Archive for Novel

Trudi Canavan’s “The Magician’s Apprentice”

Posted in Books, Trudi Canavan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12 May, 2009 by Nicola

I do like a bit of escapist fantasy, and when I want to read a good fantasy book, I know that turning to Trudi Canavan is a good idea.  Her narrative is not perfect, and her habit of italicising characters thoughts is actually very grating and something I am still not used to.  But who cares?  Canavan is creative and knows how to tell a story.

The Black Magician trilogy is the only story other than Harry Potter to make me cry at the loss of a character.  This is not a ‘boo-hoo-character-died-closed-book-and-forgot-about-it’ type cry.  No.  It is a loss that puts a nasty unsettling feeling at the pit of your stomach that could go on for as long as three days.  Sad, isn’t it?  Yes, it is, but do you know how satisfying it is to become attached to a character in such a way?  It is what makes a good read into a great read and only the most talented writers that specialise in characterisation that can acheive such a feat. Continue reading

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Shockingly Fantastic Books: Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey”

Posted in Books, Jane Austen, Shockingly Fantastic Books with tags , , , , , , , , on 16 December, 2008 by Nicola

Shockingly Fantastic Books will be a weekly series by me, where I pick out one of my favourite books to write about.  All of the books in this series can be found at the bottom of the post, and they will be struck out as I write about them.

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
One of my favourite books of all time and unfortunately lays quite forgotten due to the constant whoring of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Not a bad thing, since both are great books as well. This novel is not quite clear cut as the others as the heroines marriage is not really the centre of the plot. It’s rather a-coming-of-age affair as the protagonist, totally inexperienced in society, who only knows the world of gothic novels, has to come to terms with the things she has read, and what actually happens in the real world. Continue reading

Joe Wright’s “Atonement”

Posted in Atonement, Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2 December, 2008 by Nicola

Strangely enough, I feel exactly the same way about this film as I do about the source material. Like the book, this film is aesthetically pleasing. It is poetically shot, the performances from the cast are astonishing, especially the three Briony’s. There is a sense of foreboding as the film starts in a everyday home, as the haunting score by award winning Dario Marianelli sweeps in. The costumes are beautiful, and the image of Keira Knightley in her stunning green gown will probably never leave me.

There is a lot to see here, but the film’s short-comings are through no fault of the film makers who have created probably the perfect adaptation, but the source material. Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name is a beautifully written book, full of Latinate language and lush imagery. McEwan’s failure is to come up with not only an engaging story, but to flesh out the characters that could make the plot work. He failed on both counts. And so, ever so loyally, the novel is adapted to screen, and the exact same problems are translated there. There was not one unconvincing performance in the entire film; Keira Knightley and James McAvoy did all that they can, which was more than enough (and definitely Keira’s best performance since Pride & Prejudice) but the characters are somewhat mechanical. Characterisation is neglected; motivations are one dimensional; emotional engagement with the protagonists is a real effort. Continue reading

Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”

Posted in Books, Philippa Gregory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

As a big fan of historical fiction, and also a big fan of Tudor history, particularly Anne Boleyn, I was quite excited to pick up this novel that focused on the forgotten tale of Mary Boleyn.  It makes a good, light read, as long as it is not taken seriously.  It is enjoyable for perhaps a reader that is ignorant of the tale of Anne Boleyn, but if they are unfamiliar, they are going to go away with a very dark picture of Henry VIII‘s most famous wife.
The research surrounding the everyday lives of the courtiers is thorough and convincing, as are the details of the buildings, landscape and costumes.  The main problem with this novel is that Gregory is clutching at straws to come up with a story for Mary and fleshing her out as a character, and as such, sacrifices Anne’s character as a two-dimensional super bitch.  Mary is characterised as her opposite, but is problematically modernised for the modern reader.  Many of Mary’s reactions to situations are completely out of context.  Gregory would have done a better job to have made her a woman of her time and made us understand her in her own contemporary society, that way; we would have truly been drawn into their world.
Continue reading

Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”

Posted in Books, Stephenie Meyer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

I consider it my personal duty to read a hyped up book. I must do it. I must have my own opinion, no matter how decided the public are, no matter how slated it is by elitists. I usually side with elitists when it comes to books. Generally speaking, I much prefer to sit down with classics than to pick out anything from today’s literary world. Maybe it was drilled into me by reading classic after classic for my degree.  Who knows?

Despite this, I have a weakness for hyped up books. Why? Blame it on Harry Potter. When I was sixteen (ooooh, seven years ago) I was mocking Harry Potter along with everyone else. Until I read it, that is. And here is my weakness. The reason why I picked up Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Like anything that is hyped up, people want to swoop in and belittle it, because it is popular. Harry Potter is popular, and to this very day I still come across the odd person that wants to insult it, criticise it and put it down. The pattern that emerges when this happens, however, is that the person in question has not picked up the damn books. I think to myself that they simply would not be saying these things if they actually made the effort to read them; they would, more than likely, become engrossed, like almost everybody else has in the world.

Continue reading

Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”

Posted in Books, Ian McEwan with tags , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

With all the hype surrounding this novel, especially after Joe Wright’s stunning outing with its film adaptation, it could hardly go ignored for too long.  Like many hyped up events in whatever category of the entertainment media, either heightened disappointment follows upon finishing it, or you join the crowd of enthusiasts as you cut down any person that dares to suggest that it does not live up to its name.   In my case, I belong to both outcomes.  If you were to ask me of McEwan’s writing prowess, you’ll catch me dancing with the other sheeps, insisting that the novel is a work of a genius.  If you were to ask what I thought of the story, or of the characters, you’ll see me dancing around the book’s bonfire instead. Continue reading