The Physician by Noah Gordon


Description: In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease-ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick—and discovering the mystical ways of healing. It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing—a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard-of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.

Not an item for the rigid, pedantic historian as there are anachronisms galore. Black Death, for one glaring instance and, wait for it,… the discovery that fleas were the carriers. Yes this is 11th century. Who cares, ’tis romping fun!

That aside it is a fabulous tale fully worthy of an encounter.


Three and a half genie lamps

Roger’s Version by John Updike

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, paper-read, hardback, hackers-and-computers, published-1986, summer-2014, abandoned, next, sciences, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, religion, sleazy, room-101, tbr-busting-2014

Read from November 26, 2013 to June 12, 2014


withdrawn from Kilmarnock College Library

4 opening quotes and I pick this one: god the wind as windless as the world behind a computer screen – Jane Miller, “High Holy Day”

Description from the inside front cover: As Roger Lambert tells it, he, a divinity school professor, is visited in his office one day by Dale Kohler, a young computer hacker who believes that scientific evidence of God’s existence is irresistibly accumulating.

Opening: I have been happy at the Divinity School. The hours are bearable, the surroundings handsome, my colleagues harmless and witty, habituated as they are to the shadows.

Did you hear this hit the wall? Doesn’t matter where in the world you are, if you didn’t hear the crash you would have felt the vibration. I want my trash reads to be clearly discenable as trash not couched in literary blurb so it is mistaken for a worthwhile encounter.

4* The Witches of Eastwick
AB Roger’s Version

Selling Hitler by Robert Harris

bookshelves: autumn-2011, published-1986, nonfiction

Read in November, 2011


** spoiler alert ** True Crime
filthy lucre
autumn 2011

Opening – On April Fool’s Day 1983 the distinguished historian Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, first Baron Dacre of Glanton, was telephoned at his country home in Scotland by the assistant editor of The Times, Mr Colin Webb.

Right there – it started on April 1st – doesn’t that say something all on its own, and what about Konrad aka Conny who graduated from forging luncheon vouchers to copying out 60 volumes of Hitler’s diaries – the most well-publicised and costliest fraud in publishing history.

Had planned this as a palate-cleansing skim-through but I was hijacked by the hack circus. The only turn off for me is David Irving flitting through events, however this is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through a hoax and its resolution, written in a light, readable and, at times, amusing way.

There be photographs too.

Looking down the comments here on GoodReads there is also a film; personally not inclined to search that out, I have had elegant sufficiency, as pater used to say.

4* Fatherland
3* Pompeii
3* Imperium
2* The Ghost
4* Lustrum
3* Selling Hitler

Henry and June: From “A Journal of Love”–The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931-1932)

bookshelves: autobiography-memoir, spring-2014, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, published-1986, film-only

Read on May 04, 2014

Description: Taken from the original, uncensored journals of Anaïs Nin, Henry and June spans a single year in Nin’s life when she discovers love and torment in one insatiable couple. From late 1931 to the end of 1932, Nin falls in love with Henry Miller’s writing and his wife June’s striking beauty. When June leaves Paris for New York, Henry and Anaïs begin a fiery affair that liberates her sexually and morally, but also undermines her marriage and eventually leads her into psychoanalysis. As she grapples with her own conscience, a single question dominates her thoughts: What will happen when June returns to Paris? An intimate account of one woman’s sexual awakening, Henry and June exposes the pain and pleasure felt by a single person trapped between two loves.

Anais Min

Henry Miller

Nin and Miller

he Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels

Read from April 02 to 03, 2014


Book 1 – The Notebook

Book 2 – The Proof

Book 3 – The Third Lie

Three novellas rolled into one of the most powerful reads I have experienced about how ordinary people try to cope from day to day in times of war and political upheaval. Does it still have relevance in today’s world? You just have to look at Crimea to arrive at the correct answer to that particular question: within a week the area changed nationality, a perimeter minefield was dug in, barbed wires fences raised, old troops replaced by foreign troops, people executed or gone missing, certain books, songs and flags have become unacceptable, curfews in place and Whoosh!! a time-zone change. I bet the people there have either fled or are having to use new tactics just to survive.

I’m thinking a re-read will be needed now I know the story; a little more attention to detail to see if there were any cracks I could have prised open earlier.

A fantastic trilogy that was utterly jarring on the emotions and galling in its dispassionate cruelty.

Woman in Mind

bookshelves: published-1986, mental-health, winter-20132014, radio-4, play-dramatisation, fradio

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 10 to 12, 2014


R4 Sat 11/1/2014

BBC description: Alan Ayckbourn’s powerful tragi-comedy about a woman’s mental breakdown, starring Lesley Sharp, Ben Miles, Owen Teale and Malcolm Sinclair.

Susan is a middle-aged woman, trapped in a loveless marriage to a smug vicar, and estranged from her son. After a minor accident with a garden rake, her mind starts to conjure up the perfect fantasy family. But the line between imagination and reality soon becomes alarmingly blurred.

Susan…..Lesley Sharp
Dr Bill Windsor…..Ben Miles
Rev. Gerald Gannet…..Malcolm Sinclair
Muriel…..Carolyn Pickles
Andy…..Owen Teale
Lucy…..Emily Beecham
Tony…..John Norton
Rick…..Harry Jardine

Directed by Emma Harding.

How many stories contain an Edward Casaubon charcter? I see this dry pedent all over the place.

Sad tale this, one I couldn’t snigger at because I have known two people along my life’s path that have descended into similar distressing states.

Sad, yet masterfully executed.