Tag-Archive for ◊ easy read ◊

• Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Josephine Cox was born in 1941 in a cotton-mill house in Blackburn, Lancashire in the north of England. Her family was very large and poor. She was the sixth out of ten children and married her husband, Ken, when she was sixteen years old and had two sons.

When her sons started school, she went to college and after completing her studies was accepted at Cambridge University but couldn’t go because of having to leave her family, living away from home. Instead she worked as a teacher.

Josephine Cox wrote her first novel while working as a teacher, before dedicating herself full-time to writing. She has also written novels under the pseudonym, Jane Brindle.

In 2011 she won the “Superwoman of Great Britain” award and was number seven on the official UK best-sellers top fifty and was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Romantic Novelist Association. She has written nearly forty novels to date. Her first, Let Loose The Tigers was published in 1988, The Loner in 2007 and her latest novel, Three Letters was published in February 2012.

She lives in a small village in Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire, near her two sons and their families.

Josephine Cox is a good story teller and her novels are always best sellers. She once said: “I could never imagine a single day without writing and it’s been that way since as far back as I can remember”.

Afflicted by the worst nightmarish night in his life, Davie Adams, the main character of The Loner, is a vulnerable teenager who decides to escape from the family home in Blackburn. His decision is taken after the sudden departure of his father, Don, that same night in great anger and despair and the tragic and unexpected death of his alcoholic, uncontrollably loose, young mother, Rita, also the same night. Davie leaves his beloved maternal grandfather, Joseph, behind.

Davie makes the firm decision to find his father but without success. Weary, disillusioned and far from home, he is determined to earn his living like an adult by accepting whatever job he can find along the way.

Despite what the title of the novel suggests, Davie is not aloof or a loner and can get along and make friends easily. He is very fond of Judy, his childhood friend and finds her a pillar of support. Later in the story he is attracted to Lucy, the daughter of his respected employer, Frank. Lucy is madly in love with Davie. She is impatient and starts making plans for their marriage. Davie is also a faithful friend and keeps in touch with his dear old friend, Eli, who reminds him of his grandfather. He opens-up to Lucy’s housekeeper and cook, Maggie, and takes her into his confidence by telling her about his long friendship with Judy back home in Blackburn. Davie, throughout the novel, has family, friends and acquaintances.

The story moves very slowly for no reason. The setting of the story takes too long and could have been made shorter. On the other hand, the ending is accelerated. It’s an unpretentious romantic, dramatic story with a happy ending. An easy read.

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Category: Book Reviews  | One Comment
• Friday, May 27th, 2011

Allison Hoover Bartlett was born in Toronto Canada. She is a journalist with a B.A. Degree in English literature from the University of Santa Barbara in the USA and is a member of North 24th Writer’s group and Word of Mouth Bay Area.

She has written articles for the New York Times, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and other publications about travel, art, science and education. A. H. Bartlett lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.

Bartlett’s original article on John Gilkey, the obsessed book lover thief, was published in the Best American Crime Reporting of 2007.

Her book, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, published in 2009, is about book theft and book collectors. It’s non-fiction, written in novel form and the two main characters are: an obsessed book lover-collector, the bibliomaniac, John Gilkey and Ken Sanders, his sworn enemy and tracker.

Sanders, is an antiquarian book collector and dealer and in addition to that, a self-assigned dilettante “book detective”. He owns “Ken Sanders Books” in Salt Lake City and is accredited the security chairmanship of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. After receiving several complaints from book dealers about thefts, Sanders becomes obsessed with the arrest of John Gilkey and is determined to have him put behind bars.

Gilkey loves books as objects, as artistic items, regardless of their content. He doesn’t read the books he steals – he collects them in order to attain a certain stature in society with his pricey rare books. He thinks that by assembling an impressive library, he will forge himself a prestigious identity, which he desperately needs as he wants to appear a refined intellectual gentleman. He never steals a book from a shelf, it’s always by credit card fraud – that way he is under the delusion that he isn’t really stealing the books and consequently isn’t a thief.

According to Gilkey’s way of thinking, “all rare book dealers are crooks and fraudsters” so stealing from them is justified by someone like him who insanely loves books and feels the urge to acquire them but can’t afford them. This shows how much Gilkey lives in his own world and has completely lost touch with reality. The fact that he also wants these valuable books as a source of pecuniary wealth is hidden in his subconscious.

Bartlett questioned Gilkey, his family, Sanders and other book dealer victims of Gilkey’s thefts for three years about their involvement in this whole affair. In an interview, she mentioned the reasons that attracted her to write this book: “ I love books, not just for their content, but the ”thingness” of them and I wanted to explore what that was about”. In other words, how an obsession can turn into a glorified crime.

Perhaps the idea of touching and smelling a book has a rewarding feeling that an audio or electronic book can’t equal, at least for book lovers. As for handling rare, valuable books, it can be an unparalleled, magical experience for an enthusiastic connoisseur to the extent of having a clamshell box made to keep this old printed treasure in. As Gilkey told Bartlett: “when he holds a rare book, he smells its age, feels its crispness, makes sure there’s nothing wrong with it, and opens it up very gently”.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a fascinating story because of its authenticity. An interesting read, which would have been more intense in its impact if the character of the main protagonists were more searched, psychoanalysed and developed. The book would thus have gained more depth.

Gilkey and Sanders psychological behaviour is portrayed briefly by Bartlett as being inconsistent. Gilkey at times appears to be reasonable and sane and at other times seems deranged or irrational in his reasoning. As for Sanders, he appears friendly with Bartlett at the start, before turning hostile and irritated when speaking to her on the phone.

Nevertheless, the book is an enjoyable easy read, specially that Bartlett provides a valuable and interesting insight into the world of books and its aficionados, whether it’s book collectors, book dealers, or book kleptomaniacs.

Category: Book Reviews  | One Comment