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Keeping Up Appearances; from Hyacinth Bucket to Eleanor Rigby

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Keeping Up Appearances was a British sitcom that ran on BBC television from 1990 – 1995. It featured a woman called Hyacinth Bucket, which she insisted was pronounced Bouquet. The humour lay in watching her attempts at social climbing. She lived to impress her unfortunate neighbours, who tried to avoid her! 
Coincidentally, at that time, I was in contact with relatives, who erroneously insisted on a French pronunciation of their surname, and were oblivious to their ridiculous behaviour.
 
While the programme was enjoyed for its comedic effect, some people in real life struggle to keep up appearances and it is no laughing matter. People who have social status, such as by being a home owner, but lack actual income, are said to be in genteel poverty. This leads to reduced  spending and failing to replace things that are broken. By keeping up appearances, others are not aware of the true state of affairs.
 
 
The March family in the novel Little Women, by Louisa M Alcott, are an example of genteel poverty. They gave up their Christmas dinner to take to a family, who were in absolute poverty. Today, people who have very little themselves, may leave an item to be collected for the food bank, on their way out of the supermarket.
 
Another sort of keeping up appearances, is the disguising of emotions. This may extend to hiding actual physical or mental abuse. Victims of controlling behaviour may show no sign to the outside world, suffering at home in silence. 
 
In “Eleanor Rigby”, the song by Paul McCartney, the woman disguises her loneliness by appearing cheerful, wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door, as the song says. She is an example of all the lonely people,  who keep up appearances.
 
 Footnote : As a tribute to the Beatles, Tommy Steele commissioned a statue of Eleanor Rigby, (a fictitious person, although the name is found in a Liverpool graveyard) It is placed not far from the site of the club, the Cavern, where the Beatles first performed.
Bestseller No. 1
Little Women
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh (Actors)
  • Greta Gerwig (Director) - Amy Pascal (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)
Bestseller No. 2
Little Women (4K UHD)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh (Actors)
  • Greta Gerwig (Director) - Amy Pascal (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

In the nineteen sixties I worked in London stores. Worked as an Insurance Clerk in the City of London during the nineteen seventies. Divorced in the nineteen nineties. Now I am a retired Civil Servant, managing home and garden and escaping onto social media whenever possible.

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Review of Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

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Finally, a thriller which is actually thrilling. There are many good books (and bad ones) labelled psychological thrillers, but often they are more family dramas that actual thrillers. This book manages to do be both quite successfully. Amelia and Adam’s marriage is on the rocks, he is a successful screenwriter and spends too much time working. Also he suffers from face blindness, which means he can’t recognise faces. They go to counselling and after having been offered a free weekend in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands, they go try to save their marriage. Once there, they realise the space is cold and spooky and strange things happen, this is the thrilling part of the book. You can read the couple’s perspective, not one of them is actually a very reliable narrator, but you don’t know whom to believe for most of the book. Every so often you will read a letter wrote but unsent by Adam’s wife every year at their wedding anniversary. In this letters she expresses her true feelings. But then when you think you know where this book is going, here comes the major twist. It’s a clever twist used in a few other psychological thriller, where whatever you thought you knew is turned on its head. I won’t say anything more not to spoil the enjoyment. I would say that it’s an enjoyable read, I would probably give it a 4.3 as a thriller.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Rock Paper Scissors: The phenomenal new thriller and instant New York Times bestseller from the author of Sometimes I Lie
  • Feeney, Alice (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 08/19/2021 (Publication Date) - HQ (Publisher)

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Review of Stolen by Tess Stimson

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It’s the second book I read by Tess Stimson and I have been quite impressed by her storytelling skills and psychological insights. The plot of Stolen is about yet another child disappearing, but it has some differences.

Lottie is nearly four years old and goes with her mother Alexa to a friend’s wedding in Florida. The wedding is posh and partly on the beach. Alexa is a widow, Lottie’s father Luca died in the Genoa’s bridge disaster. Therefore, nothing strange with wanting to have sex with another guest, she disappears for a little while, thinking that Lottie will be looked after by other guests. When Alexa returns, Lottie is nowhere to be seen. What follows is the usual media circus, with the accusations that at best she wasn’t a good mother and at worst she had killed her daughter. Yes, it’s all very Madeline McCann and how often the victim is verbally lynched, especially if a woman.

The police doesn’t seem to make any progress and no one knows where Lottie is. What follows is a long series of red herrings, misleading leads and several huge twists. I found the description of Alexa’s grief as very accurate, sensitive and quite moving. She might not have been the world’s best mother, but Alexa loved her daughter and missed her terribly. Overall, it’s a good book with many psychological insights, what spoiled it a bit was the ending, extremely spectacular but a bit too far-fetched. It could have worked just as well without pushing it over the top, but still an above the average psychological thriller. I was given and advanced copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

SaleBestseller No. 1
A Treasury of Songs: Book and CD Pack
  • Donaldson, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 09/07/2017 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

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Book Review: All for You by Louise Jensen

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Louise Jensen is by now a fairly well-known author in the psychological thriller/domestic noir thriller genre but I think this was her first book I read. It is about a family of four, Ellen the mother an orthopaedic surgeon who is currently not working, Aidan the father a vet and the two boys Connor and Kieron. Kieron has some rare possibly terminal disease while Connor is a sensitive 17 years old. In the picture, there are also two of Connor’s good friends: Ryan and Tyler. We know that something happened to Connor’s girlfriend Hailey’s but we don’t know what. First Tyler then Ryan disappear and everyone fears that Connor might be the next as the three were always together and they were together the night something happened to Hailey.

Connor disappears as well but it is not what it seems. It’s a complex thriller with several punchy twists, I couldn’t work out who could be the kidnapper and the ending was genuinely surprising although a bit far fetched and very dark. You can tell that Jensen is a bit more accomplished in writing thrilling plots than other authors. Overall it took me a while to get into this book but then I was engrossed in it and read it late at night. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good mystery with lots of family secrets. I was given a free copy of this book by NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This book will be out in October but you can pre-order it now. 

All For You: don’t miss the next thrilling and shocking psychological thriller from best selling author of The Date and The Sister in 2021!
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jensen, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 01/20/2022 (Publication Date) - HQ (Publisher)

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