Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

I have just finished re-reading “Narnia” for the first time for at least 10 years!

I had forgotten how amazing the story is! I remember feeling captivated by these books as a child and I still find them as magical as ever!

You get to read about the beginnings of the world of Narnia and how it progresses through its history before it ends.

As there are 7 books to cover, I will simply go through them one by one:

“The Magician’s Nephew” – The first book, which shows us how Narnia came to be and how its inhabitants are so different from our world. It’s a fascinating book, although it’s not really my favourite of the series. I like how Digory and Polly accidently bring the evil Witch from Charn into Narnia but they make up for it by protecting the people of Narnia and giving them their first King and Queen.

“The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” – The best known book because it is where the Pevensie Children first discover Narnia, save it from the evil Witch and then rule as 4 kings and queens. I do like this book, even though Edmund is a bit of an idiot for a while!

“The Horse and His Boy” – This book shows us a different part of the world of Narnia, starting where the Calormenes live and set during the reign of the High King Peter and his 3 siblings, who we get to see a small glimpse of as they rule as adults. I like the Talking Horses, Bree and Hwin, who help Sasha and Aravis to escape their home and travel to Narnia. This isn’t my favourite book but it’s grown on me more than the first time I read it!

“Prince Caspian” – The Pevensies return to Narnia many years after their great reign as Kings and Queens to find everything changed and King Caspian struggling to fight his usurping Uncle Miraz for the Narnian throne. It’s sort of a story of two halves: the boys fight Miraz and his army, while the girls meet Aslan and, together with the fascinating creatures of Narnia, go and free the creatures and people of Narnia. Maybe a bit sexist?!

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” – Edmund and Lucy, and their awful cousin Eustace are pulled into Narnia while King Caspian is searching the seas for new lands and the edge of the world. Life is different on board the ship, but the places they discover are fascinating. I like how Eustace changes into a much nicer person due to the effect Narnia has on him: the novel is really about his change.

“The Silver Chair” – Eustace pulls his schoolmate Jill into Narnia to escape their horrible school and they end up on a quest with Puddleglum the Marshwiggle to find the lost Prince Rillian before time runs out for his aged father King Caspian, who is away sailing the seas. Another evil witch is keeping him captive, and this time we visit the wild lands above Narnia and the underworld beneath Narnia, which are home to more strange creatures. I love Puddleglum: he’s so gloomy and pessimistic but his heart is in the right place! Also, the change in Eustace is so obvious in this book!

“The Last Battle” – Eustace and Jill end up back in Narnia and try to help King Tirian to protect Narnia from a false Aslan who is destroying the world as they know it. Narnia has become a lot darker now with so many evil forces at work and the struggle to understand which side of the battle is the right one. I like how this is a fitting end to the Chronicles, with the world ending and the Friends of Narnia (except Susan) coming back to their beloved world, especially with Polly and Digory coming back. I never liked this book when I first read it but now I can appreciate how good an ending it has. The ending is a bit weird and it’s a little bit complicated, especially with the train crash which caused Eustace and Jill to arrive in Narnia.

It’s really sad reading “The Last Battle”, but the stories all weave together so well throughout the Chronicles so we get a good view of life in Narnia at different times in its history. The characters are great, although at times they are a bit stereotypical of their sex and role! And, of course, Aslan the great lion is the fascinating creator and puppeteer who controls the destiny of Narnia and its inhabitants. He is like a friend to the good people, but is “not a tame lion”, which makes him both loved and mysterious.

The whole series is about faith and religion, right and wrong, and love and friendship. There’s lot of important lessons to learn from the books. I don’t really have a favourite book, but I suppose the 2nd one is the obvious choice! I’ve really enjoyed re-reading the series and I will definitely read it again at some point!

I can’t help but think that although Digory and Polly, Peter, Edmund and Lucy, Jill and Eustace and even the Pevensie’s parents all died in the train crash, the other Pevensie girl, Susan, is still alive in our world and grieving over her dead siblings and parents, separated from them because she stopped believing in Narnia. She doesn’t get the happy ending that the rest of them do. And they don’t seem to miss her much, even when it turns out they are all dead and their parents are dead too, but Susan isn’t even mentioned. It seems quite sad and rather harsh. But is this her punishment because she discovered sex and lived a “silly” life and didn’t keep her faith in Narnia? This issue is covered quite nicely by an article called “The Problem of Susan” by AshSilverLock over on her Fabulous Realms blog!

Last weekend, I finally finished reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (via Goodreads)

I’ve been trying to get into it since September when I was given it, but only in the last month did I finally get going with it! I was determined to finish it and see what the fuss was all about. The blurb reads:

“Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love – and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.”

Life as Theo knows it changes dramatically when his mother dies and he ends up in different places, trying to make his way through life without his beloved mother while clinging to her memory and to a painting which he cherishes. He learns more about the different worlds around him, from the wealthy family of his friend Andy, to the empty desert and glittering casinos of his father’s home in Las Vegas, to the dusty antiques shop in New York where he later works.

His relationships with different people are interesting to witness as they develop through the novel. He clearly idolises his mother and is slightly obsessive about her life and death, going over things he should have done differently the day she died. He doesn’t really like his father very much, with his alcoholism and how he deserted Theo and his mother, and resents having to go and live with him in Las Vegas, far from the memories and familiar sights of New York.

One of the most prominent relationships is his friendship with Boris who he meets while living with his father. They explore life together, from simple teenage antics like going to school together, to exploring drugs, drinking alcohol and shoplifting, to learning more about themselves as part of the world. This friendship only fades when Theo goes back to New York, but is re-instated when Boris appears again in New York and things start to get messy in Theo’s home and work life.

Most of the novel is about Theo going through those difficult teenage years, grieving for his mother and hating his father, but we realise just how traumatised he is by the accident that changed his life through his serious drug use. He is obviously suffering from PTSD and he stays in contact with another survivor who he falls in love with from a distance, a girl who understands the trauma Theo went through.

The latter parts of the novel jump into the future when Theo is grown-up and in a relationship with the sister of Andy, but is leading a secret criminal life which causes more problems for himself. The ending gets really weird and confusing but eventually things start to make sense.

I don’t want to go into any more detail without ruining the book for those who haven’t read it so that’s all I’m saying! If you struggle with it, just push on with it because it does get better and it’s totally worth it to see what all the fuss is about!

I’m giving it 7/10 because it keeps you guessing until the end, and is just so fascinating (once you get into it) that you have to finish it! It turned out better than I thought it would be because at first it was a bit boring. Give it a try!

I have finally finished reading “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen! It’s only taken me almost 4 months to get through it!

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.”

I am reading my way through the complete works of Jane Austen, but they can be a bit long and boring at times, which is why it took me ages to get into Mansfield Park. It’s not the best of Austen’s novels, but after several fruitless attempts to get into it, I promised myself that I would finish it by next weekend! As I was a little bit bored this weekend, I was driven to reading and before I knew it, it had got more interesting so I managed to finish it!

Fanny Price is kind of boring. I suppose I understand that she is a quiet girl who sits on the outside of the social circle for most of the first part of the novel, and then gets sucked into the action as time progresses. Being quiet, kind and useful is probably Fanny’s advantage in this social circle, as she quietly judges the others as they make mistakes. Fanny is fairly grounded and modest, which is a contrast to her cousins, and certainly in comparison to her own family when she visits them and realises how much she has changed since moving to Mansfield Park when she was younger. The issues surrounding social classes show when Fanny is thinking about how she could never be deserving of, or able to even consider, a marriage proposal from someone out of her social class, no matter how much she has changed since being parted from her uncouth family and brought up in a refined environment such as Mansfield Park with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

The development of the relationships between the characters is interesting, with a massive scandal shaking up the foundations of many of them. Fanny grows to be accepted as a kind friend and cousin, even if she is not so keen on people around her at first, and then as a surrogate daughter towards the end of the novel. Her choice of who she is likely to marry is sort of obvious, even if it seems that she is too lowly in social class to be considered. I did grow to respect Fanny and her decisions in the end as she was the most sensible of the lot and took everything into consideration.

This novel took too long to get to the juicy bits, so it’s not going to be one of my favourite Austens! I have issues with how much time these characters spend fretting over stupid little things like what necklace to wear, which girl is likely to marry which man, or that someone was selfish to go for a walk without telling a certain person! I also don’t like the idea of cousins marrying each other! I suppose these things come with being privileged and not having anything too pressing to worry about.

I give it 5/10 because it took a while to get into, and when it did get interesting, it seemed to end a bit too abruptly for my liking. I can’t like all of Austen’s work!