The book-buying ban I have chosen to follow for the start of 2019 has been a blessing in disguise because it is making me pick up books that I really should have read sooner.
The is one of those discovered gems ‘The History of Britain in 21 Women’ is a book I bought last year but which then sat on my ‘to-be-read’ pile, not seeing the light of day. I am now wondering why I did not pick it up sooner. As a History teacher for the day job, I am always keen to keep learning and improve my knowledge. This book educated me and provided me with excellent nuggets of information to share with my classes. It could even be said that it enthused me even more for a subject that I already love.
I am not sure how Jenni Murray managed to whittle down her list to only 21, as Britain is a country with such a rich history and culture. However, what is clear is that she genuinely believes in every single choice that she has made. There are some that may appear obvious choices to some of us, but there are some that may surprise us in equal measure.
I was pleased to see the recognition of Jane Austen and her work, and those who fought to ensure that women had a political voice. However, for me, the moment that struck a chord (especially as I teach the History of Medicine) was the inclusion of Mary Seacole. Her significance has been an issue that we regularly debate in the classroom, so it was joy to find her on this exclusive list.
This book is an entertainingly written joy to bring history to life. I hope everyone is inspired to pick up this book and find out about the wonderful women of Britain. It is certainly making me think about who I would add to the list.
Any ideas about who your women of British history would be?
On my Second Blog Birthday I decided to think about the phrase ‘You’re such a purist!’. Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse has been known to repeat this many a time as we watch various adaptations of much-loved novels. Do not get me wrong, I understand that a novel can not be transported directly to the screen, but there are some things in some novels which are just not to be messed with!
There whole term ‘Purist’ was often thrown at me during ‘Sherlock’. A much-loved show, but can something that has been so changed really have characters called Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson? By all means, writers can be inspired by other writers and even characters, but the final straw for me was the day a friend turned to me and uttered the words ‘I love Sherlock Holmes’ and when questioned had never read a story but had a crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. If the show had encouraged her to pick up the original books and discover those glorious original tales, I could maybe have forgiven the statement – but sadly it did not!
More recently, I had a little rant after watching ‘The ABC Murders’ over the festive season. Unfortunately, it simply was not a Christie tale that we sat down to watch. There is something wrong about adding such violence to the gentle escapism of the original story. And why transform Poirot’s character and side step Captain Hastings? Can modern audiences simply not be entertained without so much extreme drama? If they were to pick up the novel, I am not sure it would be anything like they expect.
Do not get me wrong, it does not mean that any adaptation should not be allowed. The Joan Hickson Marple’s are beautifully done and, although more recently Miss Marple may have appeared in cases that weren’t hers, at least if you pick up the book the tale is not changed beyond real recognition.
If TV and film encourage people to pick up books then I agree that is not a bad thing – after all I read ‘Brideshead Revisited’ after the great TV production with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews – but should we find novel to hardly resemble the production?
Have you been left cold by any adaptations of much-loved novels? Or am I really the only ‘Purist’?
I can not thank HayleyFromHome enough for sharing this book with me. This novel has to be one of the loveliest stories I have ever read and every moment has been pure joy.
I did break the golden rule as a bookworm and watch the film first (well I was on a long-haul flight). However, this has not taken away from the enjoyment of the book because the film is just as enjoyable.
This is the kind of YA fiction that world needs. Simon is a typical teenager, struggling a little with his place in the world as he deals with his identity. We follow Simon on his journey as he comes out to his friends and family – and gets to know the mysterious ‘Blue’.
The whole story is beautifully written – alternating between the standard narrative and the email exchanges between Simon and ‘Blue’. It is such an ordinary yet important tale for the modern world and, in fact, it is a shame that this is not the kind of novel that hit popular YA audiences sooner.
What struck me about this book, and comes from the title, is what really is the normal agenda? Who decides what is ‘normal’? (A question Simon and Blue discuss).
This novel, for me is a modern classic – one I want to share with everybody (just like the film). So, thank you again, HayleyFromHome, for sharing it with me this festive season.
The title of this novel immediately made me think of that classic film ‘Rear Window’. Not a bad first thought as, like the central character Dr Anna Fox, I love those classic films, so I thought I was likely to enjoy this novel.
It is clearly inspired by all those Hitchcock-style films as Dr Anna Fox is unlikely to leave her house and her only real day-to-day contact with the outside world is through the windows of her home. Like ‘Rear Window’, she witnesses what appears to be a crime but, with her muddle of the real world, film plots, memories and medication, nobody seems to believe her. The evidence is also scarce and Anna wonders if she can even rely on herself.
This is an engaging thriller with plenty of twists and turns. One of the plot twists was a little obvious, however there were plenty of other surprises along the way. I also thought that Finn’s nods to so many of the classic films was a nice touch – in fact, I have a film list now from all the references. After all, they clearly were some inspiration for the novel.
I did race through this book at some speed, as I was always keen to know what would happen next and what some of the dark secrets were. It is a great thriller, which is something we all need sometimes.
Have you read ‘The Woman in the Window’ or any other thrillers I need to add to my wish list?
So, the first book of 2019 is completed. It was a gem to start the year – especially as we are all probably looking for a way past winter as we enter January.
Although we all know we should not judge a book by its cover, how can you not be drawn to this stunning cover? Classical and stylish in white, gold and green, it oozes winter fantasy. There is also the figure of the girl which is another delight of this novel: strong female leads (well, they do not have a choice, as all the boys appear to be mysteriously disappearing).
The story is set in perpetual winter, the only season many have known, with spring and summer almost a myth. Mila and her sisters have already lost their father in a mysterious disappearance that, when their brother, Oskar, also disappears on the same night the family have some strange visitors, they decide something is to be done. It leads them on a magical adventure with Rune, the boy mage.
This is a beautifully written tale that whisks you off on a fantastical adventure. Strong female leads can give inspiration to many young readers – after all, we can all go on adventures in our own way.
Which book have you started your 2019 reads with?