Category Archives: Wolf Mankowitz

A Kid For Two Farthings – Wolf Mankowitz

And so it was time for me to try my third of The Bloomsbury Group. I don’t know what the deal with these has been outside of the UK but last year Bloomsbury re-issued some books from the early twentieth century partially on the advice of bloggers, though not this one as it’s an era I am only just getting to know better. So far though I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these books would it be the case with Wolf Mankowitz’s ‘A Kid For Two Farthings’ a book that was even made into a film, neither of which I had heard of before this release.

We are introduced with ‘A Kid For Two Farthings’ to the hustle and bustle of the East End in London at some point in the 1950’s. Six year old Joe’s father has gone to Africa and is soon to send for Joe and his mother. In the meantime life must go on for them. In the case of Joe, like many a six year old, his life is a mixture of the real and the imagination. After unsuccessfully trying to raise a chick each week Joe decides to buy something bigger, so when he see’s a man in the market selling a unicorn how can he not buy one?

You might be wondering how a young boy would know what a unicorn looked like and the answer is Joe’s neighbour Mr Kandinsky. Mr Kandinsky is a wonderful character, knowing Joe is missing his father he almost takes on a Grandfatherly role for the young man, also filling his head with magic and adventure. So when Joe brings home a goat he believes is a unicorn how can Mr Kandinsky tell him its not, well he doesn’t. But then strange things start to happen, could it be the belief of a young boy in his unicorn bring luck to these people and those around them?

I couldn’t work out whether it was originally a children’s book or not as it had that sort of tone about it which confused me a little. Actually with some of the wrestling scenes involved maybe not. I also thought the ending was a bit sudden, but I don’t want to give anything away, it just felt a little unfinished. Having said those small gripes with the book I did enjoy this book.

I think I was possibly expecting a little bit more but then that might be because I have overhyped this series in my head, and also because Henrietta’s War was just so brilliant. It’s a quirky short novel/novella that I would recommend people give a go if you like things that celebrate London, give you a delightful tale from a child’s eyes and are a little different from everything else out there. This is a wonderful series and if you haven’t tried on of the titles then I really recommend you do. Either pop to their website and see the whole series or you can see my thoughts on two of the other titles I have read so far here. Have I told you how amazing I thought Henrietta’s War was at all ha, ha, ha!

Have you read this book, if so what did you think? Has anyone seen the movie? Which of the other Bloomsbury Group titles have you tried and which would you recommend I read next?



Filed under Bloomsbury Group, Bloomsbury Publishing, Review, Wolf Mankowitz

Simon’s Bookish Bits #4

Hello, hope you are all well? I sadly have the lurgy so this is a bit of a late bookish bits from my bed where I can have a ramble on about lots of different bookish things that have been on my mind or caught my eye this week. Things coming up are Wallander, book winners, podcasts and vlogs and some more sympathy supplies from publishers. Plus possibly a few other bits and pieces.

First up, and I am probably really behind with this subject, is Wallander. I am sure most of you have heard about this series by Henning Mankell and have also probably read most of them. I am officially late to this Swedish crime series; however as I have a spectacular lurgy this week I have been watching more catch up TV than I have been reading books. (I have devoured some more short stories and a small book plus Jasper Fforde – ok I have been reading less than normal.) One series I came across was the BBC’s version of Wallander played by Kenneth Branagh (pictured below) which you can see on iPlayer.

Wallander... cleary a man who doesn't get hayfever!

Wallander, cleary a man who doesnt get hayfever!

It is absolutely superb, I only watched The Man Who Smiled as I have Faceless Killers on the TBR and am now about to get cracking on reading it before I watch it. I am sure many of you have read it and will be able to tell me where to go after Faceless Killers which I am sure I will be discussing next week in more detail, so don’t give any plots away please.

So next up Podcasts and Vlogs. I am new to Vlog’s and know of only one blogger who does them and its one of my other favourite posts each week which is Eva of A Striped Armchair and her weekly library loot. I have to add I wish my local library was as wonderful as hers as the titles she gets are just marvellous. You must have a watch of her Vlog’s (the latest can be found here) as they are utterly charming and in watching them you get to know Eva even better. I couldn’t do a Vlog I have to say the camera does not flatter me. I would love to make podcasts though I have no idea how do any of you? Do any of you have any Podcast recommendations as I have been bereft since Radio 5 stopped doing there’s, even if I still have Mariella on a Sunday and World Book Club.

Speaking of Podcasts I have found a wonderful new Podcast this week thanks to Mee who had written about it in one of her past blog posts. It is called Books on the Nightstand and is by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman who work for Random ‘but don’t only talk about our publishers books’. Its marvellous and its like you are overhearing a conversation of two friends over a coffee nattering away about books they have read and loved. You can (and should) download them here and read their blog they are just brilliant from the latest books to ‘challenges on blogs’ they discuss it all. Marvellous!

Now finally an update on the BBB, so far so good but then I have been in bed most of the week. One thing thats been a delight while I have been feeling vile is that I have had rather an influx of books as some lovely publishers have sent me some sympathy parcels. I have had to take a picture on the stairs as there has been rather a wonderful deluge of books here. I did try and put them in publisher order but with all the different sizes it didn’t work. So before I list them all too you a big thanks to Canongate, Orion, Random House, Headline, Penguin, Faber, OUP, Constable and Robinson and Bloomsbury for these. Here they are;

  • The Blasphemer – Nigel Farndale
  • City Boy – Edmund White
  • The Unnamed – Joshua Ferris
  • The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  • Lost – Gregory Maguire
  • Dog Boy – Eva Hornung
  • A Life Apart – Neel Mukherjee
  • Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match – Wendy Moore
  • God’s Own Country – Ross Raisin
  • Shadow – Karin Alvtegen
  • A Lion Among Men – Gregory Maguire
  • Direct Red – Gabriel Weston
  • Depths – Henning Mankell
  • The Chalk Circle Man – Fred Vargas
  • Cutting For Stone  – Abraham Verghese
  • The Complete Short Stories – Oscar Wilde
  • Consolation – James Wilson
  • The Rapture – Liz Jensen
  • A Kid For Two Farthings – Wolf Mankowitz
  • Miss Hargreaves – Frank Baker
  • Love’s Shadow – Ada Leverson
  • Mrs Tim of the Regiment – D.E. Stevenson
  • Timoleon Vieta Come Home – Dan Rhodes
  • Anthropology – Dan Rhodes
  • Little Clapping Hands – Dan Rhodes

As ever if you have read any of the books or the authors let me know your thoughts. Ooh I nearly forgot… The Istanbul competition winner is… Michelle aka Su(shu) do email me your address! If you haven’t won don’t be disheartened as I have some more giveaways related to some of the above titles coming up (I like you all to benefit too) and some I haven’t mentioned! So keep your eyes peeled.

So that’s all from my sneezy wheezy sick bed for today. Let me know your thoughts on Wallander, the latest arrivals at Savidge Towers and details of any podcasts and vlog’s I am missing out on. Oh and if you know how to make podcasts do let me know! Over to you all, I look forward to your comments to cheer me up with this horrid lurgy.

Oh and another quick question as you guys are always helpful with things like this and I can’t work out which is better. Should I title these posts like this “Simon’s Bookish Bits: Wallander, Podcasts, Vlogs and Incoming” or simply “Simon’s Bookish Bits #5”? That would be as helpful as answers to all the above!


Filed under Dan Rhodes, Edmund White, Gregory Maguire, Henning Mankell, Joshua Ferris, Kathryn Stockett, Neel Mukherjee, Nigel Farndale, Oscar Wilde, Simon's Bookish Bits, Wolf Mankowitz