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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love Isn't Always The Answer

Love Songs and Lies by Libby Purves

I enjoy Libby Purves's novels and this one was no exception. They're all well-written with compelling stories. They're also very English and I like that.

I liked the heroine in this book most of the time, but most modern women would regard her as a bit of a wimp, probably. She even got on my nerves some of the time! I identified with her age group and feelings, however, although she's a little bit before my time.

Sally, like many other girls, has trouble separating her real life from her fantasy life. She studies English Lit at Oxford and gets lost in the world of Keats and Byron. She then falls into unrequited love with the handsome and cold Max. These days she'd probably just read: "He's Just Not That Into You", but this was the Seventies. Max is a bit of a lost cause, but his younger brother, Marty, is keen. The problem is that he's mixed up with the drugs crowd...

I liked Sally more as I kept reading. She goes through a lot and shows that she has a certain amount of inner strength.

Libby Purves writes a lot of interesting things about unrequited love, drug addiction, and society's changing attitudes to sex and life. This book is worth reading, but it's quite depressing. I certainly didn't agree with this part of the blurb: "Libby Purves's new novel perfectly captures what it means to be a woman in the last third of the twentieth century." It was much too dark for that, I thought.

Friendship for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel

(Lisa Whelchel from Women of

Life is difficult for child stars and Lisa Whelchel was no exception. She went to Hollywood at the age of 12. Whelchel found it hard to make and keep close friends because she didn't have a normal school life. Eventually she struggled with her marriage which was breaking down and she suffered a nervous collapse. In this book, Whelchel tells the story of her journey towards making true friendships and how her faith helped her. She also provides excellent advice about how to make and keep friends.

Whelchel had many friends but she realized that she had been building defences around herself so she found it difficult to get close to people. Therapy and her strong belief in God and prayers helped her to understand that she needed to find a way to become closer to her old friends and make new friends.

The pretty star suffered rejections along the way. She wanted to be a 'best friend' to a woman called Heather, for example, but Heather rejected such a close friendship. In another case, a new friend told Whelchel secrets about her own life, and then asked her personal questions. The friend then told other people things that Whelchel wanted kept secret.

Whelchel joined a group called Women of Faith and tells how this helped her. Here she found empathetic, new friends who encouraged each other. She got valuable advice from some of these women which she shares in this book.

This is a helpful, honest account of Whelchel's story. She writes about the elements of friendship, what true friendship means, and how to tell whether a new friend is untrustworthy. There is a list of practical steps for making and keeping friends and a list of conversation pointers at the end of the book. The book is simply written and easy to understand. It is recommended for anyone interested in making more friends.

(I received this book free from Book Sneeze.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dancing Into The Unknown by Tamara Tchinarova Finch

My drawing of a ballerina.

A gypsy told the ballerina, Tamara Tchinarova Finch, that she would travel, learn other languages, and people of different nationalities would applaud her work. Finch was only very young at the time, but she remembered the gypsy's words all of her life. They came true.

Finch was a 'Baby Ballerina' with the Ballets Russes, toured Europe, America, and Australia, and eventually married the great actor, Peter Finch. Her lively personality matches her joyful dancing, and she tells a riveting tale in this book which reads like a novel.

Life was difficult for Finch and her mother, a poor Romanian living in Paris. Her mother was very strong - she left Finch's father and refused to go back to Communist Russia with him. It was a very prescient decision but she had to make ballet shoes so that her talented daughter could have ballet lessons. Life was tough.

Soon Finch toured with the Ballets Russes - her mother went with her as chaperone. This is probably the most interesting part of the book because the ballerina came into contact with such interesting people. They included Nijinska, Danilova, and Chaliapin.

She lived in Australia during the war and met Peter Finch there. Finch doesn't give Australians a good write-up. She found them mostly hard-drinking, blunt and crude. I think that if she'd associated with different people, she might have had a different picture of us.

She and her husband, Peter Finch, went back to England to further his career. When he got the chance to go to Hollywood to make movies, his drinking and Vivien Leigh helped to ruin the marriage. The book has a lot of information about Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier and it gives a strange picture of Olivier.

Some ballet books are very dry, but this one certainly isn't. I was sorry to finish it!