Monday, 12 March 2012

Book Fourteen The Swimming Pool Library

Alan Hollinghurst's novel is ground breaking, the first book to openly discuss homosexuality.  

Also it is honest view of a life most of us don't know about. There is promiscuousness to the highest degree from the main character Will Beckwith. Will can live without working due to the fortune of his grandfather Viscount Beckwith. 

This makes him spoilt and for me the idea that he can do and have whatever he wants.

The physical descriptions of his conquests is not always for the faint hearted. He is obsessed with physical beauty, often acting on instinct and sleeping with random strangers. Will is carefree and often quite unbearable yet he slowly unravels and I do mean slowly. 

His relationship with Lord Charles Nantwich is the catalyst, you see a change in  Will as it transpires his perfect life is not so perfect, particularly as he learns secrets closer to home.

The other side of the book is the homophobia, Will is violently attacked by skin heads, characters are arrested by policemen for their sexuality, it doesn't only reminisces to a time past, but the present controversies only reflect  how little we understand homosexuality really. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

This book compelled me and confused me. At it’s heart it’s about a woman who’s in her eighties and
is reflecting on her life with a multitude of regrets and sorrows and guilt.

Her name is Iris.
The book starts with the phrase ‘10 days after the end of the war my sister drove off a bridge’ I finished this book a fortnight ago now, I know bad me, and that phrase is still playing around in my head. The book is about 650 pages and I’d guess it had nearly 100 chapters, I didn’t count them and they’re not numbered, it’s a guess. But it wasn’t until about 3 chapters before the end of the book that the reason, or reasons, she killed herself come to light.
Some of the first chapters are newspaper clippings. They describe the suicides, cleverly covered, of Iris’ Sister, Husband, Daughter and Father.
The book is written in parts which alternate between the old Iris reflecting on her life, and a young woman living it, living an affair to be specific. It was the young sections which sucked me in, drew me back. I read them for their story and the second story they contained. They contained hope, while the old chapters contained despair. When I started reading I thought they were about one woman, by the end of the book I knew them to be about another. It doesn’t really matter both stories were told in a roundabout way.
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and yet it haunts me...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Book Thirteen - London Fields

I will admit I struggle with Martin Amis as a writer, I do not like his approach to books as he often appears as a misogynist. Often he writes crude and crushing things about women, "If you're going to be violent stick to women. Stick to the weak." 

That came within the first 10 pages and its set me up to think I just need to get through this book.

The concept is quite a good idea, an author with decades of writers block trying to find a story. However the length he goes to get this story is supposed to create "black humour". I didn't find the book funny at any lengths, it was disturbing. 

The books opening page was ominous, "I know the murder I know the murderee. I know the time,  I know the place." 

I will compliment Amis on his ability to create suspense, it doesn't make you comfortable. One of the methods he uses is telling the story through unreliable narrators, four narrators, helping the author tell the story. 

None of the characters have redeeming characteristics, they all use each other. Keith Talent, the thief or cheat, Nicola Six, the motive, Guy Clinch, the weak one and the author Samson Young who is terminally ill but will do anything to get his break.

Throughout the book what the characters do will make you raise your eyebrows. Yet the ending s probably the best bit without sounding to callous.

After Miss Pettigrew most books were going to fall short. But one thing I can say is that Martin Amis is a successful writer however he is one I don't enjoy.

Rowen's Review

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Book Twelve - Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

At this current moment in time, this is my favourite book so far. A triumphant story for the lead character who has had nothing but sadness in her life.

Miss Pettigrew is an aging woman, approaching 50, she has had no job, love, family or home to call her own. A chance when she visits the home of Miss LaFosse changes her life forever.

Each chapter documents hours in this one day and with each chapter Miss Pettigrew develops. She begins, shy and maybe a little prude, flustering when Miss LaFosse is intimate with male companions. 

Yet she isn't prude, she is a character everyone can emphaise with. She has not experienced any positive emotions, so when she does at several points in the book, it is phyically heart warming.

 It is what you want for her, you adopt her as your motherly figure, as she displays wisdom to the younger characters.

For some people the constant happiness might become nausiating, they may even say that this doesn't represent real life. However, I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know if Miss Pettigrew had a happy ending, if I said the book is based around Cinderella then it may put your mind at rest.

I reccomend whole heartedly this book, on any bad day read this and realise that life isn't terrible! 

If Miss Pettigrew was real she would be an inspiration to us all. 

Rowen's Review