Monthly Archives: September 2008

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Oh I am a bit bereft after reading Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and not probably because of why you think. Sadly for me this was another overhyped classic that just didn’t really hit the spot for me. This year I decided that I would read a lot more of the classics that I have not yet had the pleasure of reading and along with ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ this just didn’t live up to the hype. I bought this a few years ago after having been to Howarth and seeing the ‘original’ Wuthering Heights and walking the moors of Heathcliff and Cathy’s tale, so I had the bug. I then got home and read something else, well lots of other things until now.

I fully expected this to be right up my alley. I was expecting a gothic epic tale of love that cannot be and the trials of the moors and the heart. What I got was a flighty vile leading lady in the shape of spoilt Cathy and a horrid mean man in the shape of Heathcliff. From the off I was completely perplexed, how would I care about these two vile characters and their tragic love story? In two words… I didn’t. The book completely fell flat with me, I didn’t like the characters I didn’t care what happened to them, that was that.

I am so saddened by the fact I didn’t like it I cannot tell you, I am praying when I read Jane Eyre (which now won’t be for a while even though I know it’s a different sister who wrote it, she has been tarnished by this one) in the future that I won’t be as disappointed.

It’s actually hard to say anything more, again I have probably just performed book reviewer suicide not liking this and will have no one reading my blog ever again but I can only write the truth. If this was someone’s first book I wouldn’t write a review but my blog is not going to stop Wuthering Heights flying of the shelves is it!?

No a very big disappointment for Mr Savidge with this book as I was hoping to be swept away and sadly I couldn’t wait for the whole thing to end.

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Filed under Emily Bronte, Penguin Classics, Review

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley

I have BookRabbit again to thank for my latest read, the last one I chose as the BookRabbit Book Group read. Alan Bradley’s ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’ one is an advance book (out in January 2009) I was sent to review for the site and Orion the books publisher. I unlike the other readers really, really enjoyed this book; in fact I thought it was brilliant. They all seemed to think it was more of a ‘young adult’ book – I am wondering what that says about me?

Flavia de Luce is your typical precocious ‘almost eleven year old’ all apart from the fact that she has found a dead snipe on the doorstep of her fathers crumbling country house’s front doorstep. This isn’t just any dead bird it seems to have been placed there as if in some form of a message to who ever finds it, it also has an incredibly rare stamp impaled on its beak. Flavia decides this is some magical mystery that she should investigate and does indeed to her finding something slightly more gruesome in the cucumber patch.

With her father at the centre of a murder investigation and her two spiteful sisters being only bothered with their own reflections and lives what is a precocious almost eleven year old meant to do than prove her fathers innocence and find the murderer. We are then taken along with Flavia as she goes about, on her bicycle named Gladys, interrogating people in the local village and following the clues and a few red herrings.

I loved the character of Flavia she completely stole the show for me, from her love of Gladys, to her scary knowledge of all things chemical and poisonous. Her sisters were brilliantly vile and her father wonderfully secretive. The prose of the novel is light and has a twist of black humour though sometimes the discussion of chemicals and also the explanations of stamps can be a bit much. I loved some of the strange villagers and their quirky silly names. Yes I guessed the ending and saw the villain of the piece coming a mile of but it didn’t stop me reading to the very end, why would I have when I was having so much fun.

If you’re expecting a thriller then you are getting the wrong book, if you’re looking for something that’s a mixture of murder, mystery, madness and mayhem then this is the perfect book for you.

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Filed under Alan Bradley, Books of 2009, Flavia de Luce, Orion Publishing, Review

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

It has been my turn to choose ‘The BookRabbit Book Groups’ read this month, and I chose Sarah Waters ‘The Night Watch’ because it has been on my TBR for well over a year. IN case any of you are wondering what BookRabbit is then go to http://www.bookrabbit.com/ and join, it’s a wonderful and very sociable book lover’s site and forum, it seriously is brilliant, join, join.

So I had chosen ‘The Night Watch’ and have not long put it down and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t love it, but I definitely enjoyed it. By the looks of it sadly not that many of the other BookRabbit readers feel quite the same way. My only other dabble with Sarah Waters has not been ‘Tipping the Velvet’ or ‘Fingersmith’ those joys are still to come. No, my first Sarah Waters was ‘Affinity’ her lesser known novel which is a dark creepy gothic novel which I really loved and I think is more deserving of Man Booker and Orange nominations. So that and the fact that ‘The Night Watch’ has been so hyped might lead to why I would give it 4 out of 5 and not full marks.

Sarah has deviated from her usual Victorian romps to the wartime of the 1940’s. This diversion is an effortless one as I was totally in the moment of the novel and never once felt that what I was reading wasn’t real. Things like the rarity of coffee, the explosions of bombs, to the cost of silk pyjamas, Sarah had clearly researched the background to the novel down to the smallest details. Now to add to the change of time of her novel, she also decided to write it backwards.

The funny thing is when someone tells you that a book has been written backwards it instantly makes you think that a book is going to be really hard to read and this isn’t, it’s delightful to read. It also makes you think that the author has done something incredibly clever, which they have, but then again books told in flashbacks are quite common and also the fact that the start of the book was actually the end meant that obviously you knew the ending from the off and somehow that didn’t work for me. There is something delicious about digging through characters pasts and she still managed a few twists and surprises which is no mean feat it just left me feeling like I didn’t need to get involved so much.

All that aside, I did enjoy the adventures of Kay, Helen, Viv and Duncan although I never really liked any of them. Each one had a very interesting history and you didn’t always know what was coming which was great. The characters were believable and the story of sexuality in that time was really interesting to read about. There was one issue I had which was with Duncan (Waters first gay male character) and his back story which was utterly harrowing but was almost written in an overly calm way when I can’t imagine that you would feel calm about such things. Hard to explain when you are trying desperately hard not to give the ending away.

Despite the fact I have just criticized the book a bit I did enjoy it, in a market that’s so full of books about the war this is something different and Waters should be highly commended for this work, I’ll be really interested to see what she does next, and will be happily reading the two Victorian romps in the meantime.

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Filed under Book Group, Man Booker, Orange Prize, Review, Sarah Waters, Virago Books

No Internet For A While

Hello all,

I wont have the internet for a while so will only be uploading reviews when I have finished a book and not really doing book thoughts and the like, which you will probably prefer hahahahaha.

Soon as am all moved and everything is sorted service will be resumed!

Simon

P.S Has everyone noticed how well I am doing on the book ban? Havent bought one in ages!

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The Catcher in the Rye – J.D Salinger

I never had to do J. D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ when I was at school and it’s always been a book that I have wanted to read and yet have never sort out when I have been in the bookshop. However this all changed when I saw a copy of this in Oxfam, they go like gold dust in charity shops I have been reliably told, for a whopping 99p. I am glad I didn’t pay any more for it frankly.

There is always a danger when you have heard how amazing a classic is that it simply wont live up to the hype, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is certainly one such book. I am sure that writing this will be seen as some kind of literary sacrilege, I am happy to put up with that as I don’t think me panning it will stop it selling anymore copies now will it?

Holden Caulfield is the protagonist and this is indeed his coming of age tale, this confused me from the start as I simply couldn’t work out how old he was, sometimes I thought he was about ten other times I thought he was about seventeen I found it completely confusing. I didn’t like him, he started of saying how he was a liar and from that point on I couldn’t work out whether what he was telling you was the truth or not, and I sadly ended up not caring. All the secondary characters were stereotypes and I felt the book offered nothing new we haven’t read or seen a hundred times of more, this being the classic I suppose it was one of the originals to do this, but hey ho.

No I really didn’t like ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ in fact I wish I had read it at school as you always hate the books you read at school and study to death, plus I would have got a boring dull book out of the way early on in my reading life. I have kept it on my shelves though, just to show people I have actually read it. I hope the classics I have planned to read soon don’t turn out as bad as this.

Note: My mother an English teacher has just said on the phone ‘oh god why did you read that rubbish, it’s terrible’. My Gran who is extremely well read and proud of it said something equally similar though slightly ruder.

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Filed under J. D. Salinger, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics, Review

A Guest Reader

We have a guest staying with us at the moment and her name is Phoebe, she is very cute…

And it appears she has a big love of books too! As you can see! Though maybe Richard Russo isn’t her favourite????!!!!!

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4.50 From Paddington – Agatha Christie

After my previous read I was reminded how much I love a good Agatha Christie. I am not the biggest fan of Poirot however I absolutely love a good Miss Marple, so I went to the TBR pile and the 4.50 From Paddington beamed out at me – how could I resist? I don’t think I need to tell people what the premise of a Miss Marple novel is but I should anyway, just in case. Miss Marple is a lovely retired lady living in the delightful small village of St Mary Mead, she unfathomably ends up embroiled in murders, and decides she should go out and solve the cases in a slightly nosey busybody kind of way. I think she’s great.

The tale starts as Mrs McGillicuddy takes the 4.50 from Paddington to visit her friend Miss Marple. ON her journey and being slightly nosey herself she is looking at another trains carriages when she sees a woman being throttled by a man. She naturally reports this and no one believes her, no one of course except Miss Marple. After no body is found and nothing is reported in the papers Miss Marple hires her friend Lucy Eyelesbarrow (some of the names are corking) to become a cleaner in a house near where the murder seems to have happened and where a body might just have been hidden. Lucy then has to report back to Miss Marple on regular occasions as she figures it all out coming to the correct conclusion of course.

Agatha Christie sometimes gets unfairly criticized for her prose. No it isn’t flowery and never ending, she is blunt and gets to the chase whilst chucking in a few good red herrings which is what all good crime fiction should do. Also she looks at society and the human mind which has become incredibly fashionable again in crime fiction as it merges into popular literature. I had forgotten though how well she can weave a plot, after putting down the book having finished it you cannot help but marvel at how she came up with the idea in the first place, sent on so many wrong turns and then got you to a thrilling conclusion.

Sadly like with ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ Miss Marple isn’t in the book as much as I would have liked. I simply love the character of Miss Marple and though Lucy seemed a younger Miss Marple in her own way it was slightly like an understudy and with the secondary characters sometimes Agatha makes them slightly one dimensional but that’s me being really, really picky. You actually cannot fault Agatha’s work, she was ahead of her time I believe and now she is still one of the best selling authors every year, despite people saying she’s no longer fashionable.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Harper Collins, Miss Marple, Review