Review: Washington Square by Henry James

DOHQ4912[1]Lately I’d been realising that it had been a while since I’d picked up anything from within the classic cannon to read. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading lot of things from the past, as I have been picking up an awful lot of historical fiction, yet all of these have been fairly newer releases and not anything actually written in the past. I always find myself drawn back to the genre of classic fiction, and with many of these unread books on my shelves it’s always hard to decide which one to pick up next. In the end the book I settled on was Washington Square by Henry James. I’ve read one other book by James, arguably his most iconic novel, The Turn of the Screw. I really enjoyed The Turn when I read it a few years ago, and I thought picking up something a little bit different from this author would be quit telling as to whether I did really like his writing style.

Whereas The Turn is a Gothic read, Washington Square can be seen as a tragicomedy. It follows events relating to Dr Sloper and his daughter Catherine. When Catherine falls in love with the handsome Morris Townsend her life is complete, yet her father will never reconcile himself to the thought of his daughter marrying someone such as Morris, a man he is certain cares more for Catherine’s inheritance than her personality. The catch is great, for if Catherine defies her father’s wishes he makes it clear than she will not see a penny of his considerable fortune. For Catherine her love is worth more than any amount of money, but does her would be suitor truly feel the same?

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Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

BWIF5951[1]A couple of weeks ago I read Madeline Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles. The book had been on my TBR for a long time but as soon as her second novel , Circe, made the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, I was more inspired than ever to read her work. You can read my review for The Song of Achilles here, but suffice to say that the I thought the book was brilliant and thoroughly deserved the high praise it has received in the past. Fast forward to the present time, and I can now proudly say that I’ve read both of Madeline Miller’s novels after quickly sinking my teeth into the much anticipated Circe.

Circe, much like Miller’s first novel, is a historical fiction which is essentially the author retelling certain elements and stories within the Greek myths. Whilst her first novel focused upon the mighty and well famed Greek hero Achilles, this time we are given the lesser known tale of Circe, a goddess of magic, or, as she is more often referred to, a witch. Daughter to the powerful Titan and sun god Helios, Circe has always been a disappointment to her parents, with no apparent power of her own to follow in her father’s footsteps. After she is eventually exiled to the island of Aeaea, Circe is left to fend for herself, finding her own way to survive in a time where gods and monsters lay ready to both literally and metaphorically devour her at any given moment. But can a woman with no claims to the title goddess really survive what the fates have in store for her?

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Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

PUMI8745[1]Whilst studying English Literature in University we covered a pretty eclectic mix of books, with the likes of The Silence of the Lambs and Poirot all getting a look in alongside the more classic Chaucer and Milton. One years module actually dealt with advanced technology and looked at the use of artificial intelligence in novels and how progress could impact on humanity itself. As part of this module we were suppose to read Philip k. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, as well as watch the movie adaptation. I can say with much guilt that I actually did neither . . . However, flash forward a few years and I had decided enough was enough and that I needed to tick the book off my list.

For those who have no idea what the book is about, it’s actually a science fiction novel set in a post-apocolyptic world which has been left devastated after a nuclear war. Our main character is the bounty hunter Rick Deckard. It’s Rick’s job to hunt down and ‘retire’ runaway androids who have escaped and fled from their official duties. When Rick’s latest assignment comes in, ordering him to track down and kill six Nexus androids (the latest artificial intelligence), he is faced with a mammoth task. As Rick’s hunt commences, he begins to realise that distinguishing between what is human and what is artificial is far trickier than he could ever have anticipated.

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Review: Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets (#2 Six Tudor Queen Series) by Alison Weir

UNUE1316[1]Back last year I read my first novel by Alison Weir, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. This was actually the third book in the Six Tudor Queen series that she’s written and it was a really fantastic read for a history lover like myself. When I was very kindly sent over the next book in the series, Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets, I was beyond thrilled and quite honestly I couldn’t wait to delve back into the Tudor period.

As you can imagine from the title, this next installment follows the life of Anna of Kleve who was King Henry VIII’s fourth wife, and the woman who actually outlived the rest of his other wives! From her childhood growing up in Germany, to the thrilling news of her potential marriage to the King of England and all that was to follow after this; the novel really has an impressive scope and timeline which enriches this aspect of history all the more.

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Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

RBCQ8003[1]I’m a massive lover of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and I was incredibly excited to see which books had made the longlist this year. As usual, the list was packed full of intriguing and exciting titles by both well loved and lesser known authors. Yet even with the exciting suspense of the unknown, there were actually several books which I had correctly predicated would make the longlist. One of these was Madeline Miller’s second novel, Circe. It’s not really a surprise that this made the list as I’ve felt as though it has been pushed at me from all sides, with a massive amount of people loving the book and shouting their praise for it. Circe is definitely a book that I want to read, but I was actually determined to read her previous award winning novel, The Song of Achilles, first, and this was just the push that I needed.

The Song of Achilles is a historical fiction novel which, as you’d correctly assume, focuses upon the Greek hero Achilles and his life. Across the novel we see Achilles through the eyes of his closest friend, Patroclus, following the pair as they grow into skilled young men. Yet when Helen of Sparta is kidnapped, Achilles is dragged into a war against the Trojans, determined to prove his worth and earn his glory despite the consequences this may bring.

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Review: Lost Dog (A Love Story) by Kate Spicer

LSXI2680[1]Fairly recently I was very kindly sent an early proof copy of a book by Edbury Press called Lost Dog: A Love Story. You can imagine my delight when I opened the package to find the image of a scruffy looking dog staring back at me. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a self confessed crazy dog lady, so anything remotely canine related I am up definitely interested in. I was also really intrigued when I realised that the author, Kate Spicer, was a journalist. I’ve read a lot of books centered upon dogs and quite often I do find the overall execution can be let down somewhat by the actual prose; in this case knowing that the author writes for a living was very exciting to me.

What is the book about, you ask? This is a non-fiction book, focusing upon the life of the author, Kate, and what her life was like before she made the momentous decision to adopt Wolfy, a Norfolk Lurcher. Fairly quickly we begin to see the impact that Wolfy has upon her life, but all too soon disaster strikes. Whilst being looked after by a family member Wolfy manages to find his way through the front door and out onto the street. Nervous at being chased by the people trying to help him, he keeps running, resulting in ten agonising days where the fate of Wolfy is left hanging in the balance. Within Kate’s novel we explore not only the immediate effects of Wolfy’s disappearance, but also the emotional turbulence that comes with being a dog owner.

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