Friday, 12 February 2016

The Story of Danny Dunn by Bryce Courtenay

In the aftermath of the Great Depression few opportunities existed for working class boys but at eighteen, Danny Dunn has everything going for him: brain, looks, sporting ability- and an easy charm. His parents run The Hero, a neighbourhood pub and Danny is a local hero.

Luck changes for Danny when he signs up to go to war. He returns home a physically broken man, to a life that will be changed forever. Together with Helen, the woman who becomes his wife, he sets about rebuilding his life.

Bryce Courtney is an author I have been meaning to try for ages and have finally got to it with The Story of Danny Dunn.

I have very mixed feelings about this book as there were some parts I loved and, quite frankly, other sections of the book I found as dull as ditch water although I still persevered to the end.

The book opens with this attention grabbing sentence:

"Danny Dunn returned to Balmain from the war understanding that he was no longer indestructible. When he'd joined up to fight at twenty he'd been bulletproof."

Indeed, the narrative of his war years was fascinating and I could hardly put the book down. The book then progresses through to his university education, marriage to Helen, the birth of his children, his career and so on and herein lay the problem for me with this book in that it just seemed to go on for too long.

I am the sort of reader who likes all the loose ends in a book to tie up neatly but this seemed to go on interminably as, in a book of this length, there were alot of things to tie up before the conclusion.

Add to that the fact that I found all of the characters a bit larger that life. Everyone was so successful in whatever they turned their hand to. Now, I think I speak for many of us when I say that the average reader has probably known some failure along the way in life - I know I have and so I found the characters rather difficult to relate to.

One thing is for sure is that Mr. Courtenay is a very successful author. So now I am left with a slight dilemma that I think you may be able to help me with. Should I try another of his books? You all know my reading tastes fairly well by now so is there another of his books that you think I might enjoy more or is this one very typical of his work? I would really appreciate your thoughts on this and you can let me know in the comments section below, on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or to my email address.

ISBN: 978 0143203513

Publisher: Penguin

About the Author:

Bryce Courtenay was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent his early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

He moved to Australia because he was banned from returning to his own country due to the fact that he had started a weekend school for Africans in the school hall of the prestigious boy's school he attended. One day the school hall was raided by the police who then branded him a Communist as they considered educating Africans a subversive act.

He met and married an Australian girl and they had three sons whilst living in Sydney ( a place he considered the nicest place on earth.) He became a very successful writer having published dozens of award winning books prior to his death in 2012.

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

After one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to a remote Scottish island, hoping to mend their shattered lives. But when their surviving child, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity - that she, in fact, is Lydia - their world comes crashing back down.

They know one of their daughters died. But can they be sure which one?

When I began reading this I was not at all sure that this book was for me. Perhaps because the subject matter is so devastating; after all the death of a child makes for difficult reading. But then something strange happened. Suddenly, like a fish in a stream, I was completely hooked and I couldn't put it down.

This is one of the most eerie novels I have read and this is because the author has so excellently captured the atmosphere of the remote Scottish island that the family move to in order to begin afresh. I think it is this setting that lured me in every bit as much as the story itself.

Throughout the book the tension never lets up and I found myself really puzzled by what was going on. There are plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the final page and even now I still keep thinking about it and considering what I thought might be behind it all.

The characters in this book are brilliantly drawn and my sympathies were with each of the main characters in turn. The parents relationship is fragile and I felt heart broken at the loneliness of the surviving twin.

This is not a book that I will forget quickly. It is haunting and creepy and demonstrates extremely skilled penmanship from Mr Tremayne. I highly recommend this superb book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

ISBN: 9780007563036

Publisher:  Harper

About the Author:

S. K. Tremayne is a bestselling novelist and award winner travel writer, and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world. He also writes under the pseudonym, Tom Knox.

Born in Devon,the author now lives in London. He has two daughters.