Throwback Thursday: The Owl Service by Alan Garner

Today I’m looking back to 8th January 2008 when I wrote about The Owl Service by Alan Garner. I’d borrowed this book from my local library. First published in 1967 this book won both the 1968 Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction and the 1967 Carnegie Medal. This is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships.

Here is an extract from my post:

The Owl Service is not just a children’s book – it’s for anyone who likes a good story with a mixture of mystery, adventure and history. The setting is very important – it is in Wales, that beautiful Land of My Fathers (well, in my case my mother). It’s always a mysterious, magical place, and although the sun does shine it is usually shrouded in cloud and pouring rain whenever I visit.

The basis of the story is the Welsh legend from The Mabinogion about Lleu and his wife Blodeuwedd who was made for him out of flowers. It’s a tragic story because Blodeuwedd and her lover Gronw murdered Lleu, who was then brought back to life by magic. Lleu then killed Gronw by throwing a spear, which went right through the stone behind which Gronw was hiding; Blodeuwedd was then turned into an owl.

Click here to read my review

Alan Garner was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in 1934. His began writing his first novel at the age of 22 and is renowned as one of Britain’s outstanding writers. He has won many prizes for his writing, and, in 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to literature. He holds four honorary doctorates and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature .

Throwback Thursday: The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

I’ve been looking at the books I reviewed in 2007 for my Throwback Thursday posts. Today I’ve chosen to highlight The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson, which I wrote about on 13 December 2007.

From the opening paragraph:

I started it with great enthusiasm and found it a compelling book to read. It is a psychological mystery concerning the nature of belief, faith, and truth. It starts with an account of the disappearance and death of Gideon Mack and the discovery of a manuscript written by him shortly before he was last seen. It is clear right from the start that there is mystery and uncertainty surrounding his disappearance, death and the discovery of his body. The book centres on the manuscript with an epilogue containing ‘notes’ written by a journalist investigating the mystery, considering whether the manuscript was ‘anything other than the ramblings of a mind terminally damaged by a cheerless upbringing, an unfulfilled marriage, unrequited love, religious confusion and the stress and injury of a near-fatal accident?’

It’s a macabre story and it left me with several questions – mainly about what was real, what was imagined and what was illusion!

Click here to read the rest of my review

~~~

James Robertson (born 1958) is a Scottish writer who grew up in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire. He is the author of several short story and poetry collections, and has published four novels: The Fanatic, Joseph Knight, The Testament of Gideon Mack, and And the Land Lay Still. Joseph Knight was named both the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and the Saltire Society Book of the Year in 2003/04. The Testament of Gideon Mack was long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. And the Land Lay Still was awarded the Saltire Society Book of the Year Award in 2010. Robertson has also established an independent publishing imprint called Kettillonia, which produces occasional pamphlets and books of poetry and short prose, and he is a co-founder and the general editor of the Scots language imprint Itchy Coo, which produces books in Scots for children and young people. He lives in rural Angus. (Goodreads)

You can find more about the book at scotgeog.com, a website authored by James Robertson

Throwback Thursday: Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

I’ve been looking at the books I reviewed in 2007 for my Throwback Thursday posts. I read Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham in November that year. It was her first novel and I thought it was very good.

This is my opening paragraph:

It begins when Minna and Tom, who are staying at a cottage in an isolated village on the Dorset coast, east of Lulworth, discover a human skeleton on the beach and dog tags inscribed LEWIS J CAMPBELL and a number. American military officials confirmed his identity as Private Lew Campbell, believed to have died in 1944 during training exercises for the Normandy landings.

Click here to read the rest of my review

Since then I’ve read one more of her books, Another Day Gone, which I also loved (my review) and I have one more, The One I Was, in my TBRs.

Throwback Thursday: 5 November 2020

One of the best books I’ve read is Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. I read it in November 2007.

Here is an extract from my review:

In essence, the novel recounts the lives of two couples who first met during the Depression in 1930s America and the joys and difficulties they encounter throughout their lives. Larry Morgan is the narrator and the events are seen through his eyes. Both he and Sid Lang have jobs in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin and their lives are intertwined from the moment they meet, when both their wives are pregnant. At the start of the novel we are told that Charity, Sid’s wife is dying. Sally and Larry have travelled to Battell Pond in Vermont for a reunion with the Langs. Sally is in a wheelchair and from that point Larry looks back over their lives.

Click here to read the rest of this review

Throwback Thursday: Digging to America

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

This is my first Throwback Thursday post and I’ve decided to start with one of my first book reviews – Digging to America by Anne Tyler, posted on June 20 2007.

This is the first paragraph:

I’m so glad I’ve read Digging to America. I’d been resisting reading it because when I first heard about I just didn’t like the sound of it; I think what put me off were the names of some of the characters, particularly Bitsy who came over to me as a know-it-all bossy woman. It just shows you shouldn’t make snap judgements like that.

Click here to read the rest of this review

After I read this I intended to read more of Anne Tyler’s books – but I didn’t!

There are plenty to choose from. She’s written twenty novels. In 1989 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons; in 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as ‘the greatest novelist writing in English’; in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence; and in 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Her latest book is Redhead by the Side of the Road, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020.