Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle by @James_D_Dixon

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here http://judithbarrowblog.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle by James Dixon

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My Review:

I finished The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle thinking this has to be made into a film. And I’m ashamed to say I finished the book almost a week ago and have dithered on how to review because the emotion that it has stirred in me prevented a rational and objective/subjective ‘putting down words here’. Which delay does the author, James Dixon, no favours at all, I know.

All I can say is that this is a brilliantly compelling read: the author’s stark but totally gripping style, the twists and turns of the story, the layering of the protagonist’s character and the many other characters that people this book and  the multiplicity of themes, all make The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle a novel that stands out…unrivalled in my opinion, especially as  it is a debut novels. But it also hits home… hard. This is a  harsh indictment of our times, of our country, of our humanity. Over the top? I don’t think so (having worked for a short while among such disadvantaged people – I believe the author has researched well.)

A little slow to begin with, the pace of the story then moves inextricably towards the protagonist’s decline, from bewildered homelessness, which instills pity in the reader to a brutal callousness and a total lack of empathy for and with those around him; his thoughts and actions shock and sicken. And yet, for me, the sympathy still hovers for Willem.

A word on the title: at a time when many titles are of one or two words I found this one intriguing. (I’d maybe suggest cut out the word “Unrivalled”?)

And the cover? Loved the way the protagonist blends in with the brickwork behind him; much as he disappears from the view of those that pass him by.

Would I recommend The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle? You bet!! All I can say to anyone, whatever their usual preferred genre is …  please do read it.

Book description

In a Scotland beset with depression, Willem is one victim among many. He loses his job, his mother dies and he is forced out of the flat they shared. Seeing no other option, he takes to the streets of Edinburgh, where he soon learns the cruelty felt outside the confines of his comfortable life. Stories from his past are interwoven with his current strife as he tries to figure out the nature of this new world and the indignities it brings. Determined to live freely, he leaves Edinburgh, hiking into the Scottish Highlands to seek solitude, peace and an unhampered, pure vision of life at nature’s breast.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is at once a lyrical, haunting novel and a set piece in the rage of an oppressed, forgotten community. J. D. Dixon’s sparse, brutal language captures the energy and isolation of desperation, uniting despondency and untrammelled anger in the person of his protagonist.

About the author

J. D. Dixon was born in London in 1990. He studied English Literature and History at Goldsmiths College, University of London, before pursuing a career as a writer. He currently lives with his wife, the psychologist Dr Lauren Hadley, in Edinburgh.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE CROWN SPIRE by @MadameGilflurt and @WinshamHistFic #wwwblogs

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs at http://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon and Willow Winsham

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What an utterly joyful read The Crown Spire was! Set in 1795 Alice Ingram and her niece Beth are on the road to Edinburgh when they are set upon by bandits. Out to steal their honour rather than their jewels the situation looks desperate indeed for the hapless travellers. However just when it appears all is lost in ride two mysterious highwaymen to the rescue. Or I should say one rides in while the other drops out of a tree, what an entrance!

Taking shelter at an inn for the night Beth is soon entranced by the landlord, Edward Hogan, while her aunt is considerably less so by Dr James Dillingham summoned to look at her ankle, sprained in the skirmish.

It soon becomes apparent that it is not only the highwaymen who are hiding their identities as Alice is introduced as Grace Lambert and has come to Edinburgh to hide out at her rather forbidding sister’s house.

I shall stop there for fear I shall soon be giving the whole plot away. Suffice to say there are some delightful characterisations in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the flirty interplay between the frisky Beth and undoubtedly handsome Ed Hogan and equally the frosty exchanges the good doctor shared with Grace. Terrifically well written the dialogue throughout this story was quick, witty and thoroughly entertaining.

For those looking for fun romantic escapism, look no further, the women are strong, the heroes suitably dashing and there are horses – what more could you possibly want?

Book Description

Scotland, 1795

When the coach carrying Alice Ingram and her niece, Beth, to Edinburgh is attacked, they’re grateful for the intervention of two mysterious highwaymen who ride to their rescue. Beth is thrilled by the romance of it all, but Alice, fleeing her brutish husband, has had more than enough drama in her life. 

As the women find sanctuary in a tavern on the Great North Road, Beth is thrilled to meet Edward Hogan, the roguish publican. Despite the difference in ages and backgrounds, the couple have instant chemistry and when Ed invited Beth to visit his Edinburgh tavern, she resolves to get to know him even better. Yet Beth is also taken with the highwayman who rescued her; after all, there’s something irresistible about a rogue. 

Shaken from the attack, Alice grudgingly allows herself to be seen by Doctor James Dillingham, Ed’s best friend. Though Dillingham sees the telltale signs of physical abuse on Alice, she refuses to speak of it. Dillingham is dour and Alice frosty, and the two take an instant dislike to each other, so why does their shared coach journey to Edinburgh the following day seem to sizzle?

Once in Edinburgh, Beth starts secretly spending time with Ed, who she begins to think might know more about those highwaymen than he is letting on. By day, Alice sorts Dillingham’s paperwork at the charity hospital he runs yet by night she sneaks off to meet her own highwayman, travelling the backroads of the city with the masked figure. Slowly, Alice is coming back to life. But will the husband she is fleeing find her out? And will her highwayman come to her rescue again? 

Set during the heady days of the Georgian era when bodysnatching and highwaymen were never too far away, The Crown Spire is a thrilling romantic adventure rich with excitement and packed with historical detail. 

About the authors

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian, best known for her non-fiction books Life in the Georgian Court and Kings of Georgian Britain.  She also writes a fascinating 18th century history blog under the nom-de-plume of Madame Gilflurt.

Her work has been featured on the official website of BBC History magazine and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World.

She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A, which she has also presented around the country.

Willow Winsham

Willow Winsham is the author of Accused: British Witches throughout History and she brings readers regular tales of witches and witchcraft on her blog The Witch, the Weird and the Wonderful

Combining a passion for research and history with a love of storytelling, she dedicates her time to investigating some of the most intriguing stories from the history of the British Isles.

When she isn’t digging out tantalizing historical tit bits or tracing elusive family members, she is busy home educating her two children.

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