THE RE-LAUNCH AND IT IS FULL OF TWISTS, TURNS, DISASTERS & TRIUMPHS.  ATHINA FARRELL ID DETERMINED TO RUIN ALL BIANCA'S PLANS AND THERE ARE MANY FASCINATING SUB-PLOTS INVOLVING THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE FARRELL CLAN AND STAFF OF THE COMPANY AND THEIR PARTNERS.
THIS IS A WONDERFUL BOOK.  PV ALWAYS PROVIDES AN EXCELLENT READ AND THIS ONE IS HEART-WARMING, TENSE AND FULL OF GREAT CHARACTERS FROM 13YR OLD MILLIE, WHO IS BEING HORRIBLY BULLIED AT SCHOOL, TO 81 YR OLD ATHINA, WHO THINKS HE HAS THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING.
I LOVED EVERY MOMENT AND BADLY DIDN'T WANT IT TO END.  THERE CAN BE NO  HIGHER ACCOLADE!

Anthony Quinn - Half of the Human Race

review written by Babs Simpson & read live on the bookshow Sept 2014
THIS IS THE STORY OF CONNIE CALLAWAY WHO WE MEET IN 1911.  HER FATHER HAS RECENTLY DIED AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY IS LIVING IN REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES IN NORTH LONDON.
CALLIE'S FATHER HAD INSTILLED IN HIS DAUGHTER A LOVE OF CRICKET AND WHEN SHE HOLIDAYS WITH HER FAMILY ON THE SOUTH COAST SHE IS INTRODUCED TO WILL MAITLAND, CRICKETER AND RISING STAR OF THE COUNTY TEAM.  THEIR FIRST ENCOUNTER IS NOT A PARTICULARLY HAPPY ONE AS THE OUTSPOKEN GIRL TAKES IT UPON HERSELF TO SUGGEST TO WILL HOW HIS GAME MIGHT BE IMPROVED.  BUT THEY DESTINED TO MEET AGAIN MANY TIMES THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.
CALLIE IS ALSO DRAWN TO THE CAUSE OF WOMENS SUFFRAGE AND SERVES A TERM IN HOLLOWAY PRISON WHEN CAUGHT SMASHING WINDOWS.  THE DREADFUL TREATMENT METED OUT TO THESE WOMEN IS GRAPHICALLY DESCRIBED BUT WILL CANNOT ACCEPT CALLIES DEVOTION TO THE CAUSE AND ABANDONS HER.
WE MEET MANY OF THE BRAVE WOMEN WHO FOUGHT AND SUFFERED SO THAT WE MIGHT HAVE THE CHANCE TO VOTE, AS WELL AS THE LEGENDARY CRICKETER TAM TAMBURLAIN, WILL'S IDOL, WHO COMES TO CALLIES RESCUE WHEN SHE IS AT HER LOWEST EBB.
THE FIRST WORLD WAR BEGINS AND AFFECTS EVERYONE, CALLIE BECOMING A NURSING ORDERLY AND WILL A SOLDIER.
THE PERIOD AND PLACE ARE VIVIDLY BROUGHT TO LIFE AND THIS IS A VERY WELL WRITTEN BOOK WITH A GOOD ABSORBING STORY.
IT IS NOT OFTEN, IN MY EXPERIENCE, THAT A MALE AUTHOR WRITES TO WELL FROM THE FEMALE POINT OF VIEW AND CALLIE IS A COMPLETELY CONVINCING CHARACTER LEADING A LIFE THAT THE READER IS GLAD TO SHARE.
DEFINITELY TO BE RECOMMENDED  EVEN IF THE CRICKETING SCENES LAST A BIT TOO LONG FOR MY LIKING
 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Maggie Fergusson - War child to War Horse


REVIEW WRITTEN BY BABS SIMPSON & READ LIVE ON THE BOOKSHOW 25TH SEPT 2014
THIS BIOGRAPHY IS AN HONEST ACCOUNT OF MICHAEL MORPURGO'S LIFE WHICH HE DECIDED NOT TO WRITE HIMSELF BECAUSE HE COULDN'T TRUST HIMSELF NOT TO VEER OFF INTO FICTION.  AS WELL AS HIS LIFE STORY, THERE ARE SEVEN NEW SHORT STORIES BY HIM RELEVANT TO VARIOUS CHAPTERS IN THE BOOK.
MICHAEL WAS BORN IN 1943 INTO AN INTERESTING FAMILY.  HIS MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER WAS A RENOWNED SHAKESPEAREAN ACTRESS AND HER HUSBAND A PASSIONATE BELGIAN POET.  HIS MOTHER, THEIR DAUGHTER, KIPPE AND HIS FATHER, TONY BRIDGE, WERE ALSO WORKING AS ACTORS WHEN THEY MET.
IN 1945 THE CHARISMATIC JACK MORPURGO CAME INTO THEIR LIVES, KIPPE AND TONY EVENTUALLY SEPARATED, TONY GOING TO LIVE IN CANADA & MICHAEL HAD A NEW FATHER IN JACK.
MICHAELS YOUNG LIFE WAS DOMINATED BY THE MOTHER HE ADORED AND HE DIDN'T LIKE HIS FIRST SCHOOLS IN LONDON.  THEN HE WENT TO PREP SCHOOL IN SUSSEX AS A BOARDER WITH  HIS ELDER BROTHER PIET, COMPLETING HIS EDUCATION AT THE KINGS SCHOOL CANTERBURY, WHICH HE ATTENDED ON A SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED TO A BOY WITH LEADERSHIP ABILITIES.  DURING AL THIS TIME HE SUFFERED HORRIBLY WITH HOMESICKNESS.  HE WAS NEVER OUTSTANDING ACADEMICALLY EVEN IN ENGLISH, BUT WAS POPULAR BEING VERY MUSICAL AND GOOD AT ALL SPORTS.  EVENTUALLY HE DECIDED THAT A CAREER IN THE ARMY WOULD SUIT HIM AND HE WAS ACCEPTED FOR MILITARY TRAINING AT SAND HURST ALTHOUGH HE QUICKLY REALISED THAT LIFE WAS NOT FOR HIM.
HE MET CLARE LANE, DAUGHTER OF THE LEGENDARY FOUNDER OF PENGUIN BOOKS, SIR ALLEN LANE.  THEY FELL IN LOVE AND GOT MARRIED WHEN HE WAS STILL ONLY 20.  IT'S LOVELY TO KNOW THAT, 50 YEARS ON, THEY ARE STILL IN LOVE AND VERY HAPPY.  CHILDREN FOLLOWED AND MICHAEL PURSUED A HALF-HEARTED CAREER AS A SCHOOLMASTER BUT HE WAS TOO UNCONVENTIONAL TO FIT IN.  HE CARED PASSIONATELY ABOUT GIVING CHILDREN THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES AND OPENING THEIR MINDS TO THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD AROUND THEM AND AFTER QUITE A FEW DIFFICULT YEARS, THINGS SUDDENLY FELL INTO PLACE.
THEY BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE FARMS FOR CITY CHILDREN PROJECT BOUGHT A PROPERTY IN DEVON WITH AN ADJOINING MIXED FARM AND FROM THEN ON TWENTY SIX 9-10 YR OLD CHILDREN AND A TEACHER WOULD ARRIVE EVERY FORTNIGHT TO STAY AND HAVE A TASTE OF COUNTRY LIFE, FEEDING THE ANIMALS, MILKING COWS, COLLECTING EGGS AND IN THE PROCESS DEVELOPING A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AS WELL AS RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER AND THOSE AROUND THEM.
IT WAS VERY HARD WORK FOR ALL THOSE ADULTS INVOLVED BUT INCREDIBLY REWARDING AND SATISFYING.  MICHAEL WOULD TAKE THE CHILDREN OUT INTO THE COUNTRY SIDE TO ENCOURAGE A FEELING FOR NATURE AND IN THE EVENINGS THEY WOULD BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO LISTEN TO STORIES HE HAD WRITTEN.
THE MORPURGOS LOVED THEIR LIFE IN DEVON AND INDEED STILL LIVE THERE.  MICHAEL DERIVED INSPIRATION FOR MANY OF HIS BOOKS FROM HIS SURROUNDINGS, INCLUDING THE ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL AND POPULAR WAR HORSE AND DURING THAT TIME HIS WORK BEGAN TO BE PUBLISHED.
IN 1982 THE MORPURGO BOYS WENT ON A SCHOOL TRIP TO SCILLY AND CAME HOME ENTHUSING ABOUT THE ISLANDS.  CLARE HAD VISITED TRESCO AS A CHILD SO THEY DECIDED TO HAVE A FAMILY HOLIDAY.  TRESCO WAS FULL SOP THEY OPTED FOR B&B ON BRYHER.  NEEDLESS TO SAY THEY'VE BEEN BACK EVERY YEAR SINCE.
THERE IS SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK - LOTS OF INFORMATION AND INSIGHTS INTO THIS LOVELY MAN WHO HAS GIVEN GREAT JOY  TO SO MANY OTHERS THROUGH HIS WONDERFUL STORIES.  IT IS WRITTEN RATHER IN HIS OWN STYLE - SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD AND HONEST.  THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN FROM IT  & I'VE ONLY SKIMMED OVER IT HERE.  PLEASE READ IT, IT'S A LOVELY BOOK ABOUT A LOVELY MAN.

Michael Morpurgo - Listen to the Moon.

review written by Babs Simpson & read live on the bookshow 25th Sept 2014
I LOVE THIS AUTHORS WORK.  I KNOW It IS INTENDED FOR YOUNG PEOPLE BUT THE STYLE IS UNIVERSAL AND THE STORY IS HEART-WARMING AND FULL OF THE BEST AND WORST OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR.  MM HAS RETURNED TO BRYHER FOR 'LISTEN TO THE MOON'.  
IT IS 1915 AND THE WORLD WAR IS RAGING IN EUROPE.  EVEN LITTLE BRYHER IS AFFECTED - YOUNG MEN HAVE GONE OFF TO FIGHT AND ONE, JACK BRODY, HAS RETURNED HORRIBLY INJURED AND SUFFERING TERRIBLY.
YOUNG ALFIE WHEATCROFT IS OUT FISHING WITH HIS FATHER JIM WHEN THEY HEAR A STRANGE CRYING COMING FROM ST HELEN'S.  THEY GO ASHORE TO FIND A YOUNG GIRL, THIN, SOAKING WET, FREEZING COLD AND NEAR TO DEATH IN THE PEST HOUSE.  JIM CARRIES HER TO THE BOAT, ALFIE ROWS HOME AND MARY, HIS MOTHER, TAKES THE GIRL IN TO TRY TO REVIVE HER.
 
THIS MYSTERIOUS CHILD DOESN'T SPEAK AND HER ONLY POSSESSIONS - A  GREY BLANKET WITH A LABEL SAYING 'WILHELM' AND A BEDRAGGLED TOY RABBIT MARKED 'STEIFF' - SEEM TO INDICATE THAT SHE IS GERMAN.  IS SHE ONE OF THE ENEMY?  A SPY EVEN?
MARY CUTS OFF THE LABELS.  ALL SHE KNOWS IS THAT A POOR CHILD IS GRAVELY ILL AND SHE MUST DO HER BEST FOR HER.
THE ONLY WORD THE GIRL HAS BEEN HEARD TO WHISPER IS 'LUCY', SO SHE BECOMES KNOWN TO EVERYONE AS LUCY LOST.  BUT AS SHE RECOVERS HER STRENGTH, SO THE RUMOURS START AND ALL THE FAMILY BEGIN TO SUFFER THE WHISPERS AND INSULTS THAT SPREAD AROUND THE ISLAND.  ALFIE IS BULLIED AT SCHOOL AND EVEN THE CRUEL HEADMASTER IS GUILTY OF PREJUDICE AND UNKINDNESS TO POOR DUMB LUCY WHEN SHE IS FORCED TO ATTEND.
GRADUALLY WE LEARN ABOUT LUCY, WHO SHE IS, WHERE SHE CAME FORM AND HOW SHE ENDED UP ON ST HELENS IN SUCH A PITIFUL STATE.
THIS IS AN IMMENSELY SATISFYING STORY, WELL TOLD AND QUITE RIVETTING.  BRYHER IS OF COURSE BEAUTIFULLY DESCRIBED AND THE PEOPLE, WARTS AND ALL ARE REAL.  MICHAEL MORPURGO IS A VERY CLEVER WRITER.  HIS BOOKS ARE FOR CHILDREN BUT THEIR SIMPLICITY IS BEAUTIFUL AND NEVER PATRONISING.
THE STORY WINDS TO A WONDERFUL CLIMAX AND TO MY GREAT JOY, WE FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS.  TOO OFTEN A TRIUMPHANT ENDING LEAVES ME WANTING TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE DID AFTERWARDS.
A LOVELY BOOK

Michael Morpurgo - Listen to the Moon

review by showhost 25th Sept 2014
I was a little unsure when I started reading it that I was going to like it, it seemed a little slow and simplistic but as the pages went on I got really engrossed in it.  I suppose it helps that we live on the Scillies, which is where the book is based and that I can stop and look over to St Helens and Bryher, where the story took place.  I loved the historical fact which was intertwined within the story.
It is 1915 and Britain is at war with Germany.  Alfie and his father are fishing for Mackerel when they hear what sounds like a girl crying on the uninhabited island of St Helens.  They investigate and find an injured, dehydrated, malnourished young girl, a stranger to the islands.  The girl cannot speak and has no recollection of who she is or where she came from.  The only word she says is Lucy - so Lucy Lost she became known.  She is taken in by Alfies family and accepted by the locals but speech doesn't come.  She is fascinated by the gramophone and Mozart and can play the piano competently as well as ride a horse.  As the war rages, with Germany, local lads are going off to war one returning a broken person from how he went & others will not return at all.  The islanders friendliness turns to hostility.when it is discovered that Lucy has a blanket with a german name on it and Lucy and Alfie face daily threats.  During the story we learn about a girl called Merry, who lives in New York with her family.  Who, when her father goes off to war and is injured and taken to Britain, undertakes the transatlantic crossing with her mother on the ill fated Lusitania.
I really enjoyed this book. Island life comes across very well.