Every day Rachel takes the train into London and at a particular stop she likes to look out to the street and observe the row of back gardens. One houEvery day Rachel takes the train into London and at a particular stop she likes to look out to the street and observe the row of back gardens. One house in particular is of particular interest to Rachel; she likes to imagine the lives of the couple living there, in which she has named ‘Jess and Jason’. They seem so happy, compared to her on life, she views them as a perfect couple. Until one day the minute stop allowed her to see something shocking, which leads Rachel to become a part of their lives. Rachel becomes more than The Girl on the Train.
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant going into this book; I thought it was going to try and replicate what Gone Girl did. While in the same vain with the multiple perspectives between Rachel and ‘Jess’, whose real name is Megan, The Girl on the Train stands on its own. While this book is already being compared to Gone Girl, I would just like to say that The Girl on the Train shares more similarities to The Silent Wife than anything else.
This novel plays a lot with the ideas of relationships and perspective; what may seem like a perfect couple on the surface can be a deceiving. Without going too much into the plot, I want to look at the way ‘Jess and Jason’ are perceived by Rachel. Obviously Rachel is an unreliable narrator, she only sees the couple’s house for a minute or two a day and not always the couple. To pass the time on her commute, she makes up this whole idea of what is happening in their lives.
The Girl on the Train does go a little deeper with exploring ideas of relationship, with a focus on abuse. Emotional abuse becomes a key component in the book and Paula Hawkins dives into the previous marriage of Rachel and even adding a couple of chapters from her ex-husband’s new wife. This thriller mainly happens on a psychological level and the reader gets an insight into the effects of emotional abuse.
There is a lot to be said about The Girl on the Train and I think this would make an excellent pick for a book club. Unfortunately reviewing a book like this makes it difficult, I am too worried about giving out spoilers and this restricts me from diving deeper into the themes within the novel. This debut by Paula Hawkins is not without its flaws; I think there was a missed opportunity to dive deeper into the major themes, however I did enjoy my time with this novel.
Blue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une couleur chaude) took French graphic novelist Julie Maroh five years to complete. She started it when she waBlue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une couleur chaude) took French graphic novelist Julie Maroh five years to complete. She started it when she was 19 and thanks to the support of the community she was able to finish this coming of age story. It has since been adapted into a movie directed by Abdelatif Kechiche and went on to be awarded the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Blue is the Warmest Color takes place in 2008 following the death of Emma’s partner Clémentine. At the request of Clémentine, Emma has been granted access to her dairies. The diaries start in 1995 when Clémentine was a fifteen old girl, confused about her sexuality. It is within the diaries we discover her struggle with her sexuality as well as the relationships she had with Emma.
This graphic novel takes all the nuance of a relationship and plays it out within the pages and it does it in a way that is never cliché. This depiction plays on the highs and lows of the relationship between Clémentine and Emma, which allows it to explore the struggles as well as all the tender moments they share. However before the relationship starts and even as it blossoms there is also the coming of age story where Clémentine is trying to find herself as well as understand her own sexuality.
I am not a lesbian so I could not speak to this struggle with sexuality, however it felt so raw and emotional. I could not help but think the struggle or the emotions experienced were all real and possibly autobiographical. Julie Maroh has a real way with capturing the emotions of this relationships and she allows the readers to experience them along with the characters. This makes for an intimate experience and I was able to empathise with both characters even when they were making silly mistakes.
Julie Maroh is also the artist for this graphic novel and the art is the highlight of this story. The line work Maroh has drawn on to each page captures both expression and details beautifully. Then with the added colours, the pictures in each frame just pop. I love the way Maroh draw this comic and the sparing use of colour, each frame felt breathtaking and I think I spent more time admiring the art work than actually reading the story. Blue is the Warmest Color was originally written in French so I have to compliment Ivanka Hahnenberger for the translation. It is a real skill of a translator to be able to present the text in a beautiful that allows the reader to forget that they are reading a work in translation, but Hahnenberger pulled it off.
I am not sure how autobiographical this graphic novel is, but it is hard to imagine anyone writing these emotions without first experiencing them for themselves. It is interesting to experience a life that is different to your own and I want to read a lot more graphic novels like this one. This is at times beautiful and at other times heartbreaking. Blue is the Warmest Color had plenty of tender moments and by the end I think I had a little dirt or something in my eye because they were leaking.
For thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as ArFor thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as Area X. Twelve expeditions have been sent to this unspoilt stretch of the US coastline but they are no closer to unlocking the mysteries of Area X. John Rodriguez, or as he is better known, Control is the newly appointed head of Southern Reach and he is determined to sort out this agency from all its disarray.
While Annihilation focused on Area X and served as an exhibition into nature, Authority is more about the bureaucratic nightmare of a secretive government organisation. The story follows Control, who serves as more of an outsider trying to make sense of everything that is going on within the Southern Reach. While this novel focuses on the organisation rather than Area X, readers can still expect to experience the same building of tension and terror found in Annihilation.
Even though it is a different cast of characters, I am very mindful of giving spoilers to the series so I will be a little vague and won’t be able to say everything I would like to say. Having said that, I tend to view Authority as a novel that parallels Annihilation in many ways. This makes me believe that the effects of Area X is not just a physical anomaly but also psychological. Yet again the reader is left with more questions than answers; What is going on here?
While I don’t think Authority was nearly as exciting as Annihilation. I am still very curious how this series will end with the last book Acceptance. I do have the last book from the library and I will probably read it sometime in January; I just need to know the answers. These books are a fun departure from the types of books I normally read but I do hate how vague I have to be in the reviews. Go out and read them; that is pretty much all I can really say.
Karl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp) has been dubbed a literary sensation more often than I can count. DespiKarl Ove Knausgård’s six volume autobiographical novel, My Struggle (Min Kamp) has been dubbed a literary sensation more often than I can count. Despite what the critics think, I often look to the book blogging community to help measure the success and popularity of a book and sadly this series hasn’t really become the sensation it should be. It has been compared to Proust but I think that is mainly because of the large autobiographical nature, My Struggle tells the story of Karl Ove Knausgård’s life in a non-linear way; A Death in the Family (My Struggle #1) focuses on the theme of death, while A Man in Love (book 2) looks at love.
When Karl Ove Knausgård leaves Oslo and starts his life afresh in Stockholm, it is because of a messy breakup with his wife. His move to Stockholm is aided by Geir, in which he develops a deep friendship with. He also meets a beautiful Swedish poet, Linda Boström, who captivated him and becomes the object of his affection. A Man in Love is the story of Karl Ove and Linda’s blossoming romance, eventual marriage and children.
As stated in my review of A Death in the Family, this series of books have been met with massive controversy and his friends and family have been none too pleased. His ex-wife has stated in an interview that he has made a “Faustian bargain”, sacrificing relationships for this series of books. Karl Ove Knausgård is brutally honest and doesn’t paint the best light on himself or others, despite the fact this is considered an autobiographical novel.
Compared to A Death in the Family, A Man in Love is a linear story that focuses on the relationship between Karl Ove and Linda. Knausgård writes with such affection and love towards Linda and there is such a tender and sweet tone to the book. However because he wants to remain viciously truthful there are moments where she isn’t portrayed as the sweet woman he feel in love with. Knausgård airs all their domestic disputes and Linda sometimes comes across as aggressive, angry and stubborn. In contrast, the reader will also notice that Karl Ove Knausgård is flippant, arrogant and narcissistic.
I loved the dark themes and what Knausgård had to say on bewilderment and grief, so I kind of felt like this was a little light and flowery for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some dark moments here and Linda Boström Knausgård’s outbursts make their relationship rough but there was just something that bugged me about this novel. Karl Ove kept threating to leave Linda every time she had an outburst and that bothered me but I realised that was his style of arguing and at least he was honest about his flaws as well. After a little bit of research I found out that Linda suffers from bipolar disorder, which I don’t remember being revealed in the book but helps put things into perspective.
A Man in Love is a novel about love and Karl Ove’s relationship with Linda, which is an important part of his life but doesn’t always make for a compelling read. I did enjoy this novel and I am looking forward to picking up book three in the Min Kamp series, Boyhood Island. It sounds like the majority of the story has been covered in A Death in the Family but I will find out soon. The fourth book in the series is set to be released in March next year, but then I will be stuck waiting for the last two books. Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle is well worth checking out and I am disappointed that not many other people are reading it, but maybe they are just waiting till the entire series is released.