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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

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

Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

“Fail [the test] and your commitment to the one true way would be voided. Pass it, and the blood was on your hands. As someone once said, We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.”
-Margaret Atwood, The Testaments

 Normally hearing that your train is being held at a red signal for the foreseeable is the last thing anyone wants to hear, but not if you are halfway through The Testaments and are dreading having to get off the train before finishing it. As with Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments is one of those rare books that offers chilling commentary of society and politics yet compels you to read it in one sitting – and at 415 pages this is an achievement. Continue reading Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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

In My Good Books: ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney’s first novel Conversations with Friends encapsulates the depths, challenges and complications of friendship in the 21st century. Following the story of Frances and Bobbi, two students in Ireland, Conversations with Friends is a gripping tale of love, lust and heartbreak as each character navigates the complexities of relationships. Rooney portrays a toxic, yet somehow unbreakable, friendship and hence explores the concepts of passivity … Continue reading In My Good Books: ‘Conversations With Friends’ by Sally Rooney

In My Good Books: ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

I was excited to read Sally Rooney’s second novel as it was acclaimed a best seller of 2018. Normal People follows the intertwined lives of Marianne and Connell as they battle with social politics, sexual maturation and their own thoughts. I think the name of this novel truly encapsulates the narrative, as while seemingly little occurs in this novel, it recounts the intricate relationship of … Continue reading In My Good Books: ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

In My Good Books: ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan

You’ve probably heard of it, watched it, or considered reading it: Atonement. This novel published in 2001 quickly became a highly acclaimed classic, as it deals with family, love, war, and principally, guilt. I have now read this book twice and I would happily read it again. McEwan’s novel explores the dangerous encounter of childhood imagination and grave reality, as the protagonist’s youthful mistake haunts her … Continue reading In My Good Books: ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan