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Greaders please review Aug/Sept books

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AnninGlos Report 30 Sep 2014 13:17

Phew thanks Mersey *rushes onto board. sorry to be late, was it only Mersey who is awake this Month?

Please review:
Bread Jam and a borrowed pram
Aphrodite's Island
The Room Beyond

And any others you may have read

:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D


AnninGlos Report 30 Sep 2014 13:21

review Bread Jam and a borrowed pram by Dot May Dunn

Set in the fifties and early sixties the story of the work of a children's health visitor in Aston, Birmingham.

I suppose I must have been aware that many children my age didn't live in houses with the modern facilities that I did. Although there are degrees of poverty and Dot certainly seems to have been working amongst those appallingly badly off.

She tells her story well, bringing the characters she knew to life. What a hard life she had as well with some of the houses she visited being potentially disease ridden.

I can't say I enjoyed the book, it made for uncomfortable reading in places but it was illuminating and informative


AnninGlos Report 30 Sep 2014 13:22

review Aphrodite's Island by Hilary Green

I knew when voting for this book that it will have been well researched. I love the way she brings recent history to life.

I was, of course, aware of EOKA and Enosis and the split of north and South Cyprus but weaving a love story into the facts made them seem more real.

She is an excellent story teller and her characters leap off the page they ring so true. In a way I was sorry to finish it and I forgive her for the ending being a little predictable because I loved the way she rounded it off. If only all those in Cressida's situation had the same result that she had.

Yes I loved it.


AnninGlos Report 30 Sep 2014 13:24

review the room beyond by Stephanie Elmas

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book but it was a good read. Serina who goes to be nannie to Beth. Simple enough? No!

Beth is 4 going on 24 not a normal child in a not normal family.
The story switches between the 19th and 20th centuries following the same family. But nothing is what it seems. Spooky and sad, a love not meant to be, illegitimate children, ghosts of the past and a missing house in a normal row of houses.

Very good, one or two typos and missed words but I would certainly read other books by SE.


AnninGlos Report 30 Sep 2014 13:34

Testimony by Anita shreve It is difficult to write too much about this book without giving the plot away. I am copying the blurb here from Amazon which is concise and explains the story. At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voice -- those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal -- that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

A gripping emotional drama with the pace of a thriller, Anita Shreve's Testimony explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to

I can't add to that. I really enjoyed the book, it was a good read.


Mersey Report 30 Sep 2014 13:44

Bread Jam & Borrowed Pram -Dot May Dunn

This is a story based on a young community nurse(Health Visitor) around the 1950's. The residents of the back streets always called the community nurses "The Welfare", they dealt with most things from Alcoholics,Runaways, Domestic Abuse etc as well as nursing projects like, mother, children, old folk and people down on their luck....

The story is based on the stories which have some shocking circumstances but portrays truthful events of what happened at that time...

I loved the book , could not swipe the pages quick enough, poignant , heartfelt and truly was an enjoyable read......

The Dress Thief - Natalie Meg Evans

This story was based in the 1930's fashion world of Paris and beyond....

Alix has a dream to become one of the top designers of the future, her passion pushes her to the dark and unsceen acts of portrayal leading to deceivement...

Alix has a secret, she looks after her family and in order to do this she goes to the low levels of stealing designs from others fashion houses. She feels nothing but guilt and amongst other things she see's no other way out of it, if she wants to keep her family, especially her Grandmother above water. She really does have a real talent one of which could send her around the world in the fashion industry and show her talent to those who believe she has none....
Her dreams are huge and she just ants to prove to herself she can do it on her own..

Parts of the book actually reminded me of "House of Elliot" with twists and turns and very much darker....

Another book I thoroughly enjoyed, will defintely be reading some of her other books...

The Room Beyond - Stephanie Elmas

I am in the middle of reading this book at the moment, so will review when finished.

I will say two stories in one from the 1890's to the present day....Loving it...infact will go as far to say the best read I have read for 2014 and that is without finishing it yet



TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 30 Sep 2014 17:12

First Review. The Perfume Collector Kathleen Tessaro

This book should have been reviewed on 17th August. However I had to wait a long time to get it from the library - now that I have read it i can say that it was worth the wait.
Although I know that (both figerativly and literally) you should,'t judge a book by its cover I found the cover to be both beautiful and inticing. (lady in a red dress0.
Confession time. I don't always read the heading at the beginning of each chapter in The perfume Collector this was essential - as the story often swapped between people, places and times. I sometimes had to go back to the heading to find out when and where I was (reading about)

The stories of Grace and Eva grabbed me from beginning to end. Grace's story, set mainly post WW11 was a bit of an eye opener - a reminder of what life was like for women (even fairly well educated women) at that time and how things have changed since then.

Eva's story tells of how dismal things were for the disadvantaged post WW1 and the difficulties that had to be overcome to change things - sometimes at a grave cost
The "interlude" in Oxfardshire was heartwarming as was Grace's recollection of it - as it became a special memory to treasure forever.

Although the story of perfume and its creation adds to the story and I would have loved to see the home of Madame Zee in paris - along with the shop (workshop) downstairs . I am glad that I didn't get to smell any of it, as it would probably made me sneeze! :-( :-(

despite "meeting" such a lot of sad people and situations I engaged with the main characters and throughly enjoyed the read.

Will be back ;ater with review of "Bread and jam"


Pammy51 Report 30 Sep 2014 18:08

Bread and Jam

As Ann said, when I was young I was unaware of children having to live in such extreme poverty. Dot was brave going into such unfamiliar situations in a time where 'the Welfare' were not always welcome visitors. Although I enjoyed the book I could not help comparing it to the 'Call the Midwife' stories which I felt had more depth. Perhaps the job of a welfare worker gives less opportunity to follow their clients' stories to the end?

Aphrodite's Island

I haven't read any Hilary Green books before but I shall have to look out for them as I really loved this book. The history of Cyprus is woven expertly into a lovely, if rather predictable love story. A Greek Cypriot friend had told us how he and his family had fled to the mountains with just the bare essentials when the Turkish army took over the North of the island. It was only recently that he had been allowed back to see his old home, obviously now lived in by a Turkish Cypriot family, with no sign of the possessions they had had to leave behind. Until reading the book I had not thought that the home left by the displaced Turkish Cypriots would have been used by homeless Greek Cypriots from the Northern sector. It was really interesting to find out some of the background to the problems faced over the years by this beautiful country.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 30 Sep 2014 22:39

Aalthough i have read Bread and Jam - and !Sketched out" a review - or at least started one, I am still in two minds about this interesting book.

I now feel that I need to reread it, in an endeavour to clear up any uncertainties I have at the moment, so that I can give a fair and honest review!!!

Sorry for the delay,



Berona Report 1 Oct 2014 01:01

Bread, Jam and a Borrowed Pram.
I was very interested in this book as I lived and worked in London in the early fifties and I knew nothing of the poverty which existed like shown in this book. How different from the modern methods of health assistance – and such hard work for the ladies who went from home to home via public transport and on foot – to give assistance. Quite an eye-opener.

The Room Beyond
I always like to see the described scenery in my mind’s eye, but couldn’t quite get a picture on this with people seeming to live in the attic and have balconies which led from one property to the next. All very confusing. Then, to find that Seb was a ghost was just a bit too much – but too late. I’m too practical to enjoy ghost stories and was disappointed to learn that this was what it was all about.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 5 Oct 2014 10:45

Bread and Jam and a Borrowed Pram.

Back at last to review this book. (Having read it twice)

I enjoyed the story of the Health Visitor in a poor area of Birmingham. The descroptions of the people and places were first class. I remember travelling on buses, check to jowl with the people next to me. The grey wet streets bought back memories of my feelings when I came to Birmingham in live in 1961.

However therein lies the problem!

I lived in Birmingham , less than two-and-a-half years after the story opens. Was lucky enough to live in a semi with indoor plumbing. So my problems with washing etc. I did though, live in an inner-city area, some of my school friends lived in back-to-bak houses. Many did not have their own bath or toilet, there was an issue of poverty and overcrowding - BUT (a big but!) very few were smelly! At least there was no difference (in the main) between people with bathrooms and people without.
I remember at that time that there were adverts on tv about what your best friend would tell you (about B.O.) an advert I think for Lifeboy soap. So there was probably more B.O. around generally in thoses days.

<y best friends lived in a back-to-back - shared outside toilet, only a cold tap and sink in the house, no bath or wash basin. There mother was a marvellous baker, cooked cakes and pies and great hot dinners! Her neighbours were very much cut from the same cloth - yes there was poverty, and people struggling to keep everything going.
Jumble sales were very popular - kept the whole family decently clothed. A local bakers sold penny cakes - they were cakes that had got a bit damaged, squashed in transit. A wonderful treat for those that knew about it.
In the early sixties there was an article in the local sunday papers - about the "Slims of Birmingham" It featured some rather grainy photos of some of these "slum houses2 including one just over the road from my friend. The garden of this house had been dug over, and left all uneven and untidy - the washing line prop had been laid on its side on the uneven ground, looking like a pieceof junk! This photo was not a fair reflection of what the garden usually looked like.

My friend, her parents and their neighbours were very upset about the article, they didn't mind that they were reported to live in overcrowded unmodernised homes, but felt that being labelled "slum dwellers" was a eflection on them.

I wonder how the people that lived in the area Dot may Dunn writes about would feel.
Where were the people with furniture in their houses (even if old and shabby) the people who could offer a decent cup of tea (besides the Singh family) the people who were coping with difficult circumstances. The people who worked hard and kept their homes looking like "little palaces"

I don't deny that the things she describes did happen - bt felt that it was a little like newspapers - good news does not sell papers - while bad news does.

I know that she did write about Mrs Watts and Mrs Long and Mrs Short - but I didn't get the feel about good housekeeping from them. Just a determined spirit and a soft heart behind a tough exterior.

Well, rant over. If I didn't feel close to the people in the book - I would probably be full of praises. As it is, I would have loved to be able to chat to the author about her time as a health visitor in Birmingham, perhaps she would have been able to talk people like the ones I went to school with. School uniforms always looking smart, teeth and hair well looked after, homework done and plans for the future intact.


Sorry 1) that it was so long in coming. 2) that it is so long!


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 5 Oct 2014 12:07

Aphrodite's Island by Hilary Green.

I enjoyed this well written story by Hilary Green. It is a history lesson, a travellogue and a story of love all in one.

I can just about remember hearing about "the truuble in Cyprus" when I was young. Of course, anything I heard would have been from the British point of view.
So it was enlightening to read about what happened to the Cypriot people at that time, the dispute with British rule and the division between Greeks and Turks.

It is sad to be reminded (or to have it bought home to us) about the upheavel of having to move from one part of the Island to another, all depending on your ethnic origins. Upsetting to think that some people researching their family historywould be unable to go to the homes of their ancestors.

The romance part of the story, plus the father/daughter tale, held no big suprises. Nevertheless it was good to read about it. A little light relief after reading about troubled times.

Hilary Green is another author to add to my list.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 5 Oct 2014 12:10

P.S. I couldn't get The Room Beyond but will look out for it , the reviews so far have increased my interest.