Pete Townshend: Who I Am by Pete Townshend
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Phew! It's a relief to click 'I'm finished' on Goodreads for Who I Am because I seem to have been reading Pete Townshend's autobiography for weeks. At over 500 pages, it is far too long for the amount of material incorporated which is a shame as a good edit down to around 300 pages could make this a far more gripping insight.
Instead we get some good Who stories early on, but once Townshend departs from his interesting supporting cast, all we are left with is an insecure boy apparently trying to fill the emotional vacuums in his life with sex, alcohol and endless shopping (houses, boats, studio gadgets). Full of grand ideas and wearying protestations of his own importance, Townshend cares little for any other people around him and is frequently dismissive of even the fans who have 'kept him in cheques' (nice one, Roger!).
For such an artistic and literate man, the writing is surprisingly basic, mainly brief disconnected chapters that offer little reward for the long slog of reading them all. A shame.
The Long Song by Andrea Levy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
The Long Song is set in 1800s colonial Jamaica and manages a wonderful duality in that it tells of a life lived through the last years of slavery and on into freedom, but without becoming another book about slavery. Our protagonist, July, is born to a field slave mother on a sugar cane plantation and is abruptly taken to the house at eight years old when she catches the missus' eye. Through her reminiscences, we are introduced to a outlandish social structure with many more subtle layers than just that of masters and slaves.
I love how Andrea Levy draws us into her characters' lives by way of gossip and chatter. The minutiae gives a fascinating illustration of their world and the device of the elderly July talking makes her story all the more real. Major historical events do happen, but just out of sight so this is always a novel of people not facts. I was completely hooked and read the whole book in just over a day!
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Case Of The Cryptic Crinolene is the fifth book in its series, but the story is sufficiently self-contained that it didn’t really matter I hadn’t already read the previous four. Enough back story is explained that I soon caught up.
The young adult adventure is set in the late 1800s. It seems pretty accurate historically – was SOS used that early? – and imparts a strong sense of the period and its social attitudes. Although obviously there is some steampunky unrealism in that the young Enola would not have been treated with the equality she frequently enjoys, this does not detract and the tale would be much the poorer with total realism!
I was a little concerned that Sherlock’s little sister was purely a marketing device and I still don’t feel that this ‘connection’ to the famous character is particularly beneficial. Enola is a great character in her own right and doesn’t need the overshadowing. Mrs Tupper is fun and the portrayal of Florence Nightingale is interesting, but other surrounding faces seemed two-dimensional.
The mystery itself has good pace and, as enthusiastically read by Katherine Kellgren, makes for an entertaining listen. It is detailed enough to maintain interest and does not overstay its welcome. I hope Enola’s other Cases are on audio too.
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