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Showing posts from February, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett

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I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth Discworld novel about trainee witch Tiffany Aching. The first three were marketed as trainee Discworld books for younger readers, but Midnight has the size and heft of a standard one. Observant cover-judgers will also note that it says 'A Discworld Novel' instead of 'A Story of Discworld'. Only the chapter divisions hint at its YA past.

I have to confess that I gave up on the Tiffany Aching series after the second in the series as it was a little too determinedly written for children. But the Doubleday marketeers apparently want me to think again and who am I to turn them down? I'm glad that I did so, as I Shall Wear Midnight is a great read that can stand tall among its peers. I have repented and will be buying Wintersmith at the earliest opportunity.

Maybe, though, it felt more grown-up simply because Tiffany has grown-up. She is now 16 and is the witch in charge of the Chalk region. That she is both recognisably the same Tiffa…

When the Lights Went Out - Andy Beckett

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Seventies Britain feels like another country, and not just because I wasn't born until the very end of the decade. Andy Beckett rightly complains that it has been too easily caricatured as a decade of decline and perpetual crisis, even though by several measures Britain has never had it so good, either before or since. Nevertheless, it was a time of dramatic changes. When The Lights Went Out succeeds in its aim of painting a complex picture of the times.

Beckett's book is an unashamedly political history. If you're looking to find out about the career of Brian Clough or the transition from prog rock to punk you'll have to look elsewhere (sadly). But as a guide to the three-day week, entering the EEC, the IMF negotiations or the Grunwick strike, it is excellent. Social concerns do make an appearance at times but only insofar as they are political, as when Beckett convincingly argues that the Seventies, not the Sixties, were the real decade of progress in areas such as …