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Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

“The river lapped and the boat rose and fell, and a far-off little voice called without cease for its parents from the depths of the goblin world.”

Setterfield’s tale begins at The Swan, a pub at Radcot, the hub of storytelling on the Thames. The regular drinkers are disturbed by the sudden entrance of an enormous man, bleeding and injured from the mouth, cradling a puppet in his arms. After the man collapses dramatically and the puppet is retrieved from his arms, the locals discover to their horror that he had been holding the drowned body of a little girl. Mysteriously, the girl soon revives, yet seems incapable of speaking. The novel then follows the story of three different characters, all laying a claim to this girl. One is a farmer searching for the missing child of his son, a grandchild whom he only recently discovered existed. Another is a landowner whose wife is sinking into madness after the disappearance of their daughter. The last, a confused middle-aged woman haunted by disturbing nightmares of her drowned younger sister from decades before, is convinced that her sibling has returned. Continue reading Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Review: Find Me by André Aciman

Find Me is not your normal sequel. It does not carry on a single narrative thread, started in Call Me By Your Name, instead it ties together multiple threads from the same fabric that Call Me By Your Name is a part of. (I am assuming here that you have read Call Me By Your Name, or at least seen the film, for without this you will not understand Find Me, nor this review of it.) For the first hundred pages, Elio is scarcely mentioned, Oliver not at all; yet without a doubt, Find Me is heavily predicated on the events of Call Me By Your Name. As such, one waiting to know what happened in the immediate aftermath of the previous book will be sorely disappointed, however if they give the novel the time it needs, they will come to understand the importance of time, and what has happened as time progressed for Elio, Oliver, and Elio’s father Samuel. Continue reading Review: Find Me by André Aciman

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Bookstagram: Is There Purpose Behind the Pictures?

Say Instagram, and the first things that comes to mind are the influencers, advertisements and ‘perfect’ body aspirations. Yet, there is a new emerging corner that combines our aesthetically obsessed culture with the art of reading: bookstagram. Bookstagram is a relatively recent phenomenon which refers to accounts creating weird and wonderful displays of books they are reading and enjoying surrounded by an assortment of objects such as candles, feathers and the odd cup of artisan coffee. However, is this new facet of Instagram really worth your time? Continue reading Bookstagram: Is There Purpose Behind the Pictures?

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Should Literary Prizes Privilege Authors Tackling Current Social Issues?

There have never been so many books published and sold as in today’s world. Books are seen as a hobby, or a pastime, something to enjoy and embrace. But as Mario Vargas Llosa reminds us, they are occasionally seen as a dangerous “vehicle of subversive ideas”, and their writers feared as criminals. Sometimes amid the whirlwind narratives of the latest best-seller, readers can forget the power of literature as a political tool. Continue reading Should Literary Prizes Privilege Authors Tackling Current Social Issues?

Review: “The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman

In The Secret Commonwealth, everything has gone topsy turvy. There is constant upheaval, both in the plot and in Pullman’s world which we thought we knew. Whilst La Belle Sauvagereally ought to have been reduced to a chapter in this book, The Secret Commonwealth is a definite return to Lyra’s world. Continue reading Review: “The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman

Review: Heat Wave by Penelope Lively

Reading this extraordinarily perceptive novel in my garden during the July heat wave, the cover gradually fading in the sunlight and the pages getting crumpled by my fingers greasy with sun cream, I was absorbed into the world of Penelope Lively’s book: one simmering with barely contained emotions and the heat of an extreme English summertime. At just under 200 pages this book is no … Continue reading Review: Heat Wave by Penelope Lively