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.
Having been encapsulated with Emma Donoghue’s writing since reading Room, a must if you’re yet to read this masterpiece. The Wonder takes us on an altogether different journey, one of mystery, religion, and a suspected lie.
We move back to the 19th century across the Irish Sea with Lib, a Nightingale Nurse, who has been chosen to watch the miracle of the fasting girl. Suspicion is clear from the beginning of this tale. It’s not possible to live without food, certainly not to have survived four months on a daily spoonful of water.
Through Donoghue’s writing we become absorbed in the small Irish village life, and a mystery that seems impossible to discover. Lib’s matter-of-fact mannerism allows her narration to appear honest, as she tries to make this miraculous girl eat again. It’s a tale that puts belief and religion into the structure of this girl’s world, unearthing additional secrets at each turn.
Based upon the stories of the real fasting girls dotted throughout Irish history, this novel brings together the moral questions and desire for forgiveness that will cross most of our paths. It shows that things are never truly what they seem, life is full of secrets.
It’s certainly an intriguing read.
There’s an aspect of life that we often find hard to explain. We may understand the expectations of life, yet we are often left searching for the meaning.
Before you assume this is a philosophical questioning of life, the world, and the universe. It isn’t. I’m talking on a slightly smaller scale. Instead I reach for literature, theatre, film or music as a manner of expression. They hold the form of storytelling at their core, a manner of expressing life as we know it, but managing to turn it upside down too. It gives us a comparison. A metaphor if you prefer, for the heart of life.
Literature allows us to escape to a new story, but one that holds enough similarities to make it appear real — elements that hold meaning and parallels to our own lives. It gives us a platform to feel, to love, and to learn. It turns the everyday into the adventure we crave. Literature places this all back into perspective, we view another life, a story, and compare it to our own. We give an interpretation on the story placed in front of us, an interpretation that we wish to mirror in our own lives; big or small. Afterwards we decide to follow our own dreams, and be above all, the very best versions of ourselves.
If literature can tell us all of that, and be a form of education, inspiration, and entertainment it’s something we maybe should hold in higher esteem.
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.
September is in full swing, and unlike the rest of the working world I’m only starting to admit that summer is over. My third and final year has arrived, so here’s a selection of what I’ll be reading across my first semester.
My first module focuses on the First World War – the literature from within it and also the literature that reimagines the war. This seems to cover quite a range of literature, film and TV (of which Downton Abbey’s involvement may have persuaded me to pick this course). It’s interesting to view the literature that covers such a complex time across the century; from the days of post war Britain to the celebrations surrounding the centenary.
Engaging and a little different to the literature I’ve encounter so far is my experimental literature course; more specifically women’s experimental literature. It covers questions on how women’s writing must differ in its position as experimental and the often misconception that only women’s writing can hold feminist concepts. It’s trying to move away from viewing experimental writing as a failure, and instead show how literature can take any form, genre or purpose.
As you can see I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do as the nights begin to draw in, what are you reading this autumn?
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.
Summer has certainty arrived, the nights are longer, the sun is shining that little bit more and I’m spending more time outside eating ice cream. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading, but very little blogging over the past few weeks… now it’s time to get back on track.
The biggest news, of course, has been the very eagerly awaited sequel in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been published for an entire week, if you happened to be on a desert island the news may not yet have reached you, but to everyone else I‘m far behind. Like all Potter fans, I got my hands on a copy on Monday morning (having missed a midnight release). Yet now I have a dilemma, do I read the script now, or do I wait until I see the play?
In my mind a play can never be read as a substitution to the performance, there’s something truly magical about it appearing in front of your very eyes that the written word is unable to portray. Maybe it’s the lack of descriptive detail, costumes, props and set that make a play so much more than its many utterances and stage directions. Regardless of the individual detail, it has been written for the stage and the stage alone, to take it away from its setting will always create a gap in the text.
I know I am very fortunate in having acquired the tickets, but it’s not making this decision any easier. Three months still feels like a little while to wait and see the story expanded into a new breadth of magic. So far I’ve avoided any spoilers, but most impressively have managed to keep the book tightly shut. For now, it will sit on my bookcase, while I wait for bonfire night and the magic to appear in front of my very eyes.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at the Palace Theatre, London.
You can find my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and my excitement to see the Cursed Child in London, I’m only a little Harry Potter obsessed, I promise.
Now it may not come as too much of a surprise that I like to read, and I read a lot. As such even my bookshelves are starting to overflow, piles of books are appearing around my bedroom and even I feel the books around my bed may soon become a tripping hazard.
Yet I can never feel the urge to give away, throw away or even lend out my books. I’ve invested too much time into each page, learnt to love or hate the characters and been, for a while, part of their story. Most of the time I revisit these books, wishing to be drawn back into various worlds and escape into a story.
I’m currently re-reading a vast array of my favourite novels, getting through a story week after week. It may be from the freedom of university, that once again I have the choice to pick up any book I please. I want to read stories that I’m certain I’ll enjoy – novels that are well-written, plots that are complex and character’s that I know. I don’t want to be disappointed by the next book I pick up.
I’ll continue picking up my books full of well-thumbed pages, and enjoying each story again, and again.
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.
This morning I grabbed one of the first books my hand came across as I headed out the door. It’s been at least a couple of years since I’d last read Orwell’s masterpiece, and I’d quite forgotten the treat I was in for.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is now a much-loved modern classic, it contains ideas and words we forget were created entirely for the novel. Big Brother and Room 101 still hold power over the everyday public, with little acknowledgement for Orwell’s creation. Similarly, Winston Smith sits as a well-known character, and the tale’s fist line is often featured in a pub quiz. Not to mention the linguistic heaven of Newspeak, an entirely reimagined version of English- a way to control not just our language but our very thoughts. Orwell was incredible.
It’s a story of rebellion, revolution and self-control. But also of love, finding happiness and a desperate search for truth. Orwell encapsulates the desire for justice and a life of honesty. The laws that surround this world, open your eyes to the freedom we have today, not just freedom of speech, but freedom of thought and expression.
Although the world still has a long way to go, this tale allows the importance of truth and integrity to overcome everything, no matter what the cost.