Book reviews: Essex writers

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 February 2016




We talk books, Essex writers, and review books from around the county

Rayleigh: The Postcard CollectionRayleigh: The Postcard Collection

With Valentine’s Day in our thoughts this month, what better time is there to celebrate some of the wonderful literary couples that we have come to know and love. Of course, the most famous is Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers whose story ends in tragedy. If daggers to the heart and poison on the lips don’t whet your appetite for romance, maybe you should try another classic couple, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Many see them as the essential couple from literature; both with their faults and almost agonisingly kept apart by their failure to realise that they are perfect for each other, but eventually realising that they are meant to be.

In recent years, we’ve been treated to the romances of some favourite young adult heroes. JK Rowling may have subsequently erred on whether Ron and Hermione were meant to be, but this Essex Life columnist thinks she made the right choice. Katniss and Peeta’s love story took a secondary role in The Hunger Games, while Katniss set about saving the world, and Augustus and Hazel, from The Fault in Our Stars, found love while cancer was tearing their own worlds apart.

Of course, it’s not all chocolates and roses; sometimes we find ourselves reading stories and shouting at characters to get as far away from each other as possible. The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan should probably steer clear of Tom Buchanan, and Macbeth might have been slightly better off without the influence of Lady Macbeth. The obsessive love of Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and the ill-fated relationship between Bridget Jones, and her boss, Daniel Cleaver, just go to prove that sometimes, the single life is the wise choice.

Lee BrilleauxLee Brilleaux

Lee Brilleaux by Zoë Howe

Zoë Howe is a music author and lives in Leigh on Sea.

This biography of Dr Feelgood frontman Lee Brilleaux is an accomplished and well-researched book that takes a look at a true character from the world of music. Marking the 20-year anniversary of Brilleaux’s untimely death, the book is the first about him to be published with his widow’s blessing, and it’s clear to see why. Time and care has been taken to present the ‘Rock’n’Roll Gentleman’ as an interesting and kind man, as well as a memorable musician.

Fans of Dr Feelgood and the pub rock scene will find plenty to enjoy, as will anyone with a genuine interest in music biographies.

Polygon Books, released November 2015, £14.99 Paperback, ISBN: 9781846973352

Rayleigh The Postcard Collection by Mike Davies & Sharon Davies

Mike and Sharon Davies are from Rayleigh. Both are keen, local historians and this is their second book about the town.

Postcards of local scenes are always going to be of most interest to local residents. As such, this book, containing an extensive collection of postcards showing Rayleigh through the years, will appeal to residents of the town, first and foremost.

But there’s much to be enjoyed for those unfamiliar with the Essex market town, with the chance to take a good look at the photographs and pick out well-known local people, note the change in fashions and find the classic cars in some of the shots. This is obviously a labour of love for Mike and Sharon Davies, who know their town inside out.

Amberley Books, released November 2015, £14.99 Paperback, ISBN: 9781445645254

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