Friday, 20 July 2012

Orlando - Virginia Woolf

Orlando was a weird book, there really is no other way to describe it. In what other world would a man simply go to sleep for a week and wake up a woman? In what other world would someone be alive for 400 years and yet only be 36 years old at the end of the time frame? I know that it is really a comment on literature and it's evolution in many ways and that's the reason behind it's oddity but still it weirded me out a little.

The book had some pace at the beginning, and then Orlando changed sex. This threw me and I practically put the book down for a week. When I picked it up again I was by bribery able to make it to the end, but I can't say I relished the time I spent reading it. 

I felt some empathy towards the character of Orlando and sympathy for him in the beginning, he seemed to be someone who had feelings, was repressed and even rebuked for them. He left the country to escape their effect, and on his return was a woman who spent 300 years in a slightly mental state. She was cruel to a suitor as a woman she had suited as a man had been cruel to her.

There was some small connection with her in the 10 pages or so leading up to her eventual marriage, but as her husband then left and was never really seen again it wasn't lasting. As for the son she gave birth to, he was mentioned only in the line informing of his birth and a vague reference to the need to buy 'boy's boots'.

On the whole it seemed disconnected and I would avoid reading it if I had my time again I think. 


Friday, 13 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

It isn't on our list but considering it is the biggest selling book of the year, I thought I would see what the fuss was all about. 

And I'm still waiting. 

I will admit the subject matter is... interesting, and much more vivid than D.H. Lawrence, which I thought might have prepared me for this. 

Yet there isn't anything else gripping in the book. Ana is constantly wrestling with her conscience about whether she wants to do this and Christian just wants her. 

That could be condensed to about 250/300 pages tops. 

The book is pretty simple to read and I can see why it has become the companion of so many women on the train. 

For me however, I read it in my room for the pure fact no-one needed to know I was reading it. 

Also I don't understand how you could want Christian Grey? Yes he has money and he can lavish you with everything under the sun, sea and sky but the man seems to have a few to many screws loose. 

He is the modern day Heathcliffe and I didn't fancy him much either, look what happened to him and Cathy in Wuthering Heights! 

In short the book is possibly the equivalent of sneaking a boy back to your room, your parents returning early and you having to throw him under the bed.

 It's not something to be proud of but you will do it once just to know what it feels like. 

I don't think I will be reading the rest of the series so I will never know what happened to Ana. Hopefully she cuts her ties with him, though unlikely. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Book Nineteen - Cranford

How do I write about a book like Cranford? 

It was so sweet in the sense you cannot dislike any of the characters as they only have each others interests at heart but even in 174 pages it seemed to drag for me.

Maybe it was the way it was written. Mary Smith could be considered an outsider as she often spends time away from Cranford which seems in itself an entire different world. 

Yet she is centre to all the action in the lives of Miss Matty and the others but does not acknowledge that she has such a big part. 

What did make me laugh is that the women have  their own hierarchy, they moan about men when they dare to enter their society and do not care for what might be considered the norm outside of their small town. 

That I did like. 

I agree with Rowen's point that the book has many plots that would not be amiss in Eastenders or Coronation Street but the resolutions were not exciting or left me a little miserable. 

I didn't connect with the book but I would recommend it. 

Read Rowen's thoughts here 

Book Eighteen - Casino Royale

For someone that generations of men have looked up to I was a little unimpressed with James Bond's first outing.

If anything the 2006 reboot with Daniel Craig is a good interpretation of the darkness the book presents. 

Bond does not like closeness and tries to distinguish between love and work. He will dabble with women, but he cannot commit to them, let alone work with them. 

Here enters Vesper Lynch, enigmatic and the first woman to shoot Bond where it hurts, in the heart. 

She doesn't come across well in the book and her final actions make her former toughness seem false and seems to suggest that being a spy is a man's job. 

The action scenes work much better on the screen, especially the torture scene where Bond suffers greatly at the hands of Le Chiffe. Le Chiffe is a terrible villain, in the sense he doesn't really do much and even the casino game can not build up much tension. 

You cannot sympathise with Bond, he isn't a likeable character and Fleming always calls him Bond which seems to suggest that he doesn't care for the spy either.

Whether the series picks up I do not know, but the spy didn't leave me shaken or stirred. 

Rowen's Review

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

A tale of woeful reminiscence, Charles looks back on his association with the Aristocratic Marchmain family, and appears hollow as he reflects on how one by one he lost them.

I loved this book, it was fantastic. The way that the sheer emptiness and helplessness is related through the narrator. I loved the way that the time period it was set in echoed through its pages.

I felt true sympathy for Charles as he lost first Sebastian to Alcohol and then Julia to the same religion her mother had. A religion which in several different ways had poisoned the relationships Lady Marchmain had with all those she loved.

I thought it was interesting how well it was explained, or perhaps demonstrated, the destructive effect that faith can have.

In fact I’m not sure there was anything I disliked in this book, the worst I can say about it is that the story saddened me, but therein lies it’s strength.


Clarissa's Review