Horizons (Betwixt Productions, 2016)

Horizons (Betwixt Productions, 2016)

Just over a year ago I reviewed The Writing Majors, a web series I loved from 2015 which took famous writers and re-interpreted them as college students; in that review I mentioned that I was looking forward to Betwixt Productions next project, which hadn’t yet been released. I was excited to see how a team that had brought such strong and relatable characters to a series were able to grow in their next project. Well, Horizons recently came to the end of its run of episodes and it proved to be one of the most imaginative Literary-Inspired Web Series I have seen so far; a wonderful example of a dystopian world that sheds a chilling light on our own reality. From its engaging opening line to its emotional ending, this was an enjoyable series that makes for particularly good binge-watching. Read more

Northanger Abbey (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, 2017)

Northanger Abbey (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, 2017)

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you may have picked up that Northanger Abbey is a novel very close to my heart: I mentioned in my Characters I Connected With post that Catherine Morland was a character I related to a lot as a teenager. It is, although very closely followed by Emma, my favourite Austen novel. So when I saw that the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds stage adaptation of Northanger Abbey would be coming to my local theatre as part of its tour, my friends and I decided we had to go and see it. This was an enjoyable adaptation, that maintained the humour of Austen’s novel, but failed somewhat to capture the characters as they appear in the source text. Read more

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

One of the highlights of the year for me is always my family’s annual holiday to Normandy: we spend a restful week in a quiet area, reading and eating, returning to our favourite places year after year. One of those favourite places for us is Saint-Malo, just over the regional border in Brittany, a historical walled city which was nearly completely destroyed during the Second World War. So when my Mum passed on All the Light We Cannot See to me, a novel set in Saint-Malo during this period, I couldn’t think of a better time to start it than on the very day we had our annual visit to the city. Personal connection to the setting aside, this was a gripping, well-written novel that I am very glad I had recommended to me. Read more

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

As Ruth at onthearmofthesofa pointed out in the comments on my review of The Story of a New Name, I am not exactly renowned for my self-restraint when it comes to a book series. True to form, I couldn’t stay away from the next in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series for too long; by the second day of my holiday, I had decided that I needed to step back into the world of Lena and Lila to see what was next for them. I will say that I felt this novel wasn’t as strong as My Brilliant Friend or The Story of a New Name, but I was still utterly absorbed by the continuation of Lena’s recollections. I did finish the book with an impulse to throw it in the river, but that was another matter entirely; sometimes the sign of a good book is the genuine frustration felt when a character makes a truly terrible decision. Read more

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I honestly couldn’t begin to count the number of people who have recommended Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series to me. However, it wasn’t until I was browsing a charity bookshop and stumbled across The Eyre Affair that I actually got round to making a start on the series. I don’t know exactly what I was imagining when I started reading, but it was definitely a little different to my expectations (not in a bad way); I think the best description I could give for this novel would be ‘bonkers, but fun’. Read more

Swing Time

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

After reading and enjoying On Beauty last year, I was very intrigued by the build up to Zadie Smith’s most recent novel, Swing Time, which came out towards the end of last year. I was given a copy for Christmas, but had to leave it at my parents’ house for a while since I couldn’t manage to fit it in my suitcase. However, I have finally managed to read it, and I can definitely say that it was a novel I enjoyed. Of the three novels I have read by Smith, Swing Time is by far the most accessible, and I found it a fairly easy read. However, I think that On Beauty is still by far my favourite of the three for the depth that permeates through every aspect of the novel. Read more

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