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Martina Cole - Close
Description: Author: Martina Cole / Genre: Fiction
What's it all about?
The story follows the lives of Patrick and Lil Brodie and their families.
The story begins with Lil Diamond, who has been brought up with an abusive and neglectful mother and stepfather. As a result, she meets and marries Patrick Brodie at a young age and goes on to have a family with him. The story then details Patrick's life as a gangster (or "face" as it is called in the book) who grows more successful as their children are growing up.
Lil's life is turned upside down when Patrick is murdered in front of her and the children and she is forced to do whatever she can to raise the children, having been left no provisions by her late husband. This includes sleeping with the man who was ultimately responsible for his death and bearing him 2 children.
Lil and Patrick's children grow and the eldest 2 boys vow to avenge their fathers death. The book then follows them in their quest to do so, with a somewhat shocking twist at the end.
A relative is a huge Martina Cole fan and passes me these books to read once she has finished with them. It was a reasonable read but I certainly wouldn't rush out and buy it myself. If you like the author, you will probably like this, but I wouldn't build it up too much, you may feel let down!
I have given it 3 stars as it was an okay read, but nothing special.
I am a huge fan of Martina Cole so when a friend offered to lend me Close i could not say no.
The story is about the lives and deaths of Patrick and Lil Brodie and the growing up of their children.
The story starts by telling us that Lil was born into a poor household with indifferent and neglectful parents, Lil meets Patrick at the age of fifteen and is married to him by sixteen. Lil's status rises with Patrick's success in the underworld and she has 5 children with him but her life takes a turn for the worst and falls again upon his murder at the hands of rivals.
Lil tries to work her way back up in life and had another 3 children along the way.
This book can be quite gory but it's what you expect from Martina Cole books. I do feel that there were many pages that could have been omitted from the book without anyone noticing and without the story being spoilt. I feel that the book had too much detail in the first half and the second half of the book was rushed. I would have liked to have seen a little less at the beginning and more nearer the end. The book skipped about 10 years and i would have liked to have known a bit more on the lives of the character between them 10 years.
Overall i did enjoy this book but it is not one of Martina Cole's best books. If you are a fan of her books i am sure you will enjoy it but it is a bit slow at the beginning.
Like other reviewers, I have only discovered Marina Cole books in the last two years and am currently working my way through her back catalogue.
Close follows the lives of Patrick and Lily Brodie who as usual for characters of a Martina Cole book are from an Irish background and following their lives from childhood to death. It details their lives as part of London gangland and how they adjust to the trials that this throws at them. The characters are well developed, although, towards the end of the book, I felt that there could have been some more focus on Lily's younger children.
The book is easy to read, however, in comparision to other books by Martina Cole, I felt that sections of it could have been reduced to ensure that the story flowed and kept readers on the edge of their seats. Also, it explores storylines that have previously been detailed in others books and as much as I enjoy Martina Cole's books, I would like to see something unexpected in future work.
I would suggest that readers who were disappointed by this novel by Martina Cole try The Runaway.
Martina Cole Close
I couldnt wait to buy the new book from Martina Cole, Close and even though I cant stand to read hardback books, when I saw it in Tescos for a discounted price I snapped it up and rushed home with a big bar of chocolate to begin the read.
Unlike most Cole books this particular one seemed to take me a little while to get into the plot. For those who have yet the pleasure of read a Cole classic I will tell you that all her books are about the crime and gangster world of the London streets. The books are often filled with plenty of violence and skulduggery.
The main two characters of this book are Lilly and Pat Brodie. You begin the book with them as a young couple just starting out in life and as the book progresses we follow their complicated lives through the tough world that is the London crime scene that Pat has somehow got Lilly wrapped up in.
After a few large chapters I was soon drawn into the whole story and began avidly following the complicated lives of the Brodie family. The style that Martina Cole writes in is really very easy to read and I am sure anyone who picked up one of her books would find themselves transported the a world so different from there own but one that seems as if it is happening around them.
To be brutally honest here I do however feel this book really does lack a good strong story line. The main plot really is based upon the whole lives of the family and the tragedies that they face but there really is not one strong thing to really set this book apart from all Coles other novels. Yes I can really say that I did enjoy reading it and there was definitely the same Martina Cole pattern of crime and violence but the book for me truly lacked substance.
I will not go into the plot that much because for those who are planning to read this book when it comes to the shelves in paperback will be highly disappointed when I give away any sniff of the minimal amount of plot that are held within the pages.
This book cost me a whopping £10, which is actually half of the recommended retail price. I should have really waited for it to come out in paperback so it was easier to read and would of cost me a lot less to buy.
So all in all I would say that I really did enjoy this book as it was another great book from Martina Cole and the style that she writes in really is a pleasure to read. The fact the book was just based on the seedy lives of this one particular family was good to read but for me this book lacked much action which is what I think makes a book stand out from the rest.
I would say to all Martina Cole fans that yes this book is worth a read but I also would say to people who have not yet read a Cole book that this is not one of her best books to pick up first. Well worth a look if this is your sort of novel.
I am a very recent convert to the draw of Martina Cole novels. I think I read my first of her novels sometime last year, and since then I've worked my way through all her books from the earliest to the latest. "Close" is her thirteenth novel and most recent blockbuster, hitting the shelves sometime in mid October. The sort of genre she writes under could be loosely described as crime/thriller fiction, with a hard, gruesome edge. She tends to mainly write about East End villains, their wives and families. There is no exception to this pattern with "Close". Again, it's set in the East end of London and tells the tale of the rise and fall of a gangland family. It's graphic and it's violent - everything you expect a Martina Cole novel to be.
Lily Diamond is our "heroine", a 16 year old factory worker, who meets and falls in love with the older, yet handsome, Patrick Brodie. Lily (or Lil as she is more often referred) has had a pretty appalling childhood, the unwanted child of Annie Diamond, a woman incapable of loving Lil, as she sees her arrival as having destroyed her life. Lil grows up determined to escape her childhood home, and to become a better mother and wife than her own upbringing has shown her. Patrick Brodie, too, has not had the best of starts in life, but he is intent on clawing his way to the top of the tree and becoming top dog in their world, be it by fair means or foul. Lil and Patrick, however, are both determined that they will love and care for their offspring, and give them the sort of childhood they wished they'd had themselves. And so it begins. Patrick goes about his daily business, dodgy deal after dodgy deal, killing and maiming, punching and fighting, whilst Lil stays at home and drops baby after baby, and raises Patrick's numerous offspring. So this is the tale of Patrick and Lil Brodie, their rise to prominence in the 1970's gangland world of East End of London. The story continues well into the 1980's and beyond with the next generation of the Brodie clan, and how their children follow their parents into the same lifestyle. The eldest sons, Patrick Junior and Lance, take up the mantle from Patrick Senior and continue with the thievery, thuggery and general skulduggery.
Although the story is good, it seems to lack direction. It's not boring, but it's not as gripping as some of her other novels. It's really quite easy to put down, walk away and do something else. The first section of the book just meanders. Lil and Patrick have baby after baby, we read of one shady deal after another, and meet yet another villain. It's the sort of novel where you keep on reading continually expecting something huge to occur, and for the author to get to the main crux of the story. It honestly takes nearly 300 pages before something of major import happens, and even then, the story does not really pick up much pace. It's got all the right ingredients to make a good story - a nice selection of strong male and female characters, a good motive for revenge and an interesting setting....but it just doesn't go anywhere. By the time you reach the end of the novel, you're asking yourself "is that it?" - it really is a massive anti-climax. Martina Cole has created a colourful enough cast, but she has somehow failed to bind them together by creating a story of any lasting interest.
Martina Cole is very good at characterisation and setting a colourful East End scene, and "Close" is no exception. She can convince her readers into thinking that the hardest, most evil man has a soft side, by explaining their past, or making them scared of their mothers. Without exception, all the male characters in this novel are thugs of the biggest nature. They're the sort of men that make Grant and Phil Mitchell from Eastenders look like a couple of tiny baby kittens that spend their days rolling over for a tummy tickle. They'll torture and maim and an hour later they're be sat at home surrounded by their family showing no remorse at all. The East End women might well be slags of the highest order, with a constant fag on the go, a face full of garish makeup and spoiling for a fight, but they always stand by their man, and they always love their kids. Lil Brodie seems to spend most of her life being pregnant (or having a "belly full of arms and legs", as it is so charmingly described in the novel), but she is a strong, and somewhat likeable character. She'll fight tooth and nail to defend her husband and her kids, and she'll do anything she can to protect and care for them.
As with all Martina Cole novels, the language used is not for the prudish - it's more than coarse. The first three pages of this novel contains the "c" word and the "f" word, which, decidedly, sets the stage for the rest of the book. She is extremely fond of using the "c" and "f" words, and it can be a bit too much - often over the top and unnecessary at times. Similarly, Martina Cole is a huge fan of bandying cockney rhyming slang throughout her pages. If you're not familiar with this lingo, then it can get rather annoying at times. I'm reasonably au fait with well known phrases like boat (boat race = face) or drum (drum and bass = place), but some of it is totally beyond my comprehension. I spent an entire earlier novel trying to work out what an "ice-cream" was, as it became fairly obvious that they weren't referring to the Magnum or Solero version in your deep freezer. In the end I had to ask Google, which came up with a jolly useful website called www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk, which answered my query in a flash. Evidently, an "ice-cream" means an ice-cream freezer = geezer. So now you know!
The descriptions of violence and even torture are not for the squeamish. I'm sure that some of cruder methods the thugs use in this novel could have possibly been employed by the Krays, or someone of their ilk, in the past, but they can still make for a disturbing read. Dousing victims in petrol and setting light to them, or pouring quick setting concrete into someone's lungs are some of the choicer methods for teaching a grass a lesson. Hacking someone to death with knives until they look nothing like a human being and just like a side of beef, is particularly stomach churning. And of course, the ubiquitous baseball bat makes more than one guest appearance....taped up of course, so as to hide the fingerprints should the "filth" or "Lily Law" come a sniffing around after the event looking for evidence.
This book, like her others, is no literary masterpiece. Some of the sentences are very clumsy and the phasing often doesn't sit right. There is constant repetition in her books and sometimes errors. This book refers to a Depeche Mode type haircut when it is set in the mid 70's, and the band to which she is referring weren't around until the early 80's. However, when all is said and done, you're not picking up a Martina Cole novel to be impressed with her grasp of the English language, her stunning imagery, or her way with words. What you are reading her novels for is the pure entertainment factor. She tells a good tale and she does her best to keep you hooked throughout. Her characters are always larger than life and live life to the fullest, even if they meet an untimely end. "Close" is a good read, not as gripping as some of her others* I must say, but a detailed tale. I'm going to award it three stars, because although "Close" is a good enough tale, it's not as gripping as it could be. It seems to lack direction and loses its way in places. It's not as snappy or pacey as it could be. There are some good strong characters in amongst the very large cast, but they seem to get lost in amongst a lot of unnecessary padding, repetition and detail.
The sex scenes are minimal, but the language and swear words are very near the mark throughout. Similarly, this book is best avoided if you are not overly fond of graphic descriptions of violence and torture. Recommended....but not for the squeamish, or easily offended, and definitely not for the children.
Headline Publishing Group
Costs = £5.59 on www.amazon.co.uk or Amazon marketplace from £0.01
More information on the author can be found at http://authorpages.hoddersystems.com/MartinaCole/
* I recommend Martina Cole novels such as "The Know" or "The Jump" or "The Graft"
Highly acclaimed for her hard-hitting, uncompromising and compelling writing, as well as her phenomenal Number 1 success, Martina Cole is the only author who dares to tell it like it is. After the recent runaway success of THE TAKE, Martina's new novel, CLOSE, is the story of the women who are left behind. Set in London's dark and violent gangland, this novel tells the tale of a gutsy mother and her two sons, and their lives in and out of jail. With her characteristically haunting writing and visceral subject matter, Martina Cole, has written yet another compulsive bestseller.