Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge #1) by Ken Follett 


4.29  ·  Rating details ·  506,883 Ratings  ·  26,741 Reviews
The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge #1) by Ken Follett download or read it online for free
The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge #1)
by Ken Follett
Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.

“Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically.”

“The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.”




Reviews


I devour books. That is my euphemism for being so OCD that I can't put it down and live my life until I finish it. For shorter books, that's generally not a problem, but for the 974 page Pillars of the Earth...well, let's just say we ran out of food, my children clung to my legs asking for food, and the floors did not get vacuumed for a good five days while I whittled away at this book.

CLIFF HANGER: This book is not a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter kind of book, which makes it easier to read it in multiple sittings. However, Follett does such a masterful job of character development, that I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next whether the end of the chapter contained a cliffhanger ending or not.

CHARACTER DEV'T: Each character is so beautifully defined and fleshed out, that they become almost real. I felt that I knew them personally, that I could accurately predict how they would react in different situations. None of them were 100% good or bad, just like in real life. Some priests were holy, others evil; some were rich people with big hearts, others with small minds and evil intentions; some poor farmers were judgmental, w/narrow-minded attitudes, others opened their doors to strangers.

PLOT/PACE: Foreshadowing was a very powerful convention that Follett skillfully weaved in and out of every chapter. It gave subtle hints, but never so overt as to suggest that the reader may be an imbecile. Backstories meander and come to closure at such a nice pace, that it always feels like something is happening and things are being resolved, for better or for worse.

THEMES: My favorite theme was that natural consequences followed the actions of the characters. (I'm still a bit out of sorts after reading the deus ex machina riddled Breaking Dawn, where all the natural consequences of three books worth of actions were completely erased-ugh.) There was a natural ebb and flow of triumph and misfortunes in Pillars of the Earth. Good things happened to bad people and bad things happened to good people, just like in real life. Follett does not try to save his characters from themselves, or from each other, and I enjoyed that very much.

STRONG WOMEN: I absolutely adored the strong women in this book! What a joy to read about Aliena, carving out her own future after her world had been turned upside down! Life knocked her down plenty, but each time, she got up, made a plan, and triumphed eventually. Ellen, and Agnes in her own way, were also strong women.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: As strange as it sounds, with all of the despair and misery that took place, the overarching take home for me, was HOPE. In the face of overwhelming adversity, these characters triumphed. The road was hard and the journey was long, but they CHOSE hope. They CHOSE faith. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

Pillars of the Earth will be on my favorite books list for a very long time.
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     “The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.”


Look, it's difficult to explain exactly why I liked this book. Seriously, if you take a look at the blurb, note the 973 pages, and the fact it's a very long story about building a cathedral in Medieval England, you might think I've been smoking something. But for me - and I'm assuming for a large number of other readers - it was so damn compelling.

I'm going to get the crap out of the way first - if you are sensitive to scenes of rape, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. Medieval England is a shitfest of misogyny, violence, accusations of witchcraft and, yes, rape. One of the scenes is especially disturbing and graphic; I actually had to take a break from the book after reading it.

I should say that it is not portrayed as a positive, or even a normal, thing. Scenes of rape and brutal violence in the book largely serve to make us despise William Hamleigh with a ferocious passion. It turns out that a deep, seething hatred can really keep you turning pages, waiting for that bastard to get what he rightly deserves.

Anyway, yes, the main plot is about the building of the fictional Kingsbridge cathedral. But, really, it is about all the characters that come into contact with Kingsbridge, its cathedral, and Prior Philip - their loves, desires, ambitions, conflicts and heartbreaks. I was pulled in from the very dramatic prologue when a young woman arrives at a hanging and curses the three men who guaranteed her beloved's execution.

There are love stories in here, as well as tales of ruthless ambition, and betrayal. Follett has created some incredible and unforgettable characters: Tom Builder, Philip, Ellen, Jack, Aliena, and Waleran Bigod. And, of course, that snivelling stain on humanity that is William Hamleigh.

I haven't read any of Follett's other work, but it is not surprising to hear he was a thriller writer before beginning The Pillars of the Earth. He has carried that with him into this story. Just when everything seems to be going right, some catastrophe happens to throw a spanner in the works. Just when it looks like Philip is going to succeed, some more shit happens. But it was an effective way to keep me looking over my shoulder.

It's a strange book because it's a bloody, heart-pounding page-turner wrapped up in a 900-page, serious-looking, cathedral-building package. Strange, and yet I find myself wanting more. I guess I'll have to read World Without End.
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This book was so completely fantastic that I almost forgot the outside world existed when I was reading it. I’ve never be so emotionally invested in a story, as I was with this. It’s a rare book that does this to me. I think it’s because it follows the characters through such a large proportion of their lives, resulting in a large amount of intimacy and investment with them. Indeed, this novel spans a massive period of forty years and has 1000+ pages; this is no light reading; it is deep, emotive and completely brilliant.

The intense story
So much happens within this novel. It’s impossible to lay it down in a brief summary; these characters, quite literally, go through hell. Such is the life of commoners in the period. They are good folk, and are just trying to erect a church for the betterment of their town. However, the corruptness of the local nobility, and the church hierarchy itself, almost prevents them from achieving their aim. Prior Phillip and Jack the Builder are forced to seek out the aid from their monarch, but because of the turmoil of the civil war, this monarch keeps changing. They have a choice of two royal courts to appeal to. Both are convinced they have the legitimate claim to England’s throne. Picking the wrong side would lead to the ultimate ruination of a folk that simply want to live in peace, and celebrate God’s glory on earth.

Well, this is the mere surface level of the plot. This book is so much beyond it. It is a story of betrayal and seduction; it is a story of love and hardship; it is a story of human nature and the all-encompassing morals that imposes. It is just fantastic in every sense. The characters are real, and their hardships are even realer. These are truly some of the most human characters I‘ve ever read about; these people could have existed.
This is no less true for the villains of the book, William Hamleigh in particular is characterised superbly. For all his ruthless aggression, and sense of entitlement, he’s still a coward at heart. He’d never admit it to anyone, but the reader knows of what he is; the reader can see his blackening yellow heart. He is a product of society, and his parent’s ruthless ambition. He doesn’t deserve sympathy because of this, but the reason why he is the man he is can be seen by looking at his origins. His parents ruined him; he has no restraint; he has nobody to tell him no. So, to his mind, he can get away with anything. He even has a Bishop who will gladly absolve all his sins. He’s actions have no consequences; he can murder and rape without feeling the consequences. This is an incredibly dangerous mind-set, and one that almost destroys the protagonists of the book. He's a nasty man.

The strength of the church

Follet also weighs the potential power of the church. I love the way he contrasts godly Prior Phillip with the twisted Bishop Waleran. It shows us two routes the church could take; it shows us two possibilities for God’s monument on Earth. Prior Phillip is everything the church should be; he is kind and forgiving; he is benevolent and just: he is a true believer of Christ’s teachings. He is in the church for the simple reason that he is a man of faith. Contrastingly, Bishop Waleran is a tyrannical despot. He represents evryhting the church shouldn’t be; he is the personification of its potential evil. The Bishop is vain, greedy and ambitious. In this his will is his own; he is completely self-serving. He abuses his power to meet his own ends and self-aggrandisement. So, he is slightly corrupt. He’s only in the church for its political power and rewards. In this, he is not a true believer of his own faith.

By contrasting these two characters Follet demonstrates how the church has the power to do great good and also great evil. This, for me, is quite a strong message to take from the book because it shows us the dividing nature of man, of life, of good and evil; it shows us that all things can be benevolent or terrible. It also hints at redemption. If something is this bad, it can be made into something good once more; it has the potential to be as it should be in the right hands. I do love this story. It shows that if people can come together, to achieve something greater than themselves then humanity is not lost despite the backdrop of war, corruptness and general chaos.
Jack begins the novel as a mute boy with little human socialisation. At the end of the novel he is a respected builder and farther of the town. He is the anchor of Follet’s story telling. Everything centres on Jack, and his family history. His narrative questions the restraints the common man lived under in the period; it highlights the injustice the legal system exerted in the time. He cannot marry his love without a written divorce from his horrible step-brother who’d sooner see him live in misery than have the happiness he couldn’t achieve. The church doctrine almost prevents him from being a farther to his child. But, he perseveres and overcomes the restrictions of the church, his awful step-brother and the corruptness of society itself. Jack’s story is one of human perseverance and fortitude; it is a story of a man who somehow managed to survive a system that was completely against him.

“Nevertheless, the book gave Jack a feeling he had never had before, that the past was like a story, in which one thing led to another, and the world was not a boundless mystery, but a finite thing that could be comprehended. ”

This is a phenomenal story, and though that I’ve got hundreds of books I want to read in my lifetime, and little enough time to read them in, this is a book I will definitely be reading again in the future; it’s a story that I simply have to revisit regardless of its vast length. This is a book I just have to read again.
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Confession time: This is not a book I would have picked out for myself. First of all, look at the size of this kitten squisher! Second of all, Amanda's hate-filled review of it is one of my favorite reviews on Goodreads. However, it's one of my girlfriend's favorite books and when she suggested I give it a read, I knew what was good for me. Lucky for me, I enjoyed it.

Pillars of the Earth is a multigenerational tale about the construction of a cathedral in a fictitious English town in the 1100s. Many threads are followed for it's nigh-1000 page girth. Tom Builder goes from being an expectant father to a widow to a master builder. Philip becomes a prior and the ruler of Kingsbridge. And lets not forget Jack, Aliena, Richard, Waleran, that bastard William Hamleigh, or any of the many other characters.

Ken Follett was primarily known as a thriller writer before Pillars and it shows. Every time things appear to be going right for the good guys and it looks like the cathedral is back on track, another monkey wrench is thrown into the works. For a book with very little in the way of action, I was enthralled. You can squeeze a lot of plot complications in nearly 1000 pages and Follett jammed in as many as he could. I have to admire the kind of planning it took to write something like this.

As I said before, I always found the size of this thing daunting but I probably shouldn't have. It's a best seller, and best sellers aren't known for being difficult reads. Since Follett is a thriller writer, he tended to keep things to the point for the most part, though I thought he was ignoring Elmore Leonard's rule about not writing the parts people skip a few times.

I don't really want to say much about the plot for fear of spoiling anything. It's a long read but the ending is worth the time it takes to get there.
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Ahem.
"Pillars of the Earth" is a very long book. It's got a lot of soap-opera-like twists and turns - no amnesia, but just about everything else, including mistaken identities, illicit marriages, illicit lack of marriage, illegitimate children, questionable parentage, love triangles, revenge, greed, power, a few murders, rape, witches, politics, knights, swords and horsies. OK, that last bit is not so soap-opera-like. There's also lots and lots of architecture. And it's a very long book.

Main story follows a single family of stone masons for (roughly) three generations, and the extended families associated with re-marrying, etc. Around this family revolves an aspiring monk/prior, a powerful but morally questionable bishop, a ruthless Earl (title, not name), and several kings. The thing is, even with all the re-marrying and such, there are so many evolving inter-relationships between these main characters as the struggle for political power unfolds, and of course everybody grows up, has children, etc - that EVERYTHING seems to happen to this small group of people. And just when you think things have settled down for a while, something else happens, or attempts to happen. And these things keep happening for approximately 980 pages.

Along the way, you learn a lot about medieval culture - particularly the role of religion, the political power of a monestary, priory, or diocese - how life is funded, and just how much it sucks to be a serf. There's also quite a bit of focus on the reason for, and the means to, building cathedrals - Follett muses in his Foreward that one of the things he never could understand is why people in such destitute times would have put so much energy into buildings of such scale, and this book addresses that. You also learn a lot about architecture and the evolution of cathedral-building. I can also now tell you the difference between a nave, chancel, transept, cloister, and clerestory. Oh, and probably 7 different words for "horse".

Really though, I very much enjoyed it, despite its very lengthy nature. Very full of words. Long. Not a day went by I didn't read at least 50 pages (note - at that rate, it will still take about 3 weeks to finish).
The building is a constant, its a reason to keep the central family of masons from wandering off and having more illicit marriages, and its a reason for the ongoing political power struggles. It's essential, but it's not distracting, and the cathedral is not the focus. The people are. They're engaging, you feel for them, you assign labels (good, evil) you change labels several times (he's pretty self-serving and conniving for a "good" guy), and you constantly wonder just what more can possibly happen to these people. There's also an underlying mystery that keeps you wondering... right up until 100 pages too soon.

My only complaint is this - the big climax occurs, the mystery is revealed, it all comes together - and there are still 100 pages to go. The last part of the wrap-up, the rise and fall, takes a while, has an interesting but probably unnecessary historically accurate reference to English church vs. king to give the whole novel an air of "this could have really happened in some obscure English medieval village somewhere, I wonder which cathedral this is supposed to be? Can I go see the real thing?" But it loses momentum right at the very end. Loose ends nicely tied up, but it wasn't the gripping page turner it had been in the first 900 pages. By that time, though, you've got so few pages in your right hand you just keep going because the end is in sight.
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How does one review a book that one cannot even describe?

So many times after gushing about how good Pillars was, people ask me, What’s it about?

And I, swirling in the happy aftermath of a mind so blown away that it’s still traveling near the speed of light, struggle to gather what’s left of analytical thinking and dumbly blurt, “Um, it’s about building this cathedral…”
Way to not to sell a book.

I still have trouble really describing Pillars in a way that satisfies. Because while it is about building a cathedral, it’s about so much more. It’s about love, hate, sacrifice, duty, honor, sorrow, ambition, dreams… It’s about cold, hard life in the Middle Ages during decades of civil unrest where both good and bad people, downtrodden and as hungry as they are, still dream and compete and seek a sense of accomplishment in their lives.

People like you and me, just some centuries and a culture apart.

And like life, not everything is pleasant.

There are many ups and downs in the novel, so many that you learn to brace yourself for the worst when someone emerges victorious because you know that there will be payback. The characters go through a lot of hardships, and it’s pretty darn painful to read. The devastation that Prior Phillip felt when some part of his cathedral project was foiled is just as heartbreaking as the physical violation of Aliena’s body.

On the flip side, when the characters felt joy, it was extremely acute. When Tom finally landed a job, I breathed a sigh of relief. When Aliena got revenge on the priest who was supposed to “take care” of her father’s money, I felt a ruthless surge of satisfaction. It’s like I’m with these characters, that they are real and I am next to them. Their life is not a bucket full of cotton candy. It’s bitter, vile, and hard; but it’s also sweet, gentle, and satisfying in turn.

Pillars does dramatize the lives of these characters by placing them in a zero sum system; when one gains, the other has to lose. What resulted was an intricate web between the characters, some more attached to one than the other. Each move that one character made had a profound effect on the other. While this may have been contrived for some, I found it fascinating to follow these lives and see how much they crisscross and tangle. The concept that every action has consequences is something that is definitely fleshed out in Pillars, which I think is a life lesson that not many people dwell on.

Despite their differences, what every character had in common was that the thread of their lives all intersect at the focal point of this one cathedral. Every significant action in the novel is somehow directly or indirectly connected to the construction of this cathedral.

And my, what a construction project it is to build a cathedral! Ken Follett really studied up on this subject and did a fantastic job depicting the grandeur and openness of cathedrals. Cathedrals really are complicated works of architecture. Even the darker, more foreboding ones of the early middle ages were incredibly expensive and a huge pain to build. The type of “open air” cathedral with flying buttresses and colored glass that so amazed Jack is really a sight to behold, even in modern standards, with their intricacy and careful architectural balancing. Some of Follett’s best writing emerges when he describes the smooth arches, the interior of the nave, the structure of the transepts, and the light streaming in through elongated windows that brightened darkened corners, an innovation thought to be structurally impossible in a stone building.

The book does have its faults. Follett’s writing was not all that consistent. It was jarring to read Follett’s grandiose descriptions of cathedrals and then, on the next page, read about William Hamleigh fantasizing about violating women. The violence was graphic, almost to the point of being gratuitous, but then again everything about Follett's writing was graphic. I personally take no issue with graphic violence, but people who do should take note that the prose of this novel is in-your-face blunt.

My overall impression of the novel is that it is a tour de force of storytelling; a story that weaves together the lives of enemies and friends who are not all completely evil or good, who have their own dreams and ambitions, and who are willing to do dirty yet necessary things to achieve their ends. Some are more good than others, some are almost saintly, and others are steaming piles of doo. But somehow, amazingly, they are all parties in the construction of this one cathedral, and the cathedral connects them in both death and life.

Faults aside, the sheer force of the story compelled me to give this five stars. It’s not a perfect novel, and the novel doesn't showcase perfect writing. But it’s a really good story, something so grand and epic that it can’t be adequately captured in just a few sentences.

FIVE SHINY GOLD STARS AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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There aren't many things left to say when it comes to Ken Follett's masterpiece. The Pillars of the Earth is one of the most beautiful, haunting, exquisitely well-written novels of all time. It is a ''showstopper'' book not only in the Historical Fiction genre, but in Literature in general. Still, for an obsessed reader of historical novels like yours trully, it can become the standard by which all other historical sagas are measured. I don't know whether this is just and right, but it does happen to me every so often.

It is a rare occassion when you have a multitude of characters and every single one of them has something to offer and attract the reader's interest. Not even A Song of Ice and Fire in all its glory has achieved this, in my opinion. However, here we have good characters with whom we agonize over their fates, evil characters whom we hate with passion, and characters that stand in a gray area, driving the story forward. Aliena is one of the best female protagonists in Literature, and Waleran with William Hamleigh fight for the title of the ''best villain'' in the genre. The TV-series adaptation was really good, with a plethora of excellent casting choices. Ian McShane, Matthew McFadyen, Rufus Sewell and David Oakes steal the show.

If you haven't read it yet, a) under which rock have you been hiding?, and b) read it as soon as you can. Thank me later;)
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5043.The_Pillars_of_the_Earth

The help by Kathryn Stockett

The help by Kathryn Stockett


4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,636,495 Ratings  ·  78,723 Reviews
Download or read online for free The help by Kathryn Stockett
The help by Kathryn Stockett
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women — mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends — view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”




Reviews


Here is an illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in racially conflicted Mississippi. There is such deep history in the black/white relationship and this story beautifully shows the complex spectrum, not only the hate, abuse, mistrust, but the love, attachment, dependence.

Stockett includes this quote by Howell Raines in her personal except at the end of the novel: There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism. An eloquent way to describe Stockett's intentions for this novel. I know most reviews will probably focus on the racial relationships in the book, but to me the most haunting statement was that when you are paying someone to care for you and their livelihood depends on making you happy, you can't expect an honest relationship.

I did not expect this book to hit so close to home. After all, I did not grow up in the South and completely missed the racial mind shift in the country. But the book isn't just about racism and civil rights. It's about the employer relationship too. And I did grow up in South America with a maid trying to keep herself out of poverty by making our crazy family happy. As much as we loved her, I can see so many of the pitfalls from these complex relationships in my own history. I know our maid was stuck between pleasing my mother and raising us the way she believed appropriate. I know it was physically hard to work from sunup to late everyday and emotionally hard to never relax because she wasn't the decision maker of our home and at any moment she could be reprimanded for making the wrong decision. She had absolutely no power, and yet she was all powerful to shape and mold us.

I needed her, felt bad for how much I imposed upon her, but I never voiced how much I appreciated or loved her. I took her for granted. Even though she was paid to love us, I know she did. We were her children, especially my youngest brothers. And yet when she moved back home, we lost contact. Was it out of laziness of our own narcissistic lives or was the complexity of our relationship so draining she cut the tie? It is my fear that she thinks we did not return her affection and only thought of her as the maid. I often think about her, we all reminisce about her wondering where she is, and more than anything, I just want to know that she is happy and tell her thank you. It is so strange that someone who is such a vital part of your childhood can just vanish out of your life. "They say its like true love, good help. You only get one in a lifetime." I know. Believe me, I know.

The story is strong and real and touched something deep inside me. I could so relate to the motherly love from Constantine to Skeeter, see that pain in the triangle between Aibileen and Mae Mobley and Elizabeth, feel the exasperation of Minny toward Celia, and understand the complexity of the good and bad, the love and hate, the fear and security. Stockett captured all these emotions.

I also loved the writing style. When style compliments plot, I get giddy. I don't always love grammatically incorrect prose or books about an author trying to be published, but here it works because it's honest. The novel is about a white woman secretly compiling true accounts of black maids--and the novel is in essence a white author trying to understand black maids. The styles parallel each other as do the messages. The point of Skeeter's novel is to make people see that people are just people no matter the color of their skin and Stockett's novel beautifully portrays that with both good and bad on both sides. The fictional novel cover is decorated with the white dove of love and understanding. To get us there, Stockett gives us three ordinary birds, a picture of ordinary life asking to be accepted for its honest simplicity.

This book is Stockett's masterpiece, that story in her that was just itching to get out. From the first page, the voice of the characters took vivid form and became real, breathing people. I loved Aibileen, but think I loved Minny's voice more because she is such a strong character. Besides the maids, I loved Hilly as a portrayal of the white Southern belle with the ingrained belief that black people are not as good as whites, verbalized as "separate but equal" so it doesn't sound racist. My favorite scene was when Hilly says they have to be careful of racists because they are out there. She's a bit over the top, but if you've been to the South, not that far of a stretch. I just would have liked to find some redeeming qualities in her from Skeeter's perspective.

While there are some instances where I felt Stockett was squeezing historical facts into the novel, forming the plot around these events instead of letting them play backdrop, and occasionally I could read the modern woman in this tale pushing her message too hard, Stockett's sincerity to understand and appreciate shines through. She lived this book to some extent and the story is a part of her. Because it's important to her it becomes important to me.
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“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”

Color me surprised. I’m not one to read many historical fictions, especially when they don’t include any fantasy elements. They read like nonfiction, and nonfiction is only good for me if I’m in need of sleep. B-but…

The Help is different. It doesn’t only describe the life of housemaids, in the second half of the 20th century, in Mississippi; it’s overflowing with raw emotion. It doesn’t put every white person in a box and every black person in another… It underlines the difference of thought between people, but also how similar we actually all are. We all want to live our lives the best way possible and be treated with respect.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

I really felt it, when Aibileen and Minny talked about their work, how they wanted – needed – things to change and how hard their lives were. It made me sad, of course, because they just didn’t deserve the animosity that was directed toward them and that’s why I was so eager to turn the pages: I couldn’t wait to see some things change over there.

Miss Skeeter is also an important part of this story. She’s not loud, she doesn’t look for trouble, but she does have a weapon no one expects her to use in her advantage: her writing. She faces obstacles, so many of them, but does she ever back down? No, because when she believes in something, no one can kill her spirit.

I can’t believe the author never made Skeeter and Celia interact: they would have connected from the start! And was Stuart’s character’s purpose only to make us see how differences in ways of thinking can drift people apart? He is the most frustrating part of the story, really. We hate him, we love him, we like him and then we hate him for the rest of the book.

Never fear, the underlying themes of the story are extraordinary and that alone should make everyone want to read this book. Equality. Freedom. Racism. Respect. They’re all so fascinating because they are cleverly developed and included and intertwined in a way that makes this story such a precious and worth perusing one.

I would also like to take advantage of this space offered to me and recommend the movie. Seriously. Breath-taking.

“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”
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Enthusiasm!!!
This book and i almost never met. and that would have been tragic. the fault is mostly mine - i mean, the book made no secret of its existence - a billion weeks on the best seller list, every third customer asking for it at work, displays and reviews and people on here praising it to the heavens. it practically spread its legs for me, but i just kept walking. i figured it was something for the ladies, like sex and the city, which i don't have to have ever seen an episode of to know that it's not something i would enjoy. i figured that this book was on the ladder one rung above chick lit. so i am to blame for my snobbish dismissiveness, but have you seen this cover?? what is with that sickroom color scheme? and i hate those stupid little birds. what is chip kidd so busy doing that he can't just pop over here and lend a hand?? it is not my fault for thinking it was a crappy book when that cover wanted me to think it is a crappy book.

but this book is good. really, really good. again, i thank you, readers' advisory class, for fixing me up with this book. it has been a long time since i have read such a frankly entertaining book. (if a book about the emotionally-charged early days of the civil rights movement can be called entertaining.) this is just an effortlessly told story, split between three different women, whose voices and perspectives never run together - the secondary characters are also completely believable and are all different brands of repellent, with some token sympathetic characters tossed in for the halibut. i don't even know what to say, i just feel all "aw, shucks, i loved this book" about it - there were several times i would catch myself grinning at a turn of phrase or a situation, and every time i would start to doubt myself, that maybe i would like sex and the city. or buffy the vampire slayer or all these things i have formerly judged without having read/seen/eaten. maybe i am like these white women in the book, taking their help for granted and assuming they have nothing to say to each other because of their unwillingness to talk to them and know them as human beings. maybe buffy and i have so much to learn from one another...

then i would snap out of it and remember that my gut opinions are 99.99% foolproof.

so for you other people, who need to be swayed by hype - i give you hype. this book's hype is merited - it would be a perfect book to read this summer when you are melting from the sun and need a good story.. this is a very tender and loving book, about hope and sisterhood and opportunity, but also about beatings and terror and shame.

still hate those birds, though.
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One of my co-workers, a guy who isn’t much of a reader, borrowed The Help from the library based on his English professor’s recommendation. The guy just couldn’t stop talking about the story, so I decided to borrow the audio book. It’s not very often I get to discuss books with people in real life and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by. Audio books are good for me. I was so engrossed in the story and characters that I drove the speed limit on the highway and took the scenic route while running errands. Sometimes I went out at lunch and needlessly drove in circles, or sat in the parking lot at work, waiting for a good place to stop.

It is 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi. Twenty-two year-old Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan has returned home after graduating college to find that Constantine, her family’s maid and the woman who raised her, has mysteriously disappeared. Aibileen is a black maid in her 50’s who works for the Leefolt family and cares deeply for their daughter, Mae Mobley. She is still grieving for her young son, who died in a workplace accident. Minny is Aibileen’s closest friend and a wonderful cook, but her mouth keeps getting her into trouble and no one wants to hire her, until Aibileen helps secure her a position with Celia Foote, a young woman who is new in town and unaware of Minny’s reputation.

The story jumps back and forth between the three characters, all of them providing their version of life in the South, the dinner parties, the fund-raising events, the social and racial boundaries, family relationships, friendships, working relationships, poverty, hardship, violence, and fear. Skeeter’s mother wants her to find a nice man and get married, but she’s more interested in changing the world. Her plans to anonymously compile a candid collection of stories about the maids’ jobs and the people they work for will risk her social standing in town, her friendships, and the lives of the maids who tell their stories.

I loved this story! The characters really came alive for me, and the author did a good job acknowledging actual historical events which lent richness and authenticity to the story. I laughed and cried, felt despair and hope. This is an important story that is a painful reminder of past cruelty and injustice. It shows how far we have progressed and how much more we still have to accomplish.
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I read this book at least 4 years ago... and now I'm going back to ensure I have some level of a review for everything I read. It's only fair... if the author took the time to write it, and I found a few hours to read it... I should share my views so others can decide if it's a good book for them.

That said... did anyone not love or like this book? I'll have to check out some other people's reviews... And I wonder how many people just watched the movie... Oh well... I'll keep this review short and not in my usual format, as probably everyone I'm friends with on here has already read it! :)

The only reason I'm not giving it a 5 is because I felt like some of the stories needed a better or stronger ending. I truly think it is a fantastic book, and it makes you really think about what happened in the not-so-distant past... and probably still happening in some parts of the country today. Scary thoughts, but in the end, at least the right people got something back they deserved, even if it wasn't as much as it should have been.

The characters are very clear and strong. And when there are upwards of 10 to 12 supporting or lead female characters, an author has to spend a tremendous amount of time creating distinct pictures in a readers mind. Stockett did a great job with this task. Each and every one shows you a different personality: leaders and followers, movers and shakers, smart and silly, strong and weak, tolerant and intolerant, thirsty for all the world has to offer and content to stay the same for an entire lifetime.

When a writer can shuffle this many people throughout a story, they have invested themselves into the book, the characters, the setting, the theme, the future.

I haven't read anything else by this author, but just thinking about this book, and realizing I haven't looked at her other works makes me want to run to her profile now and pick one. Perhaps that's what I'll go do
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"I know what a froat is and how to fix it."

Aibileen Clark knows how to cure childhood illnesses and how to help a young aspiring writer write a regular household-hints column for the local paper. But she's struggling mightily to deal with grief over the death of her 20-something son, and she SURE doesn't think conditions will ever improve for African-American domestic-engineering servants in early-1960s Jackson, Mississippi or anywhere else in the South.

Aibileen's good friend Minny has been a maid since she was very young, and on the first day of her first job her mother admonished her that sass-mouth, especially her degree of it, is highly dangerous--but it's not long before she's just gotta mouth off....and look for another job. As Minny's first "episode" of the book opens, she is yet again looking for a new job, and this time an opportunity pretty much falls into her lap. Celia Foote needs a domestic engineer, but she also needs a friend, a real ally, even a confidante. Oh, one more thing: she needs to keep Minny a secret, at least for a while. I think this plotline was my favorite part. Celia's husband had formerly gone with (even been engaged to?) somebody else; did any of you wonder how they would have gotten along if he had married her instead of Celia?

But, really, which is the worse attack from Minny: a good sass-mouthin' or a good slice of her extra-special chocolate revenge pie?
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Kathryn Stockett has created this wonderful story that depicts life in America’s South during the early 1960s. 
A mix of humour and social justice, the reader is faced with a powerful piece on which to ponder while remaining highly entertained. In Jackson, Mississippi, the years leading up to the Civil Rights Movement presented a time where colour was a strong dividing line between classes. Black women spent much of their time serving as hired help and raising young white children, while their mommas were playing ‘Society Lady’ as best they could. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan may have been part of the clique, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she held herself on the periphery, at times looking in. Skeeter was unwed and with few prospects, though her time away at college left her ready to tackle the workforce until an eligible man swept her off her feet. Skeeter returned to Jackson, only to find her family’s help left under mysterious circumstances and no one was willing to discuss it. Skeeter sought a job as a writer, prepared to begin at the bottom rung, but not giving up on sleuthing around to determine what might have been going on in Jackson. Skeeter scored a job writing an informative column in the local newspaper, giving cleaning tips to housewives in need of a little guidance. Who better to offer these tips that the hired help of Jackson?! Skeeter fostered a slow friendship with one, while building up a trust, and has an idea for a book that could offer a unique perspective in Mississippi’s divided society. Skeeter sought to write a tell-all from the perspective of the hired help, in hopes of shining a light on the ongoing domestic slavery taking place within a ‘freed’ America. With secret meetings taking place after working hours and Skeeter typing away, a mental shift took place and the idea of class became taboo, at least to some. Full of confessions and struggles in Mississippi society, Skeeter’s book may just tear the fabric of what has been a clearly demarcated community since after the Civil War. However, sometimes a book has unforeseen consequences, turning the tables on everyone and forcing tough decisions to be made. Stockett pulls no punches in the presentation, fanning the flames of racial and class divisions, as she depicts a way of thinking that was not only accepted, but completely sanctioned. A must-read for anyone ready to face some of the treatment undertaken in the name of ‘societal norms’, Stockett tells it like it was… and perhaps even still is!

Race relations in the United States has long been an issue written about, both in literature and pieces of non-fiction. How a country as prosperous as America could still sanction the mistreatment of a large portion of its citizens a century after fighting a war on the issue remains completely baffling. While Stockett focusses her attention on Mississippi, the conscious reader will understand that this sort of treatment was far from isolated to the state. One might venture to say that racism continued on a worldwide scale, creating a stir, while many played the role of ostriches and denied anything was going on. The characters within the book presented a wonderful mix of society dames and household help, each with their own issues that were extremely important. The characters bring stereotypes to life in an effort to fuel a raging fire while offering dichotomous perspectives. The interactions between the various characters worked perfectly, depicting each group as isolated and yet fully integrated. The household help bring the struggle of the double work day (triple, at times) while the society dames grasp to keep Mississippi from turning too quickly towards integration and equality, which they feel will be the end of all normalcy. Using various narrative perspectives, the characters become multi-dimensional. Additionally, peppering the dialogue with colloquial phraseology pulls the story to a new level of reality, one that is lost in strict textbook presentation. Stockett pushes the narrative into those uncomfortable places the reader hopes to keep locked in the pages of history, pushing the story to the forefront and requiring a synthesising of ideas and emotions. This discomfort is the only way the reader will see where things were, likely in a hope not to repeat some of history’s worst moments in America’s development. However, even fifty years after the book’s setting, there remains a pall of colour and class division promulgating on city streets. While racism is not as sanctioned in as many laws, it remains a strong odour and one that cannot simply be washed away by speaking a few words. This book, as entertaining as it is in sections, is far from fictional in its depiction of the world. The sooner the reader comes to see that, the faster change can occur. All lives matter, if we put in the effort and have the presence of mind to listen rather than rule from our own ivory towers.

Kudos, Madam Stockett for this wonderful piece. I am happy to have completed a buddy read on this subject and return to read what was a wonderful cinematic presentation.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4667024-the-help

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty


4.21  ·  Rating details ·  402,999 Ratings  ·  31,756 Reviews
Download or read online for free Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive

“They say it's good to let your grudges go, but I don't know, I'm quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”

“All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think?”






Reviews


 Probably the funniest book about murder and domestic abuse I'll ever read. 
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This one was 480 pgs. that read like less than 300. I was thoroughly captivated, found this to be brilliant in plot, structure and tone. Gulped it right down.

On the surface this was about a group of parents whose children were starting kindergarten. We have the typical cliques, the do-goobers and many, many who think their children are oh so special.Over parenting to a T. Working moms against stay at home moms, fulfillment vs. involvement. Humorously told, there are so many times this book had me laughing, some of these moms were so over the top, absolutely absurd.

Under the surface was another layers, the author tackles many issues, among them bullying, spousal abuse and others. These women and their marriages all have issues, problems with their marriages, dealing with traumas from the past. Considering everything that was tackled in this book it should not have worked but it did, and that is to the author's credit.

Everything leads up to trivia night at the school and that will bring revelations, disasters and many will find themselves changed. Loved every minute of this one.
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Liane Moriarty has done it again – written a book that kept me up way too late because I couldn’t put it down. 
She has a knack for creating characters who are so believable they could easily be someone you know. Big Little Lies is a story of parents acting badly. It is also a smart and witty story about the real lives of children, teens, friends, husbands, wives, second wives, and exes. You are teased from the beginning with something awful that happens at the annual Pirriwee Public School fund raising. You know the what but not the who or the how. Along the way you discover some of the dangerous little lies that people tell just to be able to face the day. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what happened that night but at the same time I was sorry that I wouldn’t be reading any more about the inhabitants of Perriwee.
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You know how sometimes you get to the end of a book and you wish you could wipe it from your mind, just so you could have the pleasure of reading it for the first time again?

This is one of those books.

I can't think of another author off the top of my head who does relationships so well and with such humour as Liane Moriarty. Her characters love and laugh, rub each other up the wrong way, extend the hand of friendship, spread gossip, resolve to do better, cry and keep secrets -- just like real people.

In Big Little Lies, the little lies we tell ourselves and others -- sometimes to disguise the big ones -- blow up into murder and mayhem at the P&C Trivia Night at the local public school. Though we know someone has died from the beginning of the novel, we don't find out who it is till the end, as we go back through the histories of the participants to uncover the nagging jealousies and seething problems that led to the fatal moment.

So we spend the book in a state of breathless anticipation and worry. Who died? Was it bubbly Madeline, struggling to connect with the teenage daughter of her first marriage? Or beautiful Celeste, whose perfect life hides an ugly secret? Or was it single mum Jane, trying to start afresh, who finds that playground bullying isn't just for the kids any more?

Moriarty will keep you up late flipping pages as you follow the story of these three and the colourful characters who surround them, desperate to find out who died -- and why. The answer is enormously satisfying.
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I think Stephen King summed up Big Little Lies perfectly when he said it is "a hell of a book, funny and scary." I found it to be like the first two seasons of Desperate Housewives before the show started to slowly fall apart (and I've seen every episode so I feel like I'm right... right about the comparison to the book and the fact that the show was never all that great after the first two seasons, but the bigger question is why did I watch all of the show in the first place, and I'll never really know the answer to that question, but I'm OK with it and can live with myself).

The moms in Big Little Lies are written so well. I loved all the different stereotypes represented in each of them and how the different dynamics played out between them and their families. I'll admit, I was a little confused early on and could have used a family tree to help me see who belonged where (and that only got messier along the way), but Moriarty kept me updated in subtle ways to make sure I was tracking with her as the story unfolded.

Hang on, taking a quick coffee break.

Alright, much better. There are a couple of other takeaways from the book I want to share.

First off, the whole suburban-everything-is-awesome facade in which the book is firmly nestled, and in which I find myself now. I really loved how the book started out in a fun, whimsical way by introducing me to the various characters and making me feel like everyone has everything together and life is just so swell all the time. Then, as the book rolls along, more and more is revealed from the past, mysteries are solved, and you learn that these women's lives just aren't what you thought they were. And, man, isn't that life? All of us walking around all carefree making sure everyone thinks we are just fine and dandy thank you very much, and maybe there aren't things as dark as some stuff in this book happening, but we are all stressed out with kids and jobs and life and whatever. Anyway, I just liked that slow descent into the darker layers of the major characters in the story. That's all I'm saying.

So no spoilers, but I thought it was important for me as someone who isn't a woman to read about how events can shape the lives and thought of someone who is a woman. That's a lot of unnecessary words. What I'm trying to say is you never know how much your actions can impact another person. In this case, the words and actions of men had a deep emotional impact on women. Some of it was tough to read, and to know that stuff is happening that we often don't even know about is scary. It's bad enough that so much evil and darkness exists out there, but what about all the stuff that hasn't been brought into the light yet? Life is hard.

And, last but not least, the minor characters chiming in at the end of many chapters to kick in a little foreshadowing was an excellent plot device. That trivia night was something I was anticipating from the very beginning. The timeline worked down to that single night, and there was lots of statements from police questioning sprinkled in early so the mystery slowly rolls down to that night and a little beyond. It made the book so easy and quick to read, but it wasn't some mindless page turner to just get through for mild enjoyment. It was written really well, and the payoff in the end was worth it.

I may have to get some more Liane Moriarty in my life. I never thought I would say that out loud, but here we are. Looking forward to the HBO series!
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     "A murder. A tragic accident....
    Someone is dead. But who did what?"


WOAHHHH!!!! This book was freaking amazing!!!

It was a total genre change for me -- this is women's fiction and mystery, not romance -- but I was just in the kind of mood where I was craving something totally different than what I usually read.... so I tried this one! And I was BEYOND impressed with it.

Like holy WOW impressed.

The writing was  fantastic  — starkly honest, detailed, introspective, observant, multi-sided… the story kept me guessing right up until the end. There were these  twists  that totally shocked me (I mean like jaw-drop omgdidnotseethatcoming shocked) and I just had these chiiiiiiills run through me at some of the reveals.

This author really just "gets" people and interactions on a very deep level in a way I’ve seldom seen before. Gah. It was powerful . I mean really. Holy woman power!!! I loved the writing, I loved story, and can honestly say that it had one of the single most satisfying endings ever. EVER.

So... what's it about?

It has a large cast of characters, but focuses mostly on three women's lives. They all have children entering Kindergarten in the same year. They're lives are vastly different but closely connected in ways that even they don't realize at first. And there's a murder. Someone dies at a trivia night. But you don't know who. And you don't know who killed them. No clue! Part of the whole mystery is figuring this out, and it's done in such a cool way -- a fascinating mix between the story of the weeks counting down to that night mixed in with snippets of interviews being given after that night of people describing what happened.

I'm not going to say a word more but I will assure you that the ending delivers on every level!

This whole book really highlights how the same event can be seen in so many ways, from so many different perspectives, and from each of those sides, it can appear vastly different. You never really know what someone else is thinking or going through, what they're capable of, what secrets they're keeping...

Gah. Fascinating!!!

Just so you know, this is not a dark read at all. It's very serious at times, very light at others. But it's also not dark and it's not scary. A few people were asking me so I thought I'd clarify that.

Actually I saw someone describe it as a "juicy drama" and I think that's the perfect description!

It's just the kind of story that raises a million questions in your mind. It makes you THINK, keeps you wondering, theorizing, questioning everything. It's detailed and engaging. Can you tell I loved it?

There are some very serious themes -- domestic violence, single parenthood, motherhood in general, bullying, murder, secrets, and more. It's almost scarily accurate in many of it's depictions.
Hehe this was my status update from 91%:

    GAAAASPPPPPPPPP — did NOT see that coming!!!! Holy SHITTTTT!!
    CHILLS. O_O
    HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.
    I mean WOAH. WOAH. WOAHHHHHH.



This author is just so skilled. The plot was cleverly woven and it just delivered all the right details at all the right times. In fact, I think I actually have all of a certain chapter highlighted. ALL of it.

It was an incredible reading experience. I totally get why they’re making it into a movie (with Reese Witherspoon & Nicole Kidman) because I could literally picture it in my mind as I was reading.

I have a ton of quotes highlighted in my book, but in case you're wondering why I don't have them included in this review, it's because in retrospect, I realized that given this type of story, they might not make sense out of context. So I'm just going to let you read the book for yourself and read them that way!

I've also read another book by this author, The Husband's Secret, and even though I thought that one was really good, I actually loved this one more because I was much happier with this ending. This one left me with such a strongly good feeling while The Husband's Secret left me feeling a little... unsettled (like the price paid was too great)... but this one was just WOW.

I highly recommend it!

Rating: 5 STARS!!
Standalone women's fiction/mystery (not romance).

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No lie...I loved this book :)

I read this book almost exactly a year ago. I didn't write a review as back then I usually updated that I read a book and gave it a rating. Plus it had a zillion ratings so I didn't bother. Looking at the reviews it seems to have quite a range of ratings.

But recently I decided to write a short one as I recently heard what I thought was exciting news. Well exciting for me as a lover of this book!!

I was looking through the new line-up of fall TV shows and came across a 2016 TV series entitled "Big Little Lies". At first I thought it was a coincidence but then looked on IMDb and it said for the series summary:

Things take a dark turn for a group of moms whose perfect lives begin to unravel.

So far not a lot more information but it does say it's starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. I love Reese and l am so excited to see her in this. I love the fact that it is a series and not just a movie!

Now as I'm typing this I'm wondering if this is old news. I read through some reviews and didn't see it mentioned but if it was oops... it's new to me though!!

Murder at a school trivia night ....

I loved the characters and story-line and I was guessing right up until the end. Full of wonderful brilliant characters, lots of school gossip and politics, drama, mystery and humour.
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I can't NOT give this book 5 stars. There's truly nothing I didn't like about it. It's one of those special books that completely captured my attention—while I was reading it, I was lost in the characters' lives. 
And that's one of the things that makes this book soooo good: the characters. Moriarty is a master at crafting vivid characters from the first page. I felt like with each introduction of a new character, I had a grasp on their personality pretty quickly. But they weren't boiled down to that single moment of characterization; they were complex, flawed people who you could root for and empathize with. On top of that was a well-crafted, engaging and suspenseful plot that kept you turning the pages. I was never bored. And her writing style was substantial and had a lot to say about real issues. This book isn't afraid to go to some dark places, but it brings with it a bit of comedy and sometimes even a little sappiness that satisfies your appetite for a little bit of everything in one book. It's definitely a book that compelled me to read on, and also to want to read more from this author...and I'm sure it'll be one that stays in my mind for a long time.
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5 huge stars. I’d give it 6 if I could!

This was one of the most captivating books I’ve read. An emotional joy-ride and an absolute favorite!
Based in a small exclusive coastal town in Australia. It’s orientation day into kindergarten when one boy is accused of choking a little girl. For the parents it’s a moment when bonds are formed and lines are drawn in the sand.

A full complement of emotions are cleverly weaved throughout. Laughter, tears, smiles and pain. Three wonderful friends (Madeline, Celeste and Jane) brought together on that orientation day by their children. The adventures they share together as well as their private struggles at home. Broken dreams, broken hearts and broken families. And the healing of hearts and souls.

"Every relationship has its glitches. It's ups, its downs."

Everything revolves around something as simple as trivia night at the school. Then a situation arises that has both police and media questioning everyone present. The responses from the interviews are hilarious! I was always on the look-out for more of these little gems as a tasty bonus, near the end of every chapter.

There are two distinct sides to this book. The fun, whimsical side that leaves you with a permanent grin on your face, desperately wanting to be part of this group of friends. Then, of course, there’s the dark side that proves you never really know what goes on in the privacy of one's home. Even between the closest of friends.

There are three sides to every person…the side we show to everyone else, the side we show to friends and loved ones, and the side we show only to ourselves.

In other words, this book is simply about life. Those we love and those that make us crazy. Very often, one in the same!

I loved every minute of this book. Occasionally shaking my head at the silliness.

Never expecting a twist in this story...I got a delicious jaw-dropping moment! Like icing on a cake.
I absolutely adored this book! I am so sad it's finished. Now onward to the TV series!
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*4 Stars*

Big Little Lies is an engaging story filled with murder and mystery, centering on the lives of three “school moms” and their problematic circumstances.

I've never watched the show, but this book gave me a sort of sinister, Desperate Housewives vibe.

This story is told in third-person narrative and methodically shifts focus between these three unstable women as the plot slowly creeps up to the night of the murder.

The writing was fantastic: Intelligent, realistic, and held my interest pretty securely. The characters were believable and imperfect. I felt that each of their reactions to the problems they were given were spot-on…maybe even a little too perfect, at times.

For example: Each character displayed predictable responses to certain "conditions"—reacting exactly how you’d expect them to, given their circumstance. On top of that, everyone’s backstory seemed to thoroughly explain their future behaviors and I couldn't help but feel it lacked some originality.

What I loved most about this story was the natural ease of the dialogue and the truly mysterious plot that kept me guessing straight to the end. Not only are we unaware of the identity of the “murderer”, but the murdered remains a mystery for the majority of the read, as well.

The cattiness between this cast of women was well-executed, as was the degree of competition amongst them. There was plenty of drama to go around. I LOVED the journey, even though I felt the outcome wasn't quite as fulfilling as the buildup.

That said, it has been a couple days since I’ve finished this book and I find that I’m still thinking about it—a sure sign of a great read!

Kristin (KC)
Oct 29, 2014
Kristin (KC) rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychological-thriller, thriller
*4 Stars*

Big Little Lies is an engaging story filled with murder and mystery, centering on the lives of three “school moms” and their problematic circumstances.

I've never watched the show, but this book gave me a sort of sinister, Desperate Housewives vibe.

This story is told in third-person narrative and methodically shifts focus between these three unstable women as the plot slowly creeps up to the night of the murder.

The writing was fantastic: Intelligent, realistic, and held my interest pretty securely. The characters were believable and imperfect. I felt that each of their reactions to the problems they were given were spot-on…maybe even a little too perfect, at times.

For example: Each character displayed predictable responses to certain "conditions"—reacting exactly how you’d expect them to, given their circumstance. On top of that, everyone’s backstory seemed to thoroughly explain their future behaviors and I couldn't help but feel it lacked some originality.

What I loved most about this story was the natural ease of the dialogue and the truly mysterious plot that kept me guessing straight to the end. Not only are we unaware of the identity of the “murderer”, but the murdered remains a mystery for the majority of the read, as well.

The cattiness between this cast of women was well-executed, as was the degree of competition amongst them. There was plenty of drama to go around. I LOVED the journey, even though I felt the outcome wasn't quite as fulfilling as the buildup.

That said, it has been a couple days since I’ve finished this book and I find that I’m still thinking about it—a sure sign of a great read!

▪  Genre/Category: Adult Contemporary/Mystery
▪  Steam Caliber: No steam
Romance: Not a romance
▪  Characters: Well constructed
▪  Plot: Murder mystery that follows the lives of three school-moms who've become friends.
Writing: Fluid, intelligent, engaging.
POV: 3rd Person Perpective
▪  Cliffhanger: None/Standalone
▪  HEA?
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies

The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin

The Hedge Knight (The Tales of Dunk and Egg #1) by George R.R. Martin 


4.23  ·  Rating details ·  14,998 Ratings  ·  610 Reviews
A novella originally published August 25, 1998 in the Legends anthology, edited by Robert Silverberg. Set in the world of the Song of Ice and Fire series eighty-nine years before the events of the main cycle, the story relates the adventures of Dunk (eponymously called Ser Duncan the Tall) and his squire, Egg.

The Hedge Knight book one of the remarkable prequel series to A Song of Ice and Fire. The Hedge Knight focuses on Dunk a young man whose master, friend, and mentor Ser Arlan of Pennytree has recently died. Dunk finds himself at a crossroads wondering if he should become a hedge knight like Ser Arlan or join a city watch for a simpler more stable life and future. Dunk decides to be a hedge knight. Dunk the Lunk as Ser Arlan affectionately called him took the moniker Ser Duncan the Tall and enters a tournament that ends up being far more important than any person could imagine.

In the medieval setting of Westeros -about a century before Ice and Fire- Dunk, the hedge knight, aspires to be acknowledged as equal to other knights of the realm. He takes part in a tournament where renowned knights of the Seven Kingdoms, the Kingsguard and royalty (we get to see Targaryens at play) compete as well.
Amidst the jousting and the acts of bravery on the field, a minor quarrel escalates to a sentence of death, which finds the hedge knight in its center. The trial of the seven is the way things will be resolved, with unexpected results for everyone.

“A hedge knight must hold tight to his pride. Without it, he was no more than a sellsword”

“Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall.”

“A Hedge Knight is the truest kind of knight, Dunk. Other Knights serve the Lords who keep them, or from whom they hold their lands, but we serve where we will, for men whose causes we believe in. Every Knight swears to protect the weak, but we keep the vow the best, I think.”





Reviews


This short story is so refreshing after the marathon that is ASOIAF. When I read this the first time, I had just finished up the first 5 books in a row. I was completely exhausted and not interested in reading anything else anytime soon. About a week went by and I found my curiosity about these prequel short stories couldn't be put at bay any longer.

In The Hedge Knight, we meet Dunk and Egg and go on a journey with them to a tourney. While the original books are absolutely amazing, they can be quite overwhelming at times. In comparison, this short story was full of sunshine, happiness and rainbows. I loved getting to meet a full family of Targaryens and experience Westeros while it wasn't in the middle of war. If you have finished the ASOIAF series, this short story is a must-read!
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I have to say that comic books, which are sometimes called graphic novels now, have become more sophisticated. Writers like Moore, Gaiman and Miller, among others, have brought complex and dark realism. 
The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin  download or read online for free
The Hedge Knight
by George R.R. Martin

THE HEDGE KNIGHT is more of a medieval knight's tale with a great deal of enriched history to a fantasy world of great complexity.

In this tale, a knight with no lord to follow joins a tourney in the hopes of securing fame and fortune (i.e. winners in medieval tourneys sometimes got to keep the armor and horses of opponents which would be the value of a house today). He falls for a female woman who is being beat up by a man and his hirelings. After defeating them, he discovers him to be the grandson of the high king and in these regions it's death to touch such royalty.

His only hope is a trial by combat, and, in the tradition of their seven gods, there will be 7 on each side. The hedge knight must then find 6 others to fight in his name when he has absolutely no reputation.
The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin  download or read online for free
The Hedge Knight
by George R.R. Martin 2
If you have read neither, I would recommend the George Martin novelette first and then compare it to the comic.

Enjoy!

ARTISTIC PRESENTATION: B plus to A minus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: A minus; STORY/PLOTTING/EDITING: B plus to A minus; WESTEROS FOCUS: A minus; ACTION SCENES: B to B plus; OVERALL GRADE: A minus; WHEN READ: last read mid 2011 (third time).
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I never knew how much I needed this until now!!! I have missed westeros so much and this was such a great way to see it from a different perspective and time! Dunk and Egg are the duo we deserve, I love them and their dynamic so much! This story felt so meaningful and I truly adored it, looking forward to seeing what these two get up to!!
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Perhaps, I'm a bit biased, I can admit that. I love Westeros. I love A Song of Ice and Fire. I didn't give every book five stars, so I feel I'm reasonable enough. With that being said, I loved this short story.


My initial fear when I first heard of this story was that neither Dunk nor Egg, the two protagonists, would have anything to do with the main story in ASOIAF. That turns out to be not true, so I just wanted to put that out there. A lot of Daenery's great relatives make appearances and both the protagonists are actually some pretty important characters in the fictional history of this world. So that had me all smiles throughout my read.

It started off, and it felt very predictable, though still enjoyable, though in classic Martin fashion, he kind of flips everything on it's head and takes it all in a different, and way better direction than my simple mind could have imagined.


The one flaw is that there are a lot of names and it gets hard to keep track. If you're a big nut like me, it's handy to have a google tab open so you can look at sigils and family trees and see who is related to who and all that nerdy good stuff.


I can't wait to get started on the next one.
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Having read all of Martin's Song of Fire and Ice significantly faster than he's writing new ones, and considering he doesn't seem to be making much progress with the next one: four years between the last book and the next, I was at a bit of a loose end for my Westeros fix. Luckily Martin has already published a trio of prequel short stories. Prequel is stretching the definition as this first one is set approximately 100 years before the events of A Game of Thrones but the families and names from Westerosi history all sound a little familiar – the Targaryens are on the iron throne and the Baratheons are still glory-seeking tourney addicts.

The Hedge Knight is the first story of Dunk and Egg. Dunk, or Ser Duncan the Tall as he becomes known, is a hedge knight – so called because they are knights without land or master, generally poor, who often sleep in hedges – the final act of his own master, Ser Alan of Pennytree, was to knight his squire Dunk. As an otherwise unproven knight, he wants to make his fortune so he enters the tourney lists. Egg is the young lad who tags along after him, just wanting to be his squire. It doesn't take too long to work out Egg's back story.

In true Martin style, it doesn't take too long for fights to break out and trouble to kick off. Before you know it the tourney is over and Dunk's sense of honour has led him way out of his depth and having to duel against proper knights – he could almost be a Stark. The story is self-contained – although there are already two follow on stories that feature the same characters, there's no need to worry about Martin not writing the sequel in seven years time.
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A great one-day read.
In the medieval setting of Westeros -about a century before Ice and Fire- Dunk, the hedge knight, aspires to be acknowledged as equal to other knights of the realm. He takes part in a tournament where renowned knights of the Seven Kingdoms, the Kingsguard and royalty (we get to see Targaryens at play) compete as well.
Amidst the jousting and the acts of bravery on the field, a minor quarrel escalates to a sentence of death, which finds the hedge knight in its center. The trial of the seven is the way things will be resolved, with unexpected results for everyone.

I've enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to fans of the author, as well as to those of medieval fantasy in general. Although knowledge of the Houses' names can be helpful, the reader can easily follow the narration without it.
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I really love ASOFAI so this biased review should be taken with a pillar of salt.

Loved it. More knights of Westeros and a jousting tourney made for a great read. This is the first of three novellas about Aegon Targaryen aka Egg and his squiring for Ser Duncan a hedge knight.

Fun read and an absolute must for fans of the series. Not sure why I waited so long.
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Fans of George R. R. Martin’s most loved series, A Song of Ice and Fire, are always looking for more tales set in the world we adore so much. Being such a fan myself, The Hedge Knight was a must read.

The Tales of Dunk and Egg take place around one hundred years prior to the complicated story known as A Song of Ice and Fire. The Hedge Knight is the first of the prelude stories. These tales are not a necessity to understand the main series, but they’re a lot of fun for those fans who wish for a little bit more.

I’ll be completely honest about this story – I thought I’d be giving three stars. When the story started, I wasn’t as pulled in as I had hope to be. In fact, it took a while before the story pulled me under. However, once things started to move I found I was quickly won over. In fact, I went from strolling along to powering my way through to see how the end played out. Much like A Song of Ice and Fire, I went from ‘this is okay’ to ‘I am rather addicted’. It grabs you without you realising, pulling you in deep.

Despite being a short story, The Hedge Knight is a typical George R. R. Martin story. There is no denying the author of this work, the tell-tale trademarks being clear. I do not need to list out the George R. R. Martin trademarks – fans know what I’m talking about – and all are here in some way. Not all things are not as explicit as they are in A Song of Ice and Fire, but all the usual elements are simmering away in this little tale.

You’re guaranteed to be addicted to this little story, left wanting more Dunk and Egg tales.
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Now I get the appeal Sansa Stark feels when reading of tales from chivalrous Knights and their brave deeds, even the brutal battle scenes seems magical and romantic. With Dunk aka Ser Duncan the Tall, I get what a "True Knight" is supposed to be like, even though he's nothing more than a Hedge Knight, he is tall and handsome and brave and protects the weak and so dreamy!

The tale is based in the land of Westeros, 100 years before the tales of Ice and Fire began, when the Targaryans were the masters of the realm. Dunk is the underdog, newly made Knight in search honest work and at least one victory in a tourney. This particular tourney attracted all the noble families - Lannister, Baratheon, Dondarrion and even the Targaryen Princes. Overall it was Dunk from Fleabottom's innocence and strong belief in what a Knight should be that won him the friendship and admiration of the High Born and a very special squire.

Love this tale!!
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11970747-the-hedge-knight

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré

A Legacy of Spies (George Smiley) by John le Carré


4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,265 Ratings  ·  541 Reviews
The undisputed master returns with a riveting new book--his first Smiley novel in more than twenty-five years

Download or read online for free A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré
A Legacy of Spies
by John le Carré
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carre has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carre and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.

“Did I fuck her? No, I bloody well didn’t. I made mute, frenzied love to her in pitch darkness for six life-altering hours, in an explosion of tension and lust between two bodies that had desired each other from birth and had only the night to live.”

“The classified cat watches from the kitchen window.”






 

Reviews


’We were wondering, you see,’ he said in a faraway voice, ‘whether you’d ever considered signing up with us on a more regular basis? People who have worked on the outside for us don’t always fit well on the inside. But in your case, we think you might. We don’t pay a lot, and careers tend to be interrupted. But we do feel it’s an important job, as long as one cares about the end, and not too much about the means.’
Peter Guillam has been long retired from the British Secret Service (the Circus) to his French estate. He is reasonably contented. He has peace and quiet and a beautiful, much younger, French girl, who is friendly enough to share his bed.

And then the letter from his former bosses arrives summoning him to London.

After all these years, it probably isn’t something pleasant they want to discuss, so the question is, does he make a run for it, or does he play nice and show up?

Curiosity wins out over his better judgement. Once a spy, always a spy; he hopes he is agile enough to stay one step ahead of them.

They ask the sphincter tightening questions. They ask the questions that make his stomach do flip flops. The question that Peter has is, where is his old boss, George Smiley? He is the only man with all the answers, but Peter, his #1, knows way more than what he can reveal.

I do believe in oversight, but I get nervous when people are parsing down a series of events that happened during WW2 or the Cold War (or any time in history) and deciding, with the benefit of the perceptions of history, if someone did the right thing, possibly under duress, without the benefit of foresight or hindsight, and wth just the slender facts at their disposal at the time.

People died. Two in particular were Alec Leamas (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold) and his girlfriend, Catherine Gold, at the base of the Berlin Wall. Could it have been avoided? ”The odious and corrupt counter-revolutionary agitator Leamas was a known degenerate, a drunken bourgeois opportunist, liar, womanizer, thug, obsessed by money and a hatred of progress.”

And a man who died in the service of his country. Not all patriots are choirboys.

It seems that some descendents of some of those who lost their lives in the service of The Circus are bringing a lawsuit, searching for who was responsible, or is it more about money? Squawk loud enough, and maybe the British government will pay them to go away. We are unduly fascinated with finding someone to blame when maybe we should blame circumstances, unpredictable events, and unreliable information.

Meanwhile, Guillam is on the hot seat.

Oh, and they seem unnaturally interesting in his sex life during the service. Did you fuck her!? Of course, the answer, as a gentleman and a gentleman who does not want to go to jail for screwing his subordinates, is always a polite no.

The circumstances that Peter finds himself in remind me of the Nathan D. Muir character played by Robert Redford in the movie Spy Game(2001). Delay, parse your words carefully, and never get trapped in lies. The best offense in these cases is a best defense. Stick to your story and force them to reveal what they know.
Where is George Smiley?

”’To walk, I assume. It’s where he goes.’

‘For how long?’

‘A few days. Maybe a week.’

‘And when he came back. Was he an altered man?’

‘George doesn’t alter. He just gets his composure back.’”


John Le Carre has exhumed the body of his greatest creation, George Smiley. As always, he has a surety about his writing that has not changed with age. Reading this book was like experiencing my own reading past. Did I believe the right thing then? Are the new conclusions anymore right? One thing I do know is I’m never going to bet against Smiley. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that f he did anything wrong, it was in the pursuit of the greater good. I always want Smiley on that wall.
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A reunion book, and quite a pleasurable one. Le Carré gets Smiley’s gang together one last time, knowing the reader will thrill at seeing them mashed against the modern world. It is particularly lovely to spend so much time in the head of the first-person lead Peter Guillam, who is as charming and caddish as ever, and whose misdoings are treated with great affection (there is even a clever wink at his gay retconning in the Oldman TINKER TAILOR film).

The best moments here come with the now aged Peter’s indignation at contemporary spy-craft (a highlight coming when he pretends to need hearing aids during an early interrogation scene), but alas the plot of the book does not live up to the fine character-work. It requires deep knowledge of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, which is not as good as the Karla novels, and spends way too much time filling in a minor back story from it. In fact, this review itself probably only makes sense if you know the characters already. The antagonist is somewhat disastrous – at one point he just develops an eidetic memory - and the late turns, save for the exceptional last one, are rushed. There is some interest in the interpolated Circus texts, which come in a lean present tense, but they can’t conceal the absence of action in the outer-frame.

Fans will thrill to this, as I did. Le Carré is always a pleasure, particularly with these characters. His is that rarest mix of craft ability and addiction. I wish it were just a bit better, but I am very grateful for it, for him, and complaining seems petty.
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"We don't pay a lot, and careers tend to be interrupted. But we do feel it is an important job, as long as one cares about the end, and not too much about the means."
- John le Carré, A Legacy of Spies
Le Carré's fiction career can be roughly be divided into two broad, angry worlds (if we ignore his brief, early attempt at crime fiction): Cold War espionage novels and post-Cold War espionage novels. 'A Legacy of Spies' bridges this gulf with one of the great characters from le Carré's early works (let's call them his Broadway House books) by placing one of the best characters from the Cold War, Peter Guillam, George Smiley's right-hand man, into his post-Cold War period (let's call these books his Vauxhall Trollop books). By doing this, le Carré essentially sets up a novel where the retired "heroes" of the Cold-War "Circus" are judged by the lawyers of Whitehall/Legoland/Vauxhall Trollop.

If you didn't think a fictionalized account of a bureaucratic, HR nightmare could be sexy, well, think again. Le Carré's cold genius is found in his ability to show the moral contradictions involved in espionage work and also place that into context to the modern world. This book allows le Carré to juggle both the moral difficulties of the past (Ends>Means) and contrast that with the current state of Mi6 in the UK (Means>Ends). In his struggle to discover if the means of the past were worth the moral costs, while illuminating if the bureaucratic efficiency of the now is effective or even moral, le Carré discovers one core truth of the Modern World: the lawyers and the bureaucrats have won.
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An immensely satisfying conclusion to the George Smiley series. The clever plot manages to reference many of the classic Smiley books and plotlines, and also to drag them into the 21st century. This means we learn more about earlier stories and also what happened to some of the characters, not least Karla (in passing).

Although Smiley himself is not physically present for the majority of 'A Legacy of Spies' his shadow touches every page.

Timing-wise this new George Smiley book by John le Carré could not have come at a more opportune time for me. Between February 2017 and May 2017 I read the entire Smiley series...

'Call for the Dead' (1961)
'A Murder of Quality' (1962)
'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold' (1963)
'The Looking Glass War' (1965)
'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (1974)
'The Honourable Schoolboy' (1977)
'Smiley's People' (1980)
'The Secret Pilgrim' (1991)

...and, to varying degrees, each is wonderful. Predictably, having reached the end of the series, I was left with a sense of loss. And then, to my delight and amazement, a new George Smiley book, 'A Legacy of Spies' arrived on 7 September 2017.

I can categorically reassure anyone who loves the character and the series that this maintains the quality and the plotting that readers have come to expect. I savoured every page.

Peter Guillam, Smiley's former right-hand man, and long retired, is centre stage in this novel. As the novel opens Guillam is enjoying life at his family home in Brittany. One day his peaceful life is disturbed by the arrival of an official letter from the Service summoning him back to England in connection with "a matter in which you appear to have played a significant role some years back".

Guillam is apprehensive. He returns to a very 21st century new headquarters by the Thames where a pair of lawyers, the memorably faux-friendly Bunny, and businesslike Laura, during which the veteran Guillam uses all his knowledge to try to outfox this pair of interrogators. They want to know all about Operation Windfall (detailed in 'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold'). This protracted opening scene is John le Carré at his very best and brings Guillam slap bang into the modern world. From then on Guillam is forced to revisit his former life and consider the consequences of what happened.

If, like me, you have enjoyed le Carré’s Smiley books, then this is everything you will have hoped for and wanted. Bravo John le Carré.
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I discovered the best spy thriller writer of all time (and yes, I include Ian Fleming in that group) in the mid 1960s when I stumbled across a copy of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I have since read many, but sadly not all, of John le Carre’s novels, but certainly ALL of his Smiley books. Imagine my joy to find George Smiley, Alec Leamas, and Peter Guillam could reappear and that John le Carre had one more bit of behind the iron curtain story to tell us.

Le Carre does what few can do...he picks up the past, plops it into the present, and makes it work. I loved this old spy, called to account for a past that can barely be explained to the little snot-noses who now run the Circus, as much as I loved his younger version. And, to think that these characters could be revived 25 years later and still have the same effect is amazing. Proof, as if any was needed, that John le Carre is the BEST.

Did I enjoy it? You bet. The effect it had on me was to make me want to sit right down and read all my Smiley books over again. I had truly forgotten how much fun it could be to read such an intelligent and twisty story. Who knew we would someday miss the Cold War? Who knew George Smiley wasn’t dead to us after all, just sitting in seclusion waiting for us to need him again?

I was planning to give this 4-stars. It isn’t profound in the way that a classic is or life-altering the way some books are. However, I think it gets an extra point for just the sheer joy it brought me...and hey, these stars are mine to give...so a big, fat 5-stars to you sir, and hopes that this will not be the last wonder that falls from your mind onto paper.
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Awesome book, all Le Carré aficionados will want to read this. 
Long dead characters and plots from his heyday are literally unearthed and desecrated by the righteous anger of the 21st-century establishment, anxious to disassociate itself from its Cold War practices. Enough said. The old Le Carré multi-layered, triple-locked plot is there, the truth always tantalisingly out of reach until the very end (and even then), and the characters continue to suffer from the consequences of what they have done to other people in order to win at the shadowy great game. I can't help thinking the author himself wanted to revisit and perhaps clarify some of the more obscure passages of his earlier and greatest books. Or simply enjoy reliving past glories.
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As ever, Le Carre is the master of narratives of dissimulation and regret at the lies that have fractured the lives of his protagonists. This book is entrancing, lovely even, in it's exploration of the life of a former spy, Peter Guillam, whose actions and sacrifices are being questioned in the post-cold war world, all the more so because his training in secrecy and non-disclosure means he doles out as much mis-information as revelations during interrogation.

Ironically, the spies of the modern era cannot determine what the spies of yesterday were up to behind the operation Le Carre related in his breakthrough book, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Will the current government hang Peter out to dry for apparent sins done in the name of fighting communism? How much of the truth can be revealed, and to whom? Is Peter a scapegoat or an engineer of human tragedy that deserves to be punished? As a narrator his prevarications will leave you teetering between these perspectives until the very end. The ending itself is set up brilliantly, but sputters a bit in the final pages -- there are no fireworks, instead a dying away to embers. Fitting perhaps as the Cold War itself dissipated in a moment of euphoria to be replaced with new tensions and new subterfuges that call for different sorts of spies.

The book gains strength in being by read as a companion piece to The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, as well as resonating with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: The Karla Trilogy Book 1 (George Smiley. It can be read independently, but will spoil both of the those books for readers who are new to the world of The Circus and George Smiley. Take the time to read the first book, it's short and well worth it, before you tackle this one.

It isn't the best of Le Carre's novels about the men and women, ordinary in so many ways, yet who made extraordinary sacrifices to live hidden and dangerous lives. As always, the sub-text here looks to confront what that battle hoped to gain, was the cause just? Were all of the players entering the game for same ends? It is a question the book leaves to be decided, but the novel itself serves as an appropriate epitaph that speaks volumes to the unrelenting forces of history that always find ways to grind up and spit up people who try to make the world a better place.
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A fine effort by le Carre in his most recent offering. Here we are looking at a situation where the current spy agency is both questioning and trying to undermine Operation Windfall that involved George Smiley and all his fellow Cold War agents. 
Much of this book is seen as a series of flashback as set forth in Agency memos and notes. I really enjoyed the book and it made me a bit peeved at the new political correctness that pervades agencies who do not have a historical perspective to understand and appreciate what their predecessors had to go through during that time period. The book really makes it appear that the British Covert agencies are on trial for "collateral damage" deaths that occurred in the Cold War, while at the same time being blind to the actions and counteractions that were undertaken by the East Germans and Russians.
Not sure if this will be le Carre's last book, but if so it wraps up a lot and allows us to take a look at todays spy agencies in not the most glowing light.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34496624-a-legacy-of-spies