I Capture the Castle (Watford Palace Theatre and Octagon Theatre Bolton, 2017)

I Capture the Castle (Watford Palace Theatre and Octagon Theatre Bolton, 2017)

Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle is one of my favourite novels of all time; I have read and reread it many times, utterly enchanted by the eccentric world of the Mortmain family. It includes one of my favourite opening lines (“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”) and characters I hold dear. It was also meaningful to other members of my family, so when we realised that the musical adaptation would be kicking off its run nearby, we had to make a family outing of it. I’ll admit I was torn between being very excited and very nervous about the musical: I was excited to see how they staged and interpreted the characters, but I struggled to see how it would work as a musical. However, I have never been so glad to have an adaptation surpass all my expectations: this was a wonderful musical that found a myriad of ways to maintain the tone of the novel and characters. Read more

The Frozen Deep

The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins

It’s been a while since I read Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White but it was a book I remember very much enjoying, full of intrigue and surprises; so when a friend lent me Collins’ novella The Frozen Deep I looked forward to enjoyable, suspenseful read. It was definitely one of those books in which outside facts, such as it having originally been a play, made me want to read it more. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that it was this work which had inspired Dickens to write A Tale of Two Cities, a novel I had read towards the end of last year.   Read more

The Story of a New Name

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

There’s something I find incredibly addictive about the world of Lena and Lila in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will remember that I was introduced to the Neapolitan Novels when I picked up My Brilliant Friend in a bookshop last year; I absolutely loved it, and immediately added the rest of the series to my Christmas list. Enough time had passed between reading My Brilliant Friend and starting The Story of a New Name that I had somewhat forgotten the pull this series had on me, but it only took a handful of chapters for me to become utterly absorbed again. Read more

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

Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems

Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems edited by Helen McNeil

Just before Christmas I had a lovely evening wrapped up warm, reading Victorian women’s poetry. In one anthology, I stumbled across a very small selection of poems by Emily Dickinson: I was pleasantly surprised to find that poems I used to find confusing and dry were now engaging my emotions and, in some cases, echoing my thoughts. It seemed the time had come for me to retry Dickinson’s poetry, so I quickly added a selected collection to my Christmas list. I’ve definitely been enjoying getting into Dickinson’s poetry again and I don’t quite know why it has taken me so long to fully engage with her poems. Read more


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I had finished Americanah, I tweeted that it was one of the best books I’d read in a while. After reading Adichie’s short story from the Season of Stories, I had been eager to read her longer fiction and, from researching her novels, Americanah was the one that jumped out at me. If you have been following this blog for a while, you might be aware that I work with international students, and it was clear from the blurb that a significant part of the narrative would be exploring one character’s life moving from Nigeria to study in the US; I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the bit that attracted me. Adichie’s writing drew me in from the outset and I was entirely caught up with the characters throughout the narrative. Read more