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
External link to Top 10 Non-Fiction Audiobooks to Keep Your Brain Active
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
If you’re looking for some listening material to keep your brain in gear while stuck in lockdown, here is a list of my favourite non-fiction audiobooks!
I’ve included a varied selection of genres, from true crime to self-help, so whatever your tastes you should be able to find something that intrigues you… Continue reading Top 10 Non-Fiction Audiobooks to Keep Your Brain Active
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
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: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mary Prince
Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis: For childhood best friends Tish and Fonny, becoming a couple in adulthood seems like the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Until Fonny is jailed for a rape he never committed, just before Tish announces she is pregnant with his baby. Two families must cling to each other in the turbulent struggle for justice that ensues against the institutional racism of America. Continue reading If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin: Intense, Rhetorically Charged Love Story
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