Reviews

The Journal (Newcastle, England), June 4, 2016 | Go to article overview

Reviews


FICTION THE GUSTAV SONATA by Rose Tremain, Chatto & Windus, PS16.99 (ebook PS9.99) HHHHH WHETHER she's writing about life during the Restoration, family dramas in the South of France or the plight of Eastern European immigrants, Rose Tremain is a consummate storyteller. At the core of her tales are seemingly unremarkable characters whose inner lives throw a subtle light on the way human beings think and feel.

In The Gustav Sonata, two boys forge a lifelong friendship in post-war Switzerland. They're very different. Gustav spends his harsh childhood trying to win the love of his emotionally stunted mother. Talented musician Anton is the much-loved only child of a Jewish family. The counterpoint to their evolving relationship is the history of Switzerland's conduct during World War Two.

This sounds low-key and it is. There are few great dramas here, just a moving study of human emotions that's full of compassion for even its most unappealing characters, and which will make you cry without being even slightly sentimental.

LOVE YOU DEAD by Peter James, Pan Macmillan, PS20 (ebook PS7.99).

HHHH H READING Peter James' books is a bit like watching the TV show Midsomer Murders - you end up feeling Brighton is a major crime hotspot with a high murder rate.

The twelfth book in the British crime novelist's Roy Grace series, Love You Dead, sees the Detective Superintendent trying to juggle three cases at once within a period of just over a month - the re-emergence of his old adversary, serial killer Dr Edward Crisp, the return of his missing wife Sandy and a dangerous black widow - Jodie Bentley - operating on his home ground of Brighton.

Bentley's story dominates, with the reader following her as she works her way through a number of older rich husbands, killing them to gain their riches.

James has said he aims to make each book better than the last, and he has definitely achieved that with his latest work. With cliffhanger endings to each chapter keeping the reader in suspense and the gripping cat-andmouse relationship between the cops and criminal, Love You Dead is another hit in the author's career.

NON-FICTION THE PRIVATE LIVES OF THE TUDORS: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF BRITAIN'S GREATEST DYNASTY by Tracy Borman, Hodder and Stoughton, PS25 (ebook PS16.99) HHHHH THE glittering, jewel-encrusted private world of Britain's five Tudor monarchs returns gloriously in these pages. Tracy Borman, author of an acclaimed biography of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's right-hand man, has done it again and produced a well-researched and highly readable social history.

The now-legendary Tudor rulers were Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. They ruled, in succession, from 1485 to 1603 and gained awe and respect, at home and abroad, through the deliberate opulence and blazing theatricality of their palaces, banquets, rituals and, above all, their clothes. …

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