Thursday, 31 May 2018

Book of the Year Award

As is tradition, every year in May I total up how many books I've read and more importantly how many I've read since the start of this blog page. It makes it a bit weird to count from May to May, but its a tiny piece of nostalgia that I like to do. 22 books since last May!

May - The English Patient, Dirty Great Love Story
June - The Monk, Butter
July - The Handmaids Tale, The Muse
August - Station 11, Chocolat, The Power, Tipping the Velvet
September - The Girl on the Train, Blackberry Wine, The Red Tent
October - Hag-seed, The Woman in Black and other stories
November - New Boy
December - Northanger Abbey, Persuasion

January - The Travelling Cat Chronicles
February - The Charmed Life of Alex Moore
March - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
April - Lamentation

Book of the Year May 2017- April 2018 is The Power 

The Power
Naomi Alderman
Penguin 2017 Kindle
Amazon Gift Voucher

I read this for a feminist book club at work. But it was also recommended to me by several people. The idea is that one day women discover a power with in them, similar to the electricity of an electric eel. And what they do with that power is explored.
What I found brilliant about this book is that EVERY element of society is explored and with the idea that women hold power rather than men. There is an interesting exploration of sexual power being used for rape or between consenting partners.politics and newly forming nations, rioting and the media. It's incredible.
For anyone who thinks it's too scifi for them, it doesn't feel like science fiction at all. It's a tiny concept. Women have a physical power that they did not have before and everything changes. The world is the same and there it nothing else to suspend your imagination over.
It was an incredible way to get the reader thinking about the structure of society and the arguments that people have regarding the hierarchy of the genders.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

December Reviews

For someone who delayed picking up an actual Jane Austen novel until well after university, people have thought of me as liking that kind of thing. I grew up on VHS tapes of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. As there are only 6 precious novels to devour I am almost glad that I accidentally held off until now to slowly get through them.

I have been gifted many Jane Austen treats over the years. A themed colouring book, a little book of quotes, a quill and ink set, and others. However, last year for my birthday a friend happened to be in a second hand book shop and saw a double edition of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, the two I am reviewing today. It was a small old fashioned edition that made me feel I ought to be wearing gloves to read it. Not because the book was delicate but because it makes me imagine reading it on a long carriage ride from London to Bath. *dreamy look*

Only negative to reading this gorgeous book was that I crossed two off the list at once. Only Mansfield Park left to go.

Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
1818 Hardback

It is clear from the first that Catherine Morland is going to be tumbled about on the tide of society, by people who are much better at navigating than she is. Perfectly innocent ready to be outraged and confused by the society world of Bath. And that is exactly what happens. I wonder if Austen wanted us to collectively roll our eyes for Catherine.
The story follows her and her adventure as a companion to Bath where she meets her first men. I think it is key to remember that the heroine is 15 at the time! I enjoyed the story it's definitely a tumble and seems to work itself out in the end, but feels a little less sophisticated than her later books. It's almost too complicated.
Overall though, I did enjoy reading this lovely book but it is definitely an early work and not one of my favorites.

Jane Austen
1818 Hardback

As I creep closer to the spinsterish age of 27 I am relating pretty hard to Anne, also 27 in the story. Known to have missed her chance at love at 19 she is resigned to being the best person she can be for her family and friends. She is generous and caring and a stark contrast to her elder sisters and father who are frivolous and stuck up. When that love interest returns to her world it is almost too awkward to bare.
I loved persuasion more than I thought I would. I think I saw a movie adaptation of it and I found Anne so restrained and difficult to watch. However, in the reading of it, I got much more of an insight into her inner turmoil. The book also handles the past and its events better than the films do. For much of the movie I wasn't sure what the problem was.
Austen's last work is clearly well put together and heartfelt. This one is coming in a solid 3rd place behind Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, with Emma in 4th and Northanger Abbey in 5th.