Monday, August 14, 2017

A Voyage for Madmen | Peter Nichols

I love a good sailing story as they contain plenty of adventurous people who are just a little bit mad. But in this book, wow, most of them are off the scale.

This is the true story of the first round-the-world yacht race. It was sponsored by the Sunday Times and was called the Golden Globe race and was seen as the last frontier: to sail singlehandedly around the world non-stop and without any assistance.

Nine men left England in 1968 and only one made it across the line (1969).

The men involved are what is amazing about this book. Each is researched and are well drawn, making us part of each man's personal journey and in the quest to win. Some had a background in the navy, some as weekend sailors, one had never sailed before...the world was a different place then!

Nothing like this race could happen now, as back then there was no GPS technology, not health and safety hounds, not much required other than the will to go on a huge voyage and try to survive in a small boat.

Much has been written about this race and the outcomes so there's not much point repeating information here but it is worth saying that if you want a good book to read, full of the challenges one must face in solitude, agains all odds, this is a great book  to read. The last of the great sea adventures. 

Don't Close your Eyes | Holly Seddon

There are a lot of books of like this one out there at the moment, I think it started with Girl on a Train...and I've had to review quite a few of them. Mostly are opportunistic, badly written rants.

BUT, if you want a thriller that won't disturb your sleep but will keep you entertained, this is a very good one.

Two families in the Uk are friends, then swap partners, and the children are left in the middle to agonise through the upheavals of blended families and broken relationships.
Robin and her twin Sarah are separated, Callum leaves with his Mum, and is relieved to be away from his abusive Dad. A tangled web is woven. A tragedy has occurred in the past, we're not sure what. It has traumatised all the children, and they have no contact with each other just a few years after living together as blended families.

The chapters are told from the point of view of the twins, then and now. Robin is a recluse, Sarah has lost her daughter and husband and in desperation starts looking for her twin, who does not want to be found.

The intrigue keeps you reading.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Villa at the Edge of the Empire | Fiona Farrell

Although we lived through the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, I've been reluctant to read anything written about them. may it's because we lived through them and feel no need to relive them in literature.
However...I have enjoyed Fiona Farrell's work before, so I picked up this book and set aside my trepidation. I'm glad I did.
Farrell loves the city of Christchurch, whcih was devastated by the earthquake of February 2011. As she knew the city beforehand she has been able to reconstruct the character and heart of the city by using the idea of maps.
She tells the story of the earliest maps made of Christchurch, of a future city to be established on the Canterbury Plains. She then chooses parts of the city and it's geography and maps to take us through the issues of what was there and familiar, what was destroyed and the plans and blueprints being drawn up to make the city anew.
She describes the tensions between wanting a city of the future, without disregarding the heritage and history whcih shaped Christchurch from the start.
Farrell also draws a similar portrait of another town she is familiar with, L'Aquila, which has suffered through many earthquakes. It's not so much as a comparison to Christchurch, but as another example of a community looking to regenerate the place they live in.

This book is brilliant, because it covers a wide range or issues facing cities world-wide, and yet, with feeling and sensitivity explores the real meaning of community, belonging and the love of place.