Posted in book reviews, books, reviews

Book Review: England, England by Julian Barnes

This was a roller coaster of a novel, and not just because it’s about a theme park *bad dum tish*.

This book was one that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own accord but seeing as we had to read it for my Literature course I had no choice. And for the most part it was quite a pleasant read, albeit one rather odd and disturbing scene.

The novel explores what we view as nationalism/ patriotism and how this affects our outlook. It delves into the idea of authenticity and replications- taking a few Platonic terms here and there with a modernised version of “The Cave” allegory in Plato’s Republic. 

To summarise, the novel is essentially from the perspective of a character called Martha. In the beginning we are introduced to her life and see her growing up. The story focuses on her relationships with her father as well as men in general and we get to see inside the inner workings of her love life and thoughts. This however is just one facet of the story. She goes to work for a man called Jack who plans to buy the Isle of Wight and turn it into an amusement park based off of all the better things about being English. The park then becomes so popular that it quickly steals all of the real England’s tourism custom and leaves it in disrepair. In this way the book introduces ideas about what are real vs. the expectations we place on things. And whether our nationhood is justly founded and where and why it originates.

I liked the books way of picking up on the ironies of patriotism and how it often overlooks key factors. In particular, the fact that it highlighted the ignorance that people can assume without actually understanding all the factors and details of the very thing that they are defending deeply resonated with me. Although this book was written in the context of the Scottish Devolution Referendum in 1997 I also feel that it is relevant today what with Brexit. I liked how it emphasised the need to be educated on a certain issue and how little we are told or care to know when we are force fed propaganda by the media.

Anyway I rate this book 7/10 – It was something that I felt I benefited from reading, but not something I would necessary pick up to read for fun or re-read.

Thanks for reading,

-E xxx

Posted in book reviews, books, reviews, TBR

Book Review: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

This is something that I’ve been meaning to do properly on this blog for  very very long time. And so here it is, finally!  *Warning slight spoilers*

I’m going to start my book review segment with a classic, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. This was an especially interesting read because it aptly shows Woolf playing around with writing styles and form.

In her diaries she mentions literally basing the entire novel around a shape similar to that of the letter “H” and even argues that in the most literal sense it is incorrect to call the book a novel seeing as it contradicts everything we associate with one.

I had to read this book for my university course here at UON and honestly found that other people had very mixed reactions to it.

Personally, I loved it. Yes, it was difficult at times but that was part of its charm- the fact that you sometimes did get lost with who was narrating the story, what exactly had happened and the fact that Woolf chooses to emphasise stream of consciousness over other seemingly big plot points.

I especially liked the character of Lilly Briscoe and the entire psychology of her character. She is someone who in other novels would probably be more in the background, not entirely someone key to the progress of the novel- because it is after all focused around her development in particular and the finished piece of art and her analysis of the characters around her. Lilly is obsessed with her painting and the ideas that others put in her head of her never being an artist, because women aren’t good at art. At the end of the novel, she appears to battle through her own insecurities and finishes the painting stating, as she does, “I have had my vision.”

Other than that, as you read the book there are recurring references to the lighthouse in everyday objects, this is apparent as at times the description mimics it – “abstract arabesques” are described centring around pillars as well as other curves and shapes.

This obsession with a final destination, the idea that everything will be better once they reach it and the disappointment that James feels when his dad continuously dashes his hopes of going. In my eyes I saw it as a representation of the things we want but never get the chance to pursue. The focus on characters going to the window, the stability and reliability of it always being there even through the war and storms when some of the characters do not. It comments on mortality and how the characters view themselves and their roles within society.

I feel as though no two people get the same thing from the story and that it’s ambiguity leaves it open to interpretation. For these reasons some people don’t like Woolf’s writing but for someone like me who very much enjoys long musing ramblings from someone else’s internal thoughts- I found this book amazing.

I have Orlando on my shelf at the moment as well as some of her essays that I hope to get round to reading at some point.

Overall, if you’re interested in something a little different and unique to read then I highly recommend this novel. If you’ve read modernist work before then this is a great addition to make, and if not this is a very good example of the form.

5 stars *****

Chat soon!

E xxx

Posted in books, reviews, TBR

TBR List – March

Hi guys,

This is just a cheeky post before I head off to uni for a lecture. I thought I would just update you on what I have been reading and what I have read this month. So here goes nothing!

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf- Status: Read.

This was a really interesting read and apart of my university course, the style was  very unique and it was the first Woolf novel I had ever read. I think I plan to do a full review on it soon so stay tuned.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones- Status: Read.

I stayed up till 1 am last night trying to finish this book and OMG it is amazing. If you are a fan of the Ghibli movie then I recommend you read where it originated from. I plan again to do another review on this one both on this blog and for the uni magazine.

  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- Status: 180 pages into.

I started this one a while ago when my friend Holly got it for my birthday because I am such a huge fan of the movie with Emilia Clarke. It was just that with uni reading and everything it kind of got put aside. But I am glad to say that I am picking it back up to finish because I have been asked to review it’s sequel Me After You.

  • Me After You by Jojo Moyes- Status: Unread.

Well this one is kinda self explanatory after what I just said above, and yes I am doing a review on this for the university magazine. I actually think my deadline was this week but there’s no way I am going to get that done in time. Whoops, I hope they don’t mind too much!

  • Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips- Status: Unread.

I have ordered this off of World of Books and am desperately waiting for it to get here in time because it’s the novel I am meant to read for my literature seminar this week. I have heard good things about this book and apparently it’s a quick read which is nice.

Anyway, that’s everything I have planned to read this month and I shall keep you updated. I realise that I haven’t really touched upon many book reviews on this blog despite meaning too. Hopefully that’ll change, starting this month!

See you tomorrow,

E xxx

Posted in reviews

Top 5 Romance Animes (Weeb Out With Me!)

This is a very different kind of post that I hope you can try and appreciate. Yes I am a Literature nerd but that doesn’t mean I can’t love a bit of anime in my spare time too. Especially the romantic ones, here’s my top list! Grab some popcorn and prepare to get weeby 😉

1. Yona of the Dawn

If you like comedy, romance and action then this is for you. I really loved this anime andyona.jpg my only query would be the fact that they LEFT IT ON A CLIFFHANGER AND HAVEN’T SEEMED TO HAVE PICKED UP THE SERIES. This is a very big problem with a lot of good animes which honestly makes annoys me, leaving a story unfinished is not a joke. Still, despite this I can honestly say that this anime is still worth watching. To summarise theirs a princess Yona who is betrayed by her love interest and forced to leave the castle with another hottie, she then become badass and seeks to find these dragon guardian guys to help her out. It’s brilliant and I’ll have to pick up the manga to find out how it ends you know because HOPEFULLY THAT’S FINISHED AHEM.

2. Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

maid no samaHahaha this is one that my friend Liv recommended to me after I told her about the one below. It’s about a gal who is the super serious school council president at school but has to work in a maid cafe in her spare time to keep up with tuition fees. It’s a laugh and a half especially when a guy finds out she works there. She doesn’t realise that guys are attracted to her and doesn’t want them to be because she thinks this will compromise the respect they give her in her academic career. It’s light hearted, funny as hell with lots of awwww moments. Go on, you know you want too!

3. Kiss Him Not Me!

Possibly one of my FAVOURITES OF ALL TIME. I really could just watch this one over and kiss-him-not-meover and over and… you get my drift. It’s about a gal called Kae who is a fujoshi – basically someone that fangirls over animes or TV dramas featuring guy/guy romances. At the start of the show she is a happy-go-lucky chica whose super nerdy and chubby, friends with all the guys and completely ignorant to any jokes about her. She just doesn’t give a shit about the guys around her. Long story short (tiny spoiler alert) she loses loads of weight by accident and suddenly has loads of guys lining up to get with her. Funny thing is, she doesn’t care and instead wants them all to get with each other. It sounds weird but gawd is this anime brilliantly done! I like the girls confidence before and after her transformation and how she doesn’t try to change.

 

4. Ouran High School Host Club

ouran.jpgAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH I LOVE IT. I am currently reading the manga series and keep re-watching this. Everyone must have heard about this series. It’s a favourite of most peoples, including me! Haruhi is mistaken as a guy and forced to be in the club as a member after she breaks something expensive, the guys become really attached to her as they are the only ones who know her true gender. It’s over the top and insanely addictive -I commend Bisco Hatori !

5. Golden Time

My favourite. This was an accidental find but a great one. You find yourself growing very very attached to the characters. I wasn’t actually all that concerned with the main golden.jpgcharacter Tada Banri but instead found the other characters such as Koko and Chinami much more interesting. It’s sad, heartfelt and gripping. I cannot sing the praises of this anime enough. Tada Banri is a university student who was comatose after an accident and when he wakes up realises that he’s lost all his memories and personality. Linda is the girl the previous Tada liked and there’s an intense love triangle between Tada, Linda and Koko. Personally, I prefer Koko to Linda and found her more of a relatable.

Well there we have it! I hope someone enjoyed this post and please let me know what you thought about these animes if you watch them!

Sincerely,

E

xxx

Posted in film reviews

Amadeus Review- Mozart Was A Lad?

Vienna: the music capital of the world.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arrives determined to make a splash. Awestruck by his genius, court composer Antonio Salieri has the power to promote his talent or destroy it. Seized by obsessive jealousy he begins a war with Mozart, with music and, ultimately, with God.

-National Theatre Summary of Amadeus

https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/amadeus

*Warning spoilers*

I went to the Savoy Cinema here in Nottingham the other day to watch a live broadcast of Amadeus. My friend Freya had been wanting to go and see it for a very long time and so me and our little Albion crew all decided to go and see it one night.

It’s kind of a thing we do- as well as with the alternative film society Dark Celluloid at UON every Sunday. Which reminds me that I have something else I want to review too.

I don’t really know what I was expecting. But upon arriving and seeing that we among the minority of old people: young people ratio it became clear that a lot of the older generation had gone to see it.

My vague impression would have been that it would be a rather stoic and professional play- something that I would come away from feeling a lot more cultured… as well as sleepy.

But that was nmozartot the case at all.

Instead I was hit with crude comedy, beautiful music numbers and poo jokes?

And lest I forget the love story, ups and downs, musical showdowns and generally an ecstatically upbeat performance!

I was taken aback at first by Mozart’s character in the play, completely the opposite to how I had imagined the historical figure. But Adam Gillen did a fantastic job, the amount of energy needed for his role was incredible.

I must also comment on the eccentric and amazing outfits. Seriously, Mozart’s clothes were aesthetic goals! And I picked up on the fact that the cast were pretty much all wearing DM’s throughout the performance.

So yes, it was a mishmash of the past and the present colliding all at once. Interestingly put across through the perspective Salieri whom in the documentary short that preceded the broadcast we are told the play was originally to be titled and who is mainly shaped around. In that sense the actors and the producers comment on the irony that even in a play centred on him, Mozart had still managed to steal the limelight. wow

Salieri (played by Lucian Msamati) was also an intriguing character. He would literally do anything to stick in peoples memories music wise. Even if it meant breaking apart a musical genius just so that he could prevail.

I really liked the ending too, in a melancholy way. Peter Schaffer did a great job on really getting Salieri’s unrelenting character across- the audience is tricked into believing that after feeling remorseful for Mozart’s untimely death that he is done scheming. But oh no the greatest irony is seen in
the suicide scene at the end with his ploy being that he would claim to be Mozart’s murderer and retain eternal life as a historical figure.

Only problem? Nobody believes it and quite frankly nobody cares.

Anyway I give this performance 5 stars- and might even read the play and read up some more on the history surrounding Mozart. If so I will definitely do a follow up post.

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my humble thoughts,

Adieu,

E xxx

what-on-earth
This is an adequate picture to represent the play…