The Muse

The Muse by Jessie Burton

The Muse had been on my To Read list ever since I read The Miniaturist earlier this year; over the course of the past few months, several people have also recommended Jessie Burton’s second novel to me, so it kept moving higher and higher up the list. This was an intriguing read that I actually enjoyed more than The Miniaturist as Burton threads one mystery all the way through the seemingly separate stories of Odelle and Olive. This was a perfect read for a busy time of year, although the last few chapters kept me up reading fairly late into the night. Read more

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Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

There are some books that you read, and you really can’t remember how you came across them or even when you ended up buying them. Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life has been one of those for me. When I found it on my Kindle, I couldn’t remember downloading it at all but I have a feeling that it was the title that originally drew me to it. It is one of those titles that sticks in your head, with layers of meaning lying behind it; it only becomes more so when, in the first chapter, Li describes finding this quote in a notebook of Katherine Mansfield and the impact that it had on her decision to write this book. Whatever the reason for buying it, I’m glad that I did, as it proved to be a very personal and unique look at mental health and creativity. Read more

Elizabeth is Missing

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

I should probably say upfront that I have found it hard to be objective about his novel: my Grandmother has dementia and as such there were many aspects of Elizabeth is Missing that struck too close to home. In fact, I found it difficult to read more than a couple of chapters at a time simply because reading the confusion of dementia from the point of view of the sufferer was quite painful. However, this is an incredibly well-written and researched novel that tackles a situation more and more people in this world are facing. Read more

On the Other Side

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

If you have a glance through the books that I’ve reviewed, you might notice that On the Other Side is not my usual genre. I actually read this on the recommendation of my housemate, who read this first and knew that I sometimes watched Carrie Hope Fletcher’s videos on YouTube; I had seen and heard enough about it to be curious and so I made sure to put it to the top of my TBR list. I will admit that I have found it hard to know how best to review this novel since it is not in a genre I read regularly or particularly enjoy. However, I can definitely see why it has appealed to so many people and why it is such a strong example of its genre. Read more

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

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