I honestly can’t believe it took me so long to get onto Orwell. It seems that everyone in Britain seems to have studied either Animal Farm or 1984 in...moreI honestly can’t believe it took me so long to get onto Orwell. It seems that everyone in Britain seems to have studied either Animal Farm or 1984 in their GCSE English classes.
So I know it’s not an excuse. But it’s the one I’m using. To be honest, I’m quite glad that I didn’t read it within class. I think this is the kind of book that would have been ruined by studying it in classes. Although, Orwell has a pretty nifty page on Spark Notes. (view spoiler)[ A website that I completely didn’t rely on through my GCSE exams. (hide spoiler)]
Even though I had never read anything of his, (my first Orwell experience was my final year at uni when we read Coming Up for Air for my British Writer’s in the 1930s module and I absolutely adored it) I knew the basic gist of what he was about. After god-knows how many series of the reality TV show Big Brother (though, I hear it’s the last series soon, yes? YES!), the comedy show Room 101 and staring blankly at my lecturer when they described a book as ‘Orwellian’ (a quick visit to Google sorted me out)... it has been impossible to avoid the effect of Orwell on our culture.
Jo Brand stated that 1984 was “More relevant to today than almost any other book that you can think of”. Looking at the situation that Britain is at the moment, it is eerie how much of this Orwell actually predicted and I can't help agree with Ms Brand. The 24/7 surveillance, the greedy men in power who rely on dirty tricks to remain where they are, the shocking class division and the pointless constant wars that no one understands/ remembers why they were started in the first place. Like Brand says, 1984 remains relevant as all these factors are plaguing the Britain we live now.
I found that 1984 read more like an essay because if you think about it; in the first part of the novel... nothing happens. At all. And I don’t mean that as a bad thing as Orwell’s writing is mesmerizing and his descriptions of the inner workings of the dystopic Oceania are nothing short of genius. He relies on realistic descriptions of things that could feasibly happen like the telescreens that have been installed into every citizens house. With all these CCTV cameras and traffic camera are we, in 2010, really that far away from having cameras placed in our home?
1984 is such an important novel, especially when you consider that it was written 40 years before it was set. Orwell died the year after 1984 was published and so never really got to see the effect this novel had on British culture. I would like to know what he would think of the government now, especially in regards to the state of the politics of Britain at the moment.
I would also like to know what he would think about Davina McCall. Or what he'd put into Room 101.. I'm going to take a guess and say Spark Notes..... and Channel 4.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
“Time to find out if you are a magician, Gwydion Gwyn.”
This book. This book. I always wondered when I read reviews that start with “This book”… I mean...more“Time to find out if you are a magician, Gwydion Gwyn.”
This book. This book. I always wondered when I read reviews that start with “This book”… I mean, what does that even mean? This book….what? Now I understand. Because, guys, this book.
I first read this book (I don’t really need italics do I? You get it. I love this book) when I was eight. I found it in our ‘library’ (we don’t really have a library by the way, we had a book shelf that we called the library) and I was intrigued instantaneously. OK, well no… that’s a lie. I was terrified instantaneously because this is my cover.
Isn’t it horrifying? And retro? And horrifyingly retro?!
Anyway, I picked it up and devoured it and it instantly became one of my favourite series.
Fast forward a few years when I was cleaning out my room when I had returned from university and I was suddenly inundated with Norton Anthologies and about three copies of Heart of Darkness (I swear they multiply) and I found my copy again. After the initial “What is with this cover? I fear it may be possessed by evil!” panic, I opened it with giddiness knowing that I had loved it but not really remembering why. I read the first chapter, and then the second and then about an hour later, I realised I’d actually read the first book. Twenty one year old Jo was no longer allowed to exist because eight year old Jo had pushed her way forward and was currently immersed in a land of magic. And if that wasn’t lovely enough, I realised/remembered that these books were set in Gwynedd where I went to university. It’s like it was fate… except I wasn’t a magician.
Or a farmer.
Anyway, when I decided I was going to do a Welsh Week on my blog, I knew that this series had to be featured because, to me, it is the ultimate celebration of all things Welsh.
In three books, you have Welsh culture, myths, legends, traditions, sheep (no seriously, sheep play quite a big part in the first book), other worlds, magicians, cursed toy horses, possessed strangers, mad princes, art projects, a passionate celebration of all things natural, family, community, the importance of friendships, trust, malevolent forces, sheep dogs, unicorns (I know, right?), children getting into mischief and going against their parent’s wishes, ships made of seaweed, glow in the dark flowers, cake.
And that’s just a snippet.
I tend to read these books in one go so, to me, they are all one book but if I had to pick my favourite it would be Emlyn’s Moon, the second book. Here we meet the wonderful and brilliant Nia Lloyd, the middle of seven (soon-to-be eight) children who befriends a mysterious boy named Emlyn and his father, even though she is told to stay away. It’s all about family secrets and dark forces and the past and feuds and magic. Also, arts and crafts projects, which I feel is an extremely underrated subject in children’s fiction. I know a few people might be a bit “Um…?” about the lack of world building in this series and, even though this book and I are for keeps, I am not completely blinkered. I understand that the magic and the shenanigans that happen within this book aren’t feasible, even in Wales where dragons roam free and where spoons are classed as magical instruments of love. And I know that there are plot holes and there are unanswered questions but even in the bestest of books you get them. And, whatever, I just don’t care. Maybe I am a little blinkered, I think that’s allowed with your favourite children’s books though. Magic happens in this book and you have to just go with it. This is a series for people who can believe in magic unconditionally. I am one of those people and I hope to be one of those people forever and ever.
This review is part of Wythnos Cymraeg || Welsh Week. Find out more here.(less)
"We can't all be happy, we can't all be rich, we can't all be lucky - and it would be so much less fun if we were... There must be the dark background...more"We can't all be happy, we can't all be rich, we can't all be lucky - and it would be so much less fun if we were... There must be the dark background to show up the bright colours. "
A spectacular book about a woman who returns to Paris in hope of reliving her youth and finding that the world has moved on...
Beautiful and heartbreaking and tragic with gorgeous prose to match, this book is very high on my 'Jo... get your act together and re-read this!' list. (less)