Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

I’ve finally finished “To The Letter” by Simon Garfield, despite being given it for Christmas in 2013 and I started in February 2014!

“To The Letter” by Simon Garfield

It’s a non-fiction book about letter-writing and how it’s evolved over time. Obviously letter-writing has started to decline as the use of the Internet increased – even emails are now being left behind by social media.

The book spends a lot of time talking about letters between noted writers and poets of their time. It’s intersected with images of letters and you can see the differing styles of handwriting.

It’s sort of interesting and covers a reasonable amount of history but it took me so long to get through it! There were the odd few interesting bits through it, but the most interesting section was the last one where Garfield talks about the Internet taking over!

However, I quite enjoyed the letters printed through the book between the solider Chris and his sweetheart Bessie during their seperation during the Second World War: they seemed genuine, less pretentious and more realistic than some of the others mentioned in the book (especially the ones between famous writers).

I’ve always quite liked writing letters: it feels more personal and more structured than emails. I always felt more honest by writing a letter, maybe that’s why love letters work so well. It’s sad that we don’t write letters so much any more and it’s becoming a lost art, as Garfield says.

As a result, I thought this would a be good book to read and I was excited when I was given it. It’s just a shame I didn’t massively enjoy this book: it’s rather dry and dull, especially in the first half. I probably wouldn’t read it again because the reality is that it’s just not that “witty” as promised. I’m not sure why people have raved about it?!

I’m giving it 5/10 because it had some good bits but the fact it took so long for me to plough through it has put me off!

I recently read “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen.

“Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen (via Goodreads)

I thought it was going to be like the other Austen novels I’ve read and take me ages to read it, but I was wrong – I went through it in a just a few hours, mostly during one day!

I was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be! It’s still not my thing though.

Catherine is a bit more likeable than some Austen heroines, despite her being a bit naive and having a funny way of viewing the world. She likes reading gothic books, which is better than reading trashy romance novels, although they seem to give her strange ideas about the world, so she is convinced Mr Tilney’s father killed his wife! Obviously this would never happen in an Austen, but it still brings something different to the novel!

She’s also a bit stupid when it comes to her so-called friend Isabella, who acts all lovely and then breaks off her engagement to Catherine’s brother and disappears. Catherine learns the hard way that you can’t trust everyone who wants to be your friend.

I liked Mr Tilney from the start: he seems to be a perfectly nice chap. He is friendly and clever, and a good match for Catherine.

This novel may not have the clout of some of Austen’s other, more popular works, but it’s much easier to follow and isn’t as full of endless conversations between characters about which couples are going to get married and all that stuff. It’s a definitely a bit lighter and I suppose slightly more amusing as it is supposed to be a parody.

I’m giving it 6/10 because it is interesting and it’s maybe a little more modern than Austen’s other novels: it has a gold-digger, fake friends, unwanted male attention, an over-active imagination and so on. It also kept me reading for a lot longer than the other novels! It’s still not something I would necessarily read again though!

I’ve just finished reading “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman.

“Stardust” by Neil Gaiman (via Goodreads)

I saw a small part of the recent film version but decided I’d rather read the book first as it sounded interesting. This book is so good that I ended up reading it twice in one week!

The blurb reads:

At the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is as cold and distant as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…

The plot is really good, with the subplots adding extra little bits to the overall story. Tristran goes off into the magical world over the wall in search of the fallen star, knowing that others are trying to find the star too and cause harm.

The people and creatures he meets along the way are a fascinating bunch of characters, and it soon becomes apparent that Tristran himself is not quite as human as he thought he was.

The Victorian world so different to the Faerie world, but at the same time they still intermingle, especially with Tristran learning old nursery rhymes in Wall and then discovering they actually mean something over the boundary wall  and they actually save his life.

There’s so many twists in the story and it’s really satisfying when you work out the links between events and the characters. The descriptions are really beautiful and very typical of a fairy tale but it all works really well. I’m not sure the content would always be suitable for children as it’s a little bit more like an old-fashioned fairy tale, and not a Disney sanitised version! I’m not sure I want to watch the film version any more, as the little research I’ve done looks like it changes a bit too much of the story.

I had to read this book twice because I realised I’d missed bits in my eagerness to find out what happened next, but it was even better the second time round! I love this book and I’m so glad I bought it on a whim! I’m giving it 9/10!