After enjoying Post Captain so much, I couldn’t really wait to get stuck into HMS Surprise, the third in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. It proved to be another excellent piece of Napoleonic naval fiction; rich in action and personal drama alike.
If Titans came in book form, Les Miserables would be the largest and strongest of them all. First published in 1862, it’s 1200 pages long – one of the longest novels ever written in fact – and it’s one of those works that transcends genre. It is, quite frankly, a literary masterpiece and it’s tied in first place with Persuasion as my all-time favourite novel.
There are few partnerships in English literature that can hold a candle to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and few regency-based authors who write with the meticulous assurance and perfect tone of Patrick O’Brien. It’s a recipe for perfect historical fiction.
The Song of Achilles is the 40th book I’ve read this year, and so hits my Goodreads challenge for 2018 – hurrah! It’s not a book I was previously aware of, though it won the Orange Prize in 2012 and has a massive following online. The cover merely caught my eye in Waterstones in September and I picked it up with a few other purchases.
I’m so glad I did. I’ve had a great reading year, discovering a few new gems and this has undoubtedly been one of them. I’m unsure if you technically can spoil a story that’s been out there for millennia but if you’re totally unfamiliar with the legend of Achilles and still want to read the book, you may want to stop reading this review now.
What a read. Seriously, what a read! Written by double-Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety is a titanic, mammoth of a novel. It’s not so much a book that you read as much as live through.
The story focuses on the lives of Maximilien Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins and George-Jacques Danton; three of the primary architects of the French Revolution. Set over 900 pages, Mantel takes the reader on a journey to discover how three misfit boys grew to be some of the most powerful men in eighteenth century France and then fell from grace. The tale closes as Danton and Demoulins, overthrown by their former friends, are taken to the guillotine.
I’ve been incredibly lax on the blog this month, but with the scorching weather and some rubbish health issues to boot, I’ve struggled to have the motivation to read – or do very much of anything in fact – these past few weeks. I did manage to get through two books in early July though that I should have reviewed long before now.
This is a book I feel I should have read years and years ago.
After reading Wuthering Heights in my teens for my Advanced Higher English (A Level equivalent in Scotland) portfolio and finding it one of the most depressing books I’d ever encountered, I avoided the Brontës’ works for years. After watching the brilliant drama To Walk Invisible last year , which told the sisters’ story, I decided it was about time I got up to speed and duly added Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey to my to-read list.
Though it wasn’t actually planned, it feels wholly appropriate that I have finished reading Emmeline Pankhurst’s autobiographical account of the suffrage movement today, as thousands of women have marched in UK cities to commemorate the centenary of finally being awarded the vote. I am certain she would have approved of these parades!
Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Emily Wilding Davison… these are names all synonymous with the battle for women’s suffrage. The name of Lady Constance Lytton is perhaps less well known to the general public, but she was just as committed to the cause and suffered just as much in fight to win the vote as her more famous comrades.
This biography by Lyndsey Jenkins does a marvellous job of explaining how a titled lady and the daughter of a former Viceroy of India came to be incarcerated in Holloway Prison and staged one of the most famous hunger strikes of the suffragette campaign. It chronicles her childhood and early life, her domestic concerns, her difficult relationship with her mother as well as her remarkable career as a suffragette.
Last week I managed to get through a couple of relatively short books as a respite from marking dissertations and marketing reports. Given that one was written as an imagined sequel to the other, it made sense to review them together.
Is it worth warning for spoilers when one of the books is over a century old? Well, just in case, there will be spoilers in both of these reviews because it’s impossible to fully discuss them without giving the key plot points away!