BLURB: “As a girl, Judith gives her heart to Nancherrow, the Cornish estate where she grew up, practically adopted by the glamorous Carey-Lewis family. And to their eldest son. But the sun-drenched Cornish days give way to the rolling clouds of war and Judith has a lot of growing up to do before she can finally come home”
REVIEW: As you may have noticed, there has been quite a gap between this review and my previous one – namely because this book is 1016 pages long which, although not the longest book I have ever read, did make it more time-consuming than I had imagined! However, I can say without doubt that it was definitely worth taking up so much time to read this wonderful novel. It was lent to me by my nan, who has read a lot of Pilcher’s works before but claimed this as her favourite and insisted I would like it. Slightly doubtful, I began to read this book despite longing to read some new ones I had bought – and was instantly hooked. The novel follows Judith Dunbar, a girl of fourteen at the start of the book, over the ten years of her life that encompass boarding school and the Second World War, which brings a huge amount of tragedy both to Judith and to those she holds dear. At the beginning of the novel, Judith is separated from her mother and sister, who are travelling to join her father, an officer stationed in Singapore, and is sent to St Ursula’s school as a boarder. There she meets Loveday Carey-Lewis, the spoilt and chaotic child of the glamorous Carey-Lewis family, who soon take Judith in as one of their own and give her her very own bedroom at their grand manor of Nancherrow. Through Nancherrow Pilcher introduces some fascinating characters; Loveday’s parents, the stoic Colonel and his glamorous wife Diana; her brother Edward, who soon steals Judith’s heart; her older sister Athena, a beautiful traveller; and doctor Jeremy Wells, whose affection for Judith grows throughout the book and consistently delights the reader, among many others. Each and every single one of the book’s many characters are brilliantly written, seeming almost to jump off the page, and the reader grows to care about all except the villains of the piece, which includes old lecher Billy Fawcett. This book had me hooked from start to finish with its simple, heartwarming and tragic tale of Cornish country life, and by the end of the novel I cared so deeply for the protagonist, Judith Dunbar, that I felt almost as though she were a friend of mine. I would highly recommend it.
BLURB: “Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them.”
REVIEW: This is the most recently published of Hosseini’s works and possibly the most layered of them all. The novel comes from many different points of view which, although it can be confusing sometimes, allows for a greater level of detail regarding the occurring events and makes it much easier to understand the inner workings of the minds of all the major characters (of which there are many). Due to the complexity of the plot it is difficult to review the novel without giving too much away. I will say, however, that this novel handles the strength of the sibling bond and controversial topics like suicide and homosexuality with brilliance and sensitivity – I must confess that I was delighted to see homosexuality be discussed in a novel of this kind, and felt that it was done extremely well. I cannot say much more about the book in case I let slip one of the many startling plot twists, but once again I would highly recommend this novel. I can’t wait for Hosseini to start work on his next book.
BLURB: “Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.”
– REVIEW: I will admit at once that I expected quite a lot from this book. Given its reputation as a literary classic, I was greatly looking forward to seeing how Bradbury pictured the possible future of our world. I understand why, in terms of the writing skill, this novel is so well renowned. Bradbury’s writing is fluid, so fast-paced that there is no other way to read it other than at your top speed. Somehow, this makes the dystopian world that Montag occupies even more terrifying; we feel as though we are running with him, desperate from escape just like he is. The metaphorical nature of Bradbury’s writing is also quite astonishing. In the introduction to this edition of the book, he describes how, when he sat down to write this novel, he had no idea what he was doing – upon reading it, it is hard to believe that anyone could have such a brilliantly natural and instinctive talent for writing as he does, and not know about it.
I do, however, have some issues with the plot itself. I do understand, as a writer, the need for leaving loose ends at the end of a novel. In this case, however, I felt that there were so many loose ends that the conclusion of the novel was simply unsatisfying. The removal of Clarisse from the story (which even Bradbury concedes was a mistake) takes away one of the most intriguing and engaging characters I have ever read of, and, at least for me, actually ruined the story. Montag’s relationship with his wife Mildred also has a highly unsatisfactory conclusion, and the cliffhanger of an ending leaves the reader feeling as though they’ve run a marathon and not even been given a bottle of water to cool down at the end of it.
I would still recommend the book to book lovers and fans of dystopian fiction, who would probably find Bradbury’s distressing portrayal of the future a fascinating and intricate read.
Really sorry for the lack of book reviews lately everyone! It’s the month leading up to exams so it’s just full on revision and essay writing at the moment…trust me, I’d much rather be doing the reviews!
But by the time exams are over, I’ll have read so many books in preparation (and to keep me sane) that I’ll have a ton of reviews ready for you!
So until then….Keep reading!
BLURB: “Congrats. You fought through War and Peace, burned through Fahrenheit 451, and sailed through Moby-Dick. All right, you nearly drowned in Moby-Dick, but you made it to shore – and you deserve a drink! A fun gift for barflies and a terrific treat for book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the ultimate cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes – paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels – the book also includes bar bites, drinking games and whimsical illustrations throughout”
REVIEW: I bought this book as a joke present for a literature-obsessed friend and just had to order a copy for myself! I can personally testify that many of the recipes are delicious and testing them out has been great fun! I would particularly recommend ‘The Joys of Sex on the Beach’, ‘Gone with the Wine’ and ‘The Adventures of Sherbert Holmes’. The commentary on each of the literary works that the drinks are based on is also hugely entertaining, and I would definitely recommend it to any literature buffs, particularly as a present!
REVIEW: Seeing as there were so many snippets of Dickens’ wonderful festive writings in this book (which was, as you may have guessed, a much-appreciated Christmas present), I decided that for the purposes of this review I’d just focus on the one that many of us know and love: ‘A Christmas Carol’. This is, of course, the tale of the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge, whose cold heart and cruel nature are amended through the visitations of four ghosts to him on Christmas Eve – that of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. As well as being a highly moral tale, this story is highly entertaining and I enjoyed going back to it after years of just watching the countless film adaptations every year! Dickens’ writing truly evokes the spirit of Christmas, in both good and bad circumstances, and this is a story to truly warm the heart and promote goodwill to all men! Go back to it this Christmas, or venture towards it for the first time if you like, and be truly amazed by how festive it makes you feel.
I thought I’d do one of those traditional summary lists of my favourite books I’ve read in the past year…and believe me, I’ve read some amazing ones! It’s going to be impossible to put my Top Ten in numerical order, but these are 10 books I would definitely recommend for everyone.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- A Song of Ice and Fire (the whole series – though if I had to pick a favourite, it’d be A Storm of Swords) by George R.R. Martin
- Passion by Jude Morgan
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- A Half-Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb
- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav
- The Misbegotten by Katherine Webb
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
I’ve also got some more books that I’ve neglected to review in the past couple of months, so keep an eye out for a few more reviews! Might even help you to decide what to ask for for Christmas 😛