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On The Road…to boredom!?

25 Feb

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On The Road by Jack Kerouac was one of those books that has been on my to-read list for a very long time, and having heard and read so many great things about it, I was understandably excited when I finally got my copy! It wasn’t long before I was seriously disappointed!

 

The story moved at a good pace at first, but it slowly descended into madness and incomprehensible gibbering on the part of Dean Moriarty, one of the main protagonists. I understand that the story is about being on the road and being wild and crazy, but it got to the point where I would re-read sentences and still not understand what was going on! I found the language difficult to follow and downright annoying at times. I know that this book and its author are from another time, but I felt like i was going to scream if he described one more person as ‘that cat’ or told Sal (the other protagonist) how much he ‘digs’ various things. Some speeches from Dean were so broken and unbearable to read, such as;

                  ‘Ah-ah-you must listen to hear.’ We listened, all ears. But he forgot what he wanted to say. ‘Really listen-ahem. Look, dear Sal- sweet Laura- I’ve come- I’m gone- but wait- ah yes.’ And he stared with rocky sorrow into his hands. ‘Can’t talk no more- do you understand that it is- or might be- But listen!’

I mean seriously!!?? 

 

I almost feel sad that I seem to not understand the hype and success that this book has enjoyed! I wish I did get it. I felt like the story had no solid plot, and when I thought the story was finally going somewhere, it would take off again…along that god damn road! I also found parts of this book sad, with its drugs, prostitution, broken relationships, and abandoned children. Even with these sad themes, I found it hard to really care about the main characters, Sal and Dean, whom I felt brought much of their trouble on themselves. Their quest to ‘find themselves’ resulted in them becoming the most selfish and loutish characters.  

I’m sorry to all you die hard On The Road fans out there… but it just wasn’t for me. I’m hoping the recent film adaptation can shed a bit of light on what I’ve just read! I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who wants a nice easy read. Again sorry to all the fans…and sorry Mr Kerouac. 

Bicentennial of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

28 Jan

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of arguably the most famous of Jane Austen’s works. I was delighted to hear on the news this morning that in order to mark the occasion, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath is holding a reading of the book which will be broadcast online via webcam with several people (including celebrities) giving voices to it’s characters. I think it is such a wonderful idea and unites people from across the world, it is live right now so here is the link: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/janeaustenreadathon/

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If you have never read the book before, or any of Jane Austen’s works for that matter, I suggest you rectify that now! There is something so soothing and enjoyable about her writing that every time I read one of her books I am instantly transported to the 1800s and have a happy party in my head! 🙂 If you are looking for some motivation, there will also be a Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge held this year, run by Austenprose.com. It runs from January 1 2013 until December 31st 2013 and encourages people to read and discuss the book with other Jane Austen fanatics. Enrollment runs until the July 1st 2013, where you can select your level of participation, whether it be light or hardcore, and you are invited to review your selections on your blogs/social media sites, or simply by leaving a comment. The link is: http://austenprose.com/2012/12/31/the-pride-and-prejudice-bicentenary-challenge-2013 And it isn’t just books, for those of you who don’t have much time in the day for reading, you are also invited to review movies aswell. So if you haven’t ever read one of her books or seen any of the films…NOW is the time to get involved and see what all the fussis about! It is worth it trust me!

I myself will be participating in this challenge as I think it is a wonderful idea and an excuse to re-read some of my favourite stories, including one of the best love stories ever told, that being Pride and Prejudice. Happy reading people! 🙂

Eat, Pray, Love: A Review

7 Aug

My most recent read has been Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was initially hesitant about this book after reading several bad reviews and expecting to read about a self-indulgent woman who does nothing but moan about how hard her life has been despite the fact that she can afford to go off on a year long trip to ‘find herself’. My hesitations were not entirely unfounded, however I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

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My biggest quibble with this book was the fact that I got little to no backstory about Liz and her husband and how she suddenly found herself crying on the bathroom floor, not wanting children and wanting a divorce. I know that this book is the author’s real life memoirs, and so therefore there are probably some things that she wants to keep private, (possibly for legal reasons), but it would have been helpful to have a little more information.

My favourite part of this book was when she finally set off on her year long trip, beginning in Italy, where her descriptions of the food made my mouth water and her encounters with the lovely sights and people made me want to get on a plane the next day and just spend a few months in Italy myself. I have always wanted to go to Italy so this was a lovely little indulgence for me!

The second section of the book (the book is split up into three sections), sets a completely different tone as she lands in India and hits the ground with a bump after being on a four month Italian high. I enjoyed learning about the culture and religion of the Indian people and learned a lot about the rewards of meditation and inner reflection. Since I am going through quite a stressful time at the moment, what with my degree rapidly drawing to a close, I decided that I would look into meditation and yoga to keep me calm and in control during my final months as a student.

The story does taper off towards the end, as Liz inevitably finds a lover in Indonesia and I found myself getting bored and slightly annoyed that only now I was getting back story about her broken marriage. It seemed irrelevant at this point in the book and like she was using it as filler to cover what she admits to being filled with solely sex with Felipe, her new Brazilian boyfriend. I then found myself taken aback as the story abruptly ends, with her and Felipe sailing off for a ‘holiday’ on a small island off the coast of Indonesia. Exasperatingly. Surely she is already on a holiday!? Oh no thats right…she has come to ‘find herself’…pardon me. There are a couple of pages that quickly tie up all the loose ends about her return to America and all the happily ever afters, but it doesn’t seem enough. So I found the ending slightly disappointing, as I would have liked to have read how she became adjusted to life back in New York after being away in such amazing places for a whole year.

All in all I did like this book, it was an intriguing and inspiring true story. I don’t think I could relate to Liz because, having never gone through a divorce, I don’t know what its like. However I can’t imagine many divorcees would be able to relate to her either since not many would be able to just leave their job and escape for a whole year to such exotic locations to get over it! Don’t expect to feel sorry for her no matter how much she complains about how hard her life has been. This is one lucky lady!

I definitely would recommend this book. It’s a good summer read, particularly if you aren’t going on holiday this year, as it offers a form of escapism from our awful British weather! Enjoy! Ciao!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a review

12 Jul

I had heard great things about this book, and so I went online, bought it and eagerly anticipated its arrival. And it did not disappoint.

 

The story follows fifteen year old Charlie as he begins his first year of high school. The book is written as a series of letters to an unnamed ‘friend’ who he apparently has never met. The narrative is short and choppy, as it literally follows the thought pattern of a neurotic, confused and lonely teenager. It is reminiscent of The Catcher in The Rye which, incidentally, is mentioned during the book.

 

Once you get past the initial confusing inner monologue, you begin to be taken in by Charlie’s life and his experiences, from making his first real friends, to his first love, to his first kiss and finally to him growing closer to his family.

 

I loved the fact that Charlie was such an honest and innocent character who just seems to want to do anything and everything to make those around him feel loved and special and that he sees the best in people. It was quite a refreshing read, particularly as Charlie is quite naive which makes him come out with such blunt anecdotes that made me quietly titter into the wee hours, when I felt that I just couldn’t put the book down!

 

There were things about Charlie that annoyed me, such as his almost constant crying and his incessant worrying and panic attacks. I just could not imagine a person being THAT over emotional. But overall I found that he was such a lovable character that this was easy to overlook. I even began to relate with him.

 

This story made me laugh, and cry and I just kept turning the pages even when sleep was beckoning! The plot isn’t exactly rich with detail, but it was an easy read and I quickly fell in love with this book; it is a truly wonderful coming of age story. I would definitely recommend to anyone that is thinking of reading this book…to read it now!

 

I am now very much looking forward to the film adaptation (directed by the author Stephen Chobsky) that is coming out later this year (particularly since the very British Emma Watson, will be attempting an American accent!).

 

For those that are interested, here’s the trailer:

 

The Pirate’s Daughter (warning, spoilers!)

1 Jul

I have just finished reading The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson and was pleasantly surprised. I am normally an avid classics reader, hardly ever straying from the comfort of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. However this book has been staring at me from the bookshelf for a long time, and since the weather began to change, I thought it was the perfect choice for my next reading adventure!

The story is set in Jamaica, spanning two generations from Ida’s childhood in the 1940s to her daughter May’s adulthood in the 1970s. It is a storyabout love, loss and responsibilities in an ever-changing country. The book begins in Ida’s narrative as a young girl in 1946, fascinated and awe-struck by the charming and handsome movie star Errol Flynn, as he settles on the island and befriends Ida’s father, bringing a touch of Hollywood glamour to an otherwise unknown place. As the relationship between 16 year old Ida and Flynn blossoms into a passionate but short-lived romance, the story takes a sudden sharp turn as Ida falls pregnant and Flynn flees the island, leaving Ida to fend for herself and their unborn child, May. As May grows, the story shifts into her perspective. Ida has to go to New York to find work and May is left feeling abandoned and alienated in a place where she is bullied for her pale skin and the story of her mother’s affair with Flynn. After such a poor childhood, May grows into a young adult just as Jamaica becomes a volatile and hostile place to live as it strives for independence and better living conditions. Ida and May then face many tragedies and sacrifices in their life, setting a much darker tone to the story; a far cry from Ida’s idyllic childhood at the beginning of the book.

The story is mostly fictitious, being only loosely based on facts, however Cezair-Thompson, being a native of Jamaica herself, really makes the story ring true with her beautiful descriptions of the island and the accurate dialect that gives life to the characters. I found myself getting totally immersed in the lives of the characters, really feeling for Ida and her situation and almost hating Flynn for the way he had treated her. For the most part I found this book thrilling and engaging, but began to lose patience towards the end, as more and more of the main characters die and the subject of pirates and buried treasure is brought up time and time again, which adds nothing to the story. There are some major plot twists towards the end, but they are not nearly as exciting as one would hope.

Having said that, this is a well written story, that kept me turning the pages to find out more. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, particularly if you are looking for a fitting summer read!

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I would love to see a film made out of this one day, but for now I will have to make do with re-reading…which I most definitely will be doing!