In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

To be honest, Carroll had me at ‘darkling’. As Alice, her teenage heroine, says, there’s something spooky about it, ‘It’s a funny word. Old-sounding.’ And then it was the marvellous cover. Fortunately for my high expectations, the rest of the book was brilliant. Alice has come to stay with her spiky and solitary grandmother at … Continue reading In Darkling Wood – Emma Carroll

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

I’m divided on this one, I have to confess. He’s one of my favourite writers, I was fairly gripped by the plot… but there’s also much about this novel I didn’t like. Beginning in the 1860s, the story follows two families new to the Salinas Valley, the Trasks and the Hamiltons. The latter have been … Continue reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

The Vanished Bride – Bella Ellis #TheBronteMysteries

Taking as its premise the idea that the Brontë sisters embarked on brief careers as crime-fighting ‘detectors’ in 1845, the period between Charlotte and Emily returning home from Brussels and the three sisters becoming published authors a year later, this novel offers us a delicious new version of the famous siblings, superbly reimagined by Bella … Continue reading The Vanished Bride – Bella Ellis #TheBronteMysteries

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ – Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

I'd be lying if I said that the recent use of this novel's famous opening paragraph in an advert (BT?) hadn't been a small nudge to finally get reading this classic. I have been setting the opening as a prac. crit. text for years, feeling like a complete charlatan each time because I have an … Continue reading ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ – Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

Lissa Evans’ Old Baggage – simply marvellous.

Mattie Simpkin is a brilliant character. There’s been so much written on the fight for female emancipation, both in fiction and elsewhere, but Evans’ novel, set in 1928, is a moving and often very funny account of what a woman like Mattie, an ardent suffragette and unflagging campaigner for equality, does next. ‘Mattie wore her … Continue reading Lissa Evans’ Old Baggage – simply marvellous.

‘There She Blows’ – Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Well, that was some read. I read quickly (it’s my only useful skill) and this has taken me weeks. It’s on a par with Richardson’s Clarissa in terms of the stamina required, but I’m glad I’ve read it - and unlike my experience with Richardson’s epic tome, I wasn’t being whipped along by the demands … Continue reading ‘There She Blows’ – Herman Melville’s Moby Dick