Posted in book reviews, books, reviews, TBR

Book Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Oh this book is just something else! Words just do not do it justice, but I can honestly say that this is my new favourite book. That’s how good it is.

How can I best describe it? It’s like childhood summertime in the English countryside. It reminds me of growing up in my home town and I find it a goddamn shame that I only just discovered it now because this is something that younger me would have really needed.

It’s a coming of age tale about two sister Cassandra and Rose. However, the books perspective is from Cassandra and it is her journals that we are reading from. They are very much the thoughts of a seventeen year old. She lives with her quirky family including the vivacious and extravagant Topaz (her model stepmother) and her father whose been suffering with severe writers block for several years. They live in an old tumble down castle in the Sussex countryside and endure an interesting but poor life. That is until two American chaps come to town and sweep the girls off their feet.

There are a myriad of other characters involved in the framework as you travel through Cassandra’s first experience of the real world and adulthood (other than what she’s read in Jane Austen novels). You go through it all with her and get wrapped up in love triangles and late night swimming.

Like I said I cannot do this novel justice enough so I shall leave you with a couple of quotes, snippets of my favourite lines from the novel.

The thought came to me that perhaps it is the loving that counts, not the being loved in return- that perhaps true loving can never know anything but happiness.

-Page 267 : Realisations about the nature of love.

And I knew she was gone forever… she makes me think of the corpse of a dressmakers doll.

-Page 294 : In reference to losing imaginary friends from childhood, when reality ensues.

It is part of a follow-my-leader game of second best we have all been playing… It isn’t a very good game; the people you play with are apt to get hurt.

 

It isn’t enough to give. Not for the giver

– Both from Page 406 : Cassandra understands the cruel nature of unrequited love and how each of us falls victim to it at some point or another.

As you can see it is a very thoughtful novel which manages to be both witty, wise and real with the theme of love. I am in awe of Smith’s writing and intend to read more of her book, especially her autobiographies.

This would also be a good novel for anyone doing Love Through the Ages at A-Level for your coursework or even to use as a comparison in the exam for unrequited or lost love.

5 stars all round!

-E

 

Posted in Book Hauls & Book Shop Recommendations, book reviews, books

Brighton Book Haul & Where to Go!

Hi again!

I told you I had a lot of posts to crack on with.

Anyway moving swiftly on I thought I would do a quick book haul with some recommendations of places to go in Brighton if you’re a big bookworm like myself.

My second day visiting my boyfriend saw us going into the city centre in which I attacked every bookshop I could find. My finds for the day included Alain de Botton’s ‘The Romantic Movement’, some short stories by Kate Chopin and Night and Day by my absolute hero Virginia Woolf. The shop that I bought all of those from was called The Wax Factor – a record and books shop which is just off of Tidy Street. It had a really lovely atmosphere and the guy behind the till was absolutely lovely.

I was actually looking for Alain de Botton’s ‘Essays in Love’ but couldn’t find it anywhere, not even in Waterstones. Anyway, this book looked similarly interesting and I can’t wait to read it. There’s something about understanding the psychology of relationships which deeply intrigues me. The same goes for Night and Day which is Woolf’s second ever novel. It questions attitudes towards love and marriage and what they mean to us. I didn’t realise I was on quite a trend until now- because the third book I picked up – the Kate Chopin one follow a similar wave length. I read one of the stories in it ‘The Story of an Hour’ at A-Level which was about a Victorian woman who is overjoyed to learn that her husband is dead because it means she’s finally free. I won’t give away the ending but let’s just say it’s comically dark.

Some other bookshops I recommend would be the Oxfam in Kensington Gardens and a shop called Raining Books which is so cluttered and piled high with books in no apparent order but is truly fun to sift through. It did appear to have some gems but it’s the kind of place that you need to dedicate an entire afternoon of sifting.

The next place was in Lewes, Sussex which is a twenty minute train journey away from Brighton if you hop on at the London Road Station. The Fifteenth Century Bookshop (yes that is it’s name) was beautiful and where I got my next finds. It varies in prices but I was extremely happy to find an 1897 Tennyson collection for £6.50 with a lovely inscription inside as well as a 1946 copy of The Waves by Virginia Woolf published by the Hogarth Press before it disappeared entirely. That was only £7.50! I was in awe at the prices especially if you compare them to London bookshop prices. When looking at reviews online I could see that a lot of people had marked it down because they found the woman (perhaps the owner) to be very rude when  they visited. This was not my experience at all and I actually had a lovely chat with her about books and she even offered me a bag for my newfound treasures. I don’t know if it’s a different woman or they just had her on an off day but I found my experience to be completely delightful. Five stars!

Anyway, that’s all for today I think but I will probably do another post like this on books in Nottingham that are worth a look at. I hope you enjoyed this style of post and I have a lot more to upload – so keep an eye out!

I’ll love you and leave you (as my mother would say),

-E

 

Posted in life update

Life Update: Brighton, Virginia Woolf’s House & Pride Weekend

Hello boys and girls!

Yes, I am aware that it has been a very long time and for that I thoroughly apologise for not updating this blog more often. It’s been a busy time at university and with work over the summer but I have finally taken the time to sit down and write.

Last Wednesday I rose from my coffin (a.k.a my bed) at approximately 2.30 am and like one of the walking dead proceeded to get ready for my seven hour coach ride to Brighton.

It was quite a bizarre morning to say the least. I failed to lock the door to my room after angrily banging it closed for about five minutes- waking up my poor flat mate- and then shimmied downstairs with my array of bags to where my equally tired taxi driver awaited me.

I had overestimated how much time I had before the coach arrived and therefore had an hour of shivering in the morning mist before boarding my coach. There was a homeless man snoozing behind me peacefully and a strange old lady with a crooked neck that kept staring at me. After about half an hour of doing this, she finally hobbled over to me and asked me in a voice similar to nails on a chalkboard where the train station was. But before I could even deign to give her an answer she abruptly cut me off, “NEVER MIND! You obviously don’t know!”

Reader, it was right behind us.

Moving swiftly on, the coach ride itself was pretty uninteresting other than some woman literally waking me up so that she could sit next to me, forcing me to lug my huge bag onto my lap. I wouldn’t have minded, but a quick survey of the coach showed me that there were plenty of more convenient free spaces available making it completely unnecessary.

*Pauses to grab journal*

Right here we go-

Wednesday evening saw us all going to Ian’s parent’s friends house for dinner. Their names are Crawford and Rose, a dainty couple – one Scottish the other Cornish with a beautifully kitsch house in the middle of Brighton. They had two cats and the dinner was exquisitely set and prepared. I especially liked the fact that she had used a giant pencil sharpener from Tiger to shred the carrots into tiny spirals. Later, we played a game not dissimilar to Chinese Whispers but with pictures where you had to guess what the person beside you had drawn. Let’s just say I ended up with gassy goose wearing a party hat…

Thursday we went into the city and I bought lots of books from a myriad of charity shops. I also bought a lovely golden mirror from a antique shop (which I then had to lug all the way home to Nottingham the following Tuesday). We also got some free Sprite.

Friday was one of my favourite days in which I might do an additional post on. We spent the day in Lewes- a little medieval town that I had been too with him on my previous trip before we were together. It was where he went to six form and also where Virginia Woolf lived. I wore my yellow and white pinstripe skirt with flowers cascading down the side and a white sleeveless shirt. I felt very summery. We caught the train there and first stopped off at a lovely little bakery and bought panini’s that we ate up near the resident castle. Next we visited the bookshops and I bought two more books. A lovely Tennyson from 1897 I believe and a 1941 edition of The Waves by Virginia Woolf*. After that, we went down to some old ruins and sat underneath the same tree we had the time before. Except then it had been covered in apple blossoms and now it was full of apples. I might right a short story on it for my other blog so stay tuned. We sat under there for a long time just snuggling and occasionally being hit on the head by a falling apple.

Saturday saw us doing some gardening which I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s something so relaxing about gardening, you feel accomplished and organised. I had a lovely chat with Ian’s mum, we spoke about books and the plans I had for my future. She’s a very intriguing woman in which I see a lot of Ian in her. I get very nervous around parents after past experiences going a tad awry but she was very warm and welcoming. They both were in fact! Anyway, it started raining so we stopped for the day and me and Ian went to go and meet with my sister in the city. She had come up for Pride and we spent a brief time showing her around some book shops before then nipping off to grab something to eat. We then got waffles and headed down to the beach, passing vast amounts of festivities and drunkenness. I have never seen a more lively city!

Sunday was possibly my favourite day, because that’s when we hiked to Virginia Woolf’s house! I cannot even begin to explain how excited I was and still am upon remembering it. The whole idea was to make it look as though her and Leonard had only temporarily stepped out for a walk*. It was so sunny too and getting to see where she wrote and sat and just existed made me even more determined to keep writing! That day we also stopped at a pub to get a drink and I accidentally threw mine all over the bartender by accident. I know, what even am I. The evening saw me meeting Ian’s godmother Anna who was quite a character! I absolutely loved her. She was so vivacious and lively. We all spent the evening playing Port Royal in which we were all conspiring against Ian. He won anyway but it was funny.

Monday; my last full day in Brighton. Me and Ian slept in and then headed down to the shops to get some baking things. We then made brownies, which turned out more like blondies because Ian failed to take my advice and put more cocoa in. They were still very good though. Nom. I also met his best friend Patrice who seemed to be a male version of myself. He works as an apprentice journalist for the BBC and we spoke about books and our love for Shakespeare and writing. It was marvellous and I hope he comes to visit Ian in Notts so we can talk more!

So, that was my time in Brighton! I don’t think I’ll bother including Tuesday because it just saw me going into town and catching the coach back home.

*** I’m going to do another few posts about things that happened in Brighton including a book haul and a more in depth review of Monk’s House.

-E

Posted in Diary Entry, life update

Update: Back Again!

Hi everybody!

I am writing this on a rare day that I am not at work!  Isn’t that fun? I thought I would give you a brief update before I head out to commence today’s long awaited chores. So, without further ado here’s where I’ve been and what you’ve got to look forward too on this blog.

I have been in Brighton from the 1st of August till the 8th and then from the 9th till the 13th have been non-stop working. My time has been equally taken up with evenings filled with seeing friends and watching live broadcasts from the RSC at our local cinema. As well, my dad’s birthday is coming up and I have decided to write a short story for him about the war.

So, as you can see I have had a lot on my plate. But here are some upcoming posts to look forward too.

  1. My time in Brighton, specifically visiting Virginia Woolf’s house and my experience there.
  2. A review on Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture the Castle’ (I am super excited to talk about it).
  3. Another review on Titus Andronicus.
  4. My TBR list (University Reading List mainly).
  5. Daily updates on my shenanigans.
  6. Another review on Angela Carter’s ‘Nights at the Circus’ which I am currently a short way off finishing (I may have put it down after becoming a tad obsessed with Smith’s book).
  7. A review on Laura Marling’s music.
  8. How To Prep for University.

My focus for the last week or so has been on finishing off a journal of mine which was quite time consuming but great practice when it comes to writing. That’s all finished now (I wrote 43 pages in about two and a half days) so I feel very accomplished and can now spend a bit more time on this and my other blogs.

Anyway, I am already behind schedule so should crack on with getting to the bank.

Goodbye for now!

-E

 

Posted in life update, Student Story Time, TBR

Daily Update: Fire Alarms, Ant Infestations & TBR Lists

Hey again,

Interesting title for this one, eh? And yet it adequately sums up my day.

I awoke this morning after sleeping through three alarms and Kumar’s loud knocking on my door (I asked him to be my alarm clock) and got up at the undignified hour of 11:30.

This is what happens when I have days off…

I then proceeded to sit in bed and create yet another new blog and wrote the first part of a short story on said new blog.

Then at about 12 ish I decided it was time to get a shower, you know, because that’s what normal functioning people tend to do (except usually a lot earlier).

I was finally ready by about 1pm. Now, reader you may be wondering how on earth it teddy dancetook a gal like me roughly an hour to get ready. I could lie and say it was my hair – but I have a pixie cut so that would fail.

The reality was this. I decided to dance around my room listening to my epic “Happy Jammys” playlist on spotify singing into my hairbrush.

I will admit I have now got a bruise on my right arm from struggling to both sing along and put on my shirt. Because multi-tasking isn’t my forte and I clearly put singing along to Runaway by Del Shannon above my own safety.

Moving swiftly on from my lack of adulthood capabilities… I walked into the kitchen to grab some shopping bags only to be met with the sight of a billion *exaggeration* evil ants running along our counter.

Aaaaaaaghhh!

Admittedly, I did rage out a bit and started smacking them all with a piece of kitchen towel and a lone glass that some drunkard had left in our flat eons ago.

I then went and did my food shop at Lidl and then came back to see them pretty much gone. Until like five seconds ago, when they came back again. But it’s cool I have let Tom the security guard know and he’s going to get the exterminators in.

mahThen the fire alarm went off and I swear to gawd the world just doesn’t want me to revise today…

I did get some reading done today which leads me onto the next point of business. My TBR list.

I finished both England, England by Julian Barnes and Crossing the River this month. And I am planning to have read A Clockwork Orange and Much Ado About Nothing as well.

Well, there’s not really anything else of interest to write right now and I guess I should actually do some more work…. Uuuuuugh.

Chat soon!

 

-E xxx

 

Posted in Student Story Time, Uncategorized

Student Story Time: Clubs- The Good, The Bad and The Drunk

This is a special sort of Student Story Time as this is going to be a mish mash of stories I’ve heard as well as what I have witnessed at clubs. I’ve been going out quite a bit lately and so okaythese stories have been accumulating for a while and some are being used in my latest short story.

First things first I went to an event called Crisis a couple of weeks and goddamn was it an interesting night. My friend N (That’s what I will call her because a lot of these stories include her) got very pissed at prinks and proceeded to shoot around like a helium balloon that’s been let go of.

That is an accurate description of her energy I think.

On the bus into the city she drunk messaged her mum – whose in Malaysia by the way- and me being a good friend did damage control to reduce the amount of worrying on her mothers part. I responded pretending to be N and lied, saying that a drunk friend had gotten her phone. I am a good friend *pats own back*

After that, I had to convince N that getting into the club was actually a drama assessment and that she had to pass it, I even told her that one of our old drama teachers was going to be on the door as one of the bouncers! She was so drunk that this was the only way of getting her in, otherwise she was going to get kicked out for being too drunk.

The night then proceeded of her dashing around the place, me losing her, me doing one too many tequila shots getting bumped by someone at the bar and spitting the shot out all over the bartender.

I also fell down the stairs that night and still have bruised knees as well as I got asked if I wanted to go home with a random guy. I told him nope and that I was going to continue with my terrible dancing – to which he then responded saying that I wasn’t bad and that he had been watching me all night.

Creep alert.

drunkAlso this is how you know how drunk I am- when the slut dropping comes out to play. Don’t worry guys and gals it was only with my close friend Holly and was funny as heck.

When I got back (N got kicked out so I went back with her flat mates- I was staying at hers) she was crawling on the floor with nothing but her top and underwear on and asking us all if we could see her underwear.

I told you she was pissed.

And then there’s the run down on her snap chat – N with her head bleeding from hitting it on the side of her bedside table, N in the shower – fully clothed, N racing C on campus when drunk… and it goes on and on…

But yes that’s that story. Then there’s the weekend that just passed and the funnest prinks that I think I’ve ever had. There is photographic evidence of me picking up Freya and swinging her around and Ian doing the same but with Alex. Yes, ladies and gents my anti-social club hating boyf actually came out for a night on the town!

There was a lot of falling over involved on that night and a lot of 90s/ 2000s music going around. But me and Alex came back early and therefore missed the messy end of the night which seems to always occur (nothing too bad just drunkenness).drunkwinegame-of-thrones

The final prominent memory from drunk nights out would be that which occurred on Friday night when I went out with Molly and all of her Science pals.

It was a memorable night for lots of reasons, Molly’s poor attempt to queue skip, being rained on lots, people getting kicked out of Spoons…

But the starring moment was that when one of the guys randomly got his balls out in our kitchen and our good ol’ friend Liv walked in and saw them when everyone else had looked away.

Yes that happened.

So there you go ladies and gents. A student story time special! You’re either laughing right now or sitting there tutting and vowing that you will never drink again for fear that similar fates await you.

Ta ta for now!

-E xxx

Posted in Diary Entry, life update

Life Update: Cats, Clubbing and Hubba Bubba Bubbles.

Hey everyone,

lateeeeJust a little post before I finish some others in the line up. I have been super busy with uni work, work work and magazine writing. Yes, it sure has been chaotic at the moment but I have a spare moment and thought I would give you lot a little update on my life.

The title for this one is a tad weird and most of it is in regards today so lets get cracking!

I accidentally overslept today and ended up missing my 9am and I was particularly annoyed because it was on Chaucer- my favourite!

I will admit I have been feeling a little low of late, I have had a lot on my mind (personal stuffs) but I managed to pick myself up again today.

At around half twelve I strolled into uni, dodging open day crowds and being forced to wait in the longest SPAR line known to mankind- and all for a packet of crisps, a bottle of Dr Pepper and some bubble gum! Then I walked into the door trying to get into the Impact meeting (the uni magazine) and was immediately sated with fudge from Amy the head of the Arts department.

I say offered, she was pretty much shoving it at us because apparently her gran got her 50 hubba bubbaboxes of the stuff and she’s not the fondest of fudge. Not that I’m complaining, I have the sweetest tooth to mankind after all!

We then discussed Print ideas and I now have a long list of things I need to get done varying from a week- a months time. I have 2 book reviews, another short story and an interview with two booktubers to get done.

To be fair I am actually pretty excited and as we speak I am cracking on with my latest modern Shakespeare creative writing piece. After that we looked at the new layout for the mag (editor roles etc) got depressed and then realised that me and Dan were both late for Academic Community. Whoops!

Other than that I kept blowing hubba bubba bubbles on my walk home and made a fool out of myself (seriously when do I not?) when it backfired and got stuck all over my face. I also walked to uni with lipstick all over my teeth this morning- so that’s great too!

I got bacat.jpgck a while ago and have been chatting to people in the kitchen and mainly to Naveedh.
I also went into super ninja mode and snuck Albi the cat into my room for a fuss. Before Naveedh then insisted on shooing him out. Gawd I miss my Tango. Never mind hopefully I’ll see him over Easter.

I guess the only other thing worth mentioning would be that I went out a lot last week – this seems to be becoming a habit now which isn’t good! I considered fitting that into this post but I just realised my clubbing stories are something else and will probably need a post on their own.

Look out for that tomorrow then!

See you soon,

E xxx