Why on EARTH did Persephone Books choose William – An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton as their first ever book?!

Book Reviews, book shops, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Uncategorized


William’s controlling mother dies suddenly, and his new freedom finds him swept into the world of pre-war socialism. Finding love as well as dogmatically-parroted views in fellow campaigner Griselda, they marry and embark on a lonely, isolated honeymoon in Belgium. When they emerge three weeks later to the local village war has begun, and they encounter soldiers and the brutal reality of war in ways that shatter their previous reality.

It took me a long time to get round to reading this book. I bought it from Persephone Books, and was excited about the concept; the design, the ethos. Rescuing the forgotten, important novels of history written by women. I chose to buy this one, the first selected by Persephone, the first published and neatly labelled No.1 on the back. But something held me back from reading it until now, and my instinct was right. I’m pretty sure it if would be better if this particular book had remained buried by history.

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A supernatural historal romp in Alison Goodman’s Dark Days Club

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Uncategorized

Lady Helen is about to make her entrance into Regency society – but there’s something different about her. She can sense things about people, can tell what is about to happen, can react with lightening speed. She meets Lord Carlston, who tells her she is born to help stop demonic creatures who prey upon innocent lives, and who tries to convince her to join the cause. She is at once attracted to and mistrustful of him, whilst on the side of society and propriety is another suitor…

I don’t really remember the plot of this one fully, but I have many lasting impressions. In lots of ways, it’s a book that does exactly what you’d expect. Lots of interplay between the dark supernatural world and polite society, the occasional emergence of a famous figure, and plenty of heartache for our feisty main character. As such, it wasn’t hugely stupendous or memorable, but was pretty enjoyable.

I don’t think I like these literary themed houseboats (and here’s three reasons why)

Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts

 





I saw these two barges whilst walking along Regents Canal. At first it was a pleasant surprise, a feeling of connection. Someone else loves that book too, hooray!

But really, underneath, I wasn’t so keen, and I’ve worked out why:

I want to buy this for everyone – Morgan Mccarthy’s The House of Birds

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Recommended, Uncategorized


Oliver and Kate met officially one afternoon in Oxford when they were young, she fell off her bike and they snuck a look at Kate’s creepy aunt’s house. Oliver’s family moved to Milton Keynes before they get to say goodbye, but they meet and get together years later at a party when Kate has just inherited the house amidst some controversy. After quitting his city job that he hates Oliver goes to Oxford to do up the house and finds himself enchanted by it and the diaries he finds in the books there. These engrossing letters tell of a woman in an unhappy marriage seeking comfort at the Bodlein, and an unlikely guide. The story Oliver chases has direct impact on the present for both his life plans and the ownership of the house.

I don’t know why but I kind of put off reading this book. I can’t believe it – it’s definitely in the top books I’ve read this year! So much so that I’m skipping all the other reviews I need to write to give it a shoutout. A beautiful sense of place, compelling dual timelines, lovely sympathetic characters, opposition of old and new and overall a sense of trust. I knew very quickly that this narrator was not going to mess me around. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. I enjoyed this thoroughly!

Lewycka charm in a council estate – The Lubetkin Legacy

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Recommended


On a council estate in London Bertie’s mother dies; and in a desperate attempt to reclaim the flat he believes to be his he adopts an old Ukranian woman from a hospital to pretend to be his mother. Meanwhile beautiful and idealistic Violet moves in next door while to work at a International Wealth Preservation company, and there’s a plan to take down the estate cherry trees.Β 

This is my first experience of Marina Lewycka, but from my assumptions of her writing it rings true. Realism that highlights, gently mocks and celebrates the bizarre and ridiculous but nevertheless true idiosyncrasies of human life. She manages to tell what are some terribly sad stories, and usually pitiable people, with warmth and kindness that emphasises humanity above all else. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I was literally scared to go downstairs whilst reading The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

Book Reviews, literary london, London, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing


1837. Sarah Gale is sentenced to hang for the death of her ex-partner’s new wife, but not everyone is convinced that she is guilty. Lawyer Edmund Fleetwood is set the challenge of revisiting the evidence and making an appeal. But an untrusting Sarah isn’t cooperative, and very few people are – and even the stories Fleetwood hears are twisted and confusing, and no one seems to be telling the truth, even within his own family…

Oh. My. Goodness. This was amazing! For some reason I wasn’t expecting much when I picked this up, but I enjoyed it immensely. And also got so scared that I asked my husband to come downstairs with me when I had been reading in the middle of the night. We were in desolate, pitch black Scotland, in a pitch black and creaky house. He said no. I just about coped. But the twisting and turning and tales told and lies and mysteries here were just fantastic!

HOW DO THEY DO IT? Jane Austen Improv that blew my mind!

adaptations, literary london, London, theatre, Uncategorized


Mr Pickett, a rather girly young man with a penchant for flowers, has fallen desperately in love with new arrival to Bath Clarissa Fences. She is desperately allergic to flowers, but nevertheless after a disastrous first meeting they reconvene at a bridge of flowers, only for her to be kidnapped by the notorious White brothers, one of whom she recently and scandalously married at a ceremony of dubious validity. Her Welsh, arsonist’s widow aunt Carmine, Mr Pickett and his sister Caroline all team together to find her, happily unharmed, but the White brothers who own all the newspapers have him thrown into jail. Happily our strange trio band together again, bust him out and then Mr Pickett and Mr White have a noble thumb war to the death, and the lovebirds are finally united.

I went out without my baby. I went to the THEATRE without my baby. Before the incredible theatre experience that was HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD which I’ll post about soon, I went out with my university friends to see an improvised Jane Austen play. And I’ll be honest, I had doubts. I’ve seen comedy adaptations of classical works before that have left me frustrated and disapproving. And really any adaptations are a risky game in my book. But Austentatious (company and show name) were just FANTASTIC!!

This book was what I hoped ‘The Miniaturist’ would be like – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Recommended


Thaniel Steepleton finds a mysterious watch in his lodgings. He keeps it, wondering at it’s provenance, until it rescues him from an explosion. He tracks down the owner, the intriguing Keita Mori, and the police ask him to keep an eye on him. Taking a room at the strange watchmaker’s house he finds secrets that bewilder him. Meanwhile, Grace Carrow, a brilliant young woman, disguises herself as a man to be able to study, and fights against the future that her family and society proscribe for her…

I saw this book advertised for absolutely ages before I got it. And I really wanted to read it but was worried that I would be disappointed, like with The Miniaturist. But I really wasn’t! It was a terrific tale full of intrigue, adventure, mystery and clockwork and I loved it. I so enjoyed the strange characters that we met, the way the story unfolded and diving into a world so like ours but with small additions.

I’M GOING TO SEE THE CURSED CHILD TODAY!!!

adaptations, Book Thoughts, children's books, literary london, London, theatre, Uncategorized


YES I AM!!!

OMG!

We booked it forever ago, but it is finally the day! My secondary school friends and I are all once again meeting up to do something Harry Potter. These are the people I queued at midnight with, took flying pictures with and more.

I’m beyond excited. I suppose this sort of thing is mixing our generation’s obsession with experience with our obsession with Harry Potter. Here is the chance to have a literally one of a kind experience.

I desperately hope it’s good. I hope it’s not too much about Harry and more about his kids. I hope I can follow what is going on. I hope I’ve not forgotten all about Harry Potter (kidding. no way). I hope I don’t miss my baby too much to enjoy it.

I hope I can find some interesting things to say afterwards without any spoilers.

Here goes!

Where are the Mums in books? Like seriously.

Book Thoughts, children's books, literary london, teen book reviews, Writing, Writing Thoughts


I had a baby! Almost eight months ago now. I’m still pretty proud of myself. And totally overcome still by how wonderful Kezia is. But when I come to connect my new parental status with my life in literature I am suddenly hit with a problem. It seems that mothers are hugely absent from books – in almost all stories they are either dead or completely useless.