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Books Glorious Books!

It’s been a manic few weeks. While I’ve read several books I’ve also been busy with work, studying and finishing off a craft project for some friends who are to marry this week. I’ve had very little time to do any full book reviews so I thought I’d try and write a small paragraph on each of the books I’ve been reading and see how it goes:

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn:– I read this for a book club event I never got to. This is the story of a woman that goes missing with her husband of chief suspect. I liked the fact that each chapter was alternately written by one of the couple which helped build up the story. However my biggest fault was that I hated both characters. It’s hard to root for someone when there are no good guys in the whole narrative. At one point the husband reveals an affair with one of his students and says something like “I bet your opinion of me has just fallen”. Except I’d never been given enough to like him before that. The wife was a pure sociopath and emotional manipulator and I could never quite grasp the reasons of why she did the things she did. It’s to be made into a film so it seems like maybe I was in the minority not liking this book.

The Emigrants – WG Seabold:– This was one of the books on my Open Uni reading list and I expected to hate it. I’d just finished reading several depressing books on my Uni list and knowing this was about holocaust survivors I expected more in the same vein. In the end it was …ok. The four stories revolved around people displaced from their homeland and what happened to them after the war. As you can imagine they all took the horrors with them and none ever recovered from what they saw, eventually they all died with several from suicide. Not a happy book! However the stories are all told by characters that truly love these people and are able to bring them to life in a way that really helps you understand how they chose to live their new lives.

Oronooko – Aphra Behn:- Another Open Uni book. I have no idea why this is called a classic. The tale is of an African prince that falls in love with a princess who is betrothed to another man. When they are discovered he is told the princess has been killed and after a bloody battle with the British ends up in slavery. However the princess is not dead and is too a slave in the same compound! But then because they are not allowed to live together in peace and harmony he yet again ends up in bloody battle in which everybody dies! It’s a very dramatic short story. And a little bit exhausting trying to follow it, mostly because of the language used and a complete lack of paragraphs. Yet another in a long line of depressing stories on my reading list. It does seem like my entire course is going to be about people dying!

Further Adventures of a London Call Girl – my review of the first book is elsewhere on my blog and I didn’t like it very much. I’d bought the second book as part of a discount deal so decided to give it a try. Much better than the first one. Belle gives up the call girl lifestyle quite early on to get a “proper job” as well as deal with her boyfriend woes. This allows us to learn more about her and what makes her tick that isn’t about sex. It has the depth the first book was sorely lacking. If you like chick lit books, this one is a good beach side read.

Hard Times – Dickens:- This is one of the last Open Uni reading books and thankfully not many people die in this one! Typical Dickens grim oop north writing. Even the well off in this book suffer in one way or another; gambling debts, married to men 3 times their age and so on. There are two stories intertwined her one of the Gradgrind family and one of the workers of the small town they live in – Old Stephen – suffering during the time of great change. I found the book interesting. I’ve recently studied Chartist history which I think helped explain some of the chapters regarding Mill workers. I felt sorry for Loo Gradgrind, the daughter married to a man very much older than her for the good of everyone except her. Reading up on Chartism, this book and watching the recent TV series The Mill, I can’t understand how the progressive country that we were then could still treat it’s working class people so horrendously. It also draws some interesting parallels to the conditions we (in the UK) are subject to in the present time

Perks of Being a wallflower – Stephen Chbosky:- The last one on this list and one where I have made a note to myself to find some more cheerful books! The story is narrated by an introverted teenager who goes by the alias of “Charlie”. He describes various life experiences through a series of letters to an anonymous stranger. While Charlie does have people he is close to he is suffering through the aftermath of the suicide of a friend and what becomes apparent in the epilogue the blocked memories of being abused by his aunt. This all makes for a melancholic teenager trying to find his way in the world, having occasional breakdowns and what appear to be anxiety attacks (although they are not decsribed very well). My main reason for not enjoying the book is the tone. I tend to find if I am reading sad books then I end up feeling sad too (left over from my own depression no doubt)  and it was often hard to find things to celebrate with the subject matters. I don’t think I’ll be watching the film.

Right that’s all up todate, I am now going to spend a few weeks reading “happy” books 🙂