Milly Reynolds – English Crime Fiction Author

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Here are some quintessentially English ebooks for you to read this summer, or at any time, by British based crime fiction author, Milly Reynolds.

These books won’t break the bank, they are not too long, and they are relatively easy reading – perfect on your kindle (and elsewhere) for that up and coming summer vacation, or at any time.

The main character is Mike Malone, now sleuthing the relatively quiet streets of Lincolnshire in the east of England.

However, just underneath this rather pleasant, amiable veneer of a peaceful small market town and its outlying farms, lie hints (sometimes stronger hints) of his murky and tragic past, which have a way of bubbling to the surface.

Here too, the sense of the tranquil, gentile country lifestyle, is misleading; it’s always vulnerable to some quirky crimes, leading Mike Malone on a ‘merry dance’ around his patch, seemingly in pursuit of tea and good home cooking as much as the murderer.

There are other books too, with a wide range of characters, such as Jack Sallt, a detective with a distinctly harder edge to his personality.

Milly Reynolds books on Amazon

Milly Reynolds on Smashwords

Milly Reynolds Blog

Milly Reynolds Website

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Book Review: Musings on ‘A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man’ – James Joyce

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Of course, much has been written about this novel since it was first published in 1916. To call ‘A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’ (Penguin – this publication) a landmark, would be grossly understating its impact.

So I’m not attempting to go into great depth, all that has already been done. I merely want to convey my own recollections of first reading it, way back in school.

For me, it was this book and D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’ that first truly opened my eyes to what we sometimes call serious literature. Both of them are, in their own way, semi-autobiographies and broke the mould of novel writing.

Story Teller

Naturally though, Lawrence and Joyce wrote in very different ways. I think Joyce wrote more intuitively, in a way which conjured up for me a wholly different milieu of imagery. He is a natural narrator, a story teller like many of his countrymen.

For example, when he describes Stephen Dedalus’ childhood, I get drawn into that world through the use of evocative child-like language; I become that child. I can remember endless classroom discussions about this part of the book.

Living Imagery

And the world of Dublin in the late 19th century, was a very different world from that of the industrial Nottingham area, where Lawrence sets his book.

Although Joyce was to reject almost everything about his upbringing, his beliefs, his writing is nevertheless suffused with that imagery, bringing it alive, like new music as some describe.

So what are we to make of the criticism of those who first rejected his manuscript? The book is, when compared to more classic literature, without doubt somewhat formless and unconventional.

Like God

Yet, those of an artistic nature tend to be like this, especially over the last hundred years or so. I think Joyce, whose approach was understood and encouraged by none other than Ezra Pound, was simply bold enough to open up the taps of his creativity. The artist himself almost becomes like God, a creator in his own right, a bit like the Daedalus of legend, who built wings for himself and his son so that they could fly.

Joyce’s upbringing within the strict bounds of Catholicism, his training for the priesthood, was in retrospect the perfect grounding for such free artistry, once it was released from its captivity.

Ironically, Joyce’s world never seems to lose the colour of his Catholic upbringing, even though he ultimately rejected it. With Lawrence, the harsh, English Protestant world, seems altogether more grim, enlightened by the writer’s love of nature.

Native Genius

Joyce’s innate creativity, held back for so long, could only emerge later like a succession of Michelangelo masterpieces, hewn by the craft and intelligence of a native genius.

Unlike his other classics, Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, I have successfully completed reading his first great novel.

Even so, one day I intend to finish the former two, although I suspect I will read ‘Portrait’ again before I do that.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

West Lindsey Church Festival 2019 – Minting St. Andrew in Pictures, Part 2

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A collection of old Bibles.

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copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Haiku: A Question of History

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Winners can claim truth
when history is written?
Then what is the truth?

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Book Review: ‘Beyond The Time Barrier’, by Andrew Tomas

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Aliens, Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts… I’m not sure I believe in any of that these days.

However, time was, when once a green teenager, that books like Andrew Tomas’ ‘Beyond The Time Barrier’ published in 1974 by Sphere Books Ltd., fired my imagination, which is no bad thing.

What first drew me to the book was the cover, naturally. The connection between flying saucers and the sphinx, or Egyptian civilisation as a whole is intriguing, and there have been many books written since which hint, if not exactly prove, that human civilisation owes its origin to alien interference.

However, once you get into the core of this short book (160 pages), Tomas’ thesis, as far as I understand it, is that time may not be what it seems, that the so-called rules of time might be broken, or that the past and future can be seen by sensitive individuals using various mediums.

The Meaning of Tarot

Most intriguing for me, however, is his interpretation of the Tarot cards, which he thinks may have originated in Egypt. He seems to say that they do not merely predict what happens in an individual’s future through divination, but perhaps could also encapsulate the essential meaning of each century from the first century BC to our own twenty first century.

How is this? He takes the traditional images of the cards, ‘The Emperor’, ‘The Hermit’, ‘The Devil’ etc., and sees a summation of each century’s character. For instance, take the card called ‘The Pope’. If we are counting from the first card, ‘Il Bagattel’ standing for the first century BC, then ‘The Pope’ coincides with the fourth century AD – the most significant event (most might agree) of that century being the Emperor Constantine making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

It’s all very interesting, especially when one looks at the card standing for the twentieth century, ‘Il Matto’ (The Fool), who seems to be blindly walking towards a precipice, despite a dog’s futile attempts to prevent him falling over. I think you can see that such a symbol might very well fit when describing the tragedy of two world wars and all the other conflicts of that time.

However, it could also be argued that it’s easy to find events which match the pictures on the cards. This may be true.

Saint Malachy

Similarly, he takes a look at the prophecies of Saint Malachy, the twelfth century Irish Bishop of Armagh, who allegedly predicted future popes from his time using allegory and symbols, each pontiff given an epithet, like Pope John the Twenty Third who died in 1963.

One rather imaginative interpretation of Malachy’s description of Pope John, ‘Pastor et Nauta’, or Shepherd and Pilot, is that it’s meant to be ‘Astor et Nauta’, or Astronautics, which certainly did begin during his reign.

The End of Time?

One worrying aspect of these prophecies is that we are now, as of 2019, apparently living in the time of the last Pope that Saint Malachy gave an epithet to, namely Pope Francis, ‘Petrus Romanus’. Some have interpreted this as to mean that we are living at the end of the age, but people have been saying this for hundreds of years… so who really knows?

There are also references to Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Jeane Dixon and Nicholas Roerich, the latter whom he believes made prophecies through the medium of painting rather haunting landscapes. He is certainly one of my favourite painters.

However, like I said above, I do not subscribe to all this conjecture, except to say that it was books like this which set me on the path of ‘free thinking’, not necessarily believing anything I was told, nor ruling anything out. I believe we should be open to anything. Uncertainty is the usual state of affairs and is actually quite good in the long run – the truth will probably never be known.

Leofwine Tanner 2019

Book sniffing note: Slanguage, by Bernard Share — Sesquiotica

Look, I don’t think I’m weird about this. I really don’t. I think lots of you sniff your books. And probably other people’s too. The way books smell matters. The cheap hard white academic institutional paper of tenure books and reheated dissertations has a smell that tells you from the beginning that you will learn a […]

via Book sniffing note: Slanguage, by Bernard Share — Sesquiotica

Leo’s Book Review: ‘From the Holy Mountain’

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‘A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium’. By William Dalrymple.

I can’t tell how inspirational I found this book when I first read it.

At the time, around 1997, I was virtually reading nothing new beyond a few books on astrology or Buddhism, two subjects I was heavily into at the time.

Then one chance visit to a bookshop and this title seemed to shout out from the shelves, saying ‘Read Me!’ The cover and illustrations are simply stunning, produced by Dalrymple’s wife, Olivia Fraser. They fit hand in glove with the content in a way which leads you in with all the colourful and sensual allure of a Bazaar… but that would perhaps be an ironic observation, in that this book is a travelogue revealing the long slow demise of Orthodox Christianity in the Middle East.

Essentially the book is based on the journey of a Byzantine monk and historian, John Moschos, in 578 AD along the Silk Route which the author retraces, only to find that much of that culturally rich and colourful Christian soaked world has now gone and in further more rapid decline.

Humour and Grief

There are strong elements of humour, similar to Dalrymple’s earlier work ‘In Xandadu’ (which still leaves me in stitches when I re-read it), but ‘Holy Mountain’ is a much more serious, haunting book, leaving you practically grieving for the lost world of Byzantium, the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East.

From the first sentence, where the author describes in plain yet evocative prose the cell in which he is staying at the start of his journey from Mount Athos in Greece, you are led into another world, not only the rather fraught one of today within the author’s mind, but also this lost, remoter world, which somehow seems much more wholesome and meaningful than our own despite all the technology which allows me to write this.

Similarly his all-round historical knowledge of Byzantine and Islamic culture, plus his understanding of architectural detail are stunning, yet written succinctly in such a way as to not put you off with complication. It is a great gift.

Vestiges

In places he finds these vestiges of Orthodox Christianity, monasteries and churches barely holding on, plus apocalyptically minded priests, and his description of the characters he meets fills you with both hope and resignation too, a feeling that his generation might be the last to witness such places and people.

By the end, the author seems like a forlorn character, reminding me of Paul Morel in DH Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’, as he walks away after his mother had died. The sense of loss and hopelessness are overbearing at times.

In doing this review I have realised I must re-read this wonderful book once again. It was first published in the mid 1990s; I wonder how much of the world he describes is still there 22 years on?

So I can’t recommend this book enough, it brought back my love of reading.