Book Review – Telling Stories from Chaucer to Joyce by David James

October 16, 2018

This is not something I would normally read or buy but I know some of the author’s other works and know he is a fine writer in his own right.  This book takes us through the work of seven major literary figures from the 14th to 20th centuries.  It chooses one example from the writings of each namely, Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales, Bunyan – The Pilgrim’s Progress, Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen – Mansfield Park, Charles Dickens – Great Expectations, George Elliot – Middlemarch and James Joyce – Ulysses.

David James reviews and contrasts each of these writings with each other, and provides an ongoing commentary on what he believes is the thoughts of the author behind each work.  This clearly provides helpful notes for any budding student of literature.  I have read examples or either watched or listened to screen or radio adaptations of the books listed here.  I have not studied literature formally since my schooldays but David’s analysis provides me with a good insight into the minds of seven great literary geniuses and for this I am grateful.  I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in great literature.  Hopefully, it will also serve to help me in my own writing.

Keith Jahans

Available on Amazon as a paperback and ebook

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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

 


Book Review – The Confessions of Becky Sharp by David James

April 25, 2013

Becky Sharp is possibly the first most rounded woman character in literary fiction. Originally created by William Makepeace Thackeray in Vanity Fair she is a woman of low station forced to survive in a world of status and snobbery dominated by the whims of wealthy men. Thackeray describes her warts and all with a tinge of sympathy but she is one of several such characters paraded in his famous novel. David James takes her character a stage further as he explores how she became the woman she is.

When the book opens she is old and reflecting on her life as she writes her memoirs and counts herself among the literary contemporaries of her time, Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. She is motivated more by money than by any ambition to be a great novelist as she hints that for the right financial rewards she can leave out some of the more scandalous exploits of her much richer acquaintances and endeavours to put right the injustices done to her by Thackeray in his novel. It is a fascinating device used by a skilful storyteller and the book is well worth the read.

Becky Sharp Cover

The Confessions of Becky Sharp by David James is published by Vanguard Press.

Keith Jahans,
Editor, Peatmore Press


Book Review – Punching Judy by David James

August 23, 2010

David James has painted a vivid picture of 1950s south London following the lives of Jude, a young woman raised by care homes and Harry, otherwise known as Ape, an aging ex boxing coach.  Jude has a talent for scrapping, a talent which might save her from a life of crime and spells in and out of prison.  Ape can help if she will let him, and if he can survive bouts of drinking and depression.

The story follows their struggle through the underclass of their time.  They could both help each other to survive, and maybe even prosper, but may not realize it.

The story is raw.  You can smell the drab dirty streets, pubs, boarding houses and the blood and sweat of the ring.  It tells of a world of women’s championship boxing, of fixed fights and a chance for the big time.  Judy, ‘The Slugger’, Smith and Apeman Harry O’Riordan are sympathetic characters and we are compelled to know what will happen to them as they move through backstreets inhabited by colourful and grotesque characters.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore press (http://peatmore.com).

Punching Judy is published by Trafford Publishing:   http://www.trafford.com


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