The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

This is a beautifully written account of the bitter aftermath of a broken love affair. The book is written from the point of view of Maurice Bendrix, an author and rejected lover of Sarah, a married woman living across the common.

He starts his tale with the chance meeting of Sarah’s husband, Henry, walking through the common on a miserable, rainy evening. It is eighteen months since he last saw the married couple and seeing them again reawakens his feelings of hate, which threaten to overflow. He hates Henry, for coming between him and his lover. He hates Sarah for leaving him. But most of all he hates himself for pushing Sarah away with his jealousy and anger. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing is everything you would expect from a drug fuelled trip to Las Vegas – and more. Filled with bizarre situations, hilarious dialogue and a unique writing style, this book was enjoyable to read from beginning to end.

Hunter S. Thompson is a brilliant writer who manages to describe his days spent in Las Vegas with a surprising amount of clarity and lots of humour. Set in the post hippie era, this cult hit is loosely based on some of his own actions, mixed in with some imaginative, fabricated events.

The book opens with him and his attorney thundering through the desert on the way to Las Vegas in ‘The Red Shark’. Being a sports journalist, Thompson has been given an assignment to cover a desert motor race in Las Vegas. Instead, he takes the spending money and stocks  a rented red chevy convertible up with every type of drug imaginable, and along with his Samoan friend, goes in search of the American Dream.  Continue reading

Our Betty – Liz Smith

The first time I saw Liz Smith, she was dressed as a swashbuckling grandma in the CBBC series, Pirates, about a family of pirates who decide to settle on dry land in a normal family house. The series was fun and the characters were always getting into trouble. The second time I saw her, was when she walked past me at her local shops near Hampstead Heath. As a child I was so excited that I had just seen Grandma Pirate in the flesh, but was much too nervous to speak to her.

Since then, she has been hard to miss. She pops up everywhere with either quite small parts or much larger roles, such as Nana in The Royale Family, who managed to capture the heart of a nation. Continue reading

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be eternally young? But if you keep your youth and beauty, if time and life does not leave its tell-tale traces upon your face with creases and stains, would you live your life differently? We would all like to believe that our personalities wouldn’t change but I don’t think that is very realistic.

Dorian Gray is rich and beautiful. At only only eighteen he is fresh faced, innocent and charming. One day he sees his portrait and realises that he will not always look so beautiful. The idea of his portrait staying young while age slowly creeps up on him is so unbearable to him that he rashly wishes away his soul in exchange for eternal youth. Continue reading

American Bookstore – Milan

This English language bookshop is bang in the centre of Milan. Situated only minutes away from the Duomo and opposite Parco Sempione, it is in the perfect location. If you feel like escaping the bustle of the city, why not pop in and choose a book, stroll across the road and enjoy a relaxing read on the grass in the park?

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Gardens of Delight – Erica James

 I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to read a romance novel, but when I heard that Erica James had won the Romantic Novel of the Year award in 2006, I decided it might be worth a try. It was also the only affordable book I could find set in Lake Como, which is where I went on holiday straight after reading it. I was hoping that reading a book about a group of people visiting Lake Como would be a nice way to get in a holiday mood.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I had hoped. For starters, the characters didn’t actually spend all that much time at the Lake. Most of the book was set in a small, English village full of nosey neighbours and where the social highlight of the week is the local Gardening Club meeting. As you can imagine, the book doesn’t get much more exciting. Continue reading

The Coma – Alex Garland

The Coma has been described as ‘chilling’, which is a perfect word as far as this book is concerned. The story is set in the dream-world of a man in a coma and his struggle to adjust to his new state. I found the concept very interesting and the writing style in which Garland tackles the subject especially impressive. This is not because he uses long words, or detailed descriptions. On the contrary, his style is simple and the book is a quick read, taking me only two sittings to read cover to cover.

The protagonist is Carl, who, getting beaten up on the tube on the way home from the work, is knocked into a coma. When he wakes up, everything seems a bit odd. He has hallucinations and finds himself in different places without knowing how he got there. He worries that he might have brain damage, after all he did hit his head. On his way back to the hospital, the story becomes quite unsettling. After realising that he is probably still in a coma, and needs to find a way to wake up, Carl tries to thinks of memories that might snap him out of it. And that’s when the nightmare really begins. Continue reading