My Problem with Pooh and Christopher Robin too.

Unexpectedly I came to see the (2017) film Goodbye Christopher Robin which tells the tale of the world famous Playwright and Author A.A Milne but most notably as author of Winnie- the Pooh. First published in the wake on the first world war in 1926, the film follows Milne known to his family as Blue as he returns from the first world war with shell shock or what we now may recognise as PTSD. Devastated by his time at the Somme Blue wants to write a book about war, encouraging peace for future generations; but that is not the story that finds him.

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Thanks to the decision to move his young family to the Sussex country side Blue started to spend more time with  his young son known to the family as Billy Moon and his beloved bear affectionately named Edward  (would later be re-named Winne-the-Pooh). I saw a video with the films director and he talks about how Blue and his wife Daphne were very much of their time, how it wasn’t uncommon to have baby and continue on with life as if nothing had happened only seeing the child for half an hour in the morning and evening. Looking at the relationship of Billy, Daphne and Blue through modern eyes is difficult and it is almost impossible not to judge their relationship. Billy Moon has a nanny Nou whom he adores and as the film unfolds I found myself wondering in a house or family like this when a child has so little access to their own parents who is really Billy Moon’s mother is it Daphne or is it Nou?

In later life a grownup Christopher Robin is even quoted when describing Nou as ‘Almost a part of me’ and they remained close for her entire life.

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Blue and Billy eventually get to bond when both Nou and Daphne are away from the house hold leaving the pair alone together with no choice but to either sink or swim. Blue eventually discovers what a bright and vibrant imagination his son has discovering the names of his favourite toys, which along with Edward Bear included Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore the depressed Donkey. They play together in the long hot summer days just Blue, Billy and his toys and Billy’s imagination that essence of childhood become the inspiration for A.A Milne’s most famous creation, his Winnie the Pooh stories. The Stories were an instant success, lifted up on the back of the tragedy of World War One ‘the country is wounded’ Blue cries to his wife Daphne in the film and with the help of Winnie the Pooh they could remember that life could be good again and life was worth living after all.

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But by writing about his son and his toys  Blue was effectively selling his sons childhood to the masses. The books were an instant stand out success and at one point Christopher Robin who was slowly but surely losing his identity as Billy Moon was named the most famous child in the world. Comparing it not just to today’s standards but famous children throughout history there are very few examples where child stars come off unscathed. Christopher Robin was more famous than his father A.A Milne and his mother was  not only the driving force behind commercialising Milne’s’ books also could see what a commodity her son was becoming. He would do interviews and photographs, signings; all the while Edward Bear had become Pooh and no longer just belonged to him but him and millions of other people all over the world. Billy Moon’s real problems started when he attended boarding school at age nine. It is depicted in the film but the real Christopher Robin had spoken of it many times in his books and interviews over the years that he was consistently bullied for being the child in his father’s books and poems he was pushed kicked and repeatedly pushed down the stairs.  He felt his father had ‘climbed on the back of my infant shoulders’ to forge his career leaving Billy without any identity and with no say in how famous he had become and he was famous for no real reason.

Eventually Billy Moon would shed his Christopher Robin identify all together when he joined the army and became Private Milne. He would survive the war and later marry his first cousin. This would cause great strain on his relationship with his parents one that was already full of emotional entanglements and resentments.

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Daphne and Christopher soon to wife’s father were brother and sister and did not get on and the marriage between the pair further strained his relationship with his mother who was a hard woman at times and is depicted as such in the film. As he grew into a man Christopher seemed to always looking back to his childhood his was filled with a bitter resentment towards the books and what they did to his life and was still angry at his father. He did not speak or see to his father until he was on his death bed and Daphne and Christopher would never reconcile.

Goodbye Christopher Robin did a good job of showing that Daphne and Blue were flawed humans and their relationship with him was fraught. But it ends right when a young Christopher Robin gets home from war, the viewers never gets to know how it ended for the family and how they would never be reconciled. How Christopher would never take a penny from the Winnie the Pooh franchise but eventually when he and his wife had a disabled daughter they were eventually forced to take some money to pay for her care  ‘For Clare’ I read  him say, which is both beautiful that he loved his child in a different way than his he parents loved him but tragic that he had to forgo his principles in the end and his wishes to separate himself from Pooh.

The origin story of Winnie the Pooh is a sad one but it got me thinking about the new Christopher Robin movie to be released this year. (2018) When you’re telling the story of an adult Christopher Robin who famously came to hate Pooh Bear shouldn’t how he really felt about his situation be addressed?

Christopher Robin Movie

I get it, this is Disney and this is the sentimental tripe we love, it has echoes of Robin William’s Hook to me and I’m sure it will be a box office smash. But where does the morality come in? The Little boy Christopher Robin is immortalised in book form destined to be playing with his ‘Silly old Bear’ forever but the adult man who grew up and away from Pooh does he stop mattering cause he’s dead? When did we stop caring about truth? Honestly I think that this movie is a morally bankrupt idea, and yes people will love it because it’s Disney but they will be loving a lie somehow I don’t think I will ever look at Winne- the -Pooh ever the same way again and that’s both a good and a bad thing.

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The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – A Review.

The Surface Breaks is a feminist re-telling of The Little Mermaid all dressed up and ready to go in the most beautiful cover I’ve seen all year. Louise O’Neill takes the story of The Little Mermaid back to it’s Hans Christian Anderson roots moving away from the Disney version we all know so well.

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When I was a little girl I loved Ariel and watched that movie many times but I also owned the (1975) Anime version of the tale. Which is a very close re-telling to the original fairy-tale and as a girl enjoyed both but for different reasons. It’s a much darker story which Disney turned on it’s head and made into something light and filled with a romantic musicality.

The Little Mermaid

I was excited to head into this new re-telling and from the first few pages I knew it had the original story ingrained in it’s roots. Louise O’Neill tells the story we all know well of a young mermaid princess who falls in love with a human boy, and after saving his life desperately wishes to become human. But there are two twists to this tale, the first is her feminist take on a classic, the Mer-people but specifically the mermaids live in a misogynistic and patriarchal society where there only choices are to be pretty to be silent and to be mothers. Beauty is how our little mermaid and her sisters measure their value and it causes repression, anguish and a fierce sibling rivalry.

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The second twist to this tale, no pun intended is this stories darkness long gone are the singing crabs and fishes for best friends but one thing stood still and firm, her roots at the very centre of  The Little Mermaid’s story, I am talking of cause about The Sea Witch. But even the word witch is turned on it’s head on this tale.  The Sea Witch is a major character in all versions and in The Surface Breaks I enjoyed this complicated interpretation of her character Ceto. She’s the centre of most of the stories darkest moments but has some great lines and oodles of body positivity all the while leaving me not really knowing if she was good or evil or just morally grey.

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I really enjoyed this book, I would say it took a little while to get going, a lot of time was spent in Mer-society which was great… but I could of cut that just slightly shorter and gone above water sooner. The is a very famous fairy tale after all even down to the mermaid  losing her beautiful singing voice, all major plot points we know and love they remain. So there was no need to drag certain things out because as readers we know where the story is heading because we’ve been there before, it’s just a case of where we end up.

 

The book really got going up for me in the last 50 pages and while reading I felt we were in for a huge pay off. And I really did love the ending… but I could of done with an Epilogue or another chapter, the ending just felt a little unfinished to me especially in terms of Oliver I think he (and i’m being as vague as possibly here to keep it spoiler free) but I feel that all I really needed was a paragraph or two on him and then a chapter on what happens after the end of the book as we know it. It was brilliant but felt a little vague.

Anyone who has read The Surface Breaks let me know your opinions I would love to hear your thoughts.

Over all loved it! Great story telling and an interesting perspective from a unique female character who grows and develops as the story unfurls.

3/5 Stars!

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The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrow (A Review)

 

Both happily and unhappily I have just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, from here on out I shall just refer to it as Guernsey and I think you will understand why.

It has been softly on my radar for a few years now but with no real intention of reading but I’m not sure why. It’s definitely my genre, it had been sat on my Goodreads shelves for awhile now and it’s one of those books that I had seen around in varying covers but had never quite reached for.

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Then I saw the trailer the Guernsey movie and knew I’d been missing out and bought the book without hesitation. The first thing I discovered was this book is a epistolary novel for those who don’t know this book is written in the form of letters, I have only ever read one book in a similar format before Cecilia Ahern’s Love, Rosie and I just didn’t get on with the structure and ended up DNF-ing the novel. But Guernsey is different, it is so easy to fall on love with the characters. The book follows Juliet a young writer and journalist who has been writing fluff pieces during the second world war to cheer up the nation she’s looking for a new and interesting book idea when she get’s a letter from a man in Guernsey who has bought one of her old books that had her contact detail written inside.

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They begin to correspond and he discuss he is a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They enjoy corresponding so much that Juliet begins to get letters from other members of the society and this is where the fun really begins. When Juliet travels to Guernsey and meets the real people she has been writing to, her new friends from her letters and becomes part of their lives. She discovers what Guernsey and it’s people went through during the war, occupied by the Germans, Guernsey was the only part of the British Isles to really have to live with their enemy and Juliet a writer and a seeker of truth is determined to find out what that really means. She also becomes curious about the societies founder Elizabeth, Elizabeth becomes the centre of this story that Juliet becomes determined to write and her love for the island pours out of her and onto every page.

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Guernsey is a book about friendship, loyalty and love, in a period in history when there had been so much tragedy and devastation it shows is the small things that truly bind people together and love will always win out even in the darkest and most brutal of times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a beautiful story that everyone should read it is written in letters but the characters feel fully formed and full of colour. The book is so short it was like being on a short visit with great friends, who I already miss.

5/5 Stars!

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WWW Wednesday – 18/4/18

Hi guys it’s Wednesday and you know what that means? It’s time for WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @Taking On A World Of Words, the rules are simple you just have to answer these three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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I have just started reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This Historical fiction novel is set shortly after WW2 and written as a series of letters between the characters. I have only read one book in a similar format before and that was Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern and really didn’t get on with the writing style. I’m going to see this in the cinema when it comes out and know it’s a very popular novel so hopefully this time round this style of writing will be a hit with me.

What did you recently finish reading?

I have been on a bit of a Angel kick recently and have just finished Fallen by Lauren Kate and Angelfall and WorldAfter by Susan Ee. Reviews for all three on the way soon (promise).

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m really excited to read a few books at the moment, Folk by Zoe Gilbert, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and Circe by Madeline Miller. What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments.

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Let’s Talk About- Series I’ve Started, Read the First Book and Never Made it to Book Two…

I am a series sinner I have been doing the same damning thing for years and it needs to be addressed. I have a terrible habit of starting series, picking up the first book jumping head first into a word getting, often  getting completely sucked in to the characters, the stories.

But then when I finish and place the book back on my shelf, instead of picking up the next book in the series I read something else instead, which is fine if I were to ever get around to reading the second book in the series; but I rarely do. And this can be frustrating for me as a reader, as a reviewer and just as a person who wants to know what happens but lacks the discipline or the will to finish what she has started.

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In an attempt to tackle the problem I started to look through my bookshelves, now I don’t know how you all organised you TBR and your shelves but I keep all my unread books on the same one.  I started pulling off all the second, and third, fourth books in series that I haven’t read I started to realise I have a problem. After some thought I decided it was time for an unhaul, what books am I realistically never going to read (or read again in some cases) and what books but looking at series in particular am I just never going to get around to completing. (All the books below are going to be donated to my local library)

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This works both ways as well, I like to have a monthly TBR and yes I’m flexible with my reading but I do like to have a rough idea of what I may like to read in a month. So in April I came up with the idea of introducing or re-introducing series often a second book that I have forgotten about to my TBR. A Series that I still want to read and have never lost  interest in even after time has passed. This month that series is AngelFall and the Penryn and the end of Days books by Susan Ee. I read the first book Angelfall a few years ago and it became victim to my usual pattern of failing to read book 2, but thanks to my new monthly plan I have just finished the second book in the series WorldAfter (review to come). Going through my shelves I really thought seriously about series I intended to finish and at the top of my list are Shatter Me, Angelfall, Cinder and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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I know my reading tastes are maturing and changing in general and there are some books I’m never going to get around to reading The last book in the Selection Series is a great example of this. But as I grow and change and explore new genres and writing styles as a reader there are some books I want to bring with me, some I don’t want to forget.

Come Find Me! 

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Page to Screen Series: Episode Two- A Cuckoo’s Calling

Hey guys and welcome back to the second episode of my brand new Page to Screen series launched only last week. The basic premise is that I will talk about books that have been adapted for the big and small screen but in a more in-depth way than when I just do a standard review. I don’t hold back in these discussions but I will try and do this as spoiler free as possible as I know many people still have series this on their TBR.

Here is Episode one where I talked about Atonement.

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If you have dropped by my blog in the last week you may have noticed I have mentioned the Cormoran Strike Series a few (okay many) times. It all started when I binged the BBC adaptation and then began reading the first book. As someone who is not really a lover of crime it was a surprise that I have completely falling in love with this series and it’s characters.

Based on the Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling) novel of the same name A Cuckoo’s calling stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger they play the one legged private investigator Comoran Strike and his new assistant and temp Robin.

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Strike is the son of a model and rock star and internally has been dealing with his mothers murder for years he also lost his leg while serving in the army. So when he meets Robin on the morning he and his long time girlfriend Charlotte break up after a blazing row he has been through a lot.

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Robin has moved to London to be with her boyfriend Mathew and has been temping, an intelligent university graduate Robin is capable if achieving more than she has been doing and at this point in her life she knows she has been floundering. But it’s only when she walks into Strike’s office and he nearly kills her by knocking her down the stairs that she starts to feel a sense of gravitational pull and knows that working with Strike is where she’s suppose to be.

Although her Fiance Mathew hates her doing the job and that friction is felt between them as he desires her to work in a more corporate environment. The reader can feel his dislike of Strike, it just flies off the page and this has been translated brilliantly on screen. Strike who really is just a quite loner, he lives for the job and is busy building his fledgling business but Mathew dislikes him,  just as much he dislikes the fact that working for him makes Robin a low earner.

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Together Strike and Robin have been hired to re-examine the case of Luna Landry a model at the height of her fame when it appeared she jumped from her penthouse. The Celebrity world comes easy to Strike and washes over him like nothing but it’s exciting for Robin moving in these glamours but ultimately tragic circles.

Luna, it’s reveled was adopted and had been investigating her biological family and for a time it’s thought that this could be the reason for her death.

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I really like Rowling’s writing for adults, I’ve said before that Harry Potter wasn’t really part of my childhood it somehow managed to pass me by until about three years ago when I read the whole series. I should say I enjoyed the Harry Potter books but I think when you consume something whether that be books or music or movies as a child or in your teens it has a different effect on you than when you just  experience it as an adult, a huge part of that is the nostalgia factor.

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Reading Rowling’s writing as Robert Galbraith has been a really lovely experience she invokes some interesting discussions including race and disability. I am thrilled that the Strike series is continuing with the adaptation of Lethal White I just hope the book comes out soon!

I hope you enjoyed Episode two of my page to screen series, I love reading your comments especially if you have opinions on the books or the series, I’ll see you next time!

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International Women’s Day- Favourite Ladies in Literature 2018

Hello everyone and happy International Women’s day! All the way back in 2016 I wrote a post for International Women’s day on my Favourite Fictional Females, in 2017 I decided not to do the same list because I didn’t think it could have grown or changed that much from 2016.

This year I am giving the list another go, with fresh eyes and newly acquired reading habits and although I have gone over my list from 2016 and I still stand by all the ladies on that list I just want to add a few more. I always like to hear what you guys think and any ladies you think should have made my lists and haven’t.

Robin Ellecott – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

 

From going over my 2016 list I realised how heavily my lists are influenced by what I’m reading at the time and Robin is a perfect example of that as I’m currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (not that that means she doesn’t deserve to make this years list!) cause she does, she’s awesome.

Robin is a strong and Independent woman  who has had some bumpy roads in life, her career has taken and nose dive and although she doesn’t know it she’s in a relationship with the wrong man. Robin is all about fighting for what she wants and she wants a career, she wants to be a PI and although she took some wrong turns and dark corners that have lead her the wrong way she is fighting for the life she wants and deserves. She’s brilliant, a power house and above all a great detective.

Lou Clarke- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

 

I am such a long time Me Before You fan and Lou fan, Lou is full of heart right down to her core. She loves her family wants to do the best she can for them, she’s a little lost though which makes her totally relatable. Lou’s self discovery and love and eventual  loss of Will makes her one of my favourite characters.

Me Before You- Book Review

Demelza Poldark- Poldark Series by Winston Graham

 

Ahh Demelza, anyone hate Ross as much as I do? I mean seriously what was that guy playing at? Demelza is brilliant she is strong and fiery, she was a poor girl who came from nothing, a father who beat her and left her half starved but this eventually lead her to Ross her future husband… I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone who hasn’t read it or watched it but the woman can handle herself and she needs to cause she’s going to go through some seriously tough times- all hail Demelza Poldark.

Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 

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Oh how we all love to hate Kathy Earnshaw, one of the most self indulgent and selfish characters ever written. But Kathy was strong, wild passionate and a free thinking individual. What ever you think of her life choices and some of her questionable decisions and motives no one can question Kathy’s strength of heart.

Dolly – Cheerful Weather For the Wedding by Julia Strachey 

 

When we meet Dolly it’s her wedding day and she is decided whether or not to marry her fiance while her former lover waits to talk to her desperate to talk to her but he is trapped downstairs while she locks herself in her bedroom drinking in her wedding dress. Dolly is a great example of the tragedies that can befall us in adult hood especially if we don’t know which choice to make.  Dolly is also a woman who I think we have seen many times before if real life, the lines between reality and fantasy are just a little blurred and she doesn’t realise till it’s to late how damaging that can be.

My full review of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding 

So I hope you enjoyed my choices for International Women’s day, hope you’ve all had a good day and I’ll see you next time!

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WWW Wednesday 7th March

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means it’s time for WWW Wednesday- the meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you are planning on reading.

All you have to do is answer these three questions –

What are you currently reading? 

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

So here’s this weeks WWW Wednesday!

What are you currently reading? 

I am currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith.

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Most of the time crime novels do pass me by but I have recently seen the BBC adaptation starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger and it really got my hooked in the series. I know a lot of people would read this series just caused it’s penned by J.K Rowling but I’m not one of those people. So far I’m really enjoying the first book and look forward to reviewing the BBC series soon.

What did you recently finished reading? 

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I recently finished The Dead Poets Society by N.H Klienbaum I caught the film starring the late Robin Williams and if you haven’t seen it go and see it now it’s a classic and has some really inspirational things to say about books, poetry and literature in general.

Now the book unconventionally was written after the film and unfortunately you can tell. Most of the time films, tv, theatre ect they are adaptations and interpretations of the novel, sometimes good, sometimes bad but interpretations none the less.

N.H Klienbaum’s Dead Poet Society is a frame by frame re-write of the film, with all the magic sucked out. The great think about reading an original novel is that you get in the characters heads, you know what they’re thinking and feeling and some that can be lost in a film; it can be interpreted in different way like through facial expressions, a touch or glance or even music… Trying to translate screen to page would be possible if the author had a little imagination or flair or was allowed to deviate from the screen play just a little but copying basically verbatim?

I had to DNF  sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I will probably read Still Me by JoJo Moyes I was lent this by a friend and can’t wait to jump into it and loved the first two novels! I have read the first couple of chapters and it was great to re-visit Lou and Nathan and I’m looking forward to reading about Lou’s next step and her New York adventure.

Me Before You – Review

After You – Review

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I also am planning on reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by very soon.

That’s all for this Wednesday, see next time!

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Page to Screen Series: Episode 1-Atonement

Hi Guys I’m starting a new series here on Paint and Butterflies Books a page to screen adaptations series and as I have very recently watched Atonement I thought it would be a great place to start.

One of my favourite things about reading apart from the actual reading of course is when beloved books get adapted for the big or small screen. I have reviewed some great and… some not so great adaptations but one of my favourite films I have never spoken about – Atonement. The book by Ian McEwan and the film starring Kierra Knightly and James Mcavoy, Dir by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice)

 

 

I came to the film before the book when it was released in (2007) and have been really fond of it ever since. The book I read about three of four years ago and it only deepened my love for the story, while reading it I realised just how loyal the film version had been to the original material.

Firstly if you haven’t seen Atonement go see it right now, I’m about to spoil everything. The story is set the ‘golden’ summer before World War One, both the novel and the movie are set in three parts the first part being hot summers day at our main character Briony’s parents country home in England it is important to note that Briony is thirteen years old. Briony is the youngest of three children,  her sister Cecilia is a Cambridge graduate and is home enjoying the summer and their elder brother Leon is coming home for a visit bringing his friend Paul Marshall a chocolate millionaire with him for the weekend and Briony is elated to see her brother. But also a little confused, her universe is shifting and for the first time in a long while she’s not the center of it. She is a young writer and plans to write him and perform him a play to celebrate his return- The Trials of Arabella by Briony Taliss.

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The young family invite Robbie the housekeepers son to dinner after seeing him on the approach their fine country house. This wasn’t just a random act of kindness Robbie is like a member the family, Cecilia, Leon and Briony’s father had taken kindly to his House Keepers son and he had paid for his schooling and later his Cambridge education in which he attended at the same time as Cecelia although they weren’t friends they never spoke.

Everything that occurs for the rest of the novel and the rest of these characters lives is decided on this one sunny afternoon. Briony sees something she doesn’t understand-her sister and Robbie having an argument fueled with sexual tension by a fountain in the garden. Briony sees this through a window, with no context  but instead of asking questions she starts to doubt Robbie’s moral character and being the kind of character Briony is she creates her own fantasy scenario with hero and villains and her own version of right and wrong unable it seems to distinguish from what is truth or fact and what’s in the reality going on around her.

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Later that evening Briony catches Robbie and Ceclia having sex in the library, they have just confessed their  love for each-other. But in Briony’s mind Robbie is further the villain who was hurting her big sister, the fantasy continues. Now a fantasy is fine in it’s self when no harm is caused.

Briony’s cousins Lola, Jackson and Pierro are staying with them while their parents are divorcing and surrounded by scandal and the troublesome twins Jackson and Pierro go missing at dinner. While everyone is looking for them in the darkness Lola their elder sister is raped and is discovered by Briony. Briony did see the perpetrator but could never be sure who it was. She convinces herself it was Robbie and tells the Police she is knows it was him and this certainty puts him in prison until the start of the war. The question is how accountable is Briony for her actions? I think from a very young age we know the basics of right and wrong and when it’s play time and when’s it’s not. Briony is forever in a state of play, she doesn’t learn or progress the same way other children do she doesn’t care about the world outside her own childhood bubble and thinks if she tells her story to herself or others that makes it so. She said Robbie was evil so it was so it’s the whole writer is God complex, she is dark and terrifying.

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The rest of the book follows Robbie and Cecelia’s separate lives and reunion, and of course the repercussion the war, and what it had on them and Briony. For Robbie that was prison and having to join the army as a private thanks to Briony’s actions always keeping him closer to the danger. Eventually his on journey would lead him to Dunkirk. When Robbie and Cecilia do finally get to see each other again for half an hour in a coffee shop Cecilia has to leave to go back to the hospital where she is nurse. You can still feel that love between the two characters but also the distance because they have never really been given a chance to be together.

 

 

 

Cecilia mentions how Leon stands outside her flat and tries to see her and another implication of what Briony has done to so many people hits again, this lie had destroyed a family, two families. The family have lost Cecilia, Cecilia has lost her family, Robbie’s mother left alone and had to watch her only child be dragged off to prison and probably lost her job because how can she keep working for the family now? And Briony really has come off unscathed, yes she nursed in a hospital for a bit but really she’s the centre of the universe like she always wanted.

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There is a section in the book where Robbie and Cecilia are living in a white house by the sea it’s something they talk about a lot in the book and in the film, they are together and they are happy. In this scene Briony apologies to Cecilia and Robbie tells them she wants to help clear Robbie’s Name. She also tells them that Paul Marshall the chocolate millionaire really raped Lola but she is also now his wife.

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We later find that this conversation was fiction and all happened in the context of Briony’s Novel she has released in the present day, and never could of happened because Robbie died at Dunkirk on the last day of the evacuation, Cecelia also died because of a bombing and burst water main and were never reunited. Briony sees this book as her Atonement, cleansing herself of her crime. I have mulled Briony over and over in my mind and I personally think she is vindictive, nasty little madam who was old enough to know better. She lived in her own head more than was normal and as much as writers and creatives do live in their own head a little (or a lot) Briony blurred the lines of reality and fantasy until she couldn’t see which was which.

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I found a quote from James Mcavoy who played Robbie saying she was ‘nuts…and she can rot in hell…’ I’m inclined to agree.

 

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January Reading and TBR

It’s January which means it’s a new year and we are all getting that new start feeling, by now of course some resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside and some of us are slipping back in to our old ways.

But not me, this year I have lots of plans and that includes reading, my reading slowed a little bit last year and as I was having a good (and overdue) sort out of my bookshelves I noticed how many books I’d started but not actually finished. While assessing my 2017 reading year I realised there had been so many times when books just hadn’t grabbed me. One of my favourite things about reading is being taken in to that world, captivated and not being let go to the very last page like some sort of literary prisoner.

Some how, maybe it was me or perhaps I made some bad reading choices but that didn’t happening for me very often in 2017 so I am trying to start this year off on a high.

January TBR

I’m currently reading the Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Cambell, Jen is a YouTuber and Vlogger who I have watched for awhile. She has lots say on the subject of fairy tales a subject which I actually wrote my dissertation on so I am always keen to hear her perspective and was equally keen to read her short story collection which from what I have read so for is dealing with the darker side of fairy tales and going back to their more gruesome roots.

I am also planning on reading Ali Smith’s Autumn, The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, Howards End by E.M Forster and Little Women, all of which have adaptions apart from Autumn so I am keen to get my teeth into those as well.

In 2018 I also I have plans to pick up on previous reading challenges that I have started and never completed three in particular created for this blog. One was The Shakespeare Challenge, two The Austen Challenge and thirdly and mostly importantly I started re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia for The Problem with Susan, always a Queen of Narnia? to find out more click the link above.

I think it is important to finish the things I’ve started and plan on getting back on track with with this blog. So just wanted to say hi again, happy new year and let the games begin.

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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Review

 Spoiler Free

As a reader picking a classic to read is hard, they feel and read differently from modern novels and if you’re not used to reading them or have just read something contemporary a classic can be a lot to jump into.

north and south review

I have a had a few classics on my TBR for a while, but North and South has always been one my eye as been drawn to again and again. The idea of a young woman pulled away from her home in the South of England and moving across the country against her will to northern England in the mist of the Industrial Revolution was an appealing concept.

North and South follows Margaret Hale, a strong-willed young woman who hasn’t lived amongst high society but is has hardly struggled either- her father is a parson and she has grown up amongst the luscious but slow English Country side with her cousin Edith and friend Henry.

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When Margaret’s father gives up his parsonage following a crisis of faith he moves his whole family to Milton- a city many believed to be based on the real life Manchester. Milton is not like Helston where Margret has grown up it is not green or slow but a busy vibrant city filled with smoke and industry but also there are many poor people. This is something which Margret has been sheltered from in her former life. The people and culture are so different and Margret is referred to as a foreigner more than once, these are two separate worlds that lie next to each other within the same country.

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Margret’s father begins teaching a much lower paid job than his former profession reducing their circumstances considerably but this is how she meets Mr. Thornton her father’s first pupil. Mr. Thornton is a master at a prosperous cotton mill and he and Margret see the world very differently, particularly this new world that she is inhabiting and its people. I don’t think I can continue without spoiling the book all I can say is go and read it now.

Spoilers

I have read a lot of Jane Austen so I suppose with North and South that’s what I thought I was getting a simple love story but North and South is so much more than that. It takes a strong young woman and places her in a world amongst people she doesn’t understand and watches how she negotiates them which I find fascinating. Margret isn’t the kind of character who is interested in making social connections she someone who is interested and passionate about social justice. She can see the awful situation the poor are in and their choices are so limited strike or die, die or strike and that’s why in my favourite scene in the book when the strikers come to Thornton’s mill she begs Mr. Thornton to talk to them, reason with them even through their actions are driven by starvation and desperation. She has hope that all men can just be spoken to and no matter how bad things get they can be resolved.

Best Bits 

Other than Margaret who I’m obviously quite a fan of particularly from a feminist perspective, Mr Thorton is such a well-written character. Thornton is a brilliant business man and a man of incredible morality, and most of all he loves Margaret, amongst all the political angst in this book it was a really great love story to watch unfurl.

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Thornton is a brilliant businessman and a man of incredible morality, and most of all he loves Margaret, amongst all the political angst in this book it was a really great love story to watch unfurl.

Overall I would give this 5/5 stars and it has to be one of my all-time favourite classics, I look forward to reviewing the tv adaptation (which can be found on Netflix) very soon.

I hope you enjoyed my North and South review I’ll see you next time, goodbye!

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Let’s Talk About Grantchester! 

A Priest and Policeman walk into a bar… I know what you’re thinking this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but that one line is basically the entire premise for this show… (sort of). Based on the Sidney Chambers novels by James Runcie Grantchester has now returned to ITV at 9.00 for its third series and it’s a welcome return in the shape of a typical British Sunday night drama.

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For those who don’t know the books or the show follows clergyman Sidney Chambers (played by James Norton) and his sleuthing adventures with best friend older Policeman Geordie (played by Robson Green). The two men are bound by friendship but also by their differences many of which are not just generational. Where, for instance, does young Sidney and Geordie who is twenty years his senior stand on subjects such as the death penalty? And in the most recent series infidelity? All are explored in a show that has morality, love and friendship at its very core.

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The series follow the men’s personal and professional lives and their many highs and lows Sidney and his long standing will they won’t they with his ‘friend’ Amanda is an on-going theme throughout the show. This is a detective series though with a weekly murder in this quaint English village that really shouldn’t have that many murders and more often than not it’s solved by the Priest, not the Detective, but that is all part of the charm of this programme.

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If Sidney and Geordie aren’t enough to reel you in and Sidney’s dramatic almost romance with Amanda still doesn’t have you convinced then watch it for Leonard the lovely shy Priest, who always provides comic relief. Oh yeah and Dickens, because who doesn’t love a black labrador puppy following James Norton round on a bike? That’s right, no one!

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post I’d love to hear your thoughts, see you next time!

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The Greek God Tag!

Hi guys,  I am here today bringing you The Greek Gods Tag originally created by Zuky @ Bookbum! I am currently reading The Secret History by Donna Tart and thought this is a great time to talk about all things, Greek Gods (and Goddess!).

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Rules:

  • Pingback to Zuky @ Bookbum (so she could see your post) 
  • You could use Zuky’s graphics, but you don’t have too. 
  • Tag as many people as you want, but please, share the love 

ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVORITE BOOK

How can any reader have just one favourite book? I have so many but at the moment with the release of the third Court of Thorne and Roses book coming this May I’ll say A Court of Mist and Fury. Sarah J. Maas provides drama dramatic ships and A Beauty and the Beast re-telling like no other.

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 HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

Claire Fraser- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

If you haven’t read Outlander then seriously, what are you doing? Go, read it now! (Then go watch the show) Outlander is Historical fiction and time travel fiction at its very best. Claire is a strong, independent woman who is from the 1940’s and still head strong when it comes to embracing her career. ‘Jesus H.Rosevelt Christ’ she takes nonsense from no one!

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Outlander- Review

JANUS: GOD OF BEGINNINGS – YOUR FAVORITE DEBUT(S) 

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The Girls by Emma Cline- I read an arc of The Girls just over a year ago now; if you haven’t read The Girls it is the debut from Emma Cline loosely based on the Manson Murders in 1969. When I read the book my knowledge of the murders was extremely limited, I was aware that the book was fictionalised but it did lead me to research the real events and find out what happened. A Very interesting thought-provoking debut.

The Girls- Review

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM – YOUR FAVORITE NON-FICTION BOOK

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan is short stories and essays published posthumously from the young writer’s teachers, friends and family after she died in a car accident. Beautifully written but with a tragic undertone.

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APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE – A BOOK YOU ADORE AND RECOMMEND EVERYONE READ (OTHER THAN YOUR FAVORITE BOOK!)

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Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes – I love this book so, so much it’s one of those books that came along right at the right time for me so I’ll always remember it for that. I know this book has been talked about and has been surrounded by controversy since the movie came out. But I loved reading Lou and Will’s story along with its sequel After You and I look forward to the third book which should be coming sometime next year.

Me Before You- Review

After You- Review

HADES: GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD – AN EVIL BOOK YOU WISH DIDN’T EXIST

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Look, I think evil’s a bit strong, quite while ago I read Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin and I really didn’t get on with it. The ‘protagonist’ IF you can call her that is so unlikeable but at the same time I have remembered this book and would love more people to read it so I can hear their opinions and see if they are anything like my own.

Tyringham Park- Review

POSEIDON: GOD OF THE SEA & EARTHQUAKES – A BEAUTIFUL & GROUND-BREAKING BOOK

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On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves– When you hear a book about a teacher and a student falling in love, it does have the serious ick factor to it. But all I have to say is read this book and do it with an open mind (oh yeah and bring some tissues!)

APOLLO: GOD OF THE ARTS – A BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER 

Splintered by A.G Howard, Shatter Me by  Tahereh Mafi, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lanini Taylor all have awesome covers.

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Splintered- Review

HYPNOS: GOD OF SLEEP – A BOOK SO BORING YOU ALMOST FELL ASLEEP

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How I live Now by Meg Rosoff – The premise of this book intrigued me that’s why I picked it up in the first place but the writing style just seemed to slow the book down somehow. What can I say this one was just not for me and it just felt like just another Dystopian YA novel.

HERMES: MESSENGER OF THE GODS – A BOOK YOU SPED THROUGH

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Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare- Any regular reader of my blog knows I am a huge Cassandra Clare fan and always look forward to her new books being released *cough cough* Lord of Shadows. When Lady Midnight was released I swear I almost swallowed it whole!

I hope you enjoyed today’s Greek Gods Tag! All my nominations are below- see you next time!

Nominees 

Book Addicted Reader

YA and Wine

Reads and Reels

The Bookish Wanderer

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Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies- Review

 

Before the Rains has been on my radar for quite some time after spotting a copy at my local Waterstones. The blurb seemed to really jump off the page and offer the reader everything you could want in a historical fiction.

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Before the Rains is set in 1930’s India, an India still being ruled by the British and surrounded with political unrest and India’s desire to be independent. The story follows Eliza, a recently widowed young woman coming out of an unhappy marriage and has come to India to find a career for herself as a photographer. In the 1930s when this book is set women had far fewer options than they do to today and Eliza knows how limited her options could be. So when the opportunity arrises for her to follow her dreams and head back to her childhood home of India Eliza grabs it with both hands and does not let go.

India holds many secrets for Eliza even though she doesn’t know it. She’s commissioned to take photographs of the Royal Family including the Maharaja and his awkward wife Priya and it is while at the palace that she meets the Maharaja’s younger brother the handsome and charismatic Prince Jay.

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What did I think? ( Slight Spoilers Ahead)

I haven’t felt this conflicted about a book in quite some time, I loved the majority things about Before the Rains particularly how feminist the book is. Eliza is a strong young woman who comes from a difficult family situation and although the era she is brought up in and the fact she is a woman isn’t in her favour she wants a career she knows from her previous marriage that she doesn’t just want to be someone’s wife and to live on the sidelines that won’t be enough for her, she wants more and she gets it and becomes a photographer not just in England but in India.

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The book is filled with some great, strong female characters all different and diverse with an important role in the story. Because the story is set in a British-run India the fact that Eliza is English is hugely significant when she arrives she thinks she knows who she is but after spending time with Jay in India her political views surrounding Britain’s presence in India start to change and the deeper Eliza gets with Prince Jay the more she forgets who she is and what she is doing, Jay is set to rule if his brother Anish were unfit or were to die. Oh yeah did I mention interracial romance? Well, I’m mentioning now and it’s pretty swoon-worthy too.

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Rating

Overall I would give this book 3/5 stars I could have rated higher as I enjoyed reading about India and the political situation during that time period and really loved the characters of Eliza and Jay. But I felt the writing style was quite undeveloped and unsculpted and I found the ending a little unbelievable, I would love to hear thoughts from anyone else who read this book.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Before the Rains I’ll see you next time!

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The Author/Reader Relationship and What Happens When they ‘don’t’ deliver?

Hi guys, I want to chat today a bit about expectations. Expectations, specifically a reader’s expectation when they buy a book from an author they THINK they should like- maybe they’ve heard a lot about them through bloggers or vloggers and heard nothing but positive reviews or just loved the premise of every book they have written. I have had this experience loving the concept if a book but when the book is in my hands and I’m actually reading what I thought I was going to read and what I actually read were two very different things.

the ocean at the end of the lane american gods

I hate DNF-ing a book (don’t we all?) The topic for this blog post was inspired by my own author/reader relationship with Neil Gaiman, I have read three books of his now and although I have persisted hard with each one they all have ended with a DNF most recently The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods and I can’t help thinking is my bad reading experience my own fault?

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When I read the premise for American Gods which I read in book form and on Audible this year, I thought, brilliant, Gods, Goddesses, names like Shadow and Mr. Wednesday a dead wife that returns from the dead what’s not to love? And looking at it from a subjective point of view Gaiman is clearly a fantastic author with an endless imagination but he didn’t write what I wanted or expected him to write which is partially my problem.

What I’m saying is that when you spend your money on a book and it doesn’t meet your expectations for whatever reason whose problem is it anyway? The readers? The authors? Or is that just the way it goes sometimes… you can’t win them all as they say.

On the upside, I can’t wait to see American Gods be adapted to the small screen from the trailers it looks pretty darn good, new format, new way to take in and experience the story, awesome!

Hope you enjoyed today’s book chat, see you next time!

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