My favourite Dickens so far; it is the best I have read in terms of characterisation, plot, prose, humour, depth and message. I thought it was a near-My favourite Dickens so far; it is the best I have read in terms of characterisation, plot, prose, humour, depth and message. I thought it was a near-perfect novel, just a little slow to begin with. ...more
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness took me by surprise. I don't think I would have picked this book up if I had known what it was about as I tend to avoiA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness took me by surprise. I don't think I would have picked this book up if I had known what it was about as I tend to avoid books and films with a theme of cancer, especially when they are about people losing their mum's from cancer, as for obvious reasons it is too close to home. The reason I did pick this up was its visual appeal. What I was expecting was a mediocre-good YA fantasy, somewhat weak in plot, but with wonderfully spooky illustrations that might still make it worth reading. What I got instead was a journey to a place I've already been, and didn't want to revisit at all - but once I started reading I felt like I had to see it through, like I couldn't abandon Conor, the main character, just because it was too painful for me, if that makes any sense. That's how real it felt for me, despite the fantasy elements. I can see that it may be a very helpful book for a young person in grief to help process what they are going through (when and if they felt ready to read it). Or to develop some empathy for what someone else is going through. It was a very intense read but very very good (and I loved the idea of the tree/monster).(less)...more
I have to admit I found Villette a bit slow-going at first, and doubted it would live up to Jane Eyre. However, I was soon wrapped up in the story, loI have to admit I found Villette a bit slow-going at first, and doubted it would live up to Jane Eyre. However, I was soon wrapped up in the story, loving the stunning language and descriptions, and the character of Lucy Snowe. A truly beautiful novel....more
One of the best books that I've read this year. I found the Handmaid's Tale original and engaging, and not that far-fetched for a futuristic/dystopia One of the best books that I've read this year. I found the Handmaid's Tale original and engaging, and not that far-fetched for a futuristic/dystopian story.
I love Atwood's writing style (based on the only two novels of hers I have read so far - this and the Blind Assassin). I think she does the stream of consciousness narrative technique really well (not every writer can pull this off), and her diction and imagery are striking. I also really liked the juxtaposition of the narrator's original 'liberal' personality, whose name we never learn, and the submissive, obedient being that is Offred (and the way in which the former at times shines through even under these ridiculous and horrible circumstances). Although the story was told in almost an emotionless sort of way, that juxtaposition we get through the flashbacks, gives the story its emotional impact.
I think it is one of those stories that is scarily poignant in pointing out how easily (easily is probaby not the right word, quickly maybe)people adapt to their labels and socially appointed positions, whether they are assigned to the role of the oppressed or the oppressor, which is always an uncomfortable realisation, since we all like to believe that wouldn't be us.
In short, I think Atwood is a really skilled writer, and this was a really great read. Can't wait to read more of hers. Oryx and Crake is next on my reading pile.
**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I cried so much reading a book; my husband couldn't understand why I was putting myself through the o**spoiler alert** I can't remember the last time I cried so much reading a book; my husband couldn't understand why I was putting myself through the ordeal of reading it, and yet it was such a special and important book that I had to finish it.
This was an amazing tribute to Courtenay's son Damon, a haemophiliac who died from AIDS in his early twenties, transmitted from one of the many blood transfusions he required. It is the story of their short time together, the love they shared, and of his son Damon's courage, wisdom and optimism, even as a very young, very sick child. It is also Courtenay's expression of gratitude to the young woman who became his defacto partner for her love and devotion to Damon, and to the many friends and family members who loved him and were there for him when he needed them (just as he always was when they needed him).
It is also a social commentary, on the way the medical profession treated and mistreated haemophiliacs and their family (in the 1960s and 70s), and of the prejudice faced by AIDS patients (during the 80s/90s).
It is told from multiple perspectives including Bryce's, Damon's (he had asked his dad to make sure his story was told); Damon's mother and brothers, and his girlfriend. It was written very shortly after Damon died, so is of course laden with the very raw emotions that accompany grief, and therefore a very emotional read, but well worth it....more