Deeply personal

A deep and personal story with enough twists to keep you hooked. It was a lesson in how to write real relationships in the modern context and therefore helpful to a writer.

Anyone who has lost someone close (who hasn't) could find interest, insight and even solace from this book. Grief is such a deeply personal experience we all share and yet find so hard to share.

There are three main characters (one dead) and you find yourself rooting for each of them equally, even when they are at odds. This is convincing fiction I would recommend.



A real sense of loss

These are stories about finding a way to cope with the human experience. We all suffer loss in differing quantities and how we deal with that depends on our personalities. None of it is easy.

The characters in this book are haunted, so the title is appropriate. She offers no miracle transcendental solution. These people learn to live and accept their lives. In so doing, I got a bittersweet sensation and closed the cover with a knowing smile. Yes, I see. You have to carry on with what you have and get the problems into perspective. And there is nothing you can do to turn the clock back or freeze time in a happy moment.

Ultimately, it is reassuring to know you are not alone with these emotions and you need to remember that others you meet will have had the same stuff going on, however they cloud or hide this away.



Strength and courage

I'd forgotten what a good author Nevil Shute was. It was many years ago that I read No Highway.

A Town Like Alice is better in my opinion. He spares the expansive rhetoric you get from lesser writers and concentrates on the story, narrating in the classic show don't tell style.

I was completely absorbed by the lead character, Jean. The trials she endured and the courage she found were an inspiration. She maintains the sense of right and wrong and doesn't seek revenge or judgemental retribution. Throughout, she wants to give back to all who help her. It is always an interesting test for a reader - if you wish you could meet the person then they have completely grabbed you. This was the case for me.

Set in 1950, there are a few moments that now seem politically incorrect. There is even a positive description of them using DDT. The important thing to remember is the context. This is a piece of work of the time, recording the world as it was. There is no need to change what is set in history.

Its relevance is undiminished. The determination of a young woman in a world of war and hard men is just as meaningful now. I liked how he portrayed the soldiers and Australian ringers as believable people.

I would recommend those who are unfamiliar with Shute's work to read this, and for anyone better acquainted to take the time to revisit this fine novel.

Themes still relevant

This book spoke to me on so many levels. There is a wealth of unrealised dreams that has an uncanny way of touching many parts of your life.

A classic and as with most classics it has to be read with your mind set in the time of composition. Jude has aspirations that appeared quaint even in 1895. The world had begun to question organised religion and the hierarchal nonsense of the class system being used to judge ability and suitability. Oddly though, these themes still seem relevant in 2020.

Being unable to pursue your goals is something I remember about leaving school in a money driven society full of judgemental elders. It took me thirty years to start trying to achieve anything in the fields that really interested me.

And the dogmas of religion linger, deciding if behaviour is suitable based on stories from two thousand years ago. Fortunately, unhappy marriages don't have to be honoured because society disapproves. The stigma of divorce had been lifted and people can be with who they want. However, I'm sure this isn't the case everywhere.

So poor Jude is frustrated in his aims, he falls victim to his desires and receives no reward for his efforts. Hardy retains the ability to pull you along in his plight, surrounded by equally unhappy people burdened with expectation.

There are some shocking moments in this book and I found myself mentally shouting at the characters to get out of their shackles and see a better world that could be.

Great maps


I've always loved maps and anyone interested in them will love this colourful history. From 1500 BCE to today, it covers our attempts to represent the world with lots of space for imagination. It has been an inspiration for me for the trilogy I'm working on (small plug there!).You'll find a wealth of information that also becomes an historical commentary.
Interesting that Google Maps are included. Though a great bit of technology Google will never come close to offering the thrill of a book like this. To hold, and smell, and touch, each page turn is a joy. Love live real maps and long live real books!
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/55350450-chris-cloake">View 

The Dominion - Divided

Brand new for you.  Fantasy fiction to thrill.

For those who love deep emotion, colourful locations, perilous predicaments and mystifying menace, this book is for you. Enter the world of The Dominion and set out on a profound journey of discovery.

Nature to the fore


This author had great imagination and good experience of the subject. I was transported in the jungles of India, just as the title promises. I loved the understanding of animals, seeing the world through their eyes. They have a hidden existence that we will never be able to fully appreciate.

Essentially this is for children. As an adult I found the writing thoroughly engaging and different to the way I remember it yeats ago.

In these days where nature is getting more marginalised every year, this book reads like a champion of conservation, celebrating wildlife and the way it all fits together.

There will be a few who might take offence at some colonial references but this is actual history and you can't change facts and attitudes that have passed.

Naturally wonderful

This man never fails to entertain. He has the voice you listen to, whoever you are.

The tales within this volume are fascinating, just like the previous one. I never tire of this.

When it comes to it, the natural world beats everything in importance.

We can only hope for more.

The best and worst of people - A review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


A compulsive read, if only to discover what depths each person will drop to. It is a fine observation of human characteristics. Also very telling is how easily the wave of public opinion changes direction so easily. In fact, people come out of this tale looking very clever and very stupid. We live in a time when everyone thinks they have a valid opinion on anything, regardless of knowledge or understanding.
I've seen the film version and this is inevitably better. Books rule! Read it for the tension, the drama, the incredible lengths we go to to get our own way, and the weaknesses we all possess.

Smart, concise, engaging.

I like this author. Her use of words is clear and engaging. You can inhabit her characters quickly and get pulled along by their emotions.

And bravo to Penguin for producing these mini masterpiece books.