DVD REVIEW: THE WONDER OF BRITAIN

britain

 

The world hardly needs another travel program, especially one dedicated to Britain. The UK has long been a favourite subject for celebrity presenters to visit and describe and Julia Bradbury’s The Wonder of Britain doesn’t offer anything grossly different. This five-part series covers the coastline, royals, architecture, natural beauty and the industrial revolution for what is ultimately a rather pleasant romp through the past.

Bradbury is no stranger to presenting travel programs. She was previously on a TV show called Countryfile and this looked at the stories of people living in different parts of Britain. In this latest offering both she and the crew would travel around 20000 km in order to pick some of the “best” stories from her homeland.

In episode one Bradbury harvests seaweed, visits the White Cliffs of Dover and the local castle as well as encounters a number of different species of seabirds and calls on Belfast, the birthplace of the Titanic. The “Royals” episode features a visit to Hampton Court to cook a Tudor barbeque as well as a turn at the magnificent Royal Pavilion in Brighton and spells at castles, Kenilworth and Edinburgh. Bradbury also interviews some of the Queen’s official bodyguards, the Household Cavalry.

The third episode of this series could have focused exclusively on stately homes and palaces but instead takes in a number of different structures including The Shard- the tallest building in London. There’s also Bath’s Royal Crescent- a set of 30 terrace houses set behind a single facade where it’s all very back-to-basics, like cramped living quarters and shared outdoor toilets and washhouses. Some of this stuff is also touched on in the “Industrial Revolution” episode but the latter also includes segments on Blackpool Tower and the SS Great Britain.

The episode that does this beautifully-shot series the most justice is the “Natural” one. Here the digital cameras, time-lapse photography and aerial shots come into their own while they depict ancient volcanoes and deep-plunging gorges. There’s also Snowdonia National Park, the Lake District and The Giant’s Causeway to sate your appetite. Unfortunately, the same beauty does not extend to the show’s title graphics. These are rather clunky, computer-based ones that don’t add a great deal to the overall program.

The Wonder of Britain is an informative and pleasant enough travel program but it is hardly breaking any new ground.  The presenter, Julia Bradbury, is knowledgeable but at times she is a little too chirpy and tiresome and this may grate some viewers. In all, this is a pretty little show about the UK which aims to showcase what put the “great” into “Great Britain”. It’s not bad but you can’t help but think that this program barely scratches the surface.

Originally published on 28 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-wonder-of-britain-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

LIVE REVIEW: THE MICK FLEETWOOD BLUES BAND & VICTOR MARTINEZ @ METRO THEATRE (28.03.2016)

mick fleetwood fleetwood mac

 

Mick Fleetwood is practically an honorary Aussie, having toured here last October with the Mac and now back to boogie-woogie with his blues band. The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band’s Sydney show enabled an older crowd (some seated on pinched stools from the bar) to don its best glad rags and listen to songs typically found on old dusty 45s.

The support act was guitar virtuoso, Victor Martinez. He enthralled the crowd with a short, sharp set that mixed together finger-plucking, strumming and beat-boxing techniques on his acoustic guitar. Martinez managed to coax more varied sounds out of one instrument than an entire band. His visceral version of ‘El Cóndor Pasa’ paid tribute to his South American heritage while other moments saw his fingers dancing along in a blur. It was mesmerising.

Fleetwood is a true English gentleman who just wants everyone to have a good time. ‘My Baby’s Hot’ set the tone for an evening of blues tunes about babes and Cadillacs, while the ‘Fleetwood Boogie’ was the first of many songs to pay tribute to the Peter Green era of the Mac. The group pulled out some tight sounds as the famous drummer loosely kept time up the back while Rick Vito led the proceedings with his raw vocals and guitar.

Their version of ‘Eyesight To The Blind’ was an unexpected piano ditty that differed to the original as well as The Who’s rock version on Tommy. It was a boisterous little cover that sat well alongside the sultry riffs of ‘Black Magic Woman’ and the wistful ‘Love That Burns’.

Later, Fleetwood’s fans were treated to an extended drum solo from the man himself. It was indulgent, but in the best possible way, and would have made a good segue into ‘Tusk’. But instead the band settled on ‘Oh Well’, with special guest Jimmy Barnes singing along to this and red-hot versions of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Shake Your Money Maker’. As to be expected, Barnes injected some extra fun and charisma into the second half of an already fine blues show.

The night closed with the brooding, instrumental lullaby of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. Fleetwood and co. had covered great terrain over their two-hour set, exuding much of the crunch, swagger and pop of many of the downtrodden bluesmen who’ve influenced their work. In all, it was one loving homage to the past.

 

Originally published on 29 March 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/mick-fleetwood-blues-band-metro-theatre

Visit The Brag’s homepage at: http://thebrag.com/

DVD REVIEW: THE ROUTE MASTERS- RUNNING LONDON’S ROADS

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The documentary series, The Route Masters: Running London’s Roads is an informative but long look at how Transport for London keep the city moving. The series is a pleasant but rather staid one because while it can be insightful it is also hardly ground-breaking to witness the thankless work that goes on behind-the-scenes on any given day. Like the recent documentaries about the Underground, various airports and railways this also provides a view of some work that is often forgotten (and sometimes this is for good reason because it’s not always that interesting).

The series is a six part one where each episode takes up a full hour. This means the show covers a lot of ground but in some instances the program could have been tightened and would have been better for it. The filmmakers have at least picked out some good talent to interview and these dedicated staff offer up accessible and simple explanations for their jobs (which in some cases can be quite complex and difficult).

The first episode is about traffic jams and grid lock. In rush hour the average speed that Londoners travel is about 15 kilometres per hour (a figure that was the same in 1890). This instalment looks at how road closures and severe accidents (like a helicopter crash) require a litany of emergency services, traffic workers creating diversions and the police. It certainly had echoes of Sydney’s recent 13km traffic jam due to an accident on the Harbour Bridge.

Episodes two and three were dedicated to the buses. The first exclusively dealt with the night services that replace the tube. The other show covered the day trips, including drivers training and the beautiful, 60-year-old red routemaster buses that come complete with a driver and conductor. The fourth episode dealt with a different sort of bus, a coach and it looked specifically at Victoria’s coach station. This was opened in 1932 and was planned to be used for small day tours to London but now has people travelling to and from some 1200 destinations across the U.K. and Europe.

The fifth episode was about “The Future” including number plate recognition being used to issue fines and a supercomputer that controlled traffic lights. The finale was all about fighting crime. These included everything from petty fare evasions and pickpocketing all the way through to violent assaults (the footage of a man being kicked out of the top deck of a bus was particularly frightening). This series seemed to cover the whole gamut of human interactions, from light and comical (like one worker offering piggybacks to people who needed to use a flooded underpass) to outright harrowing (assaults, racial abuse, etc).

The Route Masters was a rather practical and no-holds-barred look at Transport for London and their work in the city. It included repair teams, drivers, emergency workers, controllers and law-enforcement officers and included their interesting tales from the city’s heartbeat. In all, some of these stories were not necessarily crying out to be told but it still offered a rather insightful look at modern life and what goes in to getting people from point A to B.

Originally published on 28 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-route-masters-running-londons-roads-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

BOOK REVIEW: CHRIS PAVONE – THE ACCIDENT

pavone

 

Chris Pavone should be commended for penning such an ambitious thriller. But The Accident is ultimately let down by a series of problems with its execution. It attempts to make a high-stakes game out of 24-hours in the publishing industry but it requires a very large suspension of disbelief in order for any of it to ring true. It also boasts a cast of thousands and this means it can be hard to know or care about the people involved for the majority of the tale.

This book is Pavone’s second novel. The author has had first-hand knowledge of the publishing industry, having worked in it for several decades and mostly as an editor. He is also no stranger to writing suspenseful stories, having won the Edgar award for his debut novel The Expats. Pavone’s first-hand knowledge of the publishing industry could be seen as both a help and a hindrance because it is quite possible that there are times when he is a little too close to the subject matter in this story and all of this does is tend to alienate the reader.

The novel begins with a discrete but influential literary agent named Isabella Reed receiving a typed manuscript from an anonymous author. The book is an explosive exposé about a media mogul who has links to the CIA. This unpublished manuscript offers a lot of potential- it could be a saving grace for some key players in the industry because it looks poised to sell by the truckload and revive some waning careers. But there are people like veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray who want the manuscript buried and they will stop at nothing less than murder to do so.

The Accident is a mish-mash of different perspectives including various literati, spies/security agents and the elusive, “author”. The novel offers up some excerpts from the unpublished manuscript and these contain some of the more explosive revelations. The Accident itself starts off rather slowly and it does tend to jump around between chapters headed up by major and minor characters, as well as different tenses and perspectives. This can make it a trudge for the reader because it can be difficult to weed out the important stuff from the over-written paragraphs. When you combine this with some predictable twists and an unsatisfying ending, it can make for one hard slog indeed.

This literary thriller has a great premise and it could make for an interesting film but it is a rather difficult read. While Pavone has crafted a book that is brimming with many different layers and dramatic elements when this is combined it can be a tad overwhelming for the reader. In all, this is a detailed mystery that offers up some drama and tension but there is also room for this story to be tightened and improved.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/the-accident/8111709/

THEATRE REVIEW: WUTHERING HEIGHTS @ RIVERSIDE THEATRE, PARRAMATTA (22.03.2016)

WutheringheightsproductionHR-1905 - Photo by Dylan Evans

 

Photo credit: Dylan Evans



Love will tear us apart. This song lyric by the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division seems an appropriate way to sum up the gothic romance tale, Wuthering Heights. Queensland’s shake & stir theatre co. have produced a rather faithful and intense adaptation of Emily Brontë’s story, but it also manages to add a few cotemporary flourishes that complement the melodrama.

The play begins with an ominous crash of thunder and lightning and this serves as a signpost for the drama that is to come. Hindley (Nick Skubij who doubles as the show’s adaptor and director) and Catherine Earnshaw are privileged young siblings living on an estate known as Wuthering Heights on the Yorkshire moors. The pair are also the children of Mr Earnshaw, a character who is omitted from this production. Mr Earnshaw adopts a young, sullen gypsy boy he names Heathcliff and this act sets off a chain of events that has ramifications for multiple generations.

Gemma Willing is excellent in the starring role as the wild and free-spirited Catherine and in the second act she plays this formidable woman’s young daughter. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff (played by Ross Balbuziente who does a fantastic job, especially when playing the adult version of this character) were once inseparable friends. They would also become lovers until Catherine meets her neighbours from Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton (Tim Dashwood who seems a touch too feminine and almost camp) and his sister Isabella (Nelle Lee who juggles multiple roles quite seamlessly).

The meeting between Catherine and the Lintons will leave her a changed woman. She loses her youthful innocence and wild ways and instead becomes a stately and elegant young woman. She accepts Linton’s marriage proposal and rejects Heathcliff’s advances despite her heart telling her to do the opposite. Catherine is punished for this both emotionally and spiritually and descends into madness while Heathcliff is incensed and vows to exact revenge, even if he has to bide his time for multiple decades.

This adaptation is faithful to Brontë’s original tale because it shows both Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship as well as the impact of this disturbed love affair on the next generation. The actors each put in some great performances and offer subtler turns when they are playing the younger generation of children whereas more intense and visceral emotions are required for the older ones. Some of the actors play multiple roles across time but the exception to this is the pragmatic narrator Nelly Dean (Linden Wilkinson who had a hard job remembering so many lines and sometimes forgot these) and the dark and villainous Heathcliff. These two are integral to the story and really carry it.

The set is minimal but it works because it is able to double as two different manor houses as well as offer the backdrop for the treacherous moors, complete with life-like rain, thunder and lightning. Some musical motifs are repeated as the scenes change and this adds a certain neatness to the structure, especially when considering that it is such a dense and sprawling story. This adaptation also uses large video projections that really showcase the heightened emotions of the characters and their extinguished flames as they pass away. This is one sumptuous visual feast to say the least.

It is unfortunate that the set also let down the actors on at least a few occasions. There are times when the characters stood behind a shrouded curtain at the back and while this added extra mystery to the piece, it did make it difficult to hear and understand them at times. The first act was also a bit too long and while it ended with Catherine’s death, it felt a little anti-climactic with Dean finishing things by mentioning that there was something contained in a note. Thankfully the actual end of the play reached a more rousing crescendo.

Wuthering Heights is a dark and slow-burning play that sits on the knife edge of love, loss, betrayal, jealousy and revenge. It’s one complex and visceral story of a destructive and disturbing love that would shake a family to its core and be felt by the following generation. shake & stir theatre co.’s adaptation remains true to the classic tale while also offering a welcome modern slant that effectively captures the heady and human emotions of the original narrative. In short, it makes it all feel rather intense and real for a whole new generation of audiences.

Originally published on 24 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-wuthering-heights-riverside-theatre-parramatta-22-03-16/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

EP REVIEW: SWIMWEAR (DAPPLED CITIES’ TIM DERRICOURT) – HIGH SUMMER

swimwear

 

Dappled Cities’ Tim Derricourt has already dipped his toes into side-project waters with the release of two EPs under the moniker Swimwear.

His latest, High Summer, offers up a book-end to the previous Low Summer EP and also celebrates the hot season with some bittersweet dance music via indie-pop sounds.

The songs are not a huge departure from the Dappled Cities style, all sounding like they’ve been orchestrated by someone who has dug through old vinyl recordings by David Bowie and the Pet Shop Boys. ‘Heartbroken’ sounds quite warm and joyful considering the track’s dour title, and gives a good indication of Derricourt’s desire to mix up tone and style. On ‘Great Leaps Forward’, his voice vacillates between a quivering falsetto and a deeper croon over the top of some shimmery beats-driven pop.

‘Closer’ is the EP’s most unique track, where the sound of Django Django is mashed with repetitive computer bleeps and bloops before the piece rapidly diverts towards the beautiful terrain hinted at in New Order’s ‘Elegia’.

High Summer is like that blissful moment just before the bartender calls for last drinks. It’s a relaxed, sweet and gorgeous place where the night feels so grand that it has the potential to go on forever.

Originally published on 23 March 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/swimwear-high-summer

Visit The Brag’s homepage at: http://thebrag.com/

INTERVIEW: NICK SKUBIJ FROM SHAKE & STIR THEATRE CO ABOUT WUTHERING HEIGHTS

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Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights has inspired many different adaptions and other art forms since its initial publication in 1847. It has inspired everything from a Kate Bush song to a Hindi movie and a Death Cab for Cutie track, to name a few. Australia’s very own, shake & stir theatre co will also be staging their own adaptation of this gothic love story in a production that promises to be both broody and faithful to the original source material. The AU Review sat down with Nick Skubij, the adaptor and director of this adaption of Wuthering Heights to learn more about Heathcliff and Cathy’s turbulent relationship.

Can you briefly introduce yourself? How long have you been working in the arts industry?

I’m Nick Skubij – I’m the Co-Artistic Director of shake & stir theatre co and the adaptor and director of Wuthering Heights. I have been working in the industry for approx. 15 years as an actor, producer, director and writer.

Can you briefly describe your adaptation of Wuthering Heights?

My adaptation of Wuthering Heights is a (relatively) faithful, distilled version of the entire novel. Unlike a couple of adaptations out there, I have chosen to present the whole story, not just the first generation. My production is sharp, strange, terrifying, romantic and beautiful – just like the novel.

Wuthering Heights is an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s gothic novel. Do you have a favourite quote or scene from the book?

My favourite quote from the play belongs to Heathcliff and comes at the end of act one. He states “You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”. It sums up the all-consuming nature of love lost perfectly and oh so dramatically.

In your opinion, how true is your adaptation of Wuthering Heights compared to the novel?

I aimed for my adaptation to be true to the original novel but not slavishly so. I think that you can’t really present an adapted work which is a 100% extraction of the source material – there needs to be some sort of treatment to give it a unique voice. I hope that it gets the tick of approval from the purists but contains certain unexpected moments that surprise.

Who is your favourite character from Wuthering Heights? Why did you choose this one?

My favourite character is our Narrator, Nelly Dean. I find her role in the whole story fascinating. She reminds me of a ringmaster in a human circus, pulling the strings and guiding the audience through her version of events. I think that a lot of people would consider that Heathcliff is the villain of the story but what about Nelly? Maybe the real devil wears a housemaid’s outfit…

Why do you think audiences should come and see your adaptation of Wuthering Heights?

If audiences want to see some fantastic actors, a great story and some absolutely stunning technical moments, they should definitely come and see this production. shake & stir has developed a national audience who have come to expect ultra-high production values and this one raises the bar. Of course, anyone who has ever loved with every atom of their being might find a bit to relate to…

Do you have a favourite scene in the production? What’s it about and why did you choose this one?

I really like the end of act two. This is where we pull out all the stops theatrically and where we finally find out why Heathcliff has acted the way he has. I think it is a really nice and surprising moment for Heathcliff – we should think twice about what we thought of him throughout the story.

The novel, Wuthering Heights has inspired everything from a Kate Bush song to a Hindi movie and a Death Cab for Cutie track, to name a few. Can you name your favourite adaptation of this work or a work that was inspired by the book? Why did you pick this one?

I like the 2011 film adaptation by Andrea Arnold for its moody capture of the environment. This adaptation is not very text heavy but it shows the mood of the piece brutally and beautifully though close up extended shots of the characters being battered by the elements.

The show features Ross Balbuziente, Tim Dashwood, Nelle Lee, Linden Wilkinson, Gemma Willing and yourself. How did the actors prepare for their roles?

I think actors prep is very personal and each actor has their own methods. One thing I insisted on in the rehearsal room was to speak the language in a way that each actor could relate to on a personal level. I wanted to avoid put-on accents and over-annunciation and for the actors to bring their own personalities and real truth to their characters.

Originally published on 17 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/interviews/the-au-interview-director-nick-skubij-talks-about-lost-love-and-a-new-adaptation-of-emily-brontes-classic-wuthering-heights/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

DVD REVIEW: TALES FROM THE ROYAL WARDROBE AND BEDCHAMBER

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They say that clothes make the man. So the two documentaries released on one DVD, Tales from the Royal Wardrobe and Bedchamber could offer an interesting glimpse into some rather intimate details with respect to English monarchs. Historian, Dr Lucy Worsley offers up a program that has its moments and provides some good historic context but at other points feels like it’s too flimsy an idea to stretch out over two whole programs.

Dr Worsley is the chief curator of the historic royal palaces. In these programs she traces the English monarchy back over 400 years and offers up some insightful information about the power of the reigning monarch’s costumes and what actually went on in their bedrooms. In some cases the clothes were used to present an image and drive home the message of power to affirm who was in charge. In the case of Queen Elizabeth I, she once wore a dress that had eyes and ears all over it to show that she was all-seeing and all-hearing. King Edward VIII on the other hand won little praise with his daggy safari suits which screamed “leisure and comfort” rather than dedication to his post.

These documentaries do have their share of interesting moments but one can’t help but wonder if the actual historic material has been watered down and that the matters presented have been played up for their entertainment aspect. It’s curious that Dr Worsley is a female presenter and we wonder if this meant the program couldn’t be more serious and hard-hitting and instead had to be flippant and focus on style over substance.

It must have been fun for Dr Worsley to wear replicas of some of these great garments. The impractical outfits of the truly wealthy women look nice but are so silly that the wearer would require servants to dress them and assist with the tying and untying of the corset. But seeing this historian play dress-up does mean it is a bit hard to take what she says seriously because it feels like the whole thing has gone from being informative to a rather throwaway, fashion parade.

Tales from the Royal Wardrobe and Bedchamber feeds right into the public’s fascination with the royal family including their bedroom habits and the personal statements they choose to make with their choice of clothes. While it can be pleasant and entertaining at times, it can also be quite hollow and flimsy at other moments. In all, this is a rather tenuous and indulgent look at the royal family and all of its trappings.

Originally published on 14 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/tales-from-the-royal-wardrobe-bedchamber-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

COMEDY REVIEW: DAVID STRASSMAN @ ENMORE THEATRE (12.03.2016)

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If you’re old enough to recognise Hey, Hey It’s Saturday’s Plucka Duck in the current KFC ads than chances are you’ll also remember David Strassman. The ventriloquist and comedian was often a guest on the show with his two much-loved characters, the naive but sweet Ted E Bare and the foul-mouthed, Chuck Wood. Strassman now has a number of new characters that he throws into the mix, but his show at the Enmore Theatre proved that the two old ones are by far his best.

The first half of the gig was a tad long and focused on Strassman introducing the characters and likening them to extensions of his own personality. There was his inner child (Ted E Bare), the father figure (Grandpa Fred), the feminine side (Sid Beaverman), the voice of reason and logic (Kevin the Alien), the alcoholic (Buttons the Clown) and Chuck Wood whose traits I didn’t quite catch but could have something to do with being a cheeky menace. It was good to get context with respect to the different characters as this helped pave the way for the rest of the show. Like Strassman’s other live work, a lot of it did focus on a series of arguments between Ted, Chuck and Strassman himself.

The show had a loose and ramshackle feel. There were some things that didn’t always go to plan- a prop was dropped, an incorrect voice was thrown by Strassman at one point and there was at least one rogue sound effect, but when these things happened Strassman just laughed it off and didn’t take it too seriously. Strassman was by his own admission, “A true professional” even if this meant that Chuck would interject and ask, “Like a hooker?” Things weren’t continuously perfect but they didn’t always need to be.

The second part of the performance really gave Strassman’s technique an opportunity to shine. He had five puppets (every one of the aforementioned except Buttons) seated on-stage for a make-shift “Ted Talk”. The puppets were also hooked up with robotics (it seemed like Strassman was controlling the mouth movements but the other stuff was likely left up to people off-stage). This really brought the characters to life because rather than using the old-fashioned method of having the ventriloquist’s arm control everything, here the characters looked sentient. Strassman did a tremendous job of keeping the conversations flowing with all of the appropriate voices. But he was done a disservice by the venue’s acoustics, because some of the jokes were lost or muffled on a couple of occasions.

These days Strassman isn’t the only ventriloquist on the scene. Jeff Dunham also does some excellent work with his characters. But while Strassman has the more superior technique, it is Dunham that has the funnier jokes. That said, Strassman’s characters did have their moments and were topical at times but Dunham’s are definitely more laugh-out-loud funny. Strassman’s show was ultimately quite self-deprecating and humble. At one point he said he had something to make the show “funny” and Chuck replied, “Better be Carl Barron” while Sid frequently mispronounced his name. But Chuck perhaps said it best, “If I’m just a voice in your head, you’re just a pain in my ass”.

Strassman’s show was a little rough-around-the-edges but that just added to its overall charm. The ventriloquist and his band of merry men entertained us and the final act intrigued our inner child thanks to some marvellous, visual trickery. In all, this was one fun and off-beat night.

Originally published on 15 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/comedy-review-david-strassmans-itede/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

BOOK REVIEW: BAMBI SMYTH – BAD HAIR YEAR

badhairyear

 

It was John Lennon who once sang that, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. This quote is especially relevant to children’s illustrator, artist and businesswoman, Bambi Smyth. Just a few days before Christmas in 2010 she went to a specialist where they discovered she had a large brain tumour. This was just one of a series of catastrophic events that would follow over the course of one turbulent year.

Bad Hair Year is a memoir that focuses on this chapter in Smyth’s life as she deals with multiple illnesses. It is set out like a diary and often has daily entries written in the first person. This means the text feels very intimate, personal and honest. At times it actually feels like you are seated next to Smyth on this emotional roller-coaster, especially when she is diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year after her original diagnosis.

This book has a rather flippant title but it does offer up a lot of food for thought with respect to philosophy and the things that people should appreciate in life. Smyth goes into detail about the changes she made to her lifestyle with things like: exercising more, changing her diet, engaging in alternative therapies like meditation, visualisation techniques, positive thinking and hypnotherapy. These things may not work for everyone and for some readers it might get a little frustrating to read about such stuff in so much detail, but hopefully for every one of those there is another reader who is experiencing something similar to Smyth and who takes great comfort in reading about her journey and making the same adjustments.

Bad Hair Year is one brave tale from a colourful lady placed in a grave situation. It’s a book that could have been dreary and sorrowful but instead wants to celebrate life and tackle things head on. In all, Bad Hair Year is an important story because it is hopeful and candid, meaning it should resonate with people who are facing similar issues.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/bad-hair-year/9599496/

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