Saturday, 29 January 2011

A New (and slightly obscure) Challenge

So yesterday I was up in London with my fiance, and we found an amazing Oxfam bookshop, in which I was rummaging, when I came across a copy of one of my absolute favourite books growing up, 'The Growing Summer', by Noel Streafeild. Then I started thinking about how much I adored her books as a child, and how great it would be to reread them, and on doing a bit of digging I discovered that she's written a huge amount more than I had previously realised. Given my current addiction to challenges, I thought that I'd set myself a little bit of a trial and see how many I could read in 2011. (I think that this will include rereads, as it's been years since I read any really) I think that most people would know her primarily as the author of Ballet Shoes, but would be interested to hear if anybody else loved her books as a child!

Just as an aside, here is an awesome poem from 'The Growing Summer':

The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo
Edward Lear 1812-1888

On the Coast of Coromandel,
Where the early pumpkins grow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Two old chairs, and half a candle,
One old jug without a handle,
These were all his worldly goods:
In the middle of the woods,
These were all the worldly goods
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Once, among the Bong-trees walking
Where the early pumpkins grow,
To a little heap of stones
Came the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There he heard a Lady talking,
To some milk-white Hens of Dorking,
"'Tis the Lady Jingly Jones!
On that little heap of stones
Sits the Lady Jingly Jones!"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

"Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!
Sitting where the pumpkins grow,
Will you come and be my wife?"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
"I am tired of living singly,
On this coast so wild and shingly,
I'm a-weary of my life;
If you'll come and be my wife,
Quite serene would be my life!"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

"On this Coast of Coromandel,
Shrimps and watercresses grow,
Prawns are plentiful and cheap,"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
"You shall have my chairs and candle,
And my jug without a handle! -
Gaze upon the rolling deep
(Fish is plentiful and cheap) -
As the sea, my love is deep!"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Lady Jingly answered sadly,
And her tears began to flow,
"Your proposal comes too late,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
I would be your wife most gladly!"
(Here she twirled her fingers madly)
"But in England I've a mate!
Yes! you've asked me far too late,
For in England I've a mate,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
  "Mr Jones - (his name is Handel -
Handel Jones, Esquire, & Co.)
Dorking fowls delights to send,
Mr Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Keep, oh! keep your chairs and candle,
And your jug without a handle,
I can merely be your friend!
- Should my Jones more Dorking send,
I will give you three, my friend!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!

"Though you've such a tiny body,
And your head so large doth grow,
Though your hat may blow away,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Though you're such a Boddy Doddy -
Yet I wish that I could modi-
fy the words I needs must say!
Will you please to go away?
That is all I have to say -
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!"

Down the slippery slopes of Myrtle,
Where the early pumpkins grow,
To the calm and silent sea
Fled the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There beyond the Bay of Gurtle,
Lay a large and lively Turtle;
"You're the Cove," he said, "for me;
On your back beyond the sea,
Turtle, you shall carry me!"
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Through the silent-roaring ocean
Did the Turtle swiftly go;
Holding fast upon his shell
Rode the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
With a sad primaeval motion
Towards the sunset isles of Boshen
Still the Turtle bore him well,
Holding fast upon his shell.
"Lady Jingly Jones, farewell!"
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

From the Coast of Coromandel
Did that Lady never go;
On that heap of stones she mourns
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
On that Coast of Coromandel,
In his jug without a handle,
Still she weeps, and daily moans;
On that little heap of stones
To her Dorking Hens she moans
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

The list of her books is here, and if anybody else wants to join in, feel free! :-)

Friday, 28 January 2011

Freaky Friday by Mary Rogers

I was reading on Snowdrop Dreams, about the YA of the 80s and 90s Challenge, and, although I've not officially signed up for it (due to huge oversubscription to other challenges, and the fact that at the moment, it looks unlikely that I will ever actually be able to get into Bleak House!), I was reading Freaky Friday for the Gilmore Girls Challenge, and remembering all the many many good things about YA. If I'm totally honest, although I did enjoy the book, it wore its' publication date (1976) quite obviously, at least from a women's lib point of view. Freaky Friday is basic in it's premise. One Friday, Annabel Andrews wakes up to find herself in her mother's body. She subsequently finds out that her mother is in her body. The book deals with the consequences and resolution of this. In the interests of full disclosure, I have to add that I was quite a huge fan of the Lindsay Lohan movie when it first came out, and in many ways I still feel that the film surpasses the book.
That said, the book was light, fun, and did delve into the complexities of family relationships, showing the main character, Annabel's (Anna in the film) realisation of everything her mother does for her, very effectively.
However, it was mostly the style of the book which made me happy and nostalgic, and then reading around reminded me about the Babysitters Club books, and how obsessed I was by them. At the moment, I'm having one of those unsettled feelings, where I can't quite decide what to read, or really get into anything, so I think that diving back into the BSC, Paula Danziger, and Judy Blume, among others, could be just what I need!

Rating: ***

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger

So with all these challenges I'm taking part in, plus my massive TBR stack, I managed to find this - a book which is neither part of a challenge, nor part of my TBR stack. It was new, somebody gave me a Waterstones card, what could I do??

Anyway! I'm glad that I read it.

I'm starting to wish I could read something I hate. I feel that I'm becoming monotonous in my unequivocal love of everything that I read lately. However, having said that, I really did love this book.

The quote on the front claims that the book is 'dark and delicious', and it really, really is. The first few chapters of the book felt like it was going to be one of those emotional drama, human interest stories, about people fulfilling their dreams and discovering themselves, which I normally love so much. But then it changed, and became an awesome ghost story, and the focus shifted

All of the characters in this novel are damaged. The primary characters are two sets of twins: Edwina and Elspeth, and Julia and Valentina. Julia and Valentina are mirror image twins, meaning Valentina's internal organs are all reversed, and her heart is on the opposite side of her body. For me, the most interesting thing was the way that NIffeneger explored how the twins' physical charactersistics affected their emotional ones. The other thing which made me fall in love a little bit, was the books' setting in Highgate Cemetery.
To be honest, this may just be the fact that I'm a Londoner who's recently relocated, and is having pangs of nostalgia and homesickness, but whatever it is, I wallowed in it!
Her Fearful Symmetry was much, much more than I expected it to be, and I really didn't want it to end: it was a delicious novel.

Rating: *****

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays: Favourite Childhood Book

Little Women by Louisa Alcott

I was having a slight problem with this topic, as I have several books that I absolutely loved as a child, but after much careful thought, I decided that I'd have to go with Little Women, by Louisa M Alcott. I doubt there are many people who don't know about Little Women, but at the same time, I don't think there are too many who feel quite the way I do about it.

For me it's not only my favourite childhood book, but one of my favourite books of all time. I call it my antidepressant, as every time I'm feeling particularly down or uninspired I'll start reading the series and not stop until I'm cheered up, and so far, through biannual readings for the last fifteen years, it hasn't let me down once.

The reason I've picked it as my favourite childhood book though, is that it's the first time that I remember reading a book from cover to cover in one sitting. It was summer, as I was sat on our back doorstep, and it took me two hours to read the whole thing. When I got up I couldn't feel my legs anymore. Being brought up in a Christian household, I think that my sisters and I had a lot in common with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, and as a young child I used to use the book as a model for my own life. I think to some extent, I still do. I know that it's all very quaint, reading about girls who basically just want to be good, and who are very domestic and content to stay home with their parents until a nice young man comes to marry them, but, after years of struggling against it, I've come to accept that maybe that's a big part of who I am as well. As a child, I used to see the girls from the book as very individual and independent, as they are all very much their own people and have their own aspirations beyond wanting homes and families, and although my feminist tendencies have, on occassion, made me keep quiet about my love of this book, I've decided it's time for this to change.

Following reading it, I always have a hugely industrious fit and start embroidering tablecloths or making curtains and suchlike. The most recent reading spurred an obsession with self-sufficiency, which led to me buying a bunch of half price vegetable seeds to grow in the summer. To sum up, reading it, for me, creates only good things and always has done. It makes me happy, motivated, and energised, and so I've decided that in return for this favour, I'll stop being ashamed that it is my favourite!

I'm going to put in a short blurb about it, in case there's anyone who doesn't know the basic storyline, which I have, as usual, failed to even slightly outline in my ramblings!
This is what Goodreads have to say about it, and that's basically all there is to it:

Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters--Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth-- and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

Wonderful Wednesdays is a new meme hosted by Sam @ Tiny Library

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis amazed me. For starters, it is the first graphic novel I have ever read which is not from the fantasy genre. I found the use of the cartoons a hugely effective way of portraying the storyline, and was also stunned by how unexpectedly funny it was, given the subject matter. It actually made me laugh out loud.

The book is basically Satrapi's autobiography, and tells her story from childhood, beginning in 1980, during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, all the way through to 1994, when she left Iran to study in Paris. The fact that it is graphic helps to slightly distance the reader from the horrors contained within the story. As a child, Marjane learns about the imprisonment of her grandfather, experiences the imprisonment and execution of her uncle, and has to contend with the Guardians of the Revolution, while out buying Kim Wilde tapes off the Black Market.

The second part of the novel deals with her period of living in Vienna, where her parents sent her to continue her education, aged 14. From the horror and repression of Iran during a war, Satrapi emerges to a society which shuns her as a foreigner: when she fights back against her headmistress telling her that Iranians have no education, she is expelled, and eventually spirals from drugs, a boyfriend who spends all of her money, and who mother hates her for being different, into homelessness,a nd finally back to her family in Iran.

Persepolis is surprisingly humorous and hugely perceptive. It depicts many of the way in which the so called 'emancipated' Western world can be just as repressed and restrictive as the East. For me, it took a period about which I knew nothing, and informed me, while at the same time entertaining me (and annoying my fiance, as I persisted in reading the funniest bits aloud to him.. I know, it's annoying).
The thing that I loved the most about this novel, was the emphasis on books and education. I completely agree with Satrapi when she says 'One must educate oneself'. And on that note, I'm off to rent the film...

Rating: ***** (I'd give it more if I had them!)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


So, this is my first year of book blogging, and apparently I'm addicted to reading challenges... I can't stop signing up for them! They make me feel so productive and educated and proud and like I'm learning things. Look, look at all the ones I've signed up for!!

That is all.

If anybody knows of any good ones, let me know.... even though I've strictly forbidden myself for signing up for any more, I might have to make exceptions, in the name of education you know.... :-/

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War #2)
The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
description from
The Red Queen is the second book in Philippa Gregory's new series of historical novels, set during the Wars of the Roses. I finished reading The White Queen a little while ago, and was, as always, highly impressed by her storytelling ability. Having read the whole of the Tudor Court series of novels, the thing which most impresses me about her work, is her ability to breathe life and vivacity into such well known characters as Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, and to make them distinctly human and real. This was especially impressive for me, growing up around the corner from Hampton Court Palace, who had studied the Tudors literally every year of my life between the ages of six and fifteen, and thought that I knew all that there was to know about them! Gregory's huge talent is to show what is behind royalty - and to show the things that drive these women: ambition, mostly, but also desperation.
The Red Queen is the most feminist of all of Gregory's work that I have read so far. It addresses the possession of women by men even more strongly than her other novels, and for me, the power of the story lies in the strength of the female protagonists. (for more on feminism in Gregory's works, go here).
The Red Queen of the title, is Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, later to be King Henry VII, and her struggle to ensure that her child claims the throne, and secures victory for the House of Lancaster, throughout the turbulence of the wars with their cousins, the House of York. The White Queen was about Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of York, and having read it, The Red Queen meshed together very nicely. This is usually the case with Philippa Gregory's work, as most of her novels are set in a similar period of history, and the continuity of storyline and setting is one of the reasons why I find her books so easy to read.
I loved this book, as I do so many of her novels, because it was hugely engaging and compelling, at the same time as being very informative and accurate, with events, at least. The greatest thing about this novel for me, and the reasons why I will continue reading Philippa Gregory's work, is the way that she can humanise anyone, whether they are a queen or a servant, and make you care about their story.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Review: Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the first book I decided to tackle in my self -set Myth Series Challenge. There were lots of reasons why I decided to read Dream Angus first. For starters, I am a big fan of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and enjoy his style of writing, therefore I was hoping to enjoy this book, and I wasn't disappointed. Also, I am, as my profile would indicate, 'into' dreams. Having them, pursuing them, interpreting them... and so I also had a personal interest in reading this book.

So. Dream Angus is the Celtic God of dreams, love, and youth. The traditional story is that he fell in love with a woman who came to him in his dreams. When she would not stay with him, night after night, he stopped eating and made himself ill, until his worried parents started a search for her. Eventually, they found her, but it turned out that the girl, Caer, (also the Celtic goddess of love) had a problem, in that she turned into a swan every other year, and Angus must overcome this to be with her.

In Alexander McCall Smith's retelling, he has interspersed the story of Angus with modern stories of love and dreams. My favourite quote from the book was actually in the Introduction, when McCall Smith says that "Angus... represents youth, and the intense passionate love that we might experience when we are young but which we might still try to remember as age creeps up. Age and experience might make us sombre and cautious, but there is always Angus within us - Angus the dreamer". As I love mythology in general, I really enjoyed reading a story that I had not previously known, and thought the way that it had been redeveloped was very engaging. I really enjoyed the style of the book, as it was very lightweight and easy to read: I finished it in an hour...

Rating ****

Next up: Baba Yaga Laid an Egg...

Review: Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella and The Love Verb by Jane Green

I am reviewing these books together, as my local library has them filed together, under the heading 'Chick Lit'. There's been so much debate about the worth and value of this genre within the world of books, and so many people, myself included, see reading the books that fall into this category, as a guilty pleasure, rather than serious reading. I'll hold my hands up and admit that I've even been known to refer to them as 'girly rubbish books', and have an entire defensive argument ready to go along with the admission that I'm reading something that can be classed as 'chick lit'. One of my new years resolutions is to stop doing this. Some of my; absolutely favourite authors (Jane Green, Dorothy Koomson, Katie Fforde, Claudia Carroll, Jennifer Weiner, Candace Bushnell,etc, etc, etc) fall into this category, and I can therefore attest to the completely un-rubbishy nature of their work. It is however, girly, and therefore fair game for attack from the feminists, chauvanists, modernists, and pretty much anyone else who happens by.
Chick lit has been defined in lots of ways, but primarily as fiction written by women, for women, about issues which affect women; in the case of the two books I'm talking about here, these issues are, respectively, shopping, and cancer.

Mini Shopaholic, I would say, falls into the public conception of the genre as 'fluff fiction'. It is the latest in the 'Shopaholic' series, written by Sophie Kinsella, featuring shopaholic Becky Bloomwood. Kinsella, along with 'Bridget Jones' author Helen Fielding, and the ever popular (although not one of my favourites) Marian Keyes, was one of the first writers to popularise the chick lit genre, and the first book of the series, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, was turned into the film 'Confessions of a Shopaholic', in 2009. Briefly outlined, for those who haven't read the previous five shopaholic books, Becky is addicted to shopping, and in this most recent addition, her daughter is headed the same way. She spends frankly ridiculous amounts on things she will not ever need. Throughout the series, this has got her into vast numbers of problems. However, somehow it seems only to endear her more to the long-suffering Luke, who eventually married, in the third novel, and had a baby, in the fifth, with her. Baby, now two, is the 'Mini' (also called Minnie...) of the title. The story focuses on Becky's inability to control her child, resulting in getting banned from four Santa's grottoes, having to accept a delivery of sixteen coats that she does not want, and paying for the repair of a car stereo after aforementioned toddler has stuffed a honey sandwich into the CD player. However, as a sideline, Becky is also attempting to organise a super surprise birthday party for husband Luke (a big-shot businessman, at the time the British economy got all buggered up), and has to contend with the media, business meetings in Paris, and all kinds of hilarity in order to keep her secret.

If chick lit is about the issues faced by women, then Mini Shopaholic definately raises issues about motherhood and relationships. The humour which is so integral to the genre, is portrayed pretty much solely through the characters of Becky's parents, and their reactions (especially her mother's increasing hysteria) to the economic crisis.

I continue to read the Shopaholic books, because they are light hearted and generally fairly entertaining, as long as you're not expecting too much from them. I enjoyed this a lot less than I have the others. During this novel, I realised that the central character was selfish, compeltely spoiled, in denial, and, in the words of on eof the characters in the novel, 'insane'. This shouldn't have come as a revelation, as Kinsella has been very consistent with her characters throughout the series, and actually, Becky isn't half as bad in her latest outing as she has been on previous occassions. Having a child does seem to have impacted her in a positive way, despite her disciplinary skills being non-existent, and Kinsella has thrown in a fair few obstacles for her to overcome during the course of the novel; her addiction to shopping, organising a party, and the desire of Luke's estranged mother to have a relationship with her granddaughter, making up the crux of them.

Basically, the book was fine. It didn't challenge me, excite me, or even make me particularly happy, which is usually what I'm looking for when I visit the 'chick lit' section. However, it fulfilled the fourth criteria of the catergory, which is that it was fairly mindless. I did not need to concentrate on it at all. Overall, my opinion would be that the Shopaholic series has had its' day, and that Kinsella, (who, despite this review, is a talented, and usually fairly amusing writer) should turn her hand to something new.

Rating: ***

I always get excited about reading a Jane Green novel. I find that her writing is often very similar to that of Jodi Picoult, whose books I also enjoy a lot, although Green's are usually on the much lighter side, hence their classification as 'Chick lit'. My expectations when I pick up one of her novels, is that it will have characters who are interesting, and feel real, that it will completely absorb me, and make me feel something for the characters and storyline. The first Green novel I read was 'Bookends', unsurprisingly about books, and I fell in love with it, as it is about two women who start up an independent bookshop, with a cafea attached, and therefore combines two of my major passions of reading and food. 'The Love Verb' does the same, and got me all fired up by interspersing the story with recipes, every chapter, relating to the events of the chapter. I really love it when writers use other things to provoke the reactions of their readers, and I really find that recipes do it for me, as food tells you so much about people!

The main characters of the novel are Steffi Tollemache, a chef, and her sister, Callie. However, and this is one of the major things that I love about Jane Green's novels, the sisters are surrounded by a host of well thought - out and very three dimensional supporting characters, including Callie's husband, Reece, children Eliza and Jack, parents Honor and Walter, best friend Lila, her boyfriend, Ed, and Steffi's landlord, Mason.

Essentially, the story is about family, friendship, and how people come together to support one another during times of crisis. Callie is in remission from breast cancer, and about to celebrate four years since being given the all -clear, when tragedy strikes. Through a horrific time, Green portrays with real depth of emotion the feelings of all her characters, and far from the uplifting joy I felt on finishing 'Bookends', 'The Love Verb' had me curled up in my armchair, sobbing uncontrollably. I know, I'm a wuss, but the questions Green asks, and the depth of emotion she presents, are so real that I defy anyone to get through it without shedding a tear!

I thought that 'The Love Verb' was engrossing, very well written, and an emotional and accurate portrayal of what family means, and would (and probably will!) recommend it to anyone. In my opinion, Jane Green continues to improve with every book she publishes.

Rating: *****

I realise this has been a veeeeerrrry long post, but really limited access to the internet means I have to take advantage of posting as much as I can, whenever I can!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Just as a by the way...

Back in the good old teenage angsty days, when I used to look to poetry for the deeper meanings of life, (I still do, to some extent, although I hope in a far less angsty way!)I came across this little gem, which I then proceeded to read to anybody and everybody who passed by me, whether or not they wanted to hear it. Here it is again, lest it should be forgotten :

The Box
Once upon a time, in the land of Hush-A-Bye,
Around about the wondrous days of yore,
They came across a kind of box
Bound up with chains and locked with locks
And labeled "Kindly do not touch; it's war."
A decree was issued round about, and all with a flourish and a shout
And a gaily colored mascot tripping lightly on before.
Don't fiddle with this deadly box,Or break the chains, or pick the locks.
And please don't ever play about with war.
The children understood. Children happen to be good
And they were just as good around the time of yore.
They didn't try to pick the locksOr break into that deadly box.
They never tried to play about with war.
Mommies didn't either; sisters, aunts, grannies neither
'Cause they were quiet, and sweet, and pretty
In those wondrous days of yore.
Well, very much the same as now,
And not the ones to blame somehow
For opening up that deadly box of war.
But someone did. Someone battered in the lid
And spilled the insides out across the floor.
A kind of bouncy, bumpy ball made up of guns and flags
And all the tears, and horror, and death that comes with war.
It bounced right out and went bashing all about,
Bumping into everything in store.And what was sad and most unfair
Was that it didn't really seem to care
Much who it bumped, or why, or what, or for.
It bumped the children mainly. And I'll tell you this quite plainly,
It bumps them every day and more, and more,
And leaves them dead, and burned, and dying
Thousands of them sick and crying.
'Cause when it bumps, it's really very sore.
Now there's a way to stop the ball. It isn't difficult at all.
All it takes is wisdom, and I'm absolutely sure
That we can get it back into the box,And bind the chains, and lock the locks.
But no one seems to want to save the children anymore.
Well, that's the way it all appears, 'cause it's been bouncing round
for years and years
In spite of all the wisdom wizzed since those wondrous days of yore
And the time they came across the box,
Bound up with chains and locked with locks,
And labeled "Kindly do not touch; it's war."

Lascelles Abercrombie

Monday, 10 January 2011

V for Vendetta

I borrowed this from my little sister (who got it for Christmas) for our Graphic Novel book club, for which we had the ingenious idea that whoever chooses the book for that month, has to buy it and circulate it to all the other members, so that there's only ever one copy of a book, as they're so expensive and difficult to get second hand (although charity shops are always worth a look!). This creates a bit of a problem, though, as by the time we get around to the meeting, half the people have forgotten most of what happens in the novel, but I guess you can't win them all.
I've been a big fan of the film ever since it came out, although my sister (different sister) will only let us watch it on November 5th, and although I now live in a different county, around 2 hours drive away, I still don't feel able to break that rule...
Never having read the book, I obviousy expected it to be similar to the film, although, having read a vast number of adaptations, I have no idea why I would think this, but there we go. It isn't.
There are, of course, similarities. For example, the characters, V, Evey, Mr Finch, Mr Creedey, are all there, and major things which occur in the book are obviously taken pretty much straight from there to the screen, however major other things are left out. In the book, the film's climactic ending of the destruction of the Houses of Parliament, has already occured. However, the book does place less emphasis on Guy Fawkes than the film does, and so the detonation at its' ending does not feel out of place within the story created by Alan Moore and Dave Lloyd. In fact, on having finished the novel, I felt that the ending was probably better, although not as strong or poignant, as that of the film. Simply said, the book is much less cinematic than the film, obviously, some may say. It is set over a much longer period of time, years, rather than months, but despite this, the complexity of the storyline is not more than the film. I didn't mean to compare this to the film, as I feel very strongly, in some cases more than others, that books which have been adapted into films, deserve to be viewed in their own light, as well as in comparison to the film, which is undoubtedly more well known, but in the case of V, it is hard not to compare.
The general consensus is that they both are amazing pieces of artwork. A sad omission from the book, but a stroke of genius on behalf of the screenwriter, is V's speech from the beginning. I leave you with these words.

Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.

- Hugo Weaving as 'V', V for Vendetta, 2006

Rating - *****

Sunday, 9 January 2011

this year...

being 2011, I've decided to get serious about recording the books I read. Inspired by Nick Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree, I'm going to use this blog to keep track of what I've read, and how I felt about it. Far too often I read something that I absolutely love, and then promptly forget what it was called, or who it was by, therefore making it difficult to find more books by the same author, or even to find similar types of novels. This year, this will stop. And that's my New Years Resolution. Let's see how it goes.