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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 

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.

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.

Confessional poetry

I don't think there's anything I can add to the critical analysis of her work that hgasn't already been said.

However, I can simply say this is confessional poetry of great beauty, hard to read and not be moved and a little disturbed.

Life is a challenge for all. You can hide away from your emotions and fears or try to meet them and understand them. Sylvia Plath certainly confronted hers. Whether she ever came to terms with them, only she would know.

I can learn from her, try and express real feelings and not write formula stuff for predictable markets for the sake of making a few bucks.

Lessons from the past

A fascinating insight into what many believe they know and understand. Prepare to think again. This is a much more complicated subject than popular media portrays. What happened at Auschwitz must never be forgotten, for the sake of ourselves and all who perished in such an appalling way.

The book is littered with details of crimes against humanity. The human race makes a very poor showing. We are supposed to be the most intelligent things on the planet yet this part of contemporary history shows us to be the stupidest, weakest, most sadistic and easily led.

The quality of the journalism is very good. Incisive, thoughtful, not prone to the obvious, it leads the reader through a terrible set of circumstances and helps throw light on the psychology of everyone involved, using first hand knowledge wherever possible.

So I recommend this to anyone. We live in an age where many are driven by social media like brainless sheep (no insult intended towards sheep). This kind of real, thoughtful study is what we need more of to help us understand the full picture and not what we want, or are told, to believe.