Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Stalkers and Spooks

Hi everyone!

My task for this summer is to read as many books on the theme of 'love' as possible. You've got the obvious choices first, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, but I've also been looking around for some other pieces of literature that I could class as wider reading. I studied some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales last month, namely the Miller's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale. So where else do I turn?

Instead, I turned to the acclaimed Ian McEwan and began reading his novel Enduring Love. I'd seen parts of the film and based on that alone I was really excited the start the book. Everything about it intrigued me, the casting, the plot line, the general theme of obsession, so reading the book just felt like an absolute delight.

The first thing I want to say about this is that it's probably one of the best written books I've ever read. McEwan's narrative is beautiful, artistic even. His way with words just blows me away, it's like I'm being swept down stream, it's got an extraordinary fluency to it. Even in the first chapter you can identify the techniques he's used to pull the reader in and stay until the very last page. I just found it exciting how he understood his readers, and he understood what we wanted to read. McEwan can adapt his language, depending on how he wants us to see a character or feel about a particular situation. I can only imagine it will be a joy to study in these respects.

The level of digression could sometimes been off-putting. Time was, at some parts, slowed down by the flashbacks or the level of detail put into describing something particular. Though, to be frank, there isn't anything in there which isn't important to the story. Yes, there are long periods of description and analysis, but it's all about developing and engaging with the characters, and all part of how McEwan is manipulating us into viewing his characters the way he's made them to be viewed.

As with many of his books, like Atonement, this novel centers around a certain event which changes the lives of every single one of the characters. I frankly find this extraordinary. For one reason or another, that fascinates me, which is part of what made this book a joy to read.

Looking at reviews, it seemed as though some people thought the pace was too slow, or that the ending didn't live up to expectations. In regards to the pace, I personally found it just right. Any slower and it would've been boring, but any quicker and it would've been over much too soon, it wouldn't have been as sinister as it was. In some ways, I agree that he ending was a bit of an anti-climax, but what many people don't realise is that the story doesn't finish on the last page, the appendixes finish off the novel. There are two appendixes. Read them, that's where the real ending is. It's hidden.

So, we're about to have a massive boom of movies which have been based on books. We've got the Percy Jackson sequel, the City of Bones movie, followed next year by Catching Fire, Vampire Academy, and Divergent. But I have to say, the one I'm most excited about is Seventh Son, a film based on the Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney.

I wouldn't have picked up these books in a bookstore, it was the trailer and the small fan community that influenced me to start reading them. I finished the first book, The Spook's Apprentice last week and I LOVED it. Though I felt it was aimed at a lower age group, once I got into it I realised how nicely it had actually been written. It's easy to follow but this doesn't stop it from being compelling. It's also dark, mystical, and full of fantasy. I only hope the film does it justice (which by the look of the trailer, it probably won't).

It's the story of Thomas Ward (to be played by Ben Barnes) who takes up the job of the Spook's apprentice. The Spook is a wise man who defends the County from evil, and it's probably the most daring and dangerous job to take on. Though the first book sets up the action ready for the series to continue on, it takes nothing from it. I stayed up all night to finish it, and I'm sure anyone else would do the same.

I'm currently reading the second book, The Spook's Curse and I'm loving it as much as the first so far. It's my birthday on Friday so I'm going to use my birthday money to buy the rest in the series. On Saturday then, I'll be leaving for my holiday in Devon, and I'll be taking Pride & Prejudice with me to get through. I've also just finished James Joyce's Dubliners, and as well as making me want to give him a medal, I also really wanted to be Irish!

I'm due for a new laptop on my birthday, but since I'll be in Devon for a week and then up to Manchester for another week, I won't be updating until the last week in August. So until then, help me out and give me some suggestions for books on the theme 'Love Through the Ages.' I'm sure there's a lot more out there than just Jane Austen.

See you in a few weeks time!
Rachel x

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