The Long Song

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

I was so glad to have finally got round to reading The Long Song. It had been sat on the ‘To Be Read’ pile by my window since Christmas but it wasn’t until I was away over Easter that I was actually able to take the time to read it. It was definitely worth the wait: The Long Song is a beautifully written novel which deals with a really important, and often ignored, issue of history. I enjoyed getting stuck into Levy’s writing since, although I had been aware of her after the success of Small Island, I had never actually read any of her novels; The Long Song has definitely encouraged me to read more of her writing, ideally starting with Small Island itself. Read more

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The Misselthwaite Archives (Pencil Ink Productions, 2015)

The Misselthwaite Archives (Pencil Ink Productions, 2015)

Please Note: There are some spoilers for the series below. However, I’ve indicated the section of the review in which these occur, so do skip over that paragraph if you do not want to be spoiled for an early plot point for the series.

A while ago, I made a list of Literary-Inspired Web Series I would recommend and mentioned that I hoped to post reviews of some of these series. I started with a review of Betwixt Productions’ The Writing Majors, but then debated with myself as to which series I should review next. After some deliberation, I decided that, since it is unlikely I will write about all the series I recommended, I might as well begin with those which I consider to be the strongest examples within the genre. And where better to go next than the series which I would probably say is my favourite Literary-Inspired Web Series at this moment: The Misselthwaite Archives. Read more

Emma: A Modern Retelling

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Please Note: There is a spoiler for a twist particular to this modernisation towards the end of the review. I have indicated where in the review this is, so if you do not want to be spoiled, do just skip over the rest of that paragraph.

If you follow me on twitter, you will be aware that I had some difficulty writing this review. Simply put: I was not sure what I thought of this novel at all. I think (I hope) it is clear from my recent post about Literary-Inspired Web Series that I quite enjoy well-done modernisations of classic literature; in fact, I watched Emma Approved (a modern adaptation of Emma) regularly during its release and, although it is not a series I would necessarily recommend, I thought it was fairly clever in its adaptation choices. Yet reading McCall Smith’s modernisation of Jane Austen’s novel left me feeling somewhat disconcerted and wrong-footed. Is there a difference, perhaps, between reading a modernisation and watching a modern adaptation? Or is it the combination of Austen and McCall Smith’s writing which feels a little unnatural? Personally, much as I enjoy McCall Smith, I’m inclined to think the latter. Read more

L’Assommoir

L’Assommoir by Émile Zola

Zola was one of these names which I often saw in bookshops by virtue of being the very end of the Classics section, but which I actually knew very little about. A few weeks ago, when I mentioned my interest in Victorian Literature to a friend, she suggested that I have a look at Zola (and a couple of other French Victorian writers), and lent me L’Assommoir as a good place to start. I read Robert Lethbridge’s Introduction first, and was surprised to discover how influential this particular novel had been in Victorian France. In the Preface, Zola himself goes so far as to describe it as ‘the first novel about the common people that does not lie’ (p.3); whilst I am not sure how true a claim this is, Zola certainly doesn’t shy away from themes which other writers might be somewhat afraid to tackle. This was a somewhat uncomfortable novel to read which narratively subverted my expectations at almost every turn, and I can definitely see why it had such an impact on French society at the time. Read more