“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Blonde Bombshell and The Fields of Fortune Reviews - Guest

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Thanks to our Guest Star Michael for contributing the following reviews. He's becoming a regular book-reviewing wizard!


Like other Tom Holt books, you either get the humour or you don’t! Having read “May Contain Traces of Magic” by the same author, I was looking forward to another rather zany novel. The Ostar, who we later find out are actually intelligent dogs, have sent an equally intelligent bomb to blow Earth to smithereens, all because us humans are being very noisy. The bomb gets cold feet about the whole blowing oneself up bit and decides to send a probe down to Earth to see if it can find out why the natives are making so much noise and whether the defences are up to saving Earth from an alien invasion and whether it really can get away with a nice peaceful life.

So, lots of role reversal and personification of normally inanimate objects, an outsider’s rather skewed view of humans and a race against time to save the Earth.



I’m getting quite into period fiction, especially books set in either Victorian or from the first half of the 20th Century. However, this novel goes back a bit further to Scotland not long after the Jacobean Revolt (As an aside I’ve read John Wesley’s eye witness account of the panic caused in Newcastle by the advance of the Pretender and his army, I can’t really imagine how it would be to suddenly find an army on your doorstep!).

Anyway, Nicola Morrison and her sister Charlotte are the rather privileged daughters of John James Templeton, known as Lord Craigiehall and a senior judge in Edinburgh. Lord Craigiehall, I suppose like many of the landed gentry of the time, has plans to marry Nicola off to a much older other lord, in order to get access to land and mining rights. Nicola is having none of it, and runs away to her sister’s house in Edinburgh. There she meets Charlotte’s husband and his wayward brother, who is deep in gambling debts and with a supposedly valiant past in the American Civil War. Thus follows a tale of Nicola’s coming out into Edinburgh society, as her sister and her father expect, but this does not suit her and her preferences lie in a completely different direction. There’s a plot to bring about Lord Craigiehall’s downfall as well.

The author has put a lot of research into the lives of people of the period, and of Edinburghat that time, and this together with some strong characters makes a very good read. If you want something more working class than this book but set in the same sort of area but slightly later period, try The Hiring Fair, also by the same author and part of a trilogy.

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Visit Michael's Blog HERE

Read more reviews here!
Books 04 & 05 - Blonde Bombshell and The Fields of Fortune

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Guest Stars - Table of Contents
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Full - Table of Contents
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Friday, 26 April 2013

Sharing Stories - I had a Black Dog Review - GUEST

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Leeds Book Club will be participating in the Arts and Minds Network's new project on raising awareness of mental health issues. 

This review is provided to us by regular book clubber @MildlyConfused. Barbara is epic, to the tips of her toes and I'm delighted to welcome her to the blogging gang (I believe that you've already met EVERYONE). 


There are many different breeds of Black Dog affecting millions of people from all walks of life. The Black Dog is an equal opportunity mongrel. It was Winston Churchill who popularized the phrase Black Dog to describe the bouts of depression he experienced for much of his life. Matthew Johnstone, a sufferer himself, has written and illustrated this moving and uplifting insight into what it is like to have a Black Dog as a companion and how he learned to tame it and bring it to heel.

When I agreed to write a review of one of #sharingstories books, I chose to review a
book I was not familiar with so I could approach it without any preconceptions. Like
most people, I was familiar with the term “black dog”, used famously by Winston
Churchill to refer to depression, but that was all I knew about the book. After reading
I Had a Black Dog, I felt that I had a far greater understanding of what it must be like to live with depression.

My first comment on the book is that it is very short and I would perhaps classify it as
being a picture book. I found it clever, easy to read, easy to understand and very
informative. It is also one of the most approachable non-fiction books I have read.
The author writes in plain English and does not use jargon at any point. He manages
to convey the way depression can affect everyday life in a very simple, accessible
manner. It is a book that can be read from cover to cover or it can be dipped into.

Perhaps the cleverest and most rewarding aspects of the book are in the
illustrations. There are very few words on each page. Words are not needed. I
know it is an awful cliché to say a picture paints a thousand words, but in this book,
the illustrations do just that: the book is a very visual representation of depression
expressed through the image of the Black Dog. The illustrations are inspired yet
simple, and often surreal. They bring wittiness and humour to the book without
undermining the seriousness of the subject. The author’s Black Dog is not a
frightening or angry image. It is, however, a constant companion colouring the way
the character views and copes with life. There is no escape from it. It appears at
unexpected moments. One of my favourite images and the one that possibly held
most meaning for me was the one of the Black Dog in the form of sunglasses. I
think this image most clearly helped me understand what living with depression must
be like and how it affects the way you view life. Another powerful image shows the
character on all fours with the Black Dog superimposed on his body. His life had
been completely taken over by depression. The device of using the size of the Black
Dog to express the effect depression has on the sufferer in differing situations is a
very good visual tool.

Above all, I found this to be is a positive book. The statistics in the foreword make
sobering reading. We learn that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 to 8 men will have an
episode of depression at some time in their lives, and women are twice as vulnerable
as men. However, Matthew Johnstone shows us that while depression cannot be
cured, it can be managed with professional help and by exploring self-help options.
The Black Dog will always be present but strategies are there to help live with the
Black Dog and to keep him down in size. By the end of the book, the Black Dog has
been tamed. He is to heel and on the end of a leash.

In my opinion, Matthew Johnstone has written an excellent book in which he shares
with us his experiences of living with depression. I would thoroughly recommend
reading this perceptive and inspiring book. It has something for everyone. It can be
read by those suffering from depression, those supporting people suffering from
depression and by those wishing to learn more about depression.

* * * * *

Chat with Peter Bullimore
Mental Health Reading Challenge
Blurbs for the books!

Podcast with Tom at Arts and Minds Leeds

Write Up's

Dec - Jane Eyre - GUEST
Nov - A life too short - GUEST
Oct - Notes from an exhibition - GUEST
Sep - Day - GUEST
Aug - Tender is the Night - GUEST
Jul - Ariel - GUEST
Jul - Birthday Letters - GUEST
Jun - Poppy Shakespeare - GUEST
May - Why be happy when you can be normal - GUEST
Apr - I had a black dog - GUEST
Mar - The Psychopath Test - GUEST
Feb - The Silver Linings Play Book - GUEST

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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Podcast - Transform 13

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We at Leeds Book Club are delighted to welcome our friend and Very Talented Person @EmergentP Pauline Mayers onto out podcast. 

Pauline is a former dancer and choreographer who is currently working at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the Transform 13 project - specifically working on Burmantofts Stories. 

Join us as we chat about upcoming projects, dance and the importance of theatre connecting with the wider community!

If you'd like to book tickets or find out more, please visit the WY Playhouse page HERE!








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Table of Contents - Podcasts! * * * * *
Our Podcast Page 
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Sunday, 21 April 2013

World Book Night Prizes!

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Leeds Book Club is thrilled to announce the following prizes for our World Book Night extravaganza!

Waterstones have very kindly provided us with vouchers - perfect for book lovers and emerging readers alike. The Leeds branch is choka-full of enthusiastic staff members who will help you find the ideal treat! Say hi @WaterstoneLeeds

Our friends at the West Yorkshire Playhouse are providing us with tickets to see Sherlock Holmes - The Best Kept Secret  - a new adventure for the redoubtable Holmes and his faithful Watson, written by Leeds playwrite Mark Catley. 
As we've actually read some Sherlock mysteries across the book clubs (and developed a near unhealthy obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch in the process), this is the perfect mix of literature and theatre and LEEDS for us!  

OK Comics - one of my must-visit haunts in Leeds - have also been following World Book Night with interest. However, Jared (@OKComics) and Ollie (@mysterypickles) aren't convinced that World Book Night pick Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges is the comic that they would have picked to share and distribute on the 23rd. So each have picked a title and are providing us with copies as prizes! Huzzah for OK Comics!

Harrogate Theatre has also been in touch. As literary minded sorts, they thought that tickets to their upcoming show - The Count of Monte Cristo - would be an appropriate way of celebrating World Book Night! 
You can find more details about the production on our Events page as well as free copies of the eBook behind the play HERE

Each of our venues will also be provided a 'bottle of something a bit nice' for a lucky WBN attendee - so huge thanks also to @MedusaBar and @WhiteSwanLeeds. Not only brilliant and generous hosts for our book clubs; they really do go that extra mile to make us feel at home!!

Not that we need booze to feel at home of course. 

Finally - though not a prize that anyone can take home with them on the night - I'd have gone totally scatty without Kirsty (@Gazpachodragon) - #WSwanLBC host on the 23rd and Quiz Maker extraordinaire. She has been an absolute gem throughout organising this and takes everything that I've thrown at her on board with a humour and grace that has been inspirational!

Three Cheers for our awesome #WBN gift givers and helper-outer!!!

Hope to see you at either White Swan Leeds or Medusa on the 23rd!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

World Book Night 2013 - Our events!

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On Tuesday the 23rd of April, we are going to be celebrating World Book Night.

We'd love to invite you to attend the following:

Leeds Book Club (and Maths Jam)
at the White Swan - City Centre
FB                                                                     Leeds Inspired                                             

Book swap - 7pm                                              Epic Book Based Quiz - 9pm

The rather spectacular @Gazpachodragon will be hosting our second WBN night in the heart of the city. There will be a variety of WBN titles to pick from, as well as other second hand books. Attendees are encouraged to bring along books to swap. Bags for swag are also strongly recommended!

After the resounding success of last years cake table, I'm delighted to confirm that there will be even more delicious treats available as both the pub and epic book clubbers will be bringing along buns, cakes and all manner of baked goodies. If you're a natural in the kitchen, don't hesitate to rustle up a batch yourself!

Believe it or not - there's more! Kirsty has been putting her legend- wait-for-it -dary Quiz creating skills to good use and has devised a fabulous book based quiz. We've been collecting some amazing prizes from some of the best - to be announced later this week!

Leeds Book Club
at Medusa Bar - Horsforth
FB                                                                     Leeds Inspired                                             

Book swap - 7pm                                              Epic Book Based Quiz - 9pm

For those not based in the city centre, why not join me in Horsforth. I'll be hosting a WBN swap from 7pm giving away Jasper FForde's The Eyre Affair (co-incidentally one of our upcoming White Swan book choices) - one of my favourite books - so as you can imagine I'm hugely excited to be able to share this with others.

Additionally, our general book swap is going to be big. How big? Well, apparently the pile we've already collected could quite happily facilitate the opening of a small book store so the chances of you finding your next perfect read is high!

I'll be hosting a massive book swap and WBN giveaway from 7pm in our regular book clubbing venue in Horsforth.
On top of that, we'll be holding the Epic Book Based Quiz with exciting prizes to win - yes it's the same quiz described above as I do *NOT* share Kirsty talent. But it's on at the exact same time - so unless you are actually Doctor Who - don't expect any advantages!!

Finally - though not technically an LBC event - I can't not mention the TSL event at Arcadia. It is after all how I was introduced to World Book Night and is always a huge success, a right laugh and tons of fun!

Travelling Suitcase Library
at Arcadia Bar - Headingley
FB                                                                     Leeds Inspired                                         

Join the TSL for it's third annual WBN celebration at the fabulous Arcadia Bar in Headingley. I think it's safe to say this will be an AWESOME night as there are a huge range of books on offer.

Also, the TS Librarian has special superpowers and can tell what you NEED to read just by looking at you. 

Seriously, it's like a gift. You should totally see it in action. Uncanny.

To join in our celebration on Twitter, feel free to use the following: #WBN2013 #WBN #MedusaLBC #WSwanLBC #LiteraryLeeds

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

WSwan LBC - Write Up of The Book Thief - GUEST

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White Swan LBC

Date:  Sunday 10th of March 2012
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Swan Street, Leeds



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* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * * 

THE BLURB (from Amazon)

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
LeedsBookClub is delighted to welcome back our epic Literary Guru @AlisonNeale who has kindly written up our most recent #WSwanLBC discussion. I particularly enjoy our (frequent) distractions being included!

To parallel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I’ll begin at the end: re-readers commented when giving their scores that while all had greatly enjoyed the book on first reading, when reading the book for a second time they recognised how manipulated they had been. Scores reflected this.

One manifestation of this manipulation was in the form of Death, which some readers felt to be a device, and not a terribly original one. More than one person had been reminded of Pratchett’s Discworld Death character. Some book clubbers said that Death’s parts of the story interrupted the flow and were outside of the reader’s perspective; however, others felt that the ‘gimmick’ of this character added to the story.

Another plot device was the interjections by the author, clarifying foreign words or filling in bits of history. It was pointed out that these were like the text cards during a silent movie.

~ Likes ~

The relationship between Liesel and Hans

The book-within-a-book structure

The poetic imagery

A number of book clubbers agreed that the characters felt very real: one could imagine them off living their lives while they weren’t on the page. The mayor’s wife, for example, rarely appeared in the story, but was essential to the plot even when not the focus. The baddies, too, were realistic rather than sketches.

Liesel was felt to be a sad character: a little girl far stronger and more independent than she should have had to be, taking care of herself and untrusting of adults. It was amazing that this child should have managed to keep such a big secret even from her best friend.

~ Easily distracted as always ~

The book clubbers at this point went off into a conversation about:

Sweet Valley High


various TV series

The ending was inevitable, someone pointed out – we know our history – but this book offered a different perspective. Someone else commented that it wasn’t really about the Holocaust, but
instead about those outside of it – why they didn’t speak out or rebel. It was a tale of the universal human experience rather than focused on one nationality or side. However, the bombing in the latter part of the book was unusual in that criticism and questioning of the actions of the winning side are still fairly rare.

While such a serious subject being treated in a light-hearted way could have been seen as callous and ‘a tough sell’, fortunately it was very well handled: ‘whimsical without being twee’, someone
commented. One reader had issue with the book not picking up on the true horror of the situation, but it was pointed out that it was a YA book (news to some readers including yours truly), which
might account for this to some extent. An example of this lack of seriousness was the comment after the street was bombed that Death had ‘a busy day’. Some readers thus expressed a preference for non-fiction books on this subject, rather than fiction.

~ Another aside ~

A rant about The Titanic became relevant to this discussion

when readers expressed their dislike of the manipulation

of more modern historical events. Anything documented

on film felt more personal, more reliable and thus less acceptable

for re-telling, it was decided. Someone then went off on one

about conspiracy theories: I have no idea how that fitted in.

There was some discussion of precisely what we were reading: was it Liesel’s book, or Death’s extra-interpretation of her book, or some mash-up of different books and characters’ stories? Some
readers thus felt the narrator(s) to be trustworthy, others unreliable. Conflicting views gave the reader a choice.

The story also fixated on the format of the book: the themes of propaganda and the book-burning destruction of information were inverted by a book being wiped to create ‘more than a book’. The
descriptions of this were very physical.

On the illustrations, the question was if they added to the story. Some readers loved that the book contained them and pointed out that they hinted at what would happen. Others suggested that they were yet another device – interesting and unusual, but in the end pointless.

~ Righteous indignation ~

An incensed reader cut in at this point and we all had to look

at the most appalling front covers of Anne of Green Gables,

The Princess Bride and The Bell Jar. A new round of drinks

was then bought before we set to on scores.

Some of those who read The Book Thief for the first time mentioned hesitation before beginning, and confusion with the shifts of characters, narrators and formats. However, most were desperate to finish the story once started, and very few expressed a dislike of the book. Re-readers were glad to do so, with positive recollections of the tale, but found that they separated the individual storylines more easily this time through – to its detriment, as explained earlier.

Score -  8/10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub

The Pub can be contacted on @WhiteSwanLeeds
And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #WSwanLBC!

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17 - Jun - The Fire Gospel - Michel Faber
16 - May - The Eyre Affair - Jasper FForde
15 - Apr - The Waterproof Bible - Andrew Kaufman GUEST
14 - Mar - The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak GUEST
13 - Feb - Weight - Jeanette Winterson GUEST
12 - Jan - Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates

11 - Nov - Lighthouse Keeping - Jeanette Winterson
10 - Oct - Winter's Bone Daniel Woodrell
09 - Sep - The Wind Up Bird Chronicles - Haruki Murakami 
08 - Aug - The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman
07 - Jul - American Gods - Neil Gaiman
06 - Jun - The Travelling Hornplayer - Barbara Trapido
05 - May - Atomised - Michel Houellebecq - GUEST

I'm just full of good ideas...WSwanLBC  

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Book Club - Table of Contents

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The Count of Monte Cristo Free eBook and Harrogate Theatre details!

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The Count of Monte Cristo 


The story of Edmund Dantes, self-styled Count of Monte Cristo, is told with consummate skill. The victim of a miscarriage of justice, Dantes is fired by a desire for retribution and empowered by a stroke of providence. In his campaign of vengeance, he becomes an anonymous agent of fate. The sensational narrative of intrigue, betrayal, escape, and triumphant revenge moves at a cracking pace. Dumas' novel presents a powerful conflict between good and evil embodied in an epic saga of rich diversity that is complicated by the hero's ultimate discomfort with the hubristic implication of his own actions.

THUNDER ROAD THEATRE COMPANY is a Harrogate Theatre associate company and comprises thrusting young bucks who bring fervour and physicality to classic texts, specialising in stripped back, story-focused, multi-role productions. The companies first 
production Hyde drew critical acclaim across the board. 

The company has a history of overcoming theatrical challenges. Artistic director Alex Moran faced a series of trials when he was invited to perform a one-man show, TALES FROM THE BLACKJACK, in the back room of a pub during Preston’s very first Fringe 
Festival in 2009. With only a week and a shoe-string budget to develop the show, it went on to be praised by critics and was commissioned by The Lowry, where it won four awards - most notably for Alex: The Buxton Fringe Award for best actor and The 
Manchester Evening News Award for best performance in a studio production.


1st - 11th May
Box Office: 01423 502 116

16th May
Box Office: 01748 825 252

17th May
Box Office: 01262 678 258

18th May
Box Office: 01943 467 466

22nd - 23rd May
Box Office: 0113 224 3801

24th - 25th May
Box Office: 0845 127 2190

29th May
Box Office: 0161 761 7607

30th May - 1st June
Box Office: 0114 255 1776

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sharing Stories - Silver Linings Play Book Review - GUEST

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Leeds Book Club will be participating in the Arts and Minds Network's new project on raising awareness of mental health issues. 

This review is provided to us by regular book clubber @AlisonNeale. She is my book Guru and always passionate, intelligent and - often most important - articulate when it comes to books. 
You're welcome. 


I almost never read reviews until afterwards, so when Leeds Book Club sent me the list of books for the new Mental Health Reading Challenge, the subject matter of The Silver Linings Playbook was a mystery to me. The film trailer had been playing in recent months and I had assumed it was a romcom, so avoided it like the plague. However, Twitter was abuzz with people recommending the book, so as I always enjoy being challenged to do something I fully intended on achieving anyway, I offered to read and review it.

My immediate reaction—after just a few pages—was relief that I had chosen not to see the film beforehand, because no matter how good the script and acting, no movie could portray the subtleties of this text, or the protagonist’s little turns of phrase. At first I found Pat’s naivety, his gullibility, a bit grating. He is obviously disorientated in time and under the influence of medication, but would he really believe his mother’s story about a burglar taking 
all the photographs? After all, at other times he is quite coldly calculating of the words and behaviour of those around him. However, I came to understand that his almost unrelenting faith in others and in God was the result of his realisation that he is no longer in control of himself. This trust is finally justified.

Life is a series of short stories, leading one to the next: 

In the early pages Pat points out that his therapist in ‘the bad place’ ‘does not believe 
in silver linings, making it his business to preach apathy and negativity and pessimism unceasingly’. Finding the silver lining is a trick taught to Pat by his mother Jeanie, as we find out later: 
‘Mom is still trying to find that silver lining she taught me about so long ago. She is still holding on to hope.’ 
The source of her unhappiness? Pat’s father, also named Patrick, who comes across as the character with the biggest issues. Everyone tiptoes around him, hoping desperately that the Eagles win so that Patrick will be happy (although Pat comments even after the Eagles have won, ‘yet I know my father is not likely to change, because I have known him for thirty-five years, and he has always been the same man’). Pat even believes that his father ‘hates’ him, and we learn that Patrick is banned from Eagles games owing to a violent episode in the past, for which he was briefly in prison. This violence at one point is directed against Pat. While Pat strives to improve and change throughout the book (rightly or wrongly), his father makes almost no effort to do so.

I noticed, too, that hugs are always described in detail—again, in contrast to Patrick’s 
inability to engage emotionally. Pat’s mother tells him: 
‘Your father is trying, Pat. But I wouldn’t ask too many questions if I were you. Take what he gives you and be happy—that’s what we do, right?’

I liked that the book used realistic, everyday terms to describe and even judge the 
characters: ‘odd’ and ‘nymphomaniac’ to describe Tiffany; ‘crazy’ vs. ‘normal’ to describe Pat. These throwaway words and phrases that many of us use unthinkingly in common speech could so easily offend, as Pat points out on numerous occasions. This certainly made me think, and I’ve edited my speech a couple of times in recent days in light of this.

some are full of joy, some are sad, 

No one is unrealistically happy—or even sad—in the book. The closest to an extreme is 
Nikki happily snowballing with her new family, and even there, doubts are cast: why would her new husband want to live in Pat and Nikki’s house, where everything fell apart? Instead the scene felt very cinematic: from Pat’s viewpoint, an idealistic vista for his life-as-a-movie.

In terms of realism, I cannot say how close the novel is to the real state of mind of someone 
with Pat’s mental health issues. I’m fortunate enough to have avoided anything more than a slight bout of depression in my mid-twenties and the recent turmoil of a horrible break-up.

With only those tiny insights into Pat’s and Tiffany’s respective mindsets, though, even I 
can recognise some of the thoughts, feelings and actions presented in the novel. The Kenny G problem was particularly vivid for me, as at least half my music collection has been a no-go area for the last nine months: music is such an important soundtrack to our lives. I also empathised with Pat’s humming to block out ‘bad’ thoughts and his concentration on, even obsession with, one thing to distract himself: 
‘So I take a deep breath. I allow myself to feel hopeful again and start my exercise routine.’ 

Pat cannot act spontaneously or naturally: everything must be checked, calculated, controlled, or he will feel ‘the chemical explosions that light up my skull like the Fourth of July and the awful needs and impulses’. For Tiffany it is dancing that gets her through; for me, it was work. I feel that the author has demonstrated extraordinary insight and empathy here.
but there are always silver linings if you look for them.

My only slight disappointment was that this is a very American book and I am convinced that I am missing something in the sports element of the novel. Pat’s alter ego is Hank Baskett, who is described as an ‘undrafted rookie sensation’ at the start of the book, but ‘only a marginal player’ at the end, yet actually performs better and better as the season goes on.

This possibly echoes Pat being coddled and lied to early on, but as he gets better, his friends and family take a firmer stance, until his mother leaves him to take his own pills and tells him finally, ‘Nikki is never coming’. Perhaps I’m just reading too much into this, although the use of ‘playbook’ in the title might suggest not.

“Maybe my movie isn’t over,” I say, because sometimes moviemakers trick the audience with a false bad ending, and just when you think the movie is going to end badly, something dramatic happens, which leads to the happy ending[...] 
“Your life is not a movie, Pat. Life is not a movie. You’re an Eagles fan. After watching so many NFL seasons without a Super Bowl, you should know that real life often ends poorly.”

The book isn’t about happy endings. The clue is in the title, of course. It is about finding 
the positive amongst the inevitable negative; about holding on and getting through and finding the people who will support you and love you despite everything when things are at their worst. Inevitably, we all read novels in the light of our own experiences, but I felt that this book was outstanding because it held a message for everyone, regardless of who they are, what they have been through and where they are in life. There is no ending, happy or otherwise. Life is a series of short stories, leading one to the next: some are full of joy, some are sad, but there are always silver linings if you look for them.

For a totally different take on this book, check out this fantastic comment on the Sharing Stories (Arts and Minds Network) webpage by Emily - a friend of mine on twitter - @FoleyNotRose
Some of my feelings about Silver Linings depend very much on how autobiographical it is. If the writing style is based on the author's personal experience of having been in a psychiatric institution and the way people reacted when he was discharged, then it's not my place to critique it. However, if it's simply an interpretation of how someone in that situation might think, speak, and act, then I found it to be a bit infantalizing and also tedious.
I also bristled the "suspense" aspects of the story. Throughout the book, the audience does not know what dark secrets lie in the protagonists' pasts, and all is revealed toward the climax. I saw no literary value in constructing it this way; instead this approach made a spectacle of the characters leaving the reader turning the page just to find the answer to: "Ooh, what's the horrible thing that they've done?!" This narrative goes further to stigmatize mental illness rather than the reverse. And when it all is revealed, I was disappointed that it fell along such cliched gender roles: Pat as the brute and Tiffany as the whore.
Finally, the treatment of the characters of color, particularly Pat's "black friend Danny," rubbed me the wrong way. If you're a white author and you're going to include *one* black character in your book, don't make that person a racial stereotype and talk about all the "black things" he's fond of saying. It's lazy writing at best, and casual racism at worst.
I suppose it is nice to see a mainstream novel (and now film) have a protagonist with a history of mental health treatment who's just trying to negotiate day-to-day life, but I would have liked to see it done a bit more creatively.
* * * * *

Chat with Peter Bullimore
Mental Health Reading Challenge
Blurbs for the books!

Podcast with Tom at Arts and Minds Leeds

Write Up's

Dec - Jane Eyre - GUEST
Nov - A life too short - GUEST
Oct - Notes from an exhibition - GUEST
Sep - Day - GUEST
Aug - Tender is the Night - GUEST
Jul - Ariel - GUEST
Jul - Birthday Letters - GUEST
Jun - Poppy Shakespeare - GUEST
May - Why be happy when you can be normal - GUEST
Apr - I had a black dog - GUEST
Mar - The Psychopath Test - GUEST
Feb - The Silver Linings Play Book - GUEST

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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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