My work as a writer and dance/theatre reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: ‘With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario’, a memoir by Eva Maze – June 2017

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Dance is what inspires me in everything I do. Blissful serendipity meant I was given the opportunity to start ballet classes as a tiny tot and I will forever be grateful to the universe for that. Ultimately, I have become the person I am today because of my desire to always have dance in my life. Participating in dance classes, watching dance, writing about dance and teaching dance – dancing gives me purpose and makes me feel alive!

In fact, you might say that there is “ballet in my soul”. This nifty sentiment comes from an amazing woman named Eva Maze, who has titled her memoir With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario. An engrossing and educational read, I devoured the book in one afternoon and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in dance, theatre, history, travel or the pioneering achievements of extraordinary individuals.

Eva Maze (nee Feldstein) was born in Bucharest, Romania, on a summer day in 1922. Both her parents spoke Russian (her father was from Kiev and her mother was from Bessarabia) so Eva was bilingual in Russian and Romanian at an early age. Jewish by birth, she attended a Catholic school where the nuns taught the students in German and French and she was also tutored privately in English. She believes this early immersion in languages made her interested in the world outside Romania and later learned two additional languages – Spanish and Portuguese – which aided her in her career as an impresario (a theatrical tour manager or promoter). Without a doubt, Eva’s vibrant and fulfilling life will be envied by anyone with even a sprinkling of wanderlust as her personal and professional passions and endeavours have taken her all over the globe.



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Written by Georgina Butler

June 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Cake Shop In The Garden’ by Carole Matthews, July 2015

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Carole Matthews The Cake Shop in the Garden


Bestselling author Carole Matthews lives life to the full and seems to find inspiration for her riveting romantic fiction novels everywhere. She has lived in Milton Keynes with her other half, Lovely Kev, for fifteen years and many of her entertaining books are set in the new city.

Carole’s most recent yarn, The Cake Shop In The Garden, features the area of Milton Keynes (or “the Costa del Keynes” as she affectionately calls it when in discussion with readers on social media) surrounding the Grand Union Canal. The sights, sounds and domestic situations within a sprawling house in the pretty (and fictitious) village of Whittan spring off the page as soon as chapter one begins.

Fay Merryweather runs a popular cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up delicious treats, ensures her customers feel completely at home and tends to the grounds – all while also looking after her belligerent, bed-bound, mother. It very quickly becomes obvious that this particular protagonist could take a leaf out of our Carole’s book when it comes to seizing exciting new opportunities and taking responsibility for her own happiness.   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Georgina Butler

July 3, 2015 at 8:05 pm

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Christmas Party’ by Carole Matthews, November 2014

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The tree may not be up quite yet but now we have entered November there is a definite sense that Christmas is not too far away. The shops are full of decorations and gifts; festive functions are being planned; and, more importantly, author Carole Matthews has a brand new seasonal paperback out.

The Christmas Party is Carole’s 25th novel and she has marked this impressive milestone by producing yet another warm, witty and wonderful story. Despite having penned so many unique and unputdownable tales, it seems that there is no shortage of ideas in this lovely lady’s imagination.

Drawing on inspiration from her own attendance as a guest at corporate Yuletide shindigs, Carole has created a cast of memorable and believable characters associated with the Milton Keynes office of a fictional oil company.

The book is set over just a few days: the day of the Christmas party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This may seem an exceptionally short timespan but it works very well and an awful lot of action is deftly packed into the narrative.

Through Carole’s usual lively prose, readers are introduced to various Fossil Oil employees and their other halves. With little preamble, we soon delve into their personal lives and are privy to the secrets – both romantic and professional – that make this Christmas party a night to remember for all concerned.

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Written by Georgina Butler

November 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm

FEATURE: ‘You, Fascinating You’ The Musical, September 2014

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A musical adaptation of Germaine Shames’ beautiful book is set to bring a forgotten ballerina’s life to the stage…

American author Germaine Shames began researching the narrative of her biographical novel You, Fascinating You nearly a decade ago. This powerful tale reveals the hidden epic behind a timeless love song and provides an insight into the life of headstrong Jewish ballerina Margit Wolf.

First published in 2012, the book won an Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society.

Now, a future on Broadway beckons. The true story of this unforgettable Hungarian woman and her romance with an up-and-coming Italian composer has been adapted as a musical that is currently being prepared for its stage debut.


You, Fascinating You on Broadway

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Written by Georgina Butler

September 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm

BOOK REVIEW: ‘You, Fascinating You’ – a biographical novel by Germaine Shames, August 2014

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You, Fascinating You by Germaine ShamesA moving and inspiring novel

The rarefied world of classical ballet demands sacrifice and determination. Fittingly, Germaine Shames’ compelling novel You, Fascinating You shines a spotlight on the life of a dancer whose strength of character, passion for her art and heroic human spirit evoke nothing but admiration.

You, Fascinating You is a heart-rending work of fiction based on the true story of a gifted Jewish ballerina and her romance with a Catholic Neapolitan composer.

In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro named Pasquale Frustaci, wrote a love song called Tu, Solamente Tu.

The lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy.

This anthem of longing proved to be a universal hit and earned its composer the moniker ‘the Italian Cole Porter’. Various versions made the melody popular all over Europe. Zarah Leander, the leading film star of the German Reich, sang the German variant  (Du Immer Wieder Du), while the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band performed the English rendition: You, Fascinating You.

Twenty-two years passed before the maestro and his ballerina were reunited face-to-face.

You, Fascinating You is their story – an absorbing read for balletomanes, history buffs and fans of real-life epics.

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Written by Georgina Butler

August 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Place to Call Home’ by Carole Matthews, May 2014

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Bestselling author Carole Matthews is celebrated for her romantic comedy novels but her latest paperback shows she can sensitively tackle hard-hitting issues too.

Domestic violence, fear and cultural difference all feature in A Place to Call Home. However, through a cast of likeable characters and her usual lively prose, Carole ensures an uplifting read.

For most people, the maxim ‘there is no place like home’ rings true. But, for the less fortunate, home is not the sanctuary it should be.

This book emphasises the importance of the people we surround ourselves with. Sometimes it takes monumental courage, a lot of trust and a little bit of luck to overcome your difficulties and make a new beginning.

Central character Ayesha moved from her native Sri Lanka to Milton Keynes (a decade before the start of the story) to meet and marry her husband, Suresh Rasheed. Their first year of marriage was a happy one but, once baby daughter Sabina arrived, Suresh grew more withdrawn, possessive and controlling.

The story opens as Ayesha and eight-year-old Sabina flee the house they share with Suresh and his parents. In the dead of night they slip quietly away, leaving behind the life of mental and physical abuse that Ayesha has endured – and fears Sabina may fall victim to next. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Georgina Butler

May 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Calling Mrs Christmas’ by Carole Matthews, August 2013

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"Calling Mrs Christmas"


“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…!”

While the sun streams in through the open window and social media alerts inform me that everyone I know is jetting off on their summer holidays, I can be found with my nose in Carole Matthews’ latest Christmas-themed novel…

Internationally bestselling romantic comedy author Carole lives in Milton Keynes and releases two books a year – one in time for some summer fun and one as a Christmassy treat. Tales of romance, family and friendship guarantee a page-turner every time and Carole’s dedicated fans eagerly await each new release.

Some of her books are set in the ‘Costa del Keynes’ (a little Carole-ism which I find myself adopting with frightening regularity) and showcase local haunts. The rest feature other parts of the UK, often with a few chapters spent in some exciting location or other (giving our Carole the perfect excuse to escape her office in the new city and enjoy a research trip with partner Lovely Kev).

I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release edition of “Calling Mrs Christmas”, the twenty-third novel from this talented lady. Unsurprisingly, this Christmas cracker shot straight to the top of my “to read” pile!

Pick up any of Carole’s books and you can expect upbeat prose, strong storylines and captivating characters. “Calling Mrs Christmas” delivers these and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Georgina Butler

August 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm