Top 5 – Books Awards 2011

I started Bundleofbooks in April, so it’s not quite a year of reading – but oh! what books I have read in the last nine months! I have re-read old favourites such as Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and Rebecca and discovered some incredible authors; Margaret Atwood and Isabel Allende. I’ve finally got around to reading books that have been on my To Read list for years; Brick Lane, Naples ’44 and Sense and Sensibility. I’ve had a giggle with Bill Bryson and Douglas Adams and suffered moments of depression with Cormac McCarthy and Graham Greene.

Through all the delights, tears, fears, laughs and yawns I have had a wonderful year of reading! So without further ado, I would like to welcome you to the Book Awards – 2011 where I have chosen the best (and worst) books from my 2011 reading list!

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Adaptations – Sense and Sensibility 2008 vs 1995

For Advent with Austen, I decided upon two versions of Sense and Sensibility to watch; the much loved 1995 adaptation with some very talented actors, and the more recent 2008 BBC TV serial. Having heard good things about the 2008 adaptation, I decided to start with that one. The episodes were also a perfect length to look forward to after work for a few nights.

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is the most popular of Austen’s novels and the most re-told. Therefore, when I first read it quite a few years ago I was determined to not like it! When I look back on my feelings of the book, I thought Elizabeth Bennet was selfish, rude and not at all a heroine for women to be proud of. Now that I have read the book a second time, I am rather ashamed.

I think the reason the plot has translated so well to all sorts of different fan fictions and adaptations is because it is a story that can be believed in the modern day. Elizabeth Bennet is the second eldest in a family of five sisters. She is a good natured, pretty young woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid to show it. On first meeting the rich and exceedingly proud Mr. Darcy, she takes an immediate dislike to him, but who would blame her after he insults her quite openly? This dislike is carried on through most of the book, even as Mr. Darcy’s feeling towards her change. Continue reading

I Came, I Saw – Norman Lewis

After reading the excellent Naples ’44, I was eager to read more by Norman Lewis. So when I was exploring my mum’s bookshelves the other day, I was pleased to find a dusty copy of I Came, I Saw, which I quickly saved from a life of being hidden behind many other dusty books. Naples ’44 means a lot to me because it was written about a time and place that was significant for my family. It is well written and honest. I’m glad to say that Lewis hadn’t lost his writing skills when he sat down to create this autobiography. (NOTE: I Came, I Saw is a republication of Jackdaw Cake, published in 1985 – I Came, I Saw has an extra fifty pages about Lewis’ time in South Italy in the 1960s and 1970s). Continue reading

Persuasion – Jane Austen

I like to think of Persuasion as a bit of a back-to-front love story. There is no gradual falling in love and no eyelash fluttering flirtations leading up to an engagement – at least not for Anne, the pretty and polite protagonist. There may be girlish flirtations and gossip involving the other girls in her circle, but Anne’s heart was taken seven long years earlier, and now can never love another. The man in question is Frederick Wentworth, a good looking and decent enough man, but who at the time had “nothing but himself to recommend him”. At the age of nineteen, young Anne was persuaded by her father and her loyal friend Lady Russell to pull out of the engagement. Continue reading

The Owl Service – Alan Garner

I bought this book on Amazon in a frenzy of excitement after reading some reviews raving about how fantastic it was. When I settled myself down comfortably to read The Owl Service, I thought I was in for a real treat, so maybe my expectations were a bit too high from the very beginning.

Supposedly a book to be enjoyed by both children and adults, the idea behind The Owl Service is wonderful. It’s set in a secluded cottage in a beautiful valley in Wales. This is the perfect setting for eerie and magical happenings and when there are mysterious scratching noises coming from the attic, the reader can’t help but feel a bit of a shiver down the spine. Continue reading

Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

When I found out it was the 200th anniversary of this much celebrated classic, I immediately hurried to my bookshelf to check that I still had my, as yet, unopened copy. With a thrill of excitement, I found it among all of my other unread books. Now you may be shocked, but I have never actually read Sense and Sensibility. It’s one of those books that has been on my To Read list ever since I can remember, so it was nice to have an excuse to finally read it!

I loved the 1995 film adaptation when I was younger, even if I didn’t understand all the complicated love triangles. The pretty costumes and idyllic locations were what appealed to me most. So I was very happy to discover that the book itself recreated the lovely surroundings of the cottage at Barton with all the warmth that I remembered. Continue reading