Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

I have just read “Oedipus the King”, a short play by Sophocles.

“Oedipus the King” by Sophocies (via Goodreads)

This Greek tragedy and its doomed protagonist, Oedipus, is well known, but I had never looked into plays about it before, only knowing the basic story from Greek legends. I found this copy in an old textbook I used at university while studying English, and found it of a reasonable length to read it quickly.

Oedipus is an unfortunate character who was supposed to have been left to die as an infant when it was foretold that he would grow up to┬ákill his father and marry his mother. This play is set after he is married and while he is King, during a time of great misery for his kingdom. They believe there is a curse on their homeland as crops are failing, unborn children don’t live and there is a general feeling of unease.

After seeking advice from an oracle at the temple on how to heal his kingdom’s bad luck, Oedipus starts to search for the person who killed the old King and through a series of interactions with various friends and messengers, he soon discovers the terrible truth in this tale: it was himself who killed the King, who was in fact his father, and has married the dead King’s wife, who is actually his mother. At this revelation, he and the Queen are both distraught, and Oedipus blinds himself in order to stop him seeing the horror he has inflicted around him.

It is quite a horrific tale, and you wonder how Oedipus didn’t twig that the Queen looked like him, or that he was in fact adopted. It is quite horrendous to hear of how he blinds himself so he can’t see, and then how he cries for himself, the suicide of the Queen, and their poor children who now have no joyful future because of his mistake making them figures of corruption through their incestuous birth.

I give it 7/10 because it’s a good play if you’ve never read it before, but know the story, and you get all the emotional responses to the revelation played out. I find plays a bit dull to read and usually they are quite long, but this one is short and loaded with suspense and emotion. It would be better acted out, as would any play, but I enjoyed it nonetheless because I love a good tragedy!

I have just read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, a short story about a girl who is punished for not conforming to her gender’s social expectations.

It starts out quite normal, with a pretty teenage girl, Connie, who resents her mother who doesn’t understand her and prefers her less attractive and more “sorted” sister. It then gets really creepy towards the end with the appearance of a guy with a gold car who is interested in Connie and puts her in a dangerous situation.┬áConnie feels threatened by this guy, who expects her to get in his car with him and go off somewhere, and is freaked out when he describes what her family are doing at that same moment while they are out at a party.

Connie is a normal teenage girl, who acts one way with her family, and another, more mature and sexualised way with her friends, keeping her two personalities separate, until this strange guy, Arnold Friend comes around and her two personalities come crashing together. She realises just how dangerous her sexuality can be in the wrong situation and is forced out of childhood and into adulthood as a result of this terrifying experience.

Arnold Friend seems to be a cool boy at first, but as the tale progresses the description of him gets more worrying, with little things adding to the unease around this strange character. The fact that he is unsteady on his feet suggests he is possibly drunk, he knows more than he should know about Connie, her family and her friends, and runs through a list of old-fashioned expressions he thinks are cool when he tells his friend to leave him to it. It’s not clear if Arnold is a real man or a nightmare that Connie is having, but their interaction changes the way Connie sees the world.

There is a lot of tension in this short story, and it’s really creepy! It’s quite a disturbing wake-up call when you realise how much trouble your sexuality can cause when you’re barely mature enough to understand what it means to you and to other people. What you think is a game is very real to others who are older than you.

I give it 8/10 because it is well written, the atmosphere is very tense, and it makes you think a lot about being that age when everything is confusing and think you’re being mature when you’re clearly not.

If you want to read it, this link takes you to a PDF version:

https://www.d.umn.edu/~csigler/PDF%20files/oates_going.pdf

I have just finished reading “Losing You” by Nicci French.

“Losing You” by Nicci French (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads as follows:

“Nina Landry is supposed to be taking her two children on a Christmas holiday today. But the road away from Sandling Island seems littered with obstacles. Most pressing of all, her 15-year-old daughter, Charlie, has yet to return from a night out …Minute by minute, Nina’s unease builds to worry and then panic. Has Charlie run away? Or has something more sinister happened to her? And why will nobody take her disappearance seriously? As a series of half-buried secrets lead Nina from sickening suspicion to deadly certainty, the question becomes less whether she and her daughter will leave the island for Christmas – and more whether they’ll ever leave it again.”

This book is set over the course of one very long and thrilling day on Nina’s 40th birthday, when her daughter Charlie goes missing. You can feel Nina’s utter frustration at the police’s attitude to the hunt for Charlie, and Nina takes matters into her own hands by doing some detective work herself. She can’t help but think something is terribly wrong and tries to piece together the little things which she learns over the course of this horrible day.

Nina thought she knew her teenage daughter but as she talks to Charlie’s friends and looks through her belongings, she realises that her daughter had many secrets. Charlie’s relationships with various people are analysed, and inevitably Nina is suspicious of her ex-husband who turns up in the middle of the chaos.

The characters in the novel are so varied and all give their own little snippets of information about the circumstances around Charlie’s disappearance which makes it harder to work out what happened.

Nina is desperate to find her daughter, and doesn’t care about all the unpleasant things she discovers in her search or what others think about her, and only cares about having her daughter back with her again.

In the end, it is Nina’s determination which solves the case, even though the police get annoyed with her showing them up. The person responsible for the day is not hugely obvious until the end, but i just thought “of course, that makes sense!” when i found out the culprit!

I loved this book and read it really quickly because the pace is so fast and flowing. Maybe i didn’t read it as well as i should have in my hurry to find out what happens, but it is an excellent thriller! The little hints throughout the novel keep you guessing, and so much happens in one day on this little island that the tension is high all the way through to the end.

I give this book 8/10 because it is a really good read andhas lots of emotion in it. It’s not the best thriller i’ve read but it’s still worth a read if you like this sort of thing!