Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A while ago I had a shocking realisation: although I had seen many different adaptations of Sense and Sensibility, I had never actually read the novel itself. I knew the story so well that I had somehow convinced myself that I must have read it at some point; but in reality I had just picked up a plethora of facts and details about the novel’s narrative from what I had seen and the people that I had talked to about it. I decided to remedy this failure as soon as possible, and, after a friend kindly gave me her old copy of the novel, I launched myself into the world of Austen once more. Read more

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

After reading one of the stories in this collection through the Season of Stories initiative, I decided that I would be interested to see how the whole collection held together. I was intrigued by the premise of a series of short stories that form one coherent narrative and wanted to see how Awad had achieved this in her writing. In ‘Full Body’, I had found Awad’s style to be engaging with a strong character voice; reading the whole collection I found this to be still true, and I enjoyed discovering the wider context of ‘Full Body’. However, I should say up front that although I enjoyed the writing and the world of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, I did find that some of the stories were more sexually explicit than I was comfortable with. Read more

Dared & Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning

Dared & Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning by Julia Markus

I was quite surprised at myself when I bought two biographical, non-fiction books in quick succession earlier in the term. However, I was not at all surprised that one of those was a study of the marriage between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning; I will freely admit that I am more than a little bit in love with their love. It is not the great secrecy of their romance that attracts me, nor the dramatic removal to Italy, but the details you read in their letters of why they loved each other: discussions on the latest literature; comparisons of their experiences as writers; patience in hearing out personal trials. I have very much enjoyed spending the past couple of weeks being immersed in not just their courtship, but also their marriage in the years that followed. Read more

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but even before I’d had The Miniaturist recommended to me it had been on my list of books to buy… simply because of its cover and blue pages. I always found myself being drawn to it first in bookshops before going on to discover another book I had been meaning to read for even longer. However, after a friend of mine with similar taste in books recommended Jessie Burton’s novel to me, I decided now would be the time to get hold of it. Sadly, my copy doesn’t have blue pages, but I eventually got over that disappointment and enjoyed immersing myself in this well-written, mysterious world. Read more

The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge

The Poets’ Daughters: Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge by Katie Waldegrave

Living where I do, having an interest in literature means that you would have to go out of your way to not have at least some knowledge of the ‘Lake Poets’: primarily Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey. I’ll admit that my reading of the latter two has been somewhat lacking, but I did a module of study on Wordsworth and have visited Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount a couple of times. On my most recent visit to Dove Cottage, Katie Waldegrave’s biography of Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge jumped out at me (I wasn’t intending on leaving with another book when my TBR pile is already towering on my desk) and I was intrigued to find out more about the generation that followed these famous poets. Read more