The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (review)

The Marriage PlotSynopsis:

It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead – charismatic loner and college Darwinist – suddenly turns up in a seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus – who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange – resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they have learned. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

The Marriage Plot


Firstly, I’ve never read any novels by Jeffrey Eugenides before, though I’ve wanted to for a long time. I found The Marriage Plot in hardback in a charity shop a while ago so thought I’d start with this one as opposed to Middlesex or The Virgin Suicides.

Being an avid reader, I liked the reference to important literary works, and the premise of the marriage plot itself was interesting as I’d studied a lot of Austen and similar authors during my English Literature degree at university. However sometimes the way they were included seemed to me a little forced.

There were times during this story that I felt incredibly sad and emotional, namely the scenes set in the Indian hospice that Mitchell is helping at, and then other times where Eugenides writing seemed very humorous and witty, so although there weren’t any points where I was completely absorbed in the characters’ worlds, I did enjoy reading it.

The characters are really well developed; each has their own problems and issues and all are far from perfect. Madeleine comes across as quite irritating and a spoilt brat at times, but she changes a considerable amount as the years go by. My favourite character is probably Leonard, who’s struggling with his own mental health issues- many of which I feel should be discussed more today- and it offered an interesting insight into someone trying to deal with this, and how hard it must be not just for them but for friends and family too.

The Marriage Plot seemed quite long when reading it and it took me over a week and a half to finish, which is unusual (though I have been pretty busy recently). I think it’s because at times the story slows considerably and covers the characters at college and then the year after they graduate. Though there is some beautiful writing by Eugenides, it sometimes struggled to keep my attention, making me have to re-read some paragraphs that I hadn’t been paying enough attention to!

Overall, though this is a nicely written story that’s interesting enough, I wasn’t blown away or even particularly impressed by The Marriage Plot. I’ve been told by various people that Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides are both brilliant though, so I will be giving those a chance too- maybe I should have started with one of those!

Rating: 3/5

Have you read The Marriage Plot? What did you think?

Buy with Amazon

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The Liebstar Award!

Thanks so much to https://supkid19.wordpress.com for nominating me for this! 😀 Cheers! Liebstar award

The Rules:

  • Each nominee must have under 200 followers (apologies if I nominate anyone with over 200 followers [which I’m pretty sure I have], I’m just nominating people whose blogs I like regardless of how many followers I think they have!)
  • Thank and link to the nominated blog
  • Answer their 10 questions and propose 10 new ones for your nominees
  • Nominate 10 blogs and tell them they have been nominated
  • Write a post containing these questions
  • Include these rules in the post

The questions I was given by https://supkid19.wordpress.com were:

1. Who is your favorite author? Why? I’ll be one of those annoying people who can’t answer with just one author, sorry! It would be a (large) toss up between Peter James, Kate Atkinson, Sophie Hannah, Susan Hill and David Nicholls…oh, and Marian Keyes! How people can pick just one author I’ll never know…! They are all my favourites because they each offer a different form of escapism and are authors I read purely for pleasure 🙂

2. What is your favorite series? Why? For a series I’ve read the most, it would have to be the Harry Potter series. However I haven’t read any of those in a while so I would have to say the Roy Grace series by Peter James or Marian Keyes’ series about the Walsh family- both are so different but brilliantly written. There are loads others that I love but those are probably my most enjoyed that I can think of right now.

3. What is your favorite reading spot? Usually in a comfy armchair in my front room- unfortunately it’s currently absent at the moment as it’s being reupholstered so currently just on the sofa.

4. What authors have you met, if any? I met Peter James at a book event when I used to work at Jarrolds, which I was so excited about, and also Audrey Niffenegger and Peter Robinson- all really nice, interesting people! My favourite author-meet was at UEA’s Literary Festival, where I went to an event with David Nicholls and he signed my copies of Us and One Day. He was so lovely!

5. How many books do you have? (If it’s too many, you can guess). I tend to give most of  the books I’ve read away to charity shops or friends, and instead of buying a lot I borrow them from libraries or my mum, so I’m sure I don’t have a huge amount compared to some people… I probably have about 60 books on my bookshelf at the moment. That’s mainly a load of ‘To-Read’ books which I need to get onto!

6. Why did you start blogging? About a year ago- I figured I read so much anyway, why not share my views with other people! I’m so glad I did 🙂

7. What movie/TV adaptation is better than the book/series? I don’t  think it’s necessarily better but Gone Girl, in my opinion, adapted Gillian Flynn’s novel really well, much better than I expected. Also We Need To Talk About Kevin was a really impressive film adaptation, and I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. I also enjoyed the TV adaptation of Case Studies by Kate Atkinson, but it certainly didn’t beat the books!

8. What do you like to do in your free time (other than read)? I love going to the cinema, running, going out for dinner, crafting and DIY around the house

9. What book release are you most excited for this year? There are loads! I’m going to do a whole post on my excited-for-new-releases-this-year, but off the top of my head the new Robert Galbraith novel, Career of Evil, looks like it’s going to be great!

10. Why should people follow your blog? (Take this opportunity! Take it!) I think I post honest, regular reviews of books from a range of genres, both new releases and ones that have already been out a while. I’ve seen a lot of book blogs that just seem to focus on YA, which is great, but I mainly read adult fiction so I felt there was room for another book blog! I also post about new releases and other book-related stuff!


The new set of questions are…

  1. What is the last book you read, and would you give it a thumbs up or thumbs down?
  2. Do you prefer e-book readers or physical print books, and why?
  3. If you had to choose only 3 books to read for the rest of your life, which would they be?
  4. Book you’ve always meant to/ wanted to read but never quite get around to?
  5. Favourite genre?
  6. Favourite ever series?
  7. Book you’re most excited about this year?
  8. Worse book you’ve ever read?
  9. 3 favourite authors?
  10. More than one book on the go at any time, or only one?

I nominate…

  1. https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/
  2. http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/
  3. http://ourbookreviewsonline.blogspot.com
  4. http://www.reviewedthebook.co.uk
  5. http://daisychainbookreviews.blogspot.com/
  6. https://ireadnovels.wordpress.com/
  7. http://bibilophilegathering.com/
  8. https://thebookiemonsters.wordpress.com/
  9. http://thereadersroom.org/
  10. https://bookaholicconfessions.wordpress.com/

Don’t forget to tag/ link back to me in your post if you do this, so I can see your answers too! 🙂

The Bones of You by Debbie Howell

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of You by Debbie HowellThe Bones of You is a beautifully written novel which tells the story of teenager Rosie’s murder and the ensuing events that follow…

Synopsis:

The Bones of You revolves around a young girl’s murder and one woman’s obsession with uncovering the secrets in an idyllic English village.

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.


Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.
The novel flicks between two main narrators – Kate, a mother with a daughter of a similar age to Rosie, and Rosie herself, seemingly speaking from the afterlife. However Rosie actually presents some of the story from Joanna’s point of view, describing her early life and meeting her husband and then their life together before Rosie was born and when she was a little girl. The story also occasionally presents Delphine’s point of view, but only once or twice. This way you get a range of opinions and thoughts, and the reader starts to see that all is certainly not as it seems.

This is a story primarily surrounding a murder, but it’s definitely not a crime novel in my opinion. The novel focuses more on Kate and her family, firstly as an acquaintance and then a close friend of Joanna, and the family of Rosie as they deal with the aftermath.

The characters are all well developed, but some are quite mysterious and I didn’t know what to make of them- this was definitely intentional, and added to the enigma surrounding Rosie’s family. For example Joanna has definitely had a very hard life with her husband, and we don’t know how much of what she is saying is trying to conceal a less-than-perfect family life.

Though The Bones Of You may not be a fast paced story, it packs an impressive punch and kept me wondering until the end. It’s an enjoyable, intriguing story of trust and secrets which I’d highly recommend.

Rating: 4/5

Have you read The Bones Of Us? What did you think?

Many thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this novel in return for an honest review.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – review

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund LuptonThe Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton is a slow burner of a novel about desperation and adventure. It is her third novel and is very different to her other novels.

I really enjoyed Sister and really want to read Afterwards. However I felt that this novel was completely different to Sister

Synopsis:

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska. Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness.

Where nothing grows.

Where no one lives.

Where tears freeze.

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father. Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.

The Quality of Silence

Although the characters are all really well developed, some of the characters feature far less than others (which obviously makes sense when you think about the plot of the book). We learn about Matt through Yasmin and Ruby’s memories, but only a limited amount- most of the novel is focused on Ruby and Yasmin’s struggle to find Matt, and the challenges they face in trying to do so. Yasmin and Matt’s relationship is, for most of the novel, a question mark.We learn about the early days of their relationship, but not a great deal between then and Matt leaving to work in Alaska- but it all seems to have gone quite wrong in that time, and their marriage is on ‘thin ice’ (…groan, sorry!) It leaves things between them quite uncertain and a little mysterious for the reader. I was really hoping all the way through that Matt would be OK, but as the novel goes on it looks less and less likely…(won’t give too much away though).

I really liked the fact that Ruby is deaf is not shown as a negative, but just as a different quality to her which she deals with well. It’s interesting that her parents seem to be more worried about her deafness, and how it affects Ruby, than Ruby herself! She seems to just get on with it for the most part, and the novel doesn’t overly focus on the fact that Ruby is deaf- the story is what it is, and Ruby’s deafness is just another interesting element to the narrative.

Lupton creates a strong sense of atmosphere, and uses wonderfully descriptive language throughout. I really felt like I could be there, feeling the ice cold winds around me and losing the feeling in my toes! We learn that people traveling at this time of year in Alaska need to ensure they don’t sweat whilst they’re outside, as it’s so cold that the sweat will freeze on their skin and can cause hypothermia. Therefore running too fast is out of the question, even though you’d think you could run hell for leather to try and warm yourselves up…but no! This is just one of the many threats that Ruby and Yasmin face in the harsh Alaskan winter.

However, I never felt truly scared for Ruby and her mum- I don’t know why, as the landscape around them was very threatening, as I’ve mentioned. Its just that the storyline itself didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It was perhaps a little slow for me. Because of this, I didn’t enjoy this novel anywhere near as much as her other novels. It just didn’t have the same element of mystery and threat, but it was still worth the read.

The Quality of Silence is released in the UK in hardcover on July 2nd.

Rating: 3/5

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Buy with Amazon

The Bones of You – Debbie Howells

Check out Cleopatra Loves Books’ review of The Bones Of You, which I’ll also be reviewing on my blog- it will go up in about a week’s time so look out for it!
Great review, I think you’ll agree!

Cleopatra Loves Books

Psychological Thriller 4*s Psychological Thriller
4*s

I have to admit when I first started this book I wasn’t too keen at all, but once I adjusted to the slow pace, I was hooked! All that despite some supernatural elements which would normally have me closing the book in disbelief.

One day Kate, mother to Grace, gets a phone call that Rosie Anderson has gone missing. Eighteen year old Rosie is nowhere near as socially confident as Grace and in the small Sussex town everyone hopes that she will return home unharmed.

Told from Kate’s and Rosie’s perspectives this book is a slow-burner but no less gripping for that. Kate has got to know Rosie as she was keen on Kate’s horses and she befriends her mother Jo through the search for Rosie.

Before Rosie’s disappearance Jo and Neale appeared to have an enviable life. A large house decorated to perfection with a garden…

View original post 425 more words

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

Book Group: The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

Sorry this post has taken a while – we only met for book group last Wednesday and things have been super busy recently so I’ve only just had the chance to write this post!

The Alchemist
The Alchemist by Paul CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paul Coelho was picked by a fellow reading group member who said that she’d actually already read it a few years ago and had been completely blown away by it. She felt it really spoke to her, in part due to personal issues going on in her life at the time. We were all pretty excited to read it, thinking we’d be enlightened by what it would tell us, etc etc, and I’m always up for a story that might make me re-evaluate my life! Plus it’s a really short novel so I thought even if I disliked it, it wouldn’t be too hard to finish…I read the first half and was, quite frankly, incredibly bored. I struggled to pay attention and my mind kept wandering. I thought, perhaps I need to read this in a quiet room, away from any possible distractions.I tried this- it didn’t work.I don’t usually give up on books unless I really am not enjoying them, but had it not been for this being a book group choice, I would have given up on this.

As it was, I carried on to the end and unfortunately my opinion didn’t change. I’m all for reading new styles of writing or something a little different, but I honestly have never struggled to concentrate on a book so much, and I never usually have a problem with this. I didn’t mind the ending really, but it didn’t make up for the rest unfortunately!Having spoken to fellow book club members, they felt largely the same, apart from 2 people – one of whom picked the book, who still enjoyed it but not as much as the first time she’d read it, and another member who found it really wonderful and enjoyable. The rest of us ranged from thinking it was ‘OK’ to really not enjoying it. I feel I sit somewhere in the middle- it’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, and maybe one day I’ll give it another go as it’s so short, but it definitely didn’t speak to me in the way it seems to have done for so many others!It isn’t that the story is particularly slow or uneventful. Things DO happen, and the messages that the main character learns are all largely positive and will no doubt be enlightening for many people, but the story just didn’t interest me and I couldn’t connect with this book or with these messages that the author was trying to get across. I feel kind of like I should have found it amazing since so many people loved it, and I don’t know if it was because it is written in the style of a ‘fable’ or some other reason I can’t put my finger on, but I feel so disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this as much as other people did… I guess that’s why everyone has different tastes though- it makes life interesting!

Some of his other novels look brilliant however, so I’ll still be giving those a go when I get time 🙂

Better luck next time…!

Rating: 2/5

** Have you read The Alchemist? What did you think? I’d love to know your thoughts on this novel as it really seems to divide people! **


 The next book group choice is The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman:

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip PullmanSynopsis:

This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told.

Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned.

For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

Snazzy Books: one year anniversary & what I’m reading!

Hello all!

So today WordPress told me it’s my one year anniversary since I registered the blog and started it up! Time has flown by, so thank you to everyone who has subscribed to this blog! I don’t always get as much time to post as I’d like to – real life often gets in the way!- but it really means so much that people have subscribed! 🙂

As always, I’ve got a ‘To-Read’ longer than I can even comprehend, but here’s what I am currently reading, and what I will soon be making my way through.


Currently reading:

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund LuptonThe Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton (released in the UK on 2nd July)

The Quality of Silence

Synopsis:

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.


To read:

The Marriage PlotThe Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides (available now)

The Marriage Plot

Madeleine Hanna was the dutiful English major who didn’t get the memo. While everyone else in the early 1980s was reading Derrida, she was happily absorbed with Jane Austen and George Eliot: purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. Madeleine was the girl who dressed a little too nicely for the taste of her more bohemian friends, the perfect girlfriend whose college love life, despite her good looks, hadn’t lived up to expectations.

But now, in the spring of her senior year, Madeleine has enrolled in a semiotics course “to see what all the fuss is about,” and, for reasons that have nothing to do with school, life and literature will never be the same. Not after she falls in love with Leonard Morten–charismatic loner, college Darwinist and lost Oregon boy–who is possessed of seemingly inexhaustible energy and introduces her to the ecstasies of immediate experience. And certainly not after Mitchell Grammaticus–devotee of Patti Smith and Thomas Merton–resurfaces in her life, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.


The Bones of You by Debbie HowellThe Bones of You – Debbie Howell (released in hardback on 30 June)

The Bones of You

Synopsis:

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don’t die before their parents.

When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.


The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip PullmanThe Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman (out now)

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Synopsis:

This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told.

Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned.

For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.


What have you been reading recently?

Somewhere Only We Know - Erin Lawless

Somewhere Only We Know: review

Somewhere Only We Know - Erin LawlessSynopsis:

Boy meets girl…

Alex Bradley can’t help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia.

Girl meets boy…

Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back to Russia.

Girl gets deported?

It’s going to be a bumpy ride, one she’s dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes.

From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late?


Somewhere Only We Know by Erin Lawless is a sweet, touching tale of friendship, love and identity in the 21st century.

First and foremost a ‘Boy Meets Girl’ story, the story also addresses issues surrounding immigration and citizenship, but manages to do so in a thoughtful, non-preachy way that encourages the reader to consider what life must be like for those who live here and contribute wholly to British society, yet can’t live without fear of being deported. Don’t think this novel is too heavy or depressing though (not that depressing means no good, of course)- the author mainly uses a light-hearted, upbeat tone throughout and it was really enjoyable to read.

The narrative flicks between Nadia and Alex’s point of view, and this way the reader gets to see what both characters are thinking about the same events. It is a great way to get into the mind of the character more.

Nadia seems like a really likeable, good-humoured character and much more likeable than Alex’s housemate’s girlfriend (and love of his life), Lila. The author is obviously trying to reinforce the idea that Nadia is a better fit for Alex and the more we learn about Lila, the less we like about her, so we’ll be rooting for Nadia and Alex to get together and live happily ever after!

I also really enjoyed reading about London. I find the city fascinating and as someone who has only ever visited London, never lived there, I like reading books set in our capital. A lot of the language was also uniquely British, and you could tell just from the way it was written that this author was British, not American or Australian or from any other English speaking country!

I really enjoyed this novel and the dry humour that Erin Lawless used throughout. I haven’t read her first novel, The Best Thing I Never Had, but a lot of people have commented that this is a much softer story. I would still like to read her debut though, as I really enjoyed Lawless’ writing. The ending also surprised me, and wasn’t necessarily what I expected or wanted, but I think it worked really well.

Rating: 4/5

Somewhere Only We Know (Kindle edition) is published in the UK on June 11th 2015.

** Many thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC in return for an honest review **