Tag Archives: Anthea Church

Sleeping With Mozart – Anthea Church

I have a big thanks for todays post. Whilst I have been between in and out hospital over the last few months I have still had time to make some new friends along the way. One of whom, the lovely Louise of I Hug My Books, has since started a book blog herself and kindly took ‘Sleeping With Mozart’ by Anthea Church off my hands when I told her I simply couldn’t finish it. Whilst I am much happier now writing negative reviews (every now and again though, everything in moderation) on Savidge Reads I simply can’t write about a book I don’t finish. So looking at the positive in everything and using it as an exercise (and a way of introducing a lovely new blogger), it shows just how every single reader no matter how similar their taste (Lou and mine are quite similar we have discovered) can take one book very, very differently.I wasn’t a fan, but Louise very much was – and so I shall hand you over to her…
I was a little sceptical when Sleeping with Mozart first found it’s way in to my hands, initially I thought it was going to be a classic chic lit story, this not being my style I braced myself for a book I assumed wouldn’t suit my tastes, How nice it is then to be proved wrong.
Far from being another classic chic lit story Anthea Church instead creates an honest and touching depiction of love and all of it’s attending complexities. She does this whilst creating a protagonist, Dorcas, who is charming, endearing and also at times entertainingly eccentric. Church takes a classic tale of heartbreak and gives it a refreshingly new lease of life. She adds the depth and insight very often missing from other books of it’s kind and she gives real heart to the story through her central character of Dorcas and her rather touching and sentimental take on love.
When Dorcas’s lover Jamie calls off their relationship, telling her she is too young for him and telling her that she needs to date other men, in order to see the bigger picture, Dorcas finds herself at a loss. Adamant that he is the only man for her whilst also painfully aware that he has strictly instructed her that they should cease contact, Dorcas, the extreme self examiner and self improver, must pick herself up and carry on.
Following Jamie’s instructions Dorcas sets out on a mission to try and meet and essentially date a variety of different men. This is carried out with great reluctance by Dorcas who only wishes to return to Jamie, and it is primarily so she can tell him that she has tried dating other men, thank you, but still only wants him. So she embarks upon her journey enlisting the help of the hilarious Tanya Wright of Bright Lights, a self exclaimed dating guru. What ensues is a entertaining series of dates which will keep all readers amused as Church creates a series of men designed to test Dorcas’s patience. I’m sure most readers approaching this book will find themselves relating to any one of the dates that Dorcas finds herself on, and occasionally like me laughing along the way at the witty way in which Dorcas retells the reader of her disastrous encounters. Told with this accurate humour it’s hard not to feel empathy for Dorcas and her plight.
The story is also set to the backdrop of Dorcas’s life as an English teacher. Faced with an imminent school inspection,which packs an exciting twist towards the end of the story (I wont say any more in case I ruin the story), Church portrays an intriguing vision of life for Dorcas as a teacher. The children within her classroom help add a funny and light hearted dimension to the book with their larger than life personalities. They also rather interestingly provide a novel look into love from a teenagers perspective. And for Dorcas, who sees much potential and scope for confidentiality within her girls, this becomes a therapeutic way to explore the love she herself has explored with Jamie. In one particular part of the book Dorcas finds herself covering a religious education class and the subject of infinitely arises. A prominent theme within the book is uniquely explored through the various views of her pupils forcing Dorcas to re ponder previous dialogues with Jamie upon the matter.
Even though Dorcas may be struggling to regain herself after losing Jamie she comes alive in the classroom and it’s in these snippets when the reader can really see what a complex and engaging character Dorcas is. Yes she may be hopelessly in love with Jamie but she is also strong and self preserving and throughout the book she trudges along bravely facing up to her break up and doing so with independence and a commendable attitude. Off course this was an essential must in the story as the sometimes sentimental tone and pleading declarations of love in Dorcas’s narrative can often become rather heavy. It is therefore a skill on Church’s behalf that she has created in Dorcas a women who is respectable in her attempts to survive this break up. Her witty comments and smart take on life allow her to be an engaging and likable character.
The book is written in a diary style narrative of Dorcas reliving her day to day to life for her imaginary audience; Jamie. She also spends great chunks of the books remembering various experiences and conversations she has had with Jamie and she replays them in her head looking back on these moments and discussing them as though he were there with her. Through this particular style dialogue is sparse. It is compensated for by the long rambling musings of Dorcas,which off course could potentially isolate a reader who is not a part of this intense love affair, but Church writes and depicts their relationship in such a way that we feel deep empathy and understanding for this love. So instead of feeling secluded we are able to have sympathy for Dorcas and her feelings and luckily feel a part of what she is going through.
As previously mentioned the story falls short of being the traditional chic lit that I expected and that I have heard so many other people describe it as. This is partly thanks to moments of raw and painful sadness that Dorcas describes within the book. As she looks back on their love in this almost diary style narrative I often found myself touched and moved by the depth of her feelings and her true sadness that the relationship had come to an end. Church writes in a believable and moving fashion and it’s easy to start truly sympathising with Dorcas and to really believe in her emotions. These moments add a heaviness to the novel but also a more frank and honest betrayal of love. The story works because Church harmoniously balances humour and wit with strong, effective emotions. The dry and acute musings of Dorcas are infused with humour and complemented by touching scenes and real, honest feelings.
On whole this novel is an original and sometimes philosophical look on love. It shows how complex and tricky love can be, it also shows how deeply two peoples lives can become interwoven and how painful the separation of this bond can be. Ultimately the story follows Dorcas on the painful journey of overcoming this hurt and it does so with a character who is so unique that it gives a new dimension to a concept previously portrayed in books, but maybe not quite like this.What I loved most about this book is Anthea Church’s take on love and the way in which she encourages her audience to explore and delve into the varying intricacies of love.
Within the character of Dorcas, Church steers clear of cliched characters and actually creates within Dorcas an individual protagonist. Dorcas is strong and ultimately brave enough to face the challenges of love but she is also refreshingly optimistic, trusting and forgiving in a world where women seem to have become hardened to love. I finished the book grateful for Dorcas and her open and optimistic approach to love. Church has created the ultimate realist character with heart.
For anyone looking for a love story with a new twist then this book is well worth a read, it’s also worth a read if like me your looking to try a style and genre of book that you usually shy away from.
This book was kindly sent by the publisher and kindly reviewed by Louise of I Hug My Books a lovely new blog you should pop and visit.
Have you read Sleeping with Mozart? If so what did you think? What books would you recommend a new blogger should run out and read?
Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Anthea Church, Review, Virago Books

February’s Incomings…

I do love those lists that some bloggers have down the side of their blogs where  the jacket covers of all the incomings that they have received or are receiving as the weeks go on can be seen. Sadly, though I am sure that there is one on wordpress, I have no idea how to do such a thing and as I started one last month I thought I would do another end of month post (which might become a monthly feature) of the books that have arrived this month. Now if you don’t like these sort of posts fear not as you can discuss the pro’s and con’s of big books with me today on this post here instead. However if you love these posts, as I do on other blogs, then lets take a gander at what has been quite a crop of books.

First up it’s the hardbacks and as you will see while a lot of books do come from publishers some are treats from other lovely people, or simply treats from me.

  • Snowdrops by A.D. Miller – This is a book I had been told was winging its way to me and I got very excited about and then the mail man mislaid it. Now it’s here and over the next week or so I am going to be throwing myself into Russia which is a country that fascinates me and yet I know very, very little about. I am wondering if the atmosphere, which is meant to be incredible in this novel, will send me off to read some of the Russian greats.
  • Beautiful Forever by Helen Rappaport – This came out last year and is non-fiction about “Madame Rachel of Bond Street – cosmetician, con-artist and blackmailer” true life Victorian dastardly goings on, what could be more me. This was a belated Xmas pressie from my mother which she brought down last week.
  • One of Our Tuesdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde – The latest Thursday Next novel and a timely reminder I need to start at the beginning (I wanted to see him at Waterstones tomorrow but I will be in hospital, grrr).
  • The Tenderloin by John Butler – a Green Carnation Prize submission from Picador.
  • The Path of Minor Planets by Andrew Sean Greer – One of Faber and Faber’s entries for the Green Carnation Prize. (Publishers are really onto it early this year – hoorah!)
  • Mrs Fry’s Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry – I bought this at Sainsbury’s for £3 on a whim as thought might make me laugh at hospital.
  • Sleeping With Mozart by Anthea Church – I was thrilled when Virago got in touch and asked me to read this but sadly I didn’t care for it much and as I don’t like doing negative reviews it’s leaving me in a real quandary, to write about or not to write about? Hmmm!
  • Darkside by Belinda Bauer – I loved Belinda’s debut ‘Blacklands’ and having been in a crime mood this was ideal. Thoughts will be up tomorrow (if everything works right) on this murder mystery.
  • Ape House by Sara Gruen – After reading ‘Water for Elephants’ for book group and loving it, I am thrilled that Sarah’s publishers Two Roads wanted me to give her latest a whirl.
  • Cedilla by Adam Mars-Jones – This is the second Faber entry for the Green Carnation so far and its HUGE (I am talking big books later) and one I am looking forward to as it’s the sequel to the rather marvellous ‘Pilcrow’ though I will be judging it as a stand alone book of course.

Phew that’s quite a few. Onto paperbacks which have been arriving thick and fast. I haven’t included the Jo Nesbo parcel which arrived and I mentioned before, nor have I included the two rather large shopping spree’s which I undertook in February both on a visit to Granny Savidge in Matlock and on a day out in Yorkshire earlier this month. Shame on me, still somehow I managed to buy a few in this lot too.

  • Through The Wall by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya – The lovely Novel Insights brought me this Penguin Mini Classic last week on a visit as she thought it would be right up my street. I have a feeling she will be spot on.
  • Heat & Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala – A booker prize charity shop find for 50p. I have said I do intend to read all the winners at some point and have devoured this one so expect thoughts soon.
  • The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons – I really enjoyed ‘Mr Rosenblum’s List’ when I read it last year and actually chattered and nattered to Natasha when she was working on this one so I know a bit about the plot and it sounded fascinating so I have everything crossed this will be a corker.
  • The Bride That Time Forgot by Paul Magrs – The latest Brenda and Effie adventure in paperback, again reminding me I am slightly behind with this series. I also have a spare so expect a give away at some point.
  • Where The Serpent Lives by Ruth Padel – I know nothing of this book but isn’t she the lady that caused a lot of controversy over something and nothing?
  • South Riding by Winifred Holtby – I have devoured this one and my thoughts on it are here.
  • The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee – Another book I know nothing about but having read the quotes and page 29 (all the blurb says is ‘read page 29’) this looks like it could be an astounding book.
  • Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue – As you will all know I loved ‘Room’ and this is a reissued copy of her earlier historical novel (I am hoping it’s a Victorian romp) which I am excited about. I have already got an American edition of this which I am now handing over to Granny Savidge Reads who, after reading ‘Room’, is a Donoghue fan too.
  • The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal – I so wasn’t bothered about this when it came out but since winning the Costa Prize and having heard about it all over the place when it arrived I was super chuffed and have started dipping into it already.
  • The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath by Jane Robins – I do like true historical crime, modern stuff makes me feel uncomfortable in general – too close to home maybe, but this sounds like its right up my street. Maybe not one to read in the bath though?
  • 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan – I bought this in Sainsbury’s, bad me, partly because the cover is so good and also thinking it was non-fiction from the blurb, wrong. I will give it a whirl though and see.
  • Half a Life by Darin Strauss – A memoir about accidental murder. I had to sign a confidence clause before I could get the proof for this and then forgot the date had been and gone so will schedule my thoughts to be shared soon.
  • The Long Song by Andrea Levy – I have already read this, however it’s a book group choice in the next few months and I’d had mine signed for my Gran so a new one has magically turned up. I am actually really looking forward to re-reading this one even so soon after I originally did.
  • Dog Binary by Alex MacDonald – I don’t know anything about this, it came with Half a Life.
  • Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid – I am hoping this is another entry for the Green Carnation Prize as we do want a mixture of genres, I don’t think the other judges have had this one though so I will have to check. I have heard McDermid is very good at murder so this should be good.

So lots of books to read while I am in waiting rooms, hospital wards and in bed when I get home over the next few weeks or so which is an utter delight. I wonder how much of a dent in them I will make. I also really need to have a fresh cull and clear out too. It never stops. Have you read any of these books and if so what did you think? Any you would like to see me give priority to if the whim takes me?

11 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts