Book Review – Jim Laker: Nineteen for Ninety by Brian Scovell

January 29, 2018

I met the author, Brian Scovell, in November 2015 at the Folkestone Book Festival where I bought a signed copy of this book and, such is the length of my book reading list, it is only now I have managed to read what I found to be a riveting book.

Jim Laker was one of my sporting heroes.  Even though I was born and brought up in Bristol I have lived most of my life in Surrey and have followed the exploits of Surrey County Cricket Club for many years.  Laker plied his trade in a generation of cricketers that preceded those I followed and I only got to know of him from his work as a TV commentator long after he retired as a player.

He seldom appeared on camera but from his manner and through the sound of his voice always appeared to be a gentleman.  It therefore came as a complete surprise that I read that he was banned from Surrey CCC and the prestigious MCC for four and seven years respectively.  This was due to his book, “Over to Me,” which was ghost written shortly after his playing days and criticised a number of prominent men who were instrumental in running national and international cricket at the time.  Laker admitted that he should have been more vigilant in reading the proofs prior to publication but publishers then, as they still do now, relish controversy as this invariably serves to increase book sales.

But it is his expertise as arguably England’s foremost off-spin bowler is how he should be remembered.  His feat of taking 19 test wickets in one game in 1956 was a remarkable achievement and will probably never be surpassed.

This is an adsorbing read for anyone interested in the game.  On first reading the events appear dated but it is the nature of the game of cricket that occurrences similar to those that befell Laker can happen today.

Keith Jahans

 

Jim Laker: Nineteen for Ninety by Brian Scovell
is published in hardback by The History Press

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Book Review – Forget Me Not: An anthology of short stories by Kitty Campanile

October 13, 2017

Writing short stories is a different art to the novel and difficult to do, but Kitty Campanile is an expert.  There are some real gems here.  Because they are so short these are ideal if you are looking for a distraction between tasks or are a car, train or plane passenger.  Each one is a delight and well worth the read.

Keith Jahans

Forget Me Not is sold by Amazon and is available
as a paperback and as a Kindle ebook

 


Book Review – The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald: Reader’s Guide on Video. Narrated by Robert Crayola.

October 10, 2017

Having read The Great Gatsby and not being sure that it is really so great, I went online to see if I could find out more about it and found this Reader’s Guide on Amazon.  It is really designed for someone who is studying American literature but I thought it might be useful in pointing out important aspects of the novel I might have missed.

Indeed there were parts of the book that I had overlooked or not considered vital to the plot but overall I think I got the essence of the story.  It did not encourage me to go back and read it again but I think it can be valuable viewing such a guide to see if there really are ingredients there that persuade people it is a major literary work.  There are many other guides available if you care to search for them and this example is worth looking at.

Keith Jahans

The Great Gatsby Reader’s Guide
on Video is available from Amazon


Book Review – The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.

October 4, 2017

I have heard this referred to as “The great American novel” and yet until now I had never read it.  But I had seen two of the movies based on the book, the 1949 version staring Alan Ladd and the more recent 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio.  I found both unmemorable except for the ending.  I was put off reading the novel because of its reputation of being a classic as I thought I would find it too complex and long winded for me to follow.  Then I heard that it was only just over 100 pages long so I thought I would give it a go.

The book is famous for its descriptions and I must admit that they are superb.  There is not a great deal of action but there is a great deal of the characters talking about each other and principally about Gatsby.  The story is seen through the eyes of one Nick Carraway, a young man who works in New York’s Bond market, and who lives in a small house next to Gatsby’s huge mansion where Gatsby is renowned for holding lavish parties.  Thus all the descriptions and the motives attributed to the characters are made in Carraway’s own words.  This means that the reader is entirely dependant on his judgement about the validity of the events in the novel as they unfold.

The book is very readable and the plot held my attention right to the end even though I knew the outcome having seen the films.  However, I am yet to be convinced about the greatness of the work and if it indeed it is worthy to be considered a great American classic.  But please read it and decide for yourself.

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press


The Great Gatsby is available in hardback, paperback and as an ebook through most book stores


Book Review – All Through The Night by M.P. Wright

September 13, 2017

This is a crime thriller in the tradition of John Buchan’s 39 Steps.  The protagonist JT Ellington takes off into the 1960’s West Country countryside, with a little girl in his charge, pursued by violent men who want to do them harm.  He is a black Private Detective, a migrant from the Caribbean, working the streets of Bristol with little knowledge of the terrain to which they escape but well aware of the endemic racism in the environment where he works.

The author has a sound knowledge of the geography of the city and countryside of the time which his characters inhabit.  Being a Bristolian myself and brought up in the area of that time I am aware of the places in the picture he paints.  The characters and plot are compelling to follow.  This is a story which can be described as West Country Noir and is certainly well worth a read.

 

Keith Jahans
Peatmore Press

All Through the Night is published by Black & White Publishing
and is available as an ebook, hardcover, paperback and audibook

 


Book Review – Mark of the Loon by Molly Greene

August 8, 2017

I loved the banter between the lady protagonists who were wonderful characters.  The male characters were not drawn quite as well.  The plot was a little convoluted particularly towards the end and I had difficulty following.  However, I liked the house with its secret passages, locked doors and hidden keys.  The search to uncover the truth behind these was fascinating and kept me reading to the end.  The book seems to be the first in the series featuring one of the central female characters as a private detective.  I hope the series pans out well as the author has a fine aptitude for mystery and dialogue.

Mark of the Loon is available as a
free ebook on the Amazon Kindle Store

 

Keith Jahans

 


Book Review – Charles Dickens and the Night Visitors by David James

July 11, 2017

This is a work of fiction based on fact.  Charles Dickens is arguably the best British novelist of all time.  I have not read many of his books, but I have seen numerous adaptations on film and television.  Although I knew about some aspects of his life until I read this book I was unaware of his fascination with hypnosis.

This story tells of his use of hypnosis to treat one Augusta de la Rue while staying in Italy with his family.  This actually happened, but in this account the facts are blurred.  The story is seen through the fictitious accounts of members of the Dickens household including the man himself.  This means that some of the tales, particularly those of the young Dickens children, encompass visions of spectres, ghosts and a variety of creepy crawlies.  The author’s descriptions of these apparitions and the atmosphere surrounding the household are expertly drawn.

I did sometimes get confused about the identity of which character was telling a particular aspect of the story and had to check back in the narrative several times to make sure that I understood their identity.  This may have been due to the limitations of the way the ebook I was reading was put together and the story would probably be easier to follow in either the hardback or paperback formats of the book.  But all in all it was a fascinating read and led me to Google to search out more of the facts that lay behind the talent that was Charles Dickens.

Keith Jahans

This novel is published by David James at Create Space
and is available as a hardback, paperback and ebook