by Alfred Lansing
“Unlike the land, where courage and the simple will to endure can often see a man through, the struggle against the sea is an act of physical combat, and there is no escape. It is a battle against a tireless enemy in which man never actually wins; the most that he can hope for is not to be defeated.” ⁃ Ernest Shackleton
I’ve always been in awe of the exploits of the men on this expedition so I decided to read this classic account of their experiences.
The book is brilliantly written drawing heavily on journal accounts from the men themselves. It is so much more than a chronology of events as the descriptions of the environment, the challenges faced and emotions of the team creates a really engaging story.
It is barely possible for me to conceive what these men truly went through but I’m left with a deep respect and appreciation of their fortitude. The story is one of the best examples I know of how the resilience and enduring strength of the human spirit can overcome the most impossible circumstances of nature. This is a must read book.
“Through endurance we conquer”
By Andrew Cartmel
I’d been looking forward to this book for a while. It was highly rated and based around a love of vinyl which instantly made it appealing to me. Unfortunately it didn’t quite meet my expectations.
It starts out well enough but the plot ends up being somewhat improbable and felt overly drawn out. The story seems to be split in two around the main character’s relationships with the two female characters. That shift was jarring for me and despite the emerging reveals I found the second half of the book less absorbing.
That said, I did enjoy the vinyl geek aspects of the story and the plot had some interesting parts for sure. I may well read the second book in the series but I’ll be going into it with different expectations so it will be interesting to see if that allows me to appreciate it better.
By Denzil Meyrick
Second in the series and another great read (actually listen – I have the audiobook). I’m really enjoying the development of these characters and the fantastic setting. I found these two aspects really absorbing and enjoyable so much so that the plot was almost a secondary consideration!
The plot is another gnarly crime procedural with violence and plot twists that accelerate toward a dramatic finale. It had enough novelty and intrigue to keep me involved and moves at a good pace without being unduly drawn out.
I will undoubtedly keep working through the series although the choice of print or audio book is interesting. A number of reviews have noted the challenge of reading the text which is heavily weighted with local dialect. Some people have found that hard work with the print edition but with a good narrator makes for excellent listening.
By F G Cottam
This book really caught me off guard. I chose it on the basis of it seeming to be a crime procedural kind of plot with slightly sinister overtones. Thought it would be a good casual read for a flight.
Turned out to be a quite novel work in terms of the subject and and how it was handled. I really enjoyed it; in part because it is well written but largely because it’s a really smart telling of the story.
On paper the plot is closer to horror or suspense but it never seems to completely give way to that and reads like a good crime thriller. For me this is because the killer is slightly under-written. By that I mean that despite his nature he is never sensationalised or subject to too bright a light. He dwells in shadows and the supernatural element is never overstated.
So I really enjoyed it. The characters were solid enough, the “end of days” theme was not overblown, the heretical sect was a smart device; all very well staged. The ending was not overly dramatic which I liked but it seemed to leave a few characters stories’ feeling a little incomplete. That’s a minor point though as overall it’s a very good read.
By Toby Clements
This was the second book of this series that I’ve read. Once again I found it a very enjoyable read. The characters and plot are interesting enough but what really stands out for me in these books is the historical accuracy and attention to detail that the writer pays to the everyday matters of 15th century life.
It’s a good story but the picture painted is so enhanced by the fine, and sometimes quite graphic, descriptions of medicine and surgerey, personal care, clothing, agriculture, food and warfare. His writing style is highly descriptive and kept my interest throughout. I’ll very likely be reading the final book in the series sometime. Strangely I’ve still to read the first one!
by Emily St John Mandel
“I’ve been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame. I love watching old movies. I watch the faces of long-dead actors on the screen, and I think about how they’ll never truly die. I know that’s a cliché but it happens to be true. Not just the famous ones who everyone knows, the Clark Gables, the Ava Gardners, but the bit players, the maid carrying the tray, the butler, the cowboys in the bar, the third girl from the left in the nightclub. They’re all immortal to me. First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”
I was drawn to this based on the excellent reviews it had received. It proved to be a strange book to me but ultimately I liked it. Strange because I’ve not really read anything constructed quite like it and because, despite it’s setting, it does not follow a traditional plot driven story.
It took me a long time, perhaps half the book, before I settled into it and felt able to go with the flow of it. The jumping between the timeframes of before and after, the random cast of characters and sometimes loose connections between, and the varying styles in which it was written, prose, conversation, letters, dialogue – it felt almost clumsy at times. However once I got into the flow all seemed a bit easier and I got a little deeper into the heart of the book.
It is well written, and actually hangs together really well albeit by sometimes thin and delicate literary strands. Perhaps that is what I was missing; perhaps I came at it too aggressively. To fully appreciate the book it’s probably best to recognise upfront that it is not plot driven, or even situational, it is more a gentle weaving together of a cast connected through time and space either side of an apocalyptic event.
“I can forgive and forget… it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”
M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
I confess that I’ve not read this boook yet but we settled in and watched this film tonight. We missed it last year in the cinema so it’s been on our watchlist for a while.
And I really enjoyed it. The plot presents an interesting dilemma and then the challenge of living with the consequences of a decision. Demonstrates once again the complexities of human relationships.
Again I realised that I can’t judge people for their choices and that choices can bring their own penalties to be served out or burdens to be carried. An engaging film for sure.