Sunday, December 27, 2009

That's Another Story by Julie Walters

Reading this autobiography it felt like Julie Walters was actually talking to me and I could hear her voice and laugh in my head as she relates tales from her rise to fame. However Julie Walters has only written an autobiography about her public persona, apart from her childhood reminisinces there is nothing about her private life, which makes it lacking autobiographically and certainly left me feeling more than a little disappointed. I wanted to learn more about the Julie Walters we do not know. It also only takes us to the birth of her daughter so maybe she will write a sequel later that will let us know a little more about Julie the private person rather than just about Julie the actresss.

Her childhood and adolscence in fifties Birmingham is an amusing picture of her life growing up with two elder brothers, attending the local convent and where her love of entertaining others first developed. Her stardom and fame is actually covered in far less detail than her childhood and it would have been interesting to read more background details about her various well known performances. She has played so many unforgettable characters over the years.However with such a career and cast of characters to her name it would have become a very large volume indeed.

A warm and entertaining memoir worth reading and I do not think any fan of Julie Walters will be disappointed but I do think you will be left feeling there is still a lot more to learn about the real woman behind the actresss.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Click to view large image of cover in new window...This is yet another novel that languished on my bookshelves waiting to be read for far too long.  A fictional story of a families ties to a real life setting.

Sofia and her daughter Alexis are not the heroines of this book as the blurb on the cover might lead you to believe but the descendants of this mother and daughter most certainly are the real protagonists.  Sofia had always felt humiliated by her past and kept it hidden from her husband and children for many years. It is only after Alexis expresses an interest in visiting Crete where her mother was born that Sofia has the chance to heal the wounds and perceive her ancestry in a totally different light.
The main bulk of the novel is the story of these ancestors as related by a friend from the past, Fotini.  It is an absorbing story of a family torn apart by tragedy, the root of which is mainly caused by leprosy.

I now feel I understand a little more about the stigma of Leprosy which sadly is a continuing problem in the 21st Century in developing countries.
I thoroughly enjoyed this as it has much more depth to it than the average romantic novel.  It has also made me interested in visiting Crete, especially, Plaka  Elounda , Agios Nikolaos  and the island of  Spinalonga itself.

Main entrance

Entrance from the sea to the island of Spinalonga

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Click to view large image of cover in new window...One of my favourite books amongst those I have read this year. I wish I had got hold of a copy years ago. Death is a fact of life, as inevitable as night follows day, death follows birth. Whatever ones religious beliefs death is a subject I am sure we all prefer not to think about too often. This novel will certainly make you think about death and what may be waiting for us.
As with ‘The Lovely Bones,’ ‘The Five People You Meet In Heaven’ and ‘The Angels of 9/11’ I found this a spiritually uplifting story about the afterlife. It certainly gives you plenty to think about, the following is a quote from the novel that I particularly like.
‘We all shine on. You just have to release your hearts, alert your senses and pay attention.
A leaf, a star, a song, a laugh. Notice the little things, because somebody is reaching out to you.’

Thirteen years before the story takes place Charlie and Sam St Cloud are involved in a serious car crash, that results in the death of the younger brother Sam and a near death experience for Charlie himself. Unable to cope with his grief and the broken promises made to his brother, ever since that fatal crash Charlie has worked in the cemetery where his brother is buried so as to remain near him.
Charlie’s strange and sad lifestyle is turned upside down when in the graveyard he meets Tess Carroll a young woman he finds he has strong feelings for.
This is a story of love that will remain with you for ever and I will certainly be looking forward to the film becoming available here in Italy.