In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

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In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

Summary:

In mid to late March 1913, as the storm clouds of the Great War which was to claim his life gathered, Edward Thomas took a bicycle ride from Clapham to the Quantock Hills. The poet recorded his journey through his beloved South Country and his account was published as In Pursuit of Spring in 1914. Regarded as one of his most important prose works, it stands as an elegy for a world now lost. What is less well-known is that Thomas took with him a camera, and photographed much of what he saw, noting the locations on the back of the prints. These have been kept in archives for many years and will now be published for the very first time in the book. Thomas journeys through Guildford, Winchester, Salisbury, across the Plain, to the Bristol Channel, recording the poet’s thoughts and feelings as winter ends.

 My Review:

It is ironic that I am writing a review for a book with this title as I write yet another winter storm blows through and dark winter clouds speed past as I gaze skywards from my desk the looks out to the Somerset hills.

As the darkness of winter begins to fade and the signs of Spring are gathering pace Edward Thomas wanted to see the end of winter and find the signs of Spring but to do this he would need to travel from his home in South London. It is March 1913 as much as the darkness of winter is receding there are much darker clouds on the horizon. This was the year before the start of The Great War. In Pursuit of Spring (Little Toller) by Edward Thomas tells his story of his journey to seek signs of Spring.

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As Edward Thomas began his journey on his bicycle from the suburbs of South London to Somerset this was just not going to be a journey of finding Spring but also a journey that would make Edward Thomas the poet that we would come to love. This land was very different in March 1913 in many ways but the leisurely journey he took I have known for many years. This was not going to be a journey rushed it was leisurely as he not just cycles he also walked for parts of the journey and armed with just the very basics but the most important was a notebook and pencil and a camera for the photos in this book are the very ones he took.

As a Welshman Thomas loved his homeland but loved this country and the typical English countryside. He wanted to fields and churches and typical sleepy English villages, writing and taking photographs as he went. Each county is unique in many ways and reading In Pursuit of Spring you get a sense of the poetic and yet hypnotic sense of Thomas’s writing and what was to come.

Many of the photographs in this beautiful book are of empty lanes and roads through villages, a snapshot of a moment from history. But as I read his words my heart ached for what was to come for Edward Thomas in coming years as war approached. But Thomas wanted to seek the end of Winter and welcome Spring like a long lost friend and to feel the wind and rain on his face. Stopping at various locations and reciting poetry that can be found on the pages of this book.

As he reached Somerset he found Spring and the dark clouds of Winter have departed. It was as he travelled through the village of Nether Stowey, the home of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and a place in Somerset where not just my heart lies, a place I have come to love. Anyone with a passion for poetry and prose and the countryside will love In Pursuit of Spring.

In 1915 Edward Thomas enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles and was killed in 1917 in the Battle of Arras. In Pursuit of Spring was first published in 1914.

 228 Pages.

Thank you to Little Toller for the review copy of In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas

In Pursuit of Spring by Edward Thomas was published by Little Toller and was published on 3rd March 2016 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Summary:

Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

 My Review:

I am rather late to the party with this terrific psychological thriller that has now sold over a million copies worldwide. The Silent Patient (Orion Books) by Alex Michaelides can be placed into a number of genres and is a real page turner of a debut novel.

AUTHOR

If like me, you have allowed The Silent Patient to pass you by I will attempt to tease you with my review. An absorbing thriller with some more than interesting characters and what an ending Alex Michaelides has written into the storyline.

Alicia Berenson is an artist and seems to have the most perfect life with her husband Gabriel who is a successful fashion photographer. But then one day Alicia shot her husband in the head five times. For a seemingly happy and settled wife to commit this gruesome murder something must have happened. Alicia was arrested and convicted of Gabriel’s murder and sent to a secure psychiatric unit called The Grove throughout her trial she remained silent, never speaking a solitary word.

It is now six years later and Theo Faber arrives at The Grove to start work and he want to try and get Alicia to start to talk. Theo who is a psychotherapist believes he can get Alicia to finally open up and tell the story of Gabriel’s murder. Now the story begins to really get going and you will not want to put this gripping thriller down. The further you get into the plot the more you begin to think that there is more to what really is going on. Theo has his own issues away from work with his relationship with his wife on the verge of breaking down but he is obsessed with Alicia and her story.

Does Alicia finally find her voice and tell the story of what happened and why she killed the husband she loved or does she remain silent. Be prepared for the ending. I never saw that coming at all. The Silent Patient is a really compelling read. Alex Miichaelides has delivered the perfect thriller.

 352 Pages. (Paperback)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was published by Orion Publishers and was published in paperback on 12th December 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

2019 Costa Book of the Year. The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

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The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather

Summary:

Would you sacrifice yourself to save thousands of others?

In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interned at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre — Auschwitz.

It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying plans. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities out of Auschwitz. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust – yet his story was all but forgotten for decades.

This is the first major account to draw on unpublished family papers, newly released archival documents and exclusive interviews with surviving resistance fighters to show how he brought the fight to the Nazis at the heart of their evil designs.

The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

 WINNER OF THE 2019 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR

My Review:

I have read so much about the Holocaust and then I come across the incredible story of Witold Pilecki who volunteered to enter Auschwitz Concentration Camp to organise an escape and also obtain as much information about what was really going on at Auschwitz. Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather recently won the 2019 Costa Book of the Year award.

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Poland has been defeated by the Nazis and now they rounding the Jewish men, woman and children, sent them to the ghettos before they were sent in cattle trucks to Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Witold Pilecki was one of the bravest men of WWII. What we know now about Auschwitz, the world did not know during the war. Did anyone believe the German’s could be capable of creating death camps that killed millions? Back then no-one knew. During the Summer of 1940 Witold Pilecki a former cavalry officer in the Polish army was a member of the Polish resistance agreed to captured and sent to Auschwitz to gain as much information about what was really happening there. It was the autumn of 1940. On entering the prisoners witnessed one of the men being beaten to death by the guards. Straight away the message was given to the prisoners.

This remarkable true account of how Pilecki began work in Auschwitz on getting as much evidence on crimes being committed there as well as starting work on starting an underground network inside of Auschwitz. But the conditions were a lot worse than even Pilecki had feared. Even thinking about starting an underground network was dangerous. If caught it would have meant certain death for him and many others. This was very dangerous and courageous.

Very quickly prisoners in Auschwitz were dying at an alarming rate every day. Starvation and daily beatings were the norm by the guards but Witold Pilecki had managed to smuggle out details of what was going on there. Pilecki witnessed the first gassings by the Nazis using Zyklon B and the murders on industrial scale.

With reports passed to the Warsaw resistance who then passed to the Polish Government, they hoped at last the Allies would act, despite repeated calls for the British and American air force to bomb Auschwitz no help was forthcoming.

In April 1943 Witold Pilecki managed to escape Auschwitz in April 1943 and found his way back to Warsaw. It was not until after D-Day when the allies landed in France that the allies began to discuss Auschwitz. Pilecki had believed he had failed those he left behind in Auschwitz.

Following the war Pilecki was arrested by Poland’s the secret police and was accused of treason and then was interrogated over 150 times and was executed in May 1948.

Witold Pilecki’s brave story was lost to history but now thanks to the incredible research by Jack Fairweather Pilecki’s courageous story has finally been told. A deserved winner of the 2019 Costa Book of the Year. Highly Recommended.

528 Pages. (Paperback)

The Volunteer: The True Story of the resistance hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather was published by WH Allen and was published in Paperback on 9th January 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.