Having never read any Susan Hill before and only having seen the play based on A Woman in Black at the theatre, I was not sure what to expect. I suppoHaving never read any Susan Hill before and only having seen the play based on A Woman in Black at the theatre, I was not sure what to expect. I suppose I should have expected some kind of supernatural element because of A Woman in Black but this story starts as a story of loss and grief, told with authentic emotion that it was still somewhat of a surprise when the unexpected happened despite a particular tone of foreboding. Her writing is at times poetic and at other times so simple, yet this simplicity allows the tension to build. I read this book in a single day and I know I will be reading more since I have A Woman in Black on my bedside table!...more
From the first few pages, I knew I was going to get along well with both the book and with the protagonist and narrator, July. It has been a while sinFrom the first few pages, I knew I was going to get along well with both the book and with the protagonist and narrator, July. It has been a while since I have read a voice so vivid, so compelling, so funny but with such serious stories to tell. As slavery comes to an end in Jamaica after an inconceivable 300 years, we learn about the life and times of July. House-slave on a sugar plantation with a fat and useless mistress, July overcomes a painful separation from her formidable field-slave mother, Kitty to somehow survive the brutality and injustice. As the tide of slavery turns, we see the white plantation owners struggle to keep their prosperity. We see 'good' Christian men bring their own insidious brand of racism in sheep's clothing. Andrea Levy describes her book as 'most unexpected and surprising' and I would have to agree. I would never imagine that I could so thoroughly enjoy a book set at such a dark time with such dreadful acts being perpetrated. Of course, there were points in the book which I found hard to read and yet, July's wit and strength helped me through it. Although this is a work of fiction, it brought this era to life for me....more
I read this book ready for my PGCE interview at the University of Warwick and I am so glad that I was asked to. I am embarrassed to say that this is tI read this book ready for my PGCE interview at the University of Warwick and I am so glad that I was asked to. I am embarrassed to say that this is the first Michael Morgurgo book that I have read and it certainly won't be the last. Set in the First World War and the years leading up to it, it follows Tommo Peaceful as he grows from a child who blames himself for his father's death to a jaded teenage soldier at the Front. Tommo's voice is surprisingly poetic and flowing which makes all his joys and sorrows so much more keenly felt by the reader. I am actually looking forward to spending some more time thinking about the book, its characters and the heartbreaking denouement ready for my interview presentation. ...more
The Sealed Letter was our latest book club pick for sew make believe. Our meeting to discuss it was on Wednesday and unfortunately I missed it due toThe Sealed Letter was our latest book club pick for sew make believe. Our meeting to discuss it was on Wednesday and unfortunately I missed it due to an inopportune migraine which needed an early night to put in its place. I was quite disappointed to miss out on discussing this book though, as I felt it might have garnered some differing standpoints. I must admit that having chosen the book based on a very quick look at the blurb, I was worried that I had picked another book with no redeeming characters; our club seems to have become quite adept at finding books whose characters are most unlikeable! And I am sure that some of those that read this book might well feel the same way but I found myself really rooting for and feeling for Fido.
Fido is a woman working tirelessly for her beloved Cause - the cause of women's liberation. She was quite different to the other ladies of the day. Her conduct, her dress and her hard work all set her apart and I admired her as a character. Certainly, she was prudish and naive but I found this to be in keeping with her position and her experience. SHe thought herself to be more enlightened that she really was, at least by modern measures. Her weak spot, though, was to be her downfall, namely her friend Helen.
Helen appears again in her life in a chance meeting and before Fido knows it, Helen has embroiled her in her extra-marital affair with a rather hapless and unpleasant army officer. From the start, Helen takes advantage of her friend and uses Fido's fondness to manipulate her. As the affair is discovered by Helen's older husband, the ensuring divorce case - based on a real case reported in the Times in 1864. The legal position of Helen was disastrous as she stood to lose everything including the custody of her daughters by her infidelity, if it could be proven.
I found myself rattling through this book like I was reading a gossip magazine only with the stakes for these characters so much beyond any shame that could be suffered today. I think the real-life basis made it all the more compelling and I was so sad for Fido in particular who seemed to go through the most heart-ache and disgrace, despite not being at the centre of the divorce.
One of my only criticisms was that what should have been a dramatic unveiling of the contents of the eponymous sealed letter and the revelation by Fido (it read like it was a revelation at least) related to what had been implied as being in the letter was dampened by the fact that I had already figured it out. In fact, it seemed the only explanation to me as to why Fido would tolerate Helen at all.
Our next book club will be discussing the very popular teen fiction The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins so hopefully we will have a good discussion about those books - or at least the first one - in May....more
**spoiler alert** For some reason, I had high hope for this book. I expected to be blown away and instead, when I finished the book, I felt decidedly**spoiler alert** For some reason, I had high hope for this book. I expected to be blown away and instead, when I finished the book, I felt decidedly underwhelmed.
I hadn't known much about the book before I started: I was aware of the film's existence but I hadn't seen it; I knew there was a sad ending; I had read (and thoroughly enjoyed Nicholls's previous novel Starter for Ten); I had read the blurb which described the format as visiting these two characters on the same day through twenty years of their lives.
My biggest problems with the book were as follows:
1) I just couldn't stand Dexter; even his name annoyed me. I was not rooting for him until the very end when I finally felt some sympathy towards him.
2) Whilst I didn't dislike Emma, I found her rather dull. She came across as a bit whiny and it irritated me.
3) The book was too long for the amount of story. Whilst it is true that years can go by, especially in your twenties, without much changing, it is not interesting to read.
4) I read the book in a constant state on unease, waiting for something awful to happen. Dexter certainly seemed like he was one eff-up away from total disaster and so when Emma met her sudden end, it was a shock - I had expected it was something that would happen to Dexter or at least because of his actions.
Despite enjoying Starter for Ten, I can't see myself rushing out to read more of Nicholls's work when there are already so many books on my 'to-read' list....more
I am still enjoying this series of supernatural happenings set in Victorian England (and in this case, Italy too). There is plenty of pretty dresses,I am still enjoying this series of supernatural happenings set in Victorian England (and in this case, Italy too). There is plenty of pretty dresses, passionate characters and humour so make the read enjoyable and swift. I am not sure I was quite as taken with this third instalment - it fell a little flat for me but that could have simply been my frame of mind rather than anything to do with the book itself. By separating the lovers/spouses Lord and Lady Maccon, I assume there was supposed to be some tension but I can't say I was worried at any time that these two would stay apart. Still, it was diverting and amusing which is really all you want from this kind of book. I am still hoping that this series gets made into some kind of film or series as the visuals provided by Carriger of this steampunk Victorian society would look fantastic on the screen....more
I am not sure I can be objective about this book (which I actually enjoyed as an audiobook with the added awesome of Tina Fey reading her own words) sI am not sure I can be objective about this book (which I actually enjoyed as an audiobook with the added awesome of Tina Fey reading her own words) since I am a massive fan and admirer of Tina. See, I am using her first name as if we are friends, which is a habit that makes my better half squirm. I knew I was going to love this before I had even read (heard?) it. I was right.
Tina Fey is wise, funny, inspiring, both ordinary and extraordinary. She tells stories from her life with humour (obviously) but also with a frankness that is refreshing. She has had (and continues to have) an outstanding career which has provided a wealth of good stories and encounters with all sort of people.
Tina Fey and her friend Amy Poehler are probably my favourite people in show business and if I were a little girl, I would want to grow up to be them (whereas now I am old and jaded, I want something different!).
If you haven't read this yet, READ IT. Better yet, listen to it....more
I read this book upon the recommendation of a Stratford Waterstones employee and I am so grateful. I have enjoyed other McEwan novels and so I knew thI read this book upon the recommendation of a Stratford Waterstones employee and I am so grateful. I have enjoyed other McEwan novels and so I knew the tense read I was in for. Somehow, McEwan managed to write from the point of view of his confident Dr Perowne who seems to ave it together, who is happy and yet also uneasy. And all the while we get the sense of some imminent danger. I read with unease but a good sense of unease, if that is possible. At times, I was frustrated by the wordiness, by the tangents that seem irrelevant. But without these rambling thoughts of our protagonist, perhaps the tension would not be built in the right way or to the right extent. I am not sure I enjoyed it as much as Enduring Love or Atonement. Still, it had suspense, great characterisation and authentic emotion....more