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Book Reviews
Outline by Rachel Cusk
The narrator of Outline is a woman whose name is mentioned but once in the novel, so that it doesn't really matter what her name is, there is a stealthy sense of anonymity about her. Her destination is Athens where she will give a creative writing course in English. She meets a host of people in Athens - both through the course and socially - hears their stories and reflects on her own through what she tells. Brilliant, unmissable novel. PK
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The Republic by Charles Townshend
In this 534-page work, Charles Townshend traces the struggle from the unilateral declaration of an independent Irish republic by an assembly of Sinn Féin MPs on January 21, 1919 up to the Treaty split and beyond. Townshend’s appealing study may well be the definitive account of those impassioned, violent times. Paddy Kehoe
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Good-Bye to All That Robert Graves
“There was no patriotism in the trenches, “ wrote Robert Graves, in Good-Bye to All That, first published in 1929. “It was too remote a sentiment . . a new arrival who talked patriotism would soon be told to cut it out.” Drafted to France in 1915, Graves was wounded in July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. A false report circulated that he ‘died of wounds’ - far from it, he would live to tell the vivid tale. P K
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Music in the Castle of Heaven
John Eliot Gardiner conducts the world’s leading orchestras and has earned a global reputation as perhaps the greatest interpreter of the music of Johnann Sebastian Bach in modern times. This 630-page work is his loving hommage to the music of the German master of the Baroque, whose dates are 1685 to 1750. Scholarly yet loving. Paddy Kehoe.
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Music at Midnight by John Drury
John Drury’s magnificent 393-page biography - published in paperback earlier this year - explores Herbert’s fascinating life and times, using sometimes scant material perceptively to elucidate the work. For anyone over 40 at least, George Herbert was a stalwart of English school texts in this country. His poems were mostly about God, and used simple language. Love bade me welcome but my soul drew back . . PK
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