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: 5 stars
Category: Literary fiction, retellings
Synopsis: “Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles… How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him ‘the butcher'”
The bards sing of Achilles, hero of the Trojan war, but never the slave who shared his bed, Briseis. Taken from her fallen city, Lyrnessus, she is brought to the Greek camp besieging Troy and given as a prize to Achilles. No woman is better placed to strip bare the true inglorious agonies of war, both on and off the battlefield. Continue reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker: Devastating Feminist Retelling of the Trojan War
External link to The Scoop by Cat Walker Magazine Review: Vicariously Travel the World in Lockdown!
Rating: 5 stars
Category: Literary fiction, Dystopian
Synopsis: Lydia is one of the most feared Aunts in Gilead – but she’s about to go rogue with a secret manuscript.
Agnes and Daisy are both navigating the trials of coming-of-age – but with one raised inside and one outside Gilead, they might as well come from different planets.
These three unlikely women will be brought together to unite against the powerful Gileadean theocracy – challenging every single one of their assumptions about reality in the process. Continue reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Searingly Plausible Dystopian
The Scoop by Cat Walker is the first free review copy I’ve received since I started writing for the magazine – perks!!! I was so excited when I received it in the post and it turned out to be a fun, vivid, globe-trotting quarantine read. See below for the synopsis and a link to my book review for the City Girl Magazine… Continue reading The Scoop by Cat Walker Magazine Review: Vicariously Travel the World in Lockdown!
I wanted to support the #blacklivesmatter movement, particularly in light of the recent tragic murder of George Floyd. So below is a list of all the books by black authors that I have read and reviewed since starting this blog, to give you a starting point when seeking to diversify your reading. Read, educate, support. Continue reading Support Black Authors: Book Recommendations
Rating: 5 stars
Category: Literary fiction
Synopsis: In Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo intertwines twelve lives – mostly black, British women. Their voices range from Hattie, an ancient mixed-race grandma struggling to keep her family farm and her pride along with it, to Amma, a black lesbian playwright whose radical work is showing at the National Theatre for the first time.
Through this lively spectrum of characters, Evaristo explores the nuances of identity, connection, and what it means to be proud of who you are. Continue reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: Because One Voice is Never Enough
Rating: 5 stars
Theo has just started a new job at The Grove, a psychiatric unit for violent female criminals. Top of the list of new patients he must take on is Alicia. Alicia seemed to have it all – a flourishing career as an artist and a loving husband – until the night she shot him in the head. Since that fateful night, Alicia has refused to speak a word.
Disentangling Alicia’s past and the motives for her crime is not going to be easy – especially when The Grove is hiding secrets of its own. Continue reading The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: Stand-Out Thriller that Deserves the Hype
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
Rating: 4 stars
Category: Historical fiction, crime, literary fiction
Alias Grace is based on the actual historical figure Grace Marks, who was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper in 1843, alongside James McDermott. In this fictionalised account, it is uncertain whether she was acting under duress, out of fear for her own life, or if she was McDermott’s lover and co-conspirator.
The ambitious psychologist Dr Jordan is sent to the penitentiary to draw out the truth. However, with Grace claiming to have no memory of the incident, it will be difficult to separate the innocent, exploited young girl from the woman capable of unspeakable violence. Continue reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: Character-Centric Historical Crime
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)