Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction
Summary: Dorothea has enough of her own worries – trying to continue her studies of phrenology under the disapproving eye of her father, dodging her simpering stepmother-to-be at society balls, and dissuading men with matrimonial hopes. Yet when visiting a woman’s prison on charitable errands, she feels drawn to the tragic story of Ruth Butterham, a maid and seamstress condemned to death for the murder of her mistress.
Ruth is an enigma, a girl of only sixteen who has already endured a lifetime of suffering. Always refusing to become a victim, this young prisoner holds onto a burning core of vengefulness that allures and repels Dorothea in equal measure. Is Ruth guilty, or is her confession the product of her own disturbing delusions? Continue reading The Corset by Laura Purcell: Feminist Historical Fiction with a Magical Realism Twist
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: 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
Did you know that it’s World Poetry Day on 21st March? To get you in the mood, I thought I would retrieve the words of some talented yet oft-overlooked 1930s poets from the Miscellany Pages archives… Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: Top 10 Powerful Quotes from 1930s Poetry
This week, it would have been the 100th birthday of inimitable author Iris Murdoch. What better time to bring back this review of her novel, The Red and the Green?
Andrew: a slightly reluctant soldier in the First World War.
Pat: a member of the militant Irish Volunteers.
Millie: an eccentric and passionate woman whose home is being used to store weaponry.
The Red and the Green interrogates the lives of this troubled family as events escalate towards the Easter Rising, a pivotal moment that would change the course of Irish History. Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch
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 Christopher Marlowe
With many people embarking on summer reading challenges this year, such as the 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books, I thought I would bring back this feature from the archives. If you’re looking to reach some reading goals over summer, hopefully, this will provide you with some inspiration!
The weather is getting warmer, the evenings lighter, the trees are blossoming – summer is definitely on its way! I don’t know about you, but whether I’m on holiday or just relaxing in the garden, summer is the time when I get to read most out of any time of year. But have you thought about what you’re aiming to achieve with your reading this summer? Do you want to feel more well-read by perusing some classics, or do you fancy something a little lighter to help you relax on the beach? The tailored recommendations below will help you to fulfil your summer reading goals, whatever they may be! Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: Fulfil your Summer Reading Goals – Tailored Recommendations!
Have you heard of W.H. Auden? How about Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice or George Barker?
If your first reaction is ‘who?’, you’re not alone. I did not recognise a single name from the collection of 1930s poetry when I began studying it this semester. The unique voices of these poets encapsulate the disillusion and hope of an entire generation, yet, sandwiched between the two World Wars, they are often overlooked.
I thought about how I could champion the power of these poems, but nobody could do so better than the poets themselves. With that in mind, here are my top 10 quotes from the poetry of the 30s… Continue reading Top 10 Powerful Quotes from 1930s Poetry
Les Cirque des Reves, or Circus of Dreams, can only be entered between sunset and sunrise. Until one evening when it will disappear as suddenly as it arrived, only to reappear in another city, another country. The acts are familiar – acrobats, fortune tellers, mirror mazes, illusionists – but not as they have been seen before.
The performers seem to belong to another world, one where the boundaries of reality widen. When dark occurrences begin to blight the circus, an unprecedented force at its centre is finally revealed to them.
Because the circus is not the event – it is only the venue… Continue reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Fantasy World to Sink Into and Savour
Les Misérables is completely different from any other book I have ever read. Unlike most modern books, Victor Hugo is not only concerned with the story immediately surrounding his characters, but with creating an accurate picture of the entire country and time period in which the story takes place. At times, this can make the book feel a little frustrating and long-winded.
However, there is space for a great deal of character development, complex relationships and evocative description in 1400 pages! Consequently, I became hypnotically immersed in the life of Jean Valjean and the atmosphere of post-revolutionary France. I felt a genuine sense of loss after turning the final pages.
Although it takes some motivation, I really do believe that Les Mis is a book worth reading. So with that in mind, here are my 9 tips to help you reach the finish line: Continue reading Reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: 9 Helpful Tips to Reach the Finish Line! (With Character List Download)