The arrest, trial and conviction of Schapelle Corby occured in the few years just proceeding my move away from Australia in 2008, but it remains one o...moreThe arrest, trial and conviction of Schapelle Corby occured in the few years just proceeding my move away from Australia in 2008, but it remains one of the most talked-about legal cases that I can remember in my lifetime. For those outside of Australia, her name may be vaguely familiar, but for Australians over the age of 25 or so, it was a case that everyone had an opinion about.
For anyone not familiar with the case, Schapelle was arrested in Indonesia, after more than 4 kilograms of marjuana was discovered in her boogie board bag by customs officials. Travelling with her younger brother and two friends, she was immediately arrested and languished for several months before being taken to trial. Convicted of attempting to smuggle the drugs into Indonesia, she was sentenced to 20 years in jail.
Schapelle's story is incredibly readable, both for the fact that it's so incredibly horrendous, scary, and unimaginable as it is for the realistic, no-holding back portrayal of her life in prison. With exerpts of Schapelle's diary and from various newspaper reports, no matter what anyone's opinion is of whether she is guilty or innocent, it makes for terrifying reading. Even IF she is guilty, she's more than paid for her crime - and yet has only served half of her sentence so far. My one and only criticism of the writing style is the pre-emtive chapter endings - I'm really not a fan of the whole 'It was only going to get worse'-type sentence usage.
As well as the trauma of serving a sentence in a jail with no running water, sleeping on a floor and having to rely almost solely on your family to bring you the things you need to survive from day to day because the authorities just don't provide it, there is also the media circus that Schapelle has almost constantly endured since her arrest. Until I had read Schapelle's story and seen some of the pictures included in the book, I hadn't fully appreciated how intrusive, upsetting and intense the local media presence became during the case.
So, do I think Schapelle is innocent or guilty? Well, I'm going to take the easy way out and say Schapelle is the only person that truly knows, but I do think she has received a very raw deal, even if she is guilty. I also believe that she should be allowed to serve the remainder of her prison sentence in Australia, closer to her family and with adequate sanitation and medical facilities. The details of her trial and the revelations about her legal team, the standard of investigation by the Indonesian authorities, and the way that her trial was conducted should be enough to serve as a warning to anyone - it is, pretty much, a dogs breakfast.
Enjoyed is the wrong word for this book - but it certainly opened my eyes to her case, how it was conducted and how the media can be so very brutal. (less)
Love With a Chance of Drowning grabbed my attention for two reasons: Firstly, doing a crazy thing for love isn't exactly unfamiliar to me (hello movin...moreLove With a Chance of Drowning grabbed my attention for two reasons: Firstly, doing a crazy thing for love isn't exactly unfamiliar to me (hello moving to the other side of the world for someone I'd never met in person), and secondly, sailing around the world sounds like one of the worst possible kinds of torture I could ever imagine.
And for both of those reasons I immediately felt a kind of affinity with Torre DeRoche. With a morbid fear of deep water and an extreme worrier, I could completely relate to everything she went through - if not the same situations but instead the same kinds of feelings that doing something so far outside your comfort zone can evoke.
Her boyfriend, Ivan, is hell-bent on sailing acrross the Pacific, but Torre kind of falls into the whole thing, almost blinded by love, but still stressing to the max, and that makes her story feel so much more realistic. There's no moment where she wakes up and realises she has overcome all of her fears, and although it could have become a little bit grating as she continues to stress out while Ivan's attitude is very laid-back, it actually makes both of them far more likeable.
The writing style is very easy to read - the story flows from one event to the next, and even the sailing, equipment and navigation terminology is written in a way that even though it's not something I'm particularly interested in, it was understandable and wasn't info-dumped.
Torre and Ivan have some quite funny, and some quite serious parts of their story, and it's incredible readable - from jellyfish attacks to accidentally shooting a native islander with a spear gun, it's all done with a sense of respect towards the people and the places they encounter on their travels.
Could I have done what Torre did? Um, hell no. And for that she has all of my admiration, as she pushed herself through situations that would have had me demanding a rescue fleet. She came out of her adventure a little braver, but also embracing her own limitations and realising that although love can pull you outside your comfort zone, it shouldn't change who you fundamentally are.(less)
Although I enjoy the occasional non-fiction book, it's very rare that I read memoirs - I can't even really say why, but perhaps I'm just not that inte...moreAlthough I enjoy the occasional non-fiction book, it's very rare that I read memoirs - I can't even really say why, but perhaps I'm just not that interested in the lives of 'famous' people and I'd just rather throw myself into a made-up world. Miranda Hart is one of my favourite English comedians, and I've been a huge fan since the first episode of her sitcom, Miranda, and her awkwardness had me snickering and also feeling a sense of camaraderie with her semi-fictional character so I put aside my normal aversion and gave her memoir a try.
I was a little tentative about her book however, as it is essentially a conversation with her eighteen-year-old self in parts, and what I really wanted was just some of her funny observations about life and stories of her funniest life moments. However, although there are conversations with her younger self, the funny stories and awkward moments were far more prominent and had me smirking and even laughing and reading parts out loud to my boyfriend occasionally. Structured into subjects such as beauty, dating and weddings, this is one of the rare books that had me smiling almost all the way through.
But I found more than I thought I would as the book progressed - as well as telling the outrageously funny stories of her own social awkwardness, Miranda Hart also talks about how although her life hasn't turned out the way she imagined as a teenager, she is completely comfortable and happy with her life as it is and the things she thought would make her life complete are not the things that she really needed in life. This was something that I wasn't actually expected to come away with from this book, and it also gave me more respect for Miranda herself.
This is really a book for Miranda Hart fans - I think you'd need to be familiar with her to really understand her sense of humour, because hearing her voice in my head whilst I was reading was what made it really hilarious. Or just imagine someone in a bit of a posh, yet panickedly-shrill voice reading it aloud to you.