The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I will admit that I had heard very little about The Underground Railroad before I bought it on the recommendation of the lady working in Waterstones. She gave me a brief description of it and the premise intrigued me: I was interested to see how turning the underground railroad that helped slaves escape into free states into an actual railroad would affect a novel set in that period. In actual fact, the railroad is not the major plot point I was expecting: this is a powerful narrative that focuses on the personal struggles of a slave attempting an escape from the Deep South. Read more

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Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (BBC, 2017)

Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (BBC, 2017)

The last time I wrote about the Cormoran Strike series, I said that Career of Evil signified the point at which I needed to part ways with the series as it had become too dark for me. Not long after that, I discovered that there was to be an adaptation of the series for television; for a while, I wasn’t sure whether I would watch it or not but eventually came to the decision that I would watch the adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling since I did genuinely enjoy that first installment in the series. I probably won’t watch The Silkworm episodes, which will be airing soon in the UK, and I definitely won’t be watching Career of Evil: this review, therefore, is simply of the first three-episode installment of what is likely to be a long and complex overall adaptation of an entire detective series. Read more

The Essex Serpent

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent is a novel I heard a lot about last year, but never managed to find time to read myself; my summer holiday this year seemed like the perfect time to finally find out why so many people have recommended this book to me. I definitely understand why it has been so well-received: this was a wonderfully immersive narrative with fascinating characters that stayed with me long after I had put the book down. One sign of a good book for me is that I have difficultly stepping back into reality after I have finished, and this was definitely one of those books.   Read more

Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Recently, I’ve been doing some research into fairytales for a writing project. Whilst I was searching for some more books to read in this genre, I stumbled across Uprooted and bought it, I must confess, mostly on the strength of its cover (and some of the reviews). I was looking forward to reading it but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. As I was reading, I was reminded that I used to read a lot of this type of fantasy when I was a teenager but at some point I stopped doing so; I’ve definitely been prompted to dip back into this genre more regularly. Read more

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Despite my love of Victorian literature, I had never actually read any of Thomas Hardy’s novels; some of his poems, yes, but never any prose. Until recently, I hadn’t seen a real need for me to explore his writing at all, but I’ve been slowly realising that, as someone who writes about books, I should probably have a better knowledge of his writing. So, on visiting a relative who allowed me to pick any book from her shelves to take away with me, I decided that now would be the time to get acquainted with Hardy; I chose Tess of the D’Urbervilles knowing absolutely nothing about it except that my sister had enjoyed the BBC series. In some ways I’m quite glad that I didn’t know anything about the narrative before I started reading as it meant I felt the full force of the twists and turns, however, despite several warnings, I was wholly unprepared for the unrelenting sadness.    Read more

Pride and Prejudice (Illyria, 2017)

Pride and Prejudice (Illyria, 2017)

During a recent visit to London with some friends, we discovered that the touring outdoor theatre company Illyria would be performing Pride and Prejudice in the grounds of Westminster Abbey whilst we were there. Illyria had brought this adaptation to our city earlier in the year, but we hadn’t been able to make it then; I’m so glad we were able to see it in London. It was a wonderful evening: a beautiful setting (and good weather) for a very funny adaptation of Austen’s novel. Read more

Hamlet: Globe to Globe

Hamlet: Globe to Globe by Dominic Dromgoole

As I was plotting what to buy with my birthday book vouchers, I happened across Hamlet: Globe to Globe and almost immediately knew that this would make up part of my book haul. The idea of taking Hamlet to every country in the world was one that fascinated and intrigued me, particularly as I immediately started thinking of ways in which the different themes present in the play could be emphasised in different countries to contextualise the narrative. (When I described the premise to a friend, he commented that it seemed like a perfect match of two of my big interests: literature and cross-cultural commentary.) There have been many non-fiction books I have read this year which have surprised me in how much I have enjoyed them, and this was definitely one of them: a fascinating exploration of the global impact of theatre and the multitude of themes weaved through Shakespeare’s writing. Read more

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A few months ago, I started to follow Rupi Kaur on Instagram after hearing lots of good things about her writing. I enjoyed reading her posts but wanted to get a better overview of what her writing would be like in print so I was pleased when I was given a copy of Milk and Honey for my birthday earlier this year. Having read it now, I can understand why there was so much hype about it: it is definitely unique as a collection of poetry, tackling issues that feel very real and personal to Kaur. However, I see it less as a ground-breaking collection and more as the promise of great potential: I look forward to seeing how Kaur has grown as a writer when her next book is released later this year. Read more

The Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

Almost exactly a year since I first picked up My Brilliant Friend, I started reading the final installment of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels: The Story of the Lost Child. If you have been reading my reviews of the series, you will know that I have been completely engrossed by the world and characters Ferrante has created. At times, I have struggled to articulate the effect that these novels have on me: although they depict a world very different from the world I grew up in, something within the narrative had a deep resonance with me that I have experienced with few other novels, let alone an entire series. This final installment, in particular, became a narrative that I carried round with me even when I wasn’t reading the book; it was a wonderful, absorbing conclusion to a series that I will hold close to my heart. Read more

The Better Strangers (The Borrowers That Lend, 2016)

The Better Strangers (The Borrowers That Lend, 2016)

Last year, I reviewed A Document of Madness, a web series adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. During the release of A Document of Madness, The Borrowers That Lend were also filming a sequel: The Better Strangers, adapted from As You Like It, which was released over the course of the past several months. Having enjoyed A Document of Madness, and As You Like It being a new addition to my favourite Shakespeare plays, I was naturally very excited to step back into the world of Wittenberg College and see how The Borrowers That Lend were able to grow from their first project. This proved to be a fun series that provided a little bright spot in my day whenever a new episode was released. Read more