Cooper is one of those writers who has always been present in my children's literature consciousness (and oh, how I suddenly want to map my children's literature consciousness, a Jolly Postman-esque hybrid of boarding school and ponies and wizards and everything KM Peyton ever wrote), and it is not without some trepidation that I approached this, this book written by the great Cooper, part of the great Dark Is Rising sequence, great to me who had never ever even read them but had had this greatness seep into her over time and reading of other things. But that's the great joy of a challenge such as this, crowd-sourced in a substantial way, where I am presented with books that I would not think of but when people think of place X, they think of Book Y. And Cooper's books appeared quite solidly, quite vividly from several places in such a dominating nature, that it was hard to ignore such a clarion call.
And so, to Over Sea, Under Stone.
Perhaps, my friends, reading at midnight, the darkest and stormiest of midnights, is not the best thing to do with this book. Cooper has a great gift for a very straightforward sort of prose that tingles the spine and makes you treble lock the doors. And I found it strangely British, thickly British in places, reminiscent of so many others (or, which I suspect, those others are reminiscent of this); a group of children are on holiday in Cornwall. They find a map, tucked away in the dustiest and most secret part of their house, and are then embroiled in a quest to find the thing this map leads too.
This is British, this story of children banding together, of fractious siblings and of mysterious older relatives, but Cooper's mythology, of Arthur and of Merlin and of the stories that built these islands, it all brings it to another level. (Oh I am abusing commas in this review!) What she does is, I think, she exploits that thinness between the worlds. And she does it with a deft confident believability. There's no doubt in this book, no narratorial trepidation. This is simply how things are and the children are now part of this. The text believes this, so ferociously at points, that you can do nothing but agree.
It is a surprising, startling, terrifying book with a coda that made me curl with excitement over the other books in the series yet to be read. (less)
There is something rather lovely about Streatfeild's England. Every village has a family full of a thousand siblings. There are sensible and yet appro...moreThere is something rather lovely about Streatfeild's England. Every village has a family full of a thousand siblings. There are sensible and yet approachable adult folk. There is always a girl who is earnestly in love with ballet who ends up being recruited to train with the local (there is always one present) ballet teacher who just happens to spot purposeful talent in the girl. There is sunshine. There are sibling dynamics full of love and fun and heart. There is loveliness. (If you would like a game for this review, you can count up how many times I say things are lovely...)
Selina in Party Shoes has received a frock. The problem is that as it's wartime, the opportunities for her to wear this frock are very limited. To be frank, it's not going to happen and so the cousins with whom Selina is lodging (due to her parents being abroad), put their head together to make a plan. And that plan is this. They will hold a pageant in the grounds of the local Abbey and that Selina will be able to wear her frock at that.
It's a lovely and ridiculous book this, and it's easy to think that it's solely ridiculous with the benefit of reading this in todays age. The plot itself is glorious; we'll hold a pageant, here's how we plan the pageant, whoops here's the pageant, all's good, bye. And to be frank there are moments of planning which drag a little only to be resolved in that blithe booky fashion which never seems to happen in real life.
That's one way of reading it, but I'd argue that there's another. The thing is this plot comes from real life. Not the pageant-y part of it, but the aching need to wear a dress at the right occasion before one grows out of it. Streatfeild's niece, Nicolette, received a dress during the war and the occasion never presented itself for the dress to be worn. As Streatfeild explains during the introduction to my edition, everyone began to wonder would the occasion ever present itself and if it did would it be too late? Would Nicolette have grown too much and would the dress fit?
Now, the inability to do something in an everyday context is annoying and troublesome as it is, but the inability to do something as simple as have an occasion fit for a pretty dress in the middle of wartime must have been something else. And there's something lovely, heartbreaking and beautiful about the way the entire community bands together to achieve this, even if they almost forget what they're doing it for in the process, even if they're almost banding together to create something beautiful and positive and a memory to hold against all the sadness and trauma that they have lived through.
So yes, Party Shoes (also known as Party Frock) is ridiculous.
I came to this series after getting hooked on the TV adaptation. I'd heard of it, watched it fly off the shelves in my library, but never really conne...moreI came to this series after getting hooked on the TV adaptation. I'd heard of it, watched it fly off the shelves in my library, but never really connected with it. The stunning cinematography in the show and reading that a lot of this was directly from the comic book finally convinced me, and I've never looked back.
This is a series about growth, about survival, and about (ironically) living and it's all set up so beautifully in this opening book. Kirkman writes in his introduction to the book about wanting his zombie series to question the fabric of society we live in, to explore how people deal with the extreme and how the extreme changes people. He makes no bones about the bigness of this series and that's something rather brilliant.
Days Gone Bye then is the setup volume to the saga. It's full of an almost effortless poetry that brings our key character into the centre of events. Rick Grimes. He's the fulcrum of our series, our everyday cop forced to deal with events he can't even initially begin to comprehend.
It's a bloody, poignant, pained, vicious story with an emotional heart to it right from the first frames. Tony Moore's art is very, very luscious. Coloured in greyscale, it's a book that revels in shadows and light. There's panels where you can see people breathe, their breath puffing out into the coldness of the night, and it's moments like that are stunning. The difference between the dead and the living is explored in a thousand subtle ways and it's when we get characters flirting with the edge of life, that's when things get really interesting.
Moore allows space in his work which in turn allows the novel to really (no pun intended) breathe. The scenes of Rick in the hospital for example are superb. There's so much in this, a dynamism to even the stillest of panels that makes this book epic.
Kirkman creates world here, and he does it very very well with what feels like an effortless glee. It's the textual equivalent of an arthouse zombie movie done on a massive budget with an seemingly unlimited scope. It's really, really unbelievable stuff.
I am not one for horror but I am one for this book. It's a series that has, inevitably due to the subject matter, violent content but it's not a series that *is* solely centred on this content. If you're sharing this book with others, I would suggest that you read it first (there is some distinctly adult content) and make sure you critically assess the suitablity of it for your particular context. (less)
Guess How Much I Love You is one of those books which, Gruffalo-esque, has firmly rooted itself into popular culture. This review specifically relates...moreGuess How Much I Love You is one of those books which, Gruffalo-esque, has firmly rooted itself into popular culture. This review specifically relates to the pop up version from Walker Books (2011).
God I love pop up books. I really really do. A lot of this is due to Huck Scarry's Looking Into The Middle Ages which I read at an early age and have remembered for the past twenty five odd years primarily because of the fact it had POP UP FREAKING HORSES which frankly would endear anything to me regardless of literary value.
The pop up version of Guess How Much I Love You moved me to incredulous tears. It's beautiful Pop up, when done well, is breathtaking. This book is gorgeous. It is worth noting that a few of the more elaborate settings may be slightly difficult for smaller fingers to manipulate and that the book as a whole may not be the most robust. But regardless of that, it is worth persevering to deliver the full effect of the pop up as it's very much worth it.
And jeepers but the last double-spread is beyond lush. (less)
I have a lot of love for the Bagthorpes saga by Helen Cresswell so was intrigued by this. Stonestruck sees Londoner Jessica evacuated alone to Wales t...moreI have a lot of love for the Bagthorpes saga by Helen Cresswell so was intrigued by this. Stonestruck sees Londoner Jessica evacuated alone to Wales to live in a castle, with only a few staff for company. It's not long before she realises that the castle is occupied by others; a ghostly spectre, a Green Lady and a bloody terrifying peacock that only she can see.
I struggled with this. Cresswell's a superb writer but this seemed to have a lot of space where very little happened. Once you create atmosphere, there's a need for something to happen with it, rather than just an evolution of said atmosphere. The early part of the book in London where we see the impact of the Blitz is quite stunning. It's tight, claustrophobic, and darkly written. But after that I struggled to become engaged in the story and frankly skipped the last few pages.
It's clear though that regardless of the nature of this book, Cresswell writes a superb peacock, and that's not meant to be a facetious comment. There's something superb in being able to find the grotesque amongst the nominally beautiful, and the scenes involving the peacock are genuinely some of the most unnerving in the book. (less)
Before we get into the meat of this review, I need to let you know something. I have a massive love of America's Next Top Model. Seriously. Respeito....moreBefore we get into the meat of this review, I need to let you know something. I have a massive love of America's Next Top Model. Seriously. Respeito. Wholahay. Skank H*s pouring beer on weaves? All great TV moments. I didn't even know what a weave was until I started watching this show.
So yeah, I love ANTM and all of its trashy, self-aware, beyond parodying glory. And I really love this series of books from Manning. Laura is the first of a connected series of four (the Fashionista books); each book focusing on different characters from the same cast and written from the relevant characters perspective.
Laura is the newest winner of the reality show Make Me A Model. Manning manages to send up ANTM and all the related shows in the genre. It's brilliant. We have the hushed tones of the host - and the increasingly unrealistic challenges - and the fact that these winners now have to exist in the real world. And the real world of fashion isn't pretty. Laura's spoilt, indolent and fashion-overweight. It's time for her to make a choice; does she want to be a model with all the sacrifices it entails or is she going to give it up before she's even begun?
I love how Manning writes. She's not afraid to present us with unlikeable characters because even when they're unlikeable, they're still sort of lovable. They're real. Irina's awesome, despite being an utter bitch. All of the characters in the shared flat are brilliant actually, and you'll spot some nice references to pop-culture in this book and the series as a whole (although do bear in mind it's a couple of years old now).
Don't come to this book expecting Dostoyevsky or some sort of cutting edge satire on modelling. What it is is a brilliantly frothy and enjoyable romp through the impact reality shows and what happens after the cameras stop rolling. Manning is so solid and delivers all the way throughout. (less)
The second in John Marsden's 'Tomorrow' series, this is a story of growth for our geurilla teens. Ellie, still the central narrator, details their sto...moreThe second in John Marsden's 'Tomorrow' series, this is a story of growth for our geurilla teens. Ellie, still the central narrator, details their story and how they handle their increasing outlaw status. There's a point in this book where they run into another 'operation', similar to their own but run by militarised adults. However not everything is as it seems, and soon Ellie and co. are forced to decide their own fate again.
The shift in pace in The Dead Of Night is palpable; it's a book about settling in and making decisions for the long-haul. It's less breakneck than Tomorrow When The War Began and allows us to explore a lot more psychologically. Certain characters even have discussions about life, love and whether unprotected sex at this point in their lives really is a good idea.
There's also more of a focus placed on actions having consequences. The first book was more about the reaction following the invasion and how the characters had to make a choice. This book allows us to dwell on the ramifications of making that choice.
I think I may be addicted to this epic epic series. The central premise is simply so good and I love how coloured it is by the location. You can feel the bush closing in, the tension of stepping out into a darkness blacker than you've ever seen before, and you can almost see the land starting to reclaim its own.
I devoured this book and really want to know how it all ends. Like now.
This is such a lovely book. Set in the National Gallery, London, the dogs of the paintings come out once a year on Dogs' Night. This year there's a pa...moreThis is such a lovely book. Set in the National Gallery, London, the dogs of the paintings come out once a year on Dogs' Night. This year there's a party in the gallery and all of the dogs are waiting until the party guests leave and they can throw a party of their own.
Once the guests do leave, it's time for the dogs to have their party. And it's a riotous affair! We see dogs of all shapes, colours and sizes racing around the gallery. There's a vivid sense of pace and place to these pages primarily because of the rampant iconicism of the National Gallery. It is such a gorgeous setting and Curless and Burgess play joyously in it.
But then, at the end of Dogs' Night, things go a little awry and some of the dogs end up in the wrong paintings! This obviously draws a little attention and the dogs have to deal with being in the wrong paintings until next Dogs' Night when they can come out, party, and make sure they go home to the right painting.
What I also liked about this is the palpable sense of joy and how it utilises real artworks in the book. There's a nice little introduction to the actual paintings used at the back of the book and I adored the suggestion that every art gallery has its dogs' night. When I was growing up, I used to love hunting for hidden doors in French chateaux when we were on holiday. Looking for the dogs is a similar sort of thing - and it's a very clever way to introduce children to classic artwork.
I have been in a bit of a slump with reading at the moment, reading books that have left me wanting, and reading books with a tight, tense, uncharitab...moreI have been in a bit of a slump with reading at the moment, reading books that have left me wanting, and reading books with a tight, tense, uncharitable air. This has not been productive; rather so, it has left me hungry for something. That hunger was sated, briefly, by my glorious Noel Streatfield but it stayed with me after that and it made itself known.
And when I feel like this, when there are things needling at the edge of my mind, or a closed, grey feeling to my senses, I need a very specific sort of book. I need Noel Streatfield. I need Michelle Magorian.
I need Elizabeth Goudge.
I need her buttery, fat prose, her Jam and Jerusalem books of England and English magic and children who make the world a better place through their simple belief and instinctive actions. I need her yellow stories, the stories shot through with sunshine and meadows and hills that must be climbed and stories that must be told.
I need books like this and I need to read them selfishly for when I finish reading them, I am whole. I am content and complete.
Linnets and Valerians is about people. Round, solid heartfelt and heartsore people. It's about the shapes families make with each other, the fitting, jarring shapes that occur when a piece is torn away, and the shapes that are made when a connection occurs, right on the edge of despair. It is also about hope, really, and redemption. It is romantic, naive, and occasionally foolish. It is about magic, faith and an almost idyllic English countryside.
In a way it is about Love, which to be fair, is about all of those things and often all at once.(less)
There's a richness to everything Shirley Hughes produces, and it's this richness which comes to the forefront of Ella's Big Chance. This, as the front...moreThere's a richness to everything Shirley Hughes produces, and it's this richness which comes to the forefront of Ella's Big Chance. This, as the front cover, states is 'a fairy tale retold'. It is a retelling of Cinderella, set in 'the jazz-age'. And it is practically glowing with riches.
Cinderella is such an archetypal story that it needs very little precis. It is the story of a girl, her wicked stepmother and a night on the town that Cinderella will never forget.
In this story, we meet Ella, the daughter of Mr Cinders. The two of them run a dressmaking shop 'in a quiet but elegant part of town'. There's an air of faded gentility from the start as the sun eases through the windows to illustrate the shop - the colours, living, under the touch of Ella and her father.
Ella herself is something particularly glorious. Drawn as a sort of Gina Lollobrigida meets Sophia Loren hybrid both facially and physically, her hair close cropped into a wild bob, she's an all too rare and incredibly beautiful creation. I loved her.
As ever in a Hughes book, there's a deep awareness of time and the experience of the reader. She's never selfish in her illustrations, there's always some sort of - look at me - moment to ever scene. The majority of the pages are constructed in a half and half scenario, a white block of text playing next to, or opposite a full colour image. What's particularly interesting in these pages is that the majority of the text sections have a sort of 'transitory' image in pen and ink. These simple black and white moments carry a lot of the book until the ball, and they do so because of their elegance. They transition the reader from scene to scene, joining the story together in a sort of visual stitching. Hughes is very skilled at not letting you go once she has you.
When we reach the ball scene, which is something we're always waiting for in a Cinderella story, it is not disappointing. Hughes goes for it and produces images that are just - richness. They are luscious and edible and dreamlike all at the same time. She balances the vivid intensity of the moment with human touches. When Ella arrives at the ball, walking down the stairs in her silver dress that is visually stunning, Hughes throws in moments all over the scene. A gentleman at the edge of the far page has eyes for nobody but Ella even though his partner is talking; a group of women stare in shock and distaste at this competitor, whilst another woman serene in her duties as host holds out her arm to greet Ella who pauses, so very briefly, at the stairs to close her eyes and savour the moment.
It's worthwhile to note that in this book Hughes designed all of the dresses. So when you read it, remember this and note her use of colours and shapes. See how Ella in her black shift dress is the centre of the picture, always, linked by the black and white images that thread through this book and yet somehow, always in the shadows, her dress blurring into the darkness of the shop and the cellar. Watch the peacock nature of one of Ella's step-sisters, posing in her vivid red dress, uncaring that she blocks up half of the image and steals focus from her sister. Look at the way Ella's ball dress is conjured from the night and the stars and the silvery magic of her fair godmother.
Look a this book, and treasure it, and take your time over it. And then do it all over again. It's a book that rewards slow, leisurely, indulgent reading.
(And it gives you the most perfect, perfect of conclusions).
It's an excellent, challenging and occasionally provocative collection of essays written to address, challenge, and contradict the various facets of the construct that Marie Antoinette has become. It is very much not a linear biography.
This brave and unusual approach allows these diverse authors to discuss Marie Antoinette in a variety of ways, from the Diamond Necklace Affair, the bawdy propaganda she became increasingly subject to, and her detailed correspondence with her redoubtable mother, and many more besides. I was particularly struck by the essay dealing with her letters, and I loved how this shifted into a discussion of the epistolary narrative as a concept.
Some essays were deeply challenging, and necessitated several reads in order to fully grasp their implications. There's a joy in collections of this nature though that you can choose your own path through the book, reading the final essay first, or hopping through on your favourite topics.
Throughout this collection is an awareness that Marie Antoinette was a multi-faceted individual and that's something I particularly appreciated. There's a sensitivity to that approach and a maturity that acknowledges both her role as public object and private woman.
Writings On The Body Of A Queen (oh that title is so good) is an excellent and thoroughly recommended academic exploration of this period. (less)
A little sad but I just didn't click with this. I've read it a couple of times now, always hoping that it'll happen but it never has. It's competent a...moreA little sad but I just didn't click with this. I've read it a couple of times now, always hoping that it'll happen but it never has. It's competent and solidly written but nobody really gets into gear save the mother and there's not enough of her for me. Oh well. (less)
I seem to come back to A Little Love Song whenever I need comforting and so, it was with no surprise to myself when I found my way back to it recently...moreI seem to come back to A Little Love Song whenever I need comforting and so, it was with no surprise to myself when I found my way back to it recently. It's a wartime bildungsroman, the story of the summer where everything changes for the central character Rose. Rose and her beautiful sister, Diana, are sent to the seaside town of Salmouth in the care of a guardian whilst their mother goes off to entertain the troups. It's when the guardian doesn't arrive, the two sisters have to make a vital decision. Do they stay in the supposedly haunted cottage, the home of 'Mad Hilda', or do they go back to their real lives?
Michelle Magorian is perhaps better known for Good Night, Mr. Tom and is one of those authors who produces masterpieces every couple of years. A Little Love Song is one of those masterpieces. It's written very quietly; the prose is effortless and there's no place for high-dancing metaphors here. It is a story very much concerned with the quiet nature and sheer wonder of life and how people cross and move throughout their stories.
Rose's summer is a delight, a heartbreak, a wistful page-turn. As she discovers more about the previous inhabitant of the cottage - the so called 'Mad Hilda' - she seems to discover more and more about herself in the process. The development and resolution of Mad Hilda's story is heartbreaking and comes to bear more weight on Rose's life than either she or we ever thought possible.
A Little Love Song is the work of an author who is, I think, often forgotten and shouldn't be. This novel holds the hallmarks of some of her greatest work, the sensitive portrayal of a young individual bordering on adulthood and trying to find their way in the world.
There's a point in the Silver Brumby books that reaches a great and amazing place, and it's not a thing that occurs over and in one book alone. Rather...moreThere's a point in the Silver Brumby books that reaches a great and amazing place, and it's not a thing that occurs over and in one book alone. Rather it's a point that is reached in The Silver Brumby and continues throughout the series and genuinely blows your mind. This saga of silver horses is big, guys, it's big. It's Tolkien-esque at points, featuring inter-herd rivalries, familial ties, and stallions fighting for mares the colour of the purest snow.
It is good. Australia lives here, and it lives loud. Mitchell has her world and it is big and embracing. You're pulled into it, following the perspectives of the silver herd, whether that perspective is wise Thowra, foolish Lightening or the bright hope of Baringa. God, even writing those names has an impact. Mitchell writes horses so well. She doesn't humanise them to an uncomfortable degree, rather she writes them as horses and not just as thinly masked people. It is a gift and one she is perhaps unparalleled in doing so.
This book is the third in the series, and it is the establishment of Lightening and Baringa in their own right. The two colts are led out of the Secret Valley by Thowra and to the south where other brumbies live and fillies are ready to be stolen and formed into herds. Lightening, cocky and brash, revels in the attention of being one of the Silver Herd and Baringa, younger, more cautious, moves like moonlight in the mist as he starts to find his footing.
It is a good and brilliant book this, and it is part of a good and brilliant series. The world that is created here is huge and it's unique. The way Mitchell pauses over describing a stallion fight, or conjures up bush legends of mysterious fillies, gives you so much. These books are full of joys. (less)
A story set over two timelines, one in 1945 and the other in 1995, Peet introduces us to Tamar and her grandfather and a group of Dutch resistance fig...moreA story set over two timelines, one in 1945 and the other in 1995, Peet introduces us to Tamar and her grandfather and a group of Dutch resistance fighters in World War Two - one of whom is codenamed Tamar. It's not until the end though that we realise the connection between the two timelines - and the role Tamar's grandfather played in both.
Gritty, powerful, and heartbreaking, Tamar is outstanding. I have written before of the wonders of Peet and his quietly immense epics and when he writes these sorts of books, it is a thrilling thrilling thing to witness. He has a skill to balance the very small moments of life, the love and loss of everyday existence, against massive world-shifting events - and to do so without losing the impact of each. It is ridiculously exciting to read a world into existence and that's what you do with this book.
There are some similarities with Life : An Exploded Diagram in that both books are intense, dense novels. Tamar in particular requires some reading into, but it's an effort that pays off with some stunning rewards.
(Now, if somebody could clear up just how to pronounce Tamar for me, that would be perfect!) (less)
Poorly written in places, intensely poignant in places, How the Heather Looks is a strange book which, in a way, taught me more about my attitude towa...morePoorly written in places, intensely poignant in places, How the Heather Looks is a strange book which, in a way, taught me more about my attitude towards children's literature rather than teaching me about it. I am, at present, engaged in a bit of a project to try and find a book for every for every county in the UK and so How The Heather Looks has a curious relevance for me right now. I'm becoming fascinated with the roots of story, in the points where the imaginary and the real world connect, and how they spiral into different and yet somehow weirdly familiar locations. And I'm fascinated with how, sometimes, when you visit the real world settings of these books, when you sit on Lyra and Will's bench or catch sight of Ratty's Thames out of the window, that it feels a little like you're falling from one world into the next. That if you close your eyes, that if you hold your breath, you're in Narnia or at Flambards or in the kitchen at the Fossils house. That's magic to me, pure and effortless magic, and it's a sort of intoxicating magic. It's powerful and when you feel it, you want more of it. You just do. You can't even help it any more.
And this book is full of magic. Bodger's references have perhaps dated a little and her fixed (forced?) outsider perspective may occasionally grate but there are moments when you just forget all that because she gets you. She gets you in that sort of breathless way every fan of something understands, that moment when you see the thing you love in real life, that moment when you see the makers and creators and you realise that you just admire them and love them, really, that you can't quite speak and you can't quite exist in the real world any more. You've fallen through the gaps, you're in the imaginary and there's no way you're going back.
Bodger's family journey, occasionally blindly and perhaps naively, through the United Kingdom with this sort of intense wonder throughout. There are chapters which are easy to skim through, lightly, but then she falls into somehow interviewing Arthur Ransome ("What's this?" he asked. "What's this?") or Mrs Milne (who, rather marvellously, berates them about the incorrect size over their teddy Piglet).
Bodger is not the best writer. But she is, at heart, a fan. A loving, obsessed, foolish, impressionable fan. And I have walked and I am walking in those shoes. This is a lovely book, (and, if I am being honest, it is one that is ripe for a modern day version). (less)
Troy is one of those stories that endures. Regardless of whatever spin on it, be that the intense metrosexuality of Brad Pitt's Achilles or the beauti...moreTroy is one of those stories that endures. Regardless of whatever spin on it, be that the intense metrosexuality of Brad Pitt's Achilles or the beautiful lyricism of Gareth Hinds' Odyssey, the stories of Odysseus, Hector, Achilles and Priam last and have lasted. It's maybe due to the big, classic, timeless nature of these stories, dealing as they do with love - jealousy - war. Themes that have not changed, even when the world has.
Geras has written several stories about Classical Greece. Dido and Ithaka form a sort of trilogy with Troy, covering as they do different parts of the period and different perspectives. Troy itself is set inside the walls of the city, with a focus on the story of the two sisters Marpessa and Xanthe. War has been going on for ten years, and the people of Troy have grown used to death and destruction. The Gods roam the world freely, talking with the Greeks and the Trojans and watching these great events unfurl. The gap between the worlds is thin, thinnest in the Blood Room where the wounded Trojans recover from battle, and where Xanthe works.
This is the story of the womens' war, of the servants' war. Geras keeps us mainly with the women of Troy, Andromache, Helen, Hecuba, the gossips and with the foolish lovelorn love-tossed children of the city. She keeps us with those who are left behind, those who have to stand and watch and suffer.
There's a lot of tiredness in Troy. It's a book where people are ready for the end, for their lives to change and for things to finally come to the great resolution. I love that, but it's not for everyone. All the 'big' events that you expect to happen in a Troy narrative happen off stage as it were. Here we see it happen through the filter of the women of Troy, of the old male singer straining to see beyond the walls, and of poor fated Hector playing with his son and wife.
Don't let that fool you though. This book doesn't lack tension. In fact, it's full of it. There's the ever-present pressure of having to eat when all food is a fight, of having to wash when all the stains are blood, of having to live with the choices you made, and of having to grow up in an upside down world. Of knowing that love will either kill you or make you or be out of your hands all together.
Troy is a powerful, big book, and it's one that is beautifully written. Geras has a great gift of precision with her language, able to catch the sharpest of moments in the briefest of sentences, able to let her characters be flawed and hopeful and foolish and naive all at the same time. In a way she underwrites scenes but does so to great effect, allowing pauses to come in and for the events to fully sink in. There's an almost aural quality about her writing at times which is curiously fitting in a narrative of this nature.