Favourite ‘Loyal Best Friend’ Characters

Favourite ‘Loyal Best Friend’ Characters

Last week I made a post about one of the categories some of my favourite characters fall into: the ‘troubled’ characters with hearts of gold. This week, I’m taking a look at another group of favourite characters: the ‘loyal best friend’ characters. In my head, this group is called the ‘Samwise Gamgee’ characters. Looking down these two lists now, I can easily see a difference: here, you can find many of the books I loved as a child or teenager; in the former list, you can find a selection of the books I have enjoyed from my time at university onwards. Make of that what you will. So here are five of my favourite ‘Samwise Gamgee’ characters. Read more

Shakespeare Republic (Shakespeare Republic, 2015-2017)

Shakespeare Republic Series (Shakespeare Republic, 2015-2017)

The Shakespeare Republic Series is a different sort of Literary-Inspired Web Series to the ones I have previously reviewed here on this blog, but it is one that I have very much enjoyed watching throughout Seasons One and Two. I will admit that the draw of the series for me initially was seeing the involvement of Alan Fletcher, who played Karl Kennedy in Neighbours, but I quickly grew to love this passion project from the group of Australia-based actors who simply want to celebrate Shakespeare. Whilst one of the most obvious advantages of web series is the opportunities it affords to amateur and upcoming creatives, Shakespeare Republic shows another perspective: it also gives professionals the opportunity to explore things they are passionate about in a different media. Read more

Favourite ‘Troubled’ Characters

Favourite ‘Troubled’ Characters

One of the categories in my Literary Listography is ‘Favourite Troubled Characters’. Writing down a few names for this reminded me of the fact that my favourite characters often fall into two distinct categories: the ‘troubled’ characters with hearts of gold (or, as I refer to them, disaster children) and the loyal, best friend characters (or, the Samwise Gamgee characters). I thought it would be fun to make a couple of posts detailing five of my favourites from each category. Read more

Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life

Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

It sometimes feels as though Anne Brontë is one of the great mysteries of English Literature: not as well-known as her sisters, she is often on the periphery (or entirely absent) from discussions about the Brontës. Whilst I have to say that I prefer the writing of Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre and Villette are by far my favourite Brontë novels), I’ve always been more drawn to Anne as a person. Her passion and faith shine through both Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, marking her as someone with deep principles willing to write works that fly in the face of social convention to raise awareness of issues close to her heart. I was eager, therefore, to read Samantha Ellis’ book all about Anne and her view of the world. Read more

Horizons (Betwixt Productions, 2016)

Horizons (Betwixt Productions, 2016)

Just over a year ago I reviewed The Writing Majors, a web series I loved from 2015 which took famous writers and re-interpreted them as college students; in that review I mentioned that I was looking forward to Betwixt Productions next project, which hadn’t yet been released. I was excited to see how a team that had brought such strong and relatable characters to a series were able to grow in their next project. Well, Horizons recently came to the end of its run of episodes and it proved to be one of the most imaginative Literary-Inspired Web Series I have seen so far; a wonderful example of a dystopian world that sheds a chilling light on our own reality. From its engaging opening line to its emotional ending, this was an enjoyable series that makes for particularly good binge-watching. Read more

Northanger Abbey (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, 2017)

Northanger Abbey (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, 2017)

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you may have picked up that Northanger Abbey is a novel very close to my heart: I mentioned in my Characters I Connected With post that Catherine Morland was a character I related to a lot as a teenager. It is, although very closely followed by Emma, my favourite Austen novel. So when I saw that the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds stage adaptation of Northanger Abbey would be coming to my local theatre as part of its tour, my friends and I decided we had to go and see it. This was an enjoyable adaptation, that maintained the humour of Austen’s novel, but failed somewhat to capture the characters as they appear in the source text. Read more

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

One of the highlights of the year for me is always my family’s annual holiday to Normandy: we spend a restful week in a quiet area, reading and eating, returning to our favourite places year after year. One of those favourite places for us is Saint-Malo, just over the regional border in Brittany, a historical walled city which was nearly completely destroyed during the Second World War. So when my Mum passed on All the Light We Cannot See to me, a novel set in Saint-Malo during this period, I couldn’t think of a better time to start it than on the very day we had our annual visit to the city. Personal connection to the setting aside, this was a gripping, well-written novel that I am very glad I had recommended to me. Read more

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

As Ruth at onthearmofthesofa pointed out in the comments on my review of The Story of a New Name, I am not exactly renowned for my self-restraint when it comes to a book series. True to form, I couldn’t stay away from the next in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series for too long; by the second day of my holiday, I had decided that I needed to step back into the world of Lena and Lila to see what was next for them. I will say that I felt this novel wasn’t as strong as My Brilliant Friend or The Story of a New Name, but I was still utterly absorbed by the continuation of Lena’s recollections. I did finish the book with an impulse to throw it in the river, but that was another matter entirely; sometimes the sign of a good book is the genuine frustration felt when a character makes a truly terrible decision. Read more

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I honestly couldn’t begin to count the number of people who have recommended Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series to me. However, it wasn’t until I was browsing a charity bookshop and stumbled across The Eyre Affair that I actually got round to making a start on the series. I don’t know exactly what I was imagining when I started reading, but it was definitely a little different to my expectations (not in a bad way); I think the best description I could give for this novel would be ‘bonkers, but fun’. Read more

Swing Time

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

After reading and enjoying On Beauty last year, I was very intrigued by the build up to Zadie Smith’s most recent novel, Swing Time, which came out towards the end of last year. I was given a copy for Christmas, but had to leave it at my parents’ house for a while since I couldn’t manage to fit it in my suitcase. However, I have finally managed to read it, and I can definitely say that it was a novel I enjoyed. Of the three novels I have read by Smith, Swing Time is by far the most accessible, and I found it a fairly easy read. However, I think that On Beauty is still by far my favourite of the three for the depth that permeates through every aspect of the novel. Read more