Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Drink Before The War

I’m reading this book by Dennis Lehane as part of a Goodreads Group Read.

Here are a couple of random sentences, as todays Teaser Tuesday offering:

I sidestepped the bellman by the bar and opened the door myself. If he was amused he didn’t show it. If he was alive, he didn’t show it.

Book Review – The Plot Against America

I was disappointed with this book by Philip Roth – it was not what I expected. I was looking forward to an alternative history political thriller, but instead was served with a detailed account of the life of a 1940s Jewish New Jersey family. The book posits the election of Charles Lindbergh, celebrity aviator, isolationist, admirer of Nazi Germany and anti-semite, as US President in 1940. The story is told through the eyes of an eight year old Newark Jewish boy. The life of the boy’s family is described in great, and for me tedious, detail. At times the writer’s voice sounds like an eight year old, which works well such as the boy’s fear and simultaneous fascination of seeing the stump of an amputee’s leg. But most of the time the writer is looking back retrospectively and this makes rather tiring reading. 

There is far too much detail, such as pages of description of wedding guests who play no further role in the book. The pace is very slow and it’s nearly half way through the book when we get to the first dramatic event. This is a family trip to Washington, with unpleasant scenes in a hotel and restaurant. The episode is very well described.  But then the family returns to Newark and for much of the book nothing dramatic happens. The book convincingly describes tensions within the extended family as whether to collaborate, resist or flee.  However these family arguments are just repeated in far too many scenes. 

Towards the end of the book nation-wide riots break out and the boy’s father has to make a dangerous cross country car journey. However the dramatic effect of this is spoiled by being told retrospectively.  The ending, which conveniently lets real history reassert itself at the end of 1942 albeit a year late, was poor and lacked plausibility.

Teaser Tuesday

I still haven’t finished, The Plot Against America, so I’ll pick a couple of sentences from a random page of a book I’m about to read.

“It will take us less than five minutes to show even the most dumb-assed regulator that we shorted that stock as part of a pattern of bets to the down side. It was nothing special. It was a coincidence. Get over it.”

The Fear Index by Robert Harris

Goodreads and Librarything Giveaways

I’ve just started Giveaways of The Banker on Goodreads and Librarything. The Giveway competitions run until 12th June.  For Goodreads there are 2 printed copies going. For Librarything I’m giving away 10 ebook copies.

For Goodreads go to

For Librarything go to

Movie Review – Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

This film is a sentimental, feel-good romantic comedy. Two mismatched characters, straight-laced fisheries expert Dr Fred Jones (played by Ewan McGregor ) and glamorous consultant Harriet (played by Emily Blunt) oversea a hair-brained project to introduce salmon fishing in Yemen. Initial professional sparing between the two gradually turns to romance.  Although the film had charm, it was just too weak for me, causing the occasional smile but no laughs. The one exception is the British government spin-doctor (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), a clean version of Malcolm Tucker in the TV series The Thick Of It.  She added a bit of spice and did make me laugh and her performance raised the film from two to three star standard.

The film is based on the book which is more of a political satire, which I think would work better. I haven’t read the book, so I’ll add it to my to-read list.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a routine that seems to be popular in many writers’ blogs. So I thought I would follow suit. The rules are simple:

Every Tuesday open a random page from a book you are currently reading and share two sentences from that page. Here goes:

“These friends of von Ribbentrop,” he explained to Sandy, “are no friends of ours. Every dirty scheme that Hitler has foisted on Europe, every filthy lie he has told other countries, has come through the mouth of Mr, von Ribbentrop.”

The Plot Against America  by Philip Roth.

5 star Review on Goodreads

The Banker got a 5 star review a couple of days ago from a Goodreads member in Canada.  The reviewer was one of two who received a copy of the book as part of my Goodreads Giveaway back in February. So the Giveaway has really been worthwhile.

See the review on