We are surrounded by love stories before we even learn to read; fairy tales and Disney princesses condition our expectations of true love. It’s an emotion that influences every tale, evert text and narrative as we try to define this complex emotion.
Erich Segal’s Love Story is an American classic, Jenny and Oliver are an unsurprising couple brought together from two different paths in life. But the power of love is something that is beyond human comprehension. It’s a tale of love and loss; of gaining parental approval and choosing your own way in life.
There is something in Segal’s writing that manages to capture the character’s depth across the short tale. The writing is at times brutally honest in its depiction of the unfair problems of life, but also the moments of pure happiness are intertwined with more romantic prose.
If you’re looking for a short novel for an upcoming summer holiday — this is certainly one to read.
Sometimes I feel as though I can never find a good book, that’s probably why I reread my favourites again and again. But when I spotted The Little Paris Bookshop sat upon the shelves, I thought I couldn’t go too wrong.
The Little Paris Bookshop was an encapsulating read, comfortably set within a bookshop itself (could the setting be more perfect?) it takes you on a tale of adventure, love, and time. Although this bookshop is not one you’re used to walking into off the streets. The Literary Apothecary in a barge bookshop, and its owner can tell what book you require — without any previous description.
Ultimately the best thing about a barge bookshop is its ability to travel. The adventure of Jean is certainly amusing in his decision to cast off without any money, ensuring all necessities must be exchanged for books. Yet, there are more serious undertones to the novel, as Jean desperately travels to seek his forgiveness 20-years too late. The unopened letter previously forgotten holds a past that must be revisited, with intriguing turns to the tale.
This is a witty and funny book at times, with some serious questions on life and death, a book for those who seem to have read everything.
Having just picked up The Help for the fifth time, I thought it was worthwhile putting pen to paper as to why I keep coming back to this book.
There’s something unique to Stockett’s writing that transports you instantly back to 1960’s Mississippi. Whether it’s Skeeter, Aibileen or Minny narrating we’re pulled back to a time of harsh segregation and a desire to alter the perspective of America’s racists.
I love how this book describes not only the real-time struggles of a coloured maid in the deep south of America, but the hope and resilience of people coming together. It’s a testament of friendship, hope and exceptions. It relies on a group of women willing to risk everything for a chance at making a difference.
It’s a book of defying the society we live within, that shows no matter how small, we can all make a difference.
To continue the dystopian literature of 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale is another incredible story of resilience and hope in a new world.
We follow Offred in the religious land of Gilead, living the life of a handmaid. Offred has the rare ability to bear a child and must attempt to conceive with her commander. She holds no political or personal presence, she is simply a piece of property for which the state and her commander has sentenced her to one job.
While the life of a handmaid is exhibited, Offred also gives the reader glimpses of her life before this new regime. A life with purpose, love and hope. It in this, that we begin to sense her rebellion for the current world.
It’s a clever tale that connects our past with a possible future, one that holds complete power and overriding hierarchy. It is certainly a modern classic to be read by all.
Stuck between two worlds, Ming-Mei arrives at Lushan, a boarding school for missionary children in the mountain tops of China’s Jiangxi Province. Ming-Mei lies forgotten, as does her forbidden Chinese tongue; she is Henrietta Robertson a girl of British missionary parents teaching the gospel to the people of China.
Yet something mysterious occurs to Dormitory A, the girls soon find themselves in the Prophetess club, searching out prophecies in the out-of-bounds section of the school. From the hidden lake and caves to behind the washroom, these secret areas bond the girls together and show the innocence and difficulties of their childhood.
Told from Etta’s point of view, the tale is a coming-of-age story in which Etta must find not her only her place in the world, but also her calling. Full of adventure, prophesies and war this is a novel that will keep you enhanced by Etta’s world. Through Etta, we explore not just her religion and culture but her sense of duty that showcases the power a girl can have, in an unrecognizable world.
In A Land Of Paper Gods is published by Tinder Press and currently available in hardback, it’s certainly worth a read.
I may have picked up Station Eleven without a clue of what I was about to read, yet it held a twisted tale and collision of events that had me gripped throughout.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the tale follows the survivors of the Georgia flu virus from their first encounter at a King Lear production to year twenty of the new world. Whether it be the Travelling Sympathy, who spread music and Shakespeare to the lost civilisaion, or the community stuck at the Severn City Airport; small communities continue to exist in an empty world.
It’s a clever collection of the stories of survival, it shows how we prioritise what is left from a community to allow a new civilisaton to grow. I enjoyed seeing how these tales were woven toegther, the switch between the present and the days leading up to the epidemic to show how life was lost while hope remained.
Once started its a book you’ll struggle to put down, and you’ll begin to question what matters most to you in life.
I’m currently in middle of a module on 20th Century African American Literature, and it’s got me thinking of the way we categorise literature, place labels upon it, in a way to control it further.
Early 20th Century African American Literature is often placed as political work. That an African American who is able to express himself for the first time since slavery, must, and often this is the case, want to write about the world he has discovered himself in. A world of racism, prejudice and violence. His work is used to express this rejection, this removal from society; somewhere across this line literature and politics collide.
Literature becomes a place to express ideas, experiment with an ideology and look towards a new world. It’s a place of freedom we sometimes take for granted, yet it can also act as propaganda, have high influences upon our current lives. It makes you think of the importance literature can play, and its impact, on politics, on history and everything in-between.
It’s made me appreciate how much literature has and continues to play a part in our lives. Whether this be freedom of expression, of tackling innovation or it’s ability to somehow go against the status quo. Literature is incredible, and holds a large proportion of our lives in its hand.
Hopefully this wasn’t too deep a topic for a Sunday morning, if you’re interested in these topics I certainly would recommend a few titles:
- The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
- The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man – James Johnson
- The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
- Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison