Monday, 13 August 2012

'Oh To Be In England' by H. E. Bates

Ah, another trip into nostalgia!

Ostensibly about the Christening of the Larking children, this charming novel is really a lament at the changes that England (and, perhaps, by extension Britain as a whole) were seeing, the changes in both people and the environments.
Once again one is left with a sense of longing for such times that once existed, and this book is, perhaps because of the sense of change within, more attuned to hitting the mark in that respect.
Whilst food and drink, of course, make an appearance, they are relegated to playing second fiddle to the more pressing needs that Bates writes about. Ultimately one gets an honesty from this book that Bates' feelings on the matters within were very close to his heart indeed.

The previous novel, 'When The Green Woods Laugh', really pales into comparison compared to this book but I would still say that all the Larkin novels were well worth a read. They are ideal for when one wants to escape into the kind of world that we can only wish and dream we lived in.
They are almost guaranteed to leave you with a warm, cosy feeling.

Monday, 6 August 2012

'Rising Sun' by Michael Crichton

True to my word, another Crichton novel!
Now I shall be honest and say that I wasn't all that excited about reading this novel about murder in the corporate world. Perhaps because most things to do with business and large corporate bodies bore me. Or perhaps I have vague recollections of the movie version (which I'm not even sure I've seen, to be honest).
But, anyway, I was greatly surprised by this book. It's fast paced, engaging, well structured and is very much a page turner that certainly does not bore.

Now, I am a fan of detective fiction and there is something of that genre in these pages and the plot is well devised and busy, which may be a little confusing at times.
The insights into what goes on behind the corporate scenes are quite fascinating and, unlike 'Congo', such factual information is told in a manner which does not at all remove the reader from the book. Instead they are told as part of the story and this integration is one of the strong points of the writing. Crichton's research (as evidenced in the bibliography) pays off dividends.
We follow two primary detective characters throughout and they are interesting ones at that, surrounded by various others that feed into the plot to varying degrees. These inter-relationships are another strong point in the plot though some are left unresolved at the conclusion of the novel.

The book is not so much about the murder of a young woman as it is a essay on the pitfalls of modern (at least for the time of the book's writing) business and international relationships.
But it's still a heady, full speed, thrill of a novel.