Rating: 3 stars
“I am giving an account of what was, not of what ought or ought not to be.”
If she’s to get on in the world, Moll Flanders must rely only on her own wit, toughness and experience. And, as one misfortune after another is thrown her way, that’s precisely what she intends to do… Continue reading Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Classic Breaking Eighteenth-Century Moulds
Rating: 2.5 stars
Category: Classics, Dystopian
Synopsis: In an England of the future, Lionel Verney is a poor shepherd boy when he is befriended by Adrian, Earl of Windsor and Raymond, a favoured candidate for the Lord Protectorship – the pinnacle of political achievement.
Lionel is soon moving in the same circles as the most powerful, wealthy and intellectual men in the world. Yet this Romantic paradise of virtue and conversation is under threat when a plague begins to decimate the world’s population, and Lionel is helpless to protect all that he has come to treasure of life’s riches. Continue reading The Last Man by Mary Shelley: Bleakly Imaginative Dystopian
Required reading can push us out of our comfort zone, open our eyes to new authors and genres, and create first encounters with favourites that will stick with us long after we finish the course. With that in mind, here are my recommendations of required reading books that I actually enjoyed! Continue reading 10 Required Reading Books I Actually Enjoyed!
Rating: 3 stars
Category: Classics, Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Hester Prynne’s husband is missing, presumed dead. Most believe he drowned on the voyage from Amsterdam to join her in New England. Yet getting pregnant out of wedlock is still enough to earn Hester a lifelong punishment – wearing the scarlet letter ‘A’ embroidered on her clothing so her shame can never be forgotten.
Cast to the margins of her Puritan village community, Hester lives in solitude and tries to raise her daughter Pearl away from prying eyes. When a newcomer to the village brings old secrets, she is forced to choose between a life of piety and redemption, or following her perilously taboo passions. Continue reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Psychologically Driven Classic
Rating: 3.5 stars
Category: Short stories, literary fiction
Synopsis: Christopher Isherwood, an English tutor and novelist, is rootless. Yet it is this quality of rootlessness that allows him to seamlessly drift between the high and low of Berlin society, from decadent lakeside houses to cramped attic rooms shared by entire families.
Goodbye to Berlin is a semi-autobiographical collection of episodes that portray life in 1930s Berlin. Poverty, suffering and the rise of Nazism is beginning to give a threatening edge to all of the rich possibilities of the city. Continue reading Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood: Rich Yet Unsettling Portrayal of 1930s Berlin
Questioning the Canon: T.S. Eliot and Adrienne Rich
Questioning the Canon is a new feature in which I hope to bring to light lesser-known books about a certain issue, which can be read alongside or instead of infamous ‘classics’. Today, I will be comparing the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Adrienne Rich… Continue reading Questioning the Canon: T.S. Eliot and Adrienne Rich
Rating: 3 stars
When John Durbeyfield learns that he is descended from a grand ancient lineage known as the d’Urbervilles, he sends his daughter Tess to their nearest relations in the hope of claiming kin and improving his family’s prospects. As the family sinks ever-further into poverty, she is only too aware of the keen urgency of her mission.
However, Tess knows nothing of the world outside her village, or the attention she draws by nature of her youth and beauty. Her experiences at the d’Urberville house will leave her torn between preserving secrecy – and her reputation – or risking honesty with the people she loves most. Continue reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Classic Pastoral Tale with a Hint of Proto-Feminism
Should you ever be forced to read this book, or feel some masochistic urge to, I’ve included a free chapter-by-chapter summary sheet in solidarity with my fellow sufferers. Also, to lessen the pain slightly, this list of funny 1* Goodreads reviews will remind you that you’re not alone in this epic, frustrating endeavour. May the odds be ever in your favour. Continue reading The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne: Ultimate Survival Guide (+ free chapter summary cheat sheet)
Questioning the Canon is a new feature in which I hope to bring to light lesser-known books about a certain issue, which can be read alongside or instead of infamous ‘classics’.
People are starting to discuss whether the authors we hold up as cultural icons – Shakespeare, Dickens, Wordsworth – should be accompanied by previously marginalised writers. Our idea of what constitutes ‘great literature’ is becoming broader.
This can only be a good thing, as it means more diversity and social representation in what we read! Continue reading Questioning the Canon: William Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton
As Halloween creeps ever closer, I have dug up my spookiest book review from the archival crypt…
Dorian Gray is a beautiful, striking young man – the darling of London society. When a friend paints his uncannily lifelike portrait, Dorian is struck by a moment of vanity and fear. In terror of age and degradation, he strikes a bargain that will allow him to remain in youthful beauty forever. Only the cherished portrait will bear the marks of age, excess and sin. Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde