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One Word Book Reviews....etc

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CaleyD

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One word book reviews have always been something that baffled me and seemed rather pointless, something that was done by people who worked for the high brow broadsheets that was designed to make those who hadn't followed a specific education path fell inferior.....until last night (well, the early hours of this morning) when I stumbled upon one of my own.

I'd just finished reading Stephen Fry's 'The Liar' when I closed it over and saw the "reviews" on the cover and instantly knew they had all got it wrong......wrong because I knew the word they were looking for was "Unexpected". On reflection I found myself being rather pleased that I was able to sum up the book in one word that I felt covered everything from the story and style to the plot. I think I'll give the one word reviews a little more thought in future before being so quick to dismiss them as pointless....they might be wrong, but the will no longer baffle me or appear pointless.

I read a fair bit and will happily flip between most genres depending on my mood and whether I crave knowledge, entertainment or just want to escape the world for a while. As much as I enjoy watching him on TV and listening to him on the Radio, I had never given much thought to reading any of his books as I had this misconception that they would probably make for heavy reading, but I got "The Liar" as a stocking filler and, as I said above, it was "unexpected".

It's one of those books that can be read on "different levels", and I don't mean levels of intellect, age (although not recommended for kids) or even class. You can pick it up and read it end to end and thoroughly enjoy the plot which slowly reveals itself throughout the book, but keeps on giving until the end. The individual chapters read as if they are short stories within themselves that could stand alone and leave you quite satisfied. The humour is fantastic and carries throughout the book....in fact it takes the idea of stereotype beyond the ludicrous to the point, well to no point really as it takes you full circle and indulges the predisposition we all have to believing in stereotypes.

I believe plans are afoot, and may already be under way for turning this book in to a screenplay or film. I prefer to read the book and then compare it to the on screen interpretation. In most cases it allows you to fill in any gaps in the movie/film/screenplay and enhance the viewing experience. Far better that than already having the plot in your head while reading and knowing what's coming next....for me at least.

"Making History" is next on the list of Fry's books for me. It's another stocking filler from a family member who took my love of QI to mean a love of all things Stephen Fry....a bit like a mad aunt or gran takes your love of anything and thinks they should knit you a jumper with it on the front. Many such gifts end up as landfill or charity shop donations...but I struck lucky this time.


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    • Hi Grant - I realise this post is quite old now and I apologise for not seeing it at the time I was writing. My brother, Mike, inadvertently came across your post while doing some research on our family shop, Skinner's, and realised it was in reply to one of mine so I'm really hoping you are still active on these boards as we're very interested in the fact you're related to Tom and Ray.  Tom was my Dad's uncle and originally had the baker's shop in Stephen's Brae. We think it might have been a baker's before this but are not sure. Tom was a hard-working, no nonsense, fairly strict man who took no prisoners but when we realised how much tragedy he had gone through in his life we understood him better. His wife, Fanny, died on Christmas Day (I'm not sure of the year) and he lost both of his sons to diphtheria, one dying on Boxing Day. Rumour has it that he ran through the streets of Inverness with the body, unable to bear his grief.  It was no surprise then that he became very close to his surviving daughter, Ray, whom he lived with in Auldcastle Road until he died.  Ray ran a cafe at the bottom end of Church Street called, I think, Strattons, or something similar.  (I need to check that out.) She never married and looked after her father until he died, still living in the same house in Auldcastle Road when she herself died. We know of no-one named Grant on Tom's side of the family so wondered if you were connected to Fanny's family?  We know almost nothing of her family at all so it would be really interesting to find out.  Dad sadly died in 1976 but Mum lived until 2015 when she died at the ripe old age of 94!  My sister still lives in Inverness as do 2 of her daughters and their families.  I myself am in Aberdeen and my brothers, Ian and Mike, live in Fort William and London respectively. Let me know if there's anything else you would like to know - I may not know the answer but can find out. Margaret
    • Charles - I was at a family meal on Sunday as my brother, Mike, was up from London and we were talking about the shop when my Uncle Tom had it. He mentioned that he'd seen me posting something about the shops and I had no idea what he was on about but luckily he remembered the website had something to do with Caley Football Club and that rang a bell!  All 4 of us were at the Academy - I can remember you being there when I was so I think Ian & Mike would have passed through its portals by then but you were right - Ian went on to become a geography teacher and had a successful career at Lochaber High School for many years. He has now retired and still lives in Lochaber.  We did have another shop in Kenneth St (No.79) on the corner of Attadale Road but the Stephens' Brae one was the main one and very popular with the Academy pupils as you so correctly pointed out. I personally haven't found any better cakes than Dad used to make and I loved working in the bakehouse with him but then I suppose I'm slightly biased!!  He took the BBs in the East Church and the Young Brothers and also ran the badminton club - in a different life he would have loved to have been a minister and often did lay preaching, standing in for Donald McFarlane, the minister of the East Church. He also took services in the old Barn church out at Culloden - the original one.  Sadly Dad died prematurely in 1976 of a heart attack. Mum carried on the business for several years afterwards but eventually sold it to a hairdressers initially then to Girvans. My apologies if I've already posted this - I haven't read the whole thread - but I seem to remember my posts were back in 2012/13 (which is why I couldn't remember them when Mike mentioned it!) and as your post here is 2015 I probably haven't.  Mike had inadvertently come across the postings when doing some research of his own on the shops at the time our great-uncle had them.  That old photo of the Stephen Brae one we think was around 1920ish - Dad's uncle, Tom, had it then - Dad came up to Inverness to work for him then eventually took over the shops when Uncle Tom became too infirm to do so. Tom's daughter, Ray, ran a cafe near the Old High Church end of Church Street - can't remember what it was called but think it started with an S? Strath something maybe? Now I'm away to search for a post Mike found from someone who said they thought they were related to Tom and Ray which we found really interesting. We think that may be from Tom's wife side of the family whom we know nothing about so I hope I can find out more.  Hope you are well - loved your books on the Academy - brought back many great memories!