Tag Archives: reading

WBN 34: The Island

I’m steadily working my way through the nation’s 100 favourite books according to World Book Night’s poll in 2011. Find out more about this challenge and check my progress here.

I found The Island to be an unexpectedly sweet novel. Although it’s essentially a beach read, the story of a young woman bent on discovering more about her secretive mother’s past, and the parallel story of said mother’s great grandmother’s tragic life, I found it quite absorbing and deeper than I expected. The titular island is not the blissful desert island you might expect, but instead the site of a colony, where lepers are sent to die. This brings with it a whole new set of expectations – a miserable pit of a place with depressed, dying inhabitants – but Hislop gently introduces us to a vibrant, democratic community packed with residents trying to better their lives and fighting for respect from the mainland community.

I lacked much empathy with the main present day character, Alexis – she struck me as a little self-centred – but once her journey took her to the site of the island and the story of her family, I became much more engaged. As with most of these Mediterranean love stories, there is a myriad of outlandish characters with similar, unfamiliar names, and the story spans several decades, which at times had me scanning back through the pages to remind myself who was who. However, I loved the way the narrative was hung around the women of the community, and the way each of them staked a firm claim on my attention.

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WBN 9: Rebecca

I’m steadily working my way through the nation’s 100 favourite books according to World Book Night’s poll in 2011. Find out more about this challenge and check my progress here.

Rebecca is the story of a young servant girl named Rebecca, who is taken on at a large country home and travels there in a carriage. Once there she encounters a violent housekeeper and starts to uncover a secret… Oh no, wait, that’s just what I very confidently thought it was about before I read it. Where I get these ideas from I have no idea but somehow these preconceptions lodge themselves in my mind and stay there as vague impressions.

In actual fact, Rebecca is about a nameless young woman who is working as a lady’s companion until she meets and is wooed by Max de Winter, a wealthy bachelor. After a whirlwind romance, they are married and after their honeymoon, go to live in Max’s country home, Manderley. As soon as the new Mrs de Winter arrives, she feels out of her depth: the housekeeper Mrs Danvers is intimidating and unfriendly, and somehow Rebecca, Max’s first wife, is still making her presence felt.

I really loved the way du Maurier developed her characters. Although this storyline could have come off as melodramatic and unrealistic, it was believable and in fact felt almost inevitable. Whilst some women would have stalked into Manderley, sacked the housekeeper with the attitude and chased any lingering presences away, the Mrs de Winter-to-be that we meet over the first few chapters could never have done so, couldn’t have done anything other than what du Maurier writes. Whilst some women would have looked the other way faced with a slightly controlling man clearly not over his dead wife, the shy and socially gauche lady’s companion who has never been in love is completely thrown by his attentions.

This comes highly recommended from me – it’s definitely a book I’ll be re-reading. I’ve also picked up a sequel, Rebecca’s Tale, by another author that is high up on my to read list, now!

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World Book Night 2012 in Leeds

It’s here again! Tomorrow is World Book Night 2012, when tens of thousands of givers across the country will distribute half a million free books among their local communities. Come Wednesday I’ll be at a local Girl Guide group telling them why I love I Capture the Castle; meanwhile on Monday night tons of other book lovers are organising fab events throughout our fair city.

World Book Night at The White Swan, Leeds

In the city centre we have an event from @LeedsBookClub and the one and only @Gazpachodragon. As you can see from the poster above, it’s at The White Swan (awesome ale alert) and starts at 7pm. Prepare yourself for endless literary fun and grab yourself a free book to see what all the fuss is about! Plus, I heard there would be cake…

Up in Headingley @BookElfLeeds is looking to repeat last year’s success at Arcadia Bar. Again, there will be free books, plus the incredible Travelling Suitcase Library and a buffet. The word on the street is that cheese on a stick will feature heavily, which is good enough for me. Again, it starts at 7pm and full details are here.

If you’re already a total bookworm, then popular book blog For Books’ Sake are holding an event at Café 164. You can swap books from 2pm and from 6pm is a literary quiz. With prizes! Book your team’s place by tweeting @cafe164. More info here.

Finally, the gang at @WaterstoneLeeds are celebrating in style! They’ll be open til 8pm and offering 10% off all full priced books between 6pm and 8pm. They also have a quiz, plus an open mic for random reads – grab your favourite book passage or poem and share it with everyone. Again there’ll be free WBN books, wine, nibbles and activities for kids.

That’s a ton of World Book Night fun in Leeds tomorrow! Unfortunately I think anyone would struggle to get them all in but I’m sure there’s scope for a bit of party hopping. Have fun deciding, and, most importantly, get into the spirit of the night. Read the books, enjoy them, pass them on, and introduce someone to the joy of reading.

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