The Diamond of Drury Lane - Julia Golding
Capturing superbly the hustle and bustle, flair and extravagance of late Eighteenth Century times in England's renowned capital, The Diamond of Drury Lane introduces its feisty heroine with an undeniably exciting first adventure. This is history fiction for young readers at its best - authentic, exciting and fast-moving.
It should be noted that this is a young readers book although I would say that it stretches those limits to the extreme. Whilst the main audience of the book is younger than I it was by no means a children's book; there were some frightening, tense and gruesome moments and it broached many topics, including gangs, illegal boxing matches and matters of class and money. It was the appearance of the book that first struck me as it has been laid out in the format of a play, quite apt as it's set in a Theatre. Julia Golding has written superbly and with each page I read I found myself further dragged into the darker side of an of 18th Century London. I really enjoyed this book, it was a little bit different and, although I enjoyed it as an adult, I can see it's appeal to a younger audience.
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin
There are five daughters in the Bennet family and marriage is the only career open to them. There is naturally much excitement when two young men of good fortune move into the District. But before there can be a happy ending, the hero must conquer his overwhelming pride and Elizabeth, the spirited heroine, her prejudices against him. Only by taking the route to self-knowledge can they reach a mature understanding of each other and find lasting contentment.
Pride and Prejudice had been on my 'to read' list for many years. It's was a book that I just never really got round to reading despite it having sat at the front of my bookcase for quite some time. I enjoyed the story and the innocent romance of the age (something rather different to a more modern romance novel). I'll admit I struggled a little with this book; it took me a good few weeks to read, and that was down to the language. I understood what was being said and what was going on but the age the book was written in definitely showed and it was pretty hard-going at some points. Part of me loved it as so many books are 'modernised' and loose their sense of self, whereas this copy felt 'true' to how it was meant to be read. However the lazy part of me wished it was easier to read at parts. Nevertheless, I got into the story and was caught up in the suspense of it.
Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dicken's classic Great Expectations. So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, "A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe." Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.
Mister Pip is a wonderful story that illustrates the power of imagination and how books and stories can create an escape and alternate universe for people. By reading Great Expectations the children in Mister Pip are able to transport themselves from a blighted, war-stricken world into Victorian London. The book highlights the wonders and brilliance of imagination but also how dangerous it can be. I rather enjoyed the book; it wasn't my favourite but I found it a fascinating and interesting read.
I guess it should be noted that I attempted to read Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Kate Kerrigan. I got a whole 13 pages in and gave up!
2013 Book List