Book Reviews - January 2016

Book Reviews – January 2016

Time to settle down and enjoy our book reviews, one for the adventurer and one for the kids.

Conjurer on The Kwai

by Peter Fyans

reviewed by Ruth Lawrence

In May last year I had the privilege of meeting Fergus Anckorn and hearing his extraordinary life story including his wartime experiences of survival, starvation and slavery on the infamous ‘Death Railway’ featured in the film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’.

Author Peter Fyans met Fergus by chance at a theatrical dinner which led to him writing Fergus’ biography, ‘Conjurer on The Kwai’, spanning nine colourful decades. His remarkable story is wonderfully told; Peter has remained loyal to Fergus’ own words, pulling the reader into the struggle for survival that was his everyday experience during the war. This style brings immediacy to the writing that leads the reader straight to the terrifying ordeals and the poignant triumphs that Fergus endured as a soldier, entertainer and POW.

Historians and those who enjoy first person narratives will discover world changing events told by someone who lived and very nearly died in the thick of the action. This is an exceptionally interesting read and reminded me what a fascinating, vivacious and courageous man Fergus is. Including numerous photos, maps and drawings, ‘Conjuror on the Kwai’ will make a superb read that will linger in the memory for years.

The Garden of The Year

by Mark Johnson and Louise Dunford

reviewed by Ruth and Betsy Preston

The Garden of The Year is a really lovely book which I enjoyed reading with my 5 year old daughter, Betsy. The colourful, fun illustrations really attracted her and encouraged her to look through the pages and want to read more. The text is in a friendly typeface with each page rhyming, which children particularly enjoy.

The story centres around a little girl called Caitlin who comes to stay with her grandfather. She discovers a whole new world which exists in her grandfather’s garden shed when she meets the garden tools. The tools have names such as Susie Spade and Derek the Watering Can; Derek is a firm favourite of Betsy’s as he has a really friendly face and makes her laugh.

The book successfully introduces little ones to the delights of spending time in the garden and inspires them to use their imagination. Also don’t forget to keep an eye out for the little mouse who crops up on each page, this is a great way to engage with children while reading it to them as they enjoy spotting him.