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Flash Reviews: Non-Fiction (18th June 2014)

The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition by Robert Graves *****

‘The Greek Myths: The Complete and Definitive Edition’

1. I received this gorgeous and much sought-after book for Christmas, and could not wait to read it.  I have always adored Greek mythology – more so since I visited Olympia in Greece last year.
2. I really like the format which Graves has adopted.  Each myth has been given its own heading, and Graves in turn writes the story using as many different sources as he could find, and comments upon such details as the history and social conditions of each item of interest.
3. Graves’ prose style is so smooth, and so well thought out.

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Katherine Mansfield: A Darker View by Jeffrey Meyers ****
1. My boyfriend knows how much I adore Katherine Mansfield, and bought me this biography as an anniversary present.  I adore Mansfield criticism, and this is amongst the best I have come across thus far.  The introduction, however, does not seem to paint Meyers in the best light – he seems dismissive and quite offensive at times.
2. Throughout, Meyers has used his sources well, deciding both to back things up and discount others by use of his evidence.  He has spoken to a wealth of first-hand sources too, which makes all the difference.
3. Meyers does not paint the most flattering portrait of Katherine, but perhaps that is what a biographer should do – setting out what he believes are the facts for his readers, whether acting in the favour of his subjects or not.  It is sure to provide Mansfield fans with much to consider, and a lot to learn.

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‘Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl’

Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock ****
1. The cover design of the lovely paperback (pictured) is stunning, and the utmost consideration has been made about its layout.
2. From the first, Sturrock’s account is marvellously written.  I love the way in which he weaves in different anecdotes from Dahl’s life.  Calling it ‘human’ may sound odd, but it is profoundly so; I have rarely read a biography which does not occasionally become bogged down in details, but Storyteller remains fresh and coherent throughout.
3. Dahl was an incredibly complex man, and Sturrock both realises and understands this.  He has so much respect for Dahl, and is thus the perfect author for such a book.

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Sunday Poem: ‘Marigolds’ by Robert Graves

 With a fork drive Nature out, 
She will ever yet return; 
Hedge the flowerbed all about, 
Pull or stab or cut or burn, 
She will ever yet return. 

Look: the constant marigold 
Springs again from hidden roots. 
Baffled gardener, you behold 
New beginnings and new shoots 
Spring again from hidden roots.
Pull or stab or cut or burn, 
They will ever yet return. 

Gardener, cursing at the weed, 
Ere you curse it further, say: 
Who but you planted the seed
In my fertile heart, one day? 
Ere you curse me further, say! 
New beginnings and new shoots 
Spring again from hidden roots. 
Pull or stab or cut or burn, 
Love must ever yet return.

Robert Graves