Posted by: billpurdue | December 1, 2012

If you like that, you’ll like this

A few weeks ago I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett and really enjoyed it. I was told that if I liked that, then I would probably like Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Well, I read it and I did enjoy it, but I don’t rate it quite as highly as The Help.

Beautiful Girl The story starts (in the USA) in 1968, at a time when some disabled people and some with learning difficulties were put away in institutions. A man and a woman, both residents (or perhaps you could call them inmates) of an institution euphemistically called The School , make their dash for freedom. The girl’s name is Lynnie and she has just given birth to a girl, unbeknown to the authorities at the school. The man’s name is Homan, but he is referred to by the staff as Number 42. He is deaf and dumb and uses sign language. Many of those living at The School have been there for most of their lives, abandoned by their parents, suffering degrading treatment, the authorities seemingly turning a blind eye.

Looking for refuge, Lynnie and Homan reach Martha’s isolated house and knock on her door. Martha, a retired teacher and widow welcomes them and as the staff from the school, sent to retrieve the escapees, close in, she promises to hide and take care of the child. Lynnie is taken back to the School, but Homan manages to escape and sets out on a long and eventful journey across many states, sometimes making true friends and sometimes falling victim to those who want to take advantage of his vulnerability. As Lynnie returns to the school, Homan roams far and wide and Martha leaves her home to avoid being traced, it seems impossible that Lynnie , Homan and their daughter (named Julia by Martha) will ever meet up again. To find out if, when and how, you’ll have to read the book

At the end of the book, it’s worth reading a short chapter in which the author explains her own background and the reasons why she came to write such a story. There are also notes for reading groups and some questions that Richard and Judy ask Rachel Simon – it’s one of the Richard and Judy Book Club choices for 2012.

[Windmill Books  £7.99 9780099558385]


Nothing like a good parody


You’ve heard of and possibly read Fifty Shades of Grey, but a book like that is just asking to be parodied. Fifty Sheds of Grey: A Parody: Erotica for the Not-too-modern Male (Unabridged) by C T Grey is apparently very funny, a bit short and includes lots of pictures of sheds (well, if that’s what it says in the title, what do you expect?)

Click here to see some of those lovely sheds as well as a few quotes from the book.


Fifty shames Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody by Fanny Merkin tells the tale of young handsome tycoon, Earl Grey, who is interviewed by ‘naïve college student’, Anna. She “finds herself drawn into his twisted world of, well, mostly naughty dialogue and light spanking”. ‘Very funny’ – says the blurb. Have a look at the website.




Fifty-Shades-of-Mr-Darcy-LPAnd then there’s Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy by William Codpiece Thwackery. It has “the same dramatic tensions as Jane Austen’s original work but for entirely different and hilarious reasons” according to one Amazon reviewer. I could do with a laugh.





I’m reading… Canada  by Richard Ford. I’m going to save my comments until I’ve finished it



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