The Snow Goose – Paul Gallico

17 Oct

Snow GoosePaul Gallico tells a simple tale in this novella about friendship, love and loss. In the opening pages we are introduced to the ‘desolate and utterly lonely’ Great Marsh on the Essex coast. Like an artist, Gallico paints a picture of the scenery, making it seem both beautiful and sad; ‘Greys and blues and soft greens are the colours, for when the skies are dark in the long winters, the many waters of the beaches and marshes reflect the cold and sombre colour. But sometimes, with the sunrise and sunset, sky and land are aflame with red and golden fire’. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit

14 Oct

I’ve been a fan of the weekly Top Ten Tuesday feature over at The Broke and the Bookish ever since I started Bundle of Books and have been considering joining in for a while. I’ve been a bit too busy to blog a lot recently, so something like this will be a fun way to get back into the swing of things!

Today’s theme is: Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit.
toptentuesday Continue reading

Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

10 Oct

our-mutual-friend

Our Mutual Friend opens in true Dickens’ fashion with a grizzled man and a young woman rowing on the murky waters of the Thames. A repulsed Lizzie Hexam and her father have just found a corpse in the river.

In a sudden change of environment in the next chapter, we head over to Mr and Mrs Veneerings’ ‘bran-new house in a bran-new quarter of London’. I’m not sure what’s more horrifying, the grimy scene we just left or the shiny, well polished world of the Veneerings with their extravagant dinner parties and ‘bran-new’ artificial friends.

What brings these characters together in one book is an old miser’s will, and the body of his son John Harmon, found in the Thames. As always, Dickens’ mix of characters is a delight and his settings range from the gaudy dinner table of the Veneerings to my favourite, the dark and peculiar taxidermy shop owned by the gloomy Mr Venus. Continue reading

More Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

27 Sep

More tales of the cityEver since reading Tales of the City, I have been desperate to read the next in Maupin’s fantastic series set in San Francisco. I chose to read More Tales of the City on a hot and sunny weekend trip to a small town in the Czech Republic. From now on this book will forever remind me of lazing in the sun surrounded by blue skies and the lovely Czech countryside.

More Tales of the City steps a little further into the lives of some of my favourite people; Michael ‘Mouse’ Tolliver, Mona Ramsey, Mary Ann Singleton and of course Mrs Madrigal. I was also happy to see a reappearance of Mona’s ex, D’orothea and the pregnant DeDe, who form an unlikely, but heart-warming friendship. Continue reading

Top 5 Roald Dahl Books from my Childhood

13 Sep

Happy Roald Dahl Day everyone!

Today is the birthday of the beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, and what better way to celebrate than to share some of my favourite books?

Roald_Dahl_Day Continue reading

Love, Nina – Nina Stibbe

11 Jul

Love NinaWhen I was nineteen I moved to Rome to au pair for an amazing family with two girls. A couple of years later I was in Milan looking after a little boy with very good taste in books. When I read the first couple of pages of Love, Nina – Despatches from Family Life, it brought back all of my memories from that time. This book is a must for all au pairs and nannies out there!

Made up of letters written to her sister in the 1980s, this book gives a candid insight into Nina’s life as a nanny in the home of the London Review of Books editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers. She didn’t realise it then, but she had landed in the house of literary connections; Friends and neighbours included Claire Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Deborah Moggach and Alan Bennett, who Nina introduces as the Alan Bennett… He used to be in Coronation Street.”  Bennett, referred to as ‘AB’, is a frequent visitor, often joining the family for dinner. He brings along eccentric conversation, surprising cookery advice and the odd rice pudding. But it’s not the famous names scattered throughout that has left such an impression on me – what I really love is the relationships between Nina, Mary-Kay and the kids, Sam and Will. She fits right in as a member of the family, and her dialogues made me reminisce about similar conversations I had with the children I looked after. These mini dialogues are short and sweet, but there’s a cleverness in the simplicity. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

9 May

The Great GatsbyIt was my friend’s Great Gatsby themed hen do a couple of weeks ago, and so I finally  read this ‘Great American Novel’ in the name of research!

This book had an effect on me which not many have, where it’s not so much the reading of it that I found interesting, as the aftermath. A similar thing happened with Story of O. I finished The Great Gatsby over a week ago, and yet I’m still thinking about it. And the more I think about it, the more I like it. I almost want to read it again to take a closer look at the words, and read more deeply into the many significant metaphors that I may not have noticed first time round. For such a short novel, there are so many themes. It’s a quick read, but certainly not a light one.

Continue reading

5 Reasons Women Should Love Game of Thrones

2 May

** WARNING: Contains spoilers **

Recently there has been controversy over the Game of Thrones TV series. It’s been written about in the Guardian, and even Woman’s Hour has picked up on it. This all stems from one particular episode that included a rape scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, which was definitely consensual in the book – if anything Cersei was pushing for sex, while Jaime held back. I was not happy with this change because it isn’t consistent with Jaime’s character, which is becoming far more sympathetic.

GoT Title Continue reading

Adaptations – Jamaica Inn

27 Apr

When I heard that the BBC were adapting my favourite Daphne du Maurier book, my first instinct was to be horrified. I felt sure that they would ruin it – there’s so much that could go wrong! After watching the trailer and reading all of the tweets, curiosity overcame me and I sought out Jamaica Inn on the iPlayer.

** WARNING: This post contains spoilers! **

All Continue reading

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien

20 Apr

Fellowship

Sitting down to read The Lord of the Rings feels like catching up with an old friend. I have read it several times since I first fell in love with Middle Earth as a teenager, and I love it just as much every time.

The characters, settings and plot are so familiar to me, but on each re-read, I discover new things, or appreciate things in a slightly different way. There’s so much going on in the series, and so much backstory, that’s it’s easy to miss things first, second or even third time round!

The opening chapters are comforting, especially for those that have read The Hobbit. We’re back in Hobbiton, and enjoying the excitement at Bag End as hobbits Bilbo and his heir Frodo prepare for a Long-Expected Party to celebrate their joint birthdays. Continue reading

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