Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Reading a Little...November

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Wow, wow, wow... a beautiful, magical feat of a novel that had me wishing I lived in a magical time and totally wanting to visit and be a part of the Night Circus. At the heart of the novel are two central characters: Marco and Celia. One is the daughter of a 'manipulator' the other an orphan, adopted by another 'manipulator' in order to challenge the first. They are bound into a magical challenge, where the rules are uncertain, the outcome blurry and the people who started it all distant. Both protagonists need to find their own way and means of surviving the challenge but come across various obstacles in the process. And the most beautiful and wonderful part of the challenge is the Night Circus. A collection of tents held together by the magical threads that Marco and Celia employ to enthrall and captivate each other. I loved the imagery of the Wishing Tent, the Pool of Tears, the Labyrinth and many others. But mostly I was transfixed by the huge clock that stands at the entrance and it's amazing properties. A fantastic read and I can't recommend it enough.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Another whirlwind of a novel but very different from The Night Circus. While with that I felt the touch of magic and beauty, this is far rougher and more of the boisterous adventure-type novel. Claire Beauchamp, married to a respectable Oxford Don is taking a break in the Highlands with her husband, Frank. Frank is trying to find out more about his six-times grandfather Jonathon Randall, although Claire thinks little of his preoccupations with the past. Until she somehow finds herself caught in a time warp in the 1700s, face to face with Randall himself and trying to convince him that she isn't actually wandering around in her underwear (1940s dresses being not considered appropriate in the 1700s...) A fast paced adventure story but be forewarned - it gets incredibly steamy in places!! Especially after Claire somehow finds herself marrying a Scottish Clansman... I really enjoyed this book and is another great read. For those of you who are British though - it's known as Crosstitch here in the UK.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This month has been a remarkable month for reading. I have had this sat on various shelves for the past year and have been meaning and meaning to read it. But for some reason something else has always come up - a Book of the Month for a reading group, not enough time, an amazing recommendation that has pushed it aside... I started this the other day and was hooked from the first page. Why on earth has it taken me so long to get around to it? The print is tiny, and even if it were of a normal size this would be quite a hefty read, but the style of writing is friendly, accessible and direct and, as such, makes this an absolute gem of a read. It tells the story of 3 characters in Nigeria during the 1960s. Olanna and Ugwu are both Igbo - Ugwu comes from a small village and is sent to work at a political professor's house. Soon after, Olanna, daughter of a rich businessman, moves in with her lover, the professor. And then there is Richard - a British man involved with Olanna's twin sister, in love with Igbo art and trying to write a book. This tells the story of the troubles during the sixties, when Biafra declared its independence from Nigeria, and the ensuing problems, trials and despair that the characters then encounter. This is definitely worthy of being on the 1001 Books You Must Read list: it is poignant, heart-felt and stunningly well-written.

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