Category Archives: Romance

Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd is one of those novels that many people say ‘One day, I will read it, it’s a classic.’ I’ll be the first to admit I was one of those people, and the intention to read it was always there, but it wasn’t until my sister bought me the book for my Birthday that I got one step closer to actually reading it. Fast forward another year and I still hadn’t picked it up.

Truth be told when someone tells you a novel is a classic it becomes more daunting a prospect to read. The term classic brings so many pre-existing notions with it. But hey…never a judge a book by its cover right?

At first it took me quite a while to really sink my teeth into this story. Hardy offers some beautiful and extravagant descriptions of the scenery which is the backdrop to our heroine and protagonist Bathsheba’s whirlwind life.Far from the Madding Crowd

At times Hardy really takes his time to reach the next juncture in the plot. Depending on your mood as a reader, this can sometimes feel too pro-longed and unnecessary. Other times I could revel in the minute details of the moment.

Whilst I wouldn’t say that Far from the Madding Crowd is instantly ‘un-put-downable’, it was very easy to pick up and quickly get back into the groove of the novel. Overall I did enjoy the book. It wasn’t until I had read over half way through, that the plot took some truly exciting and unexpected twists.

It’s easy to see that Hardy takes his time with his leading characters, and without overcrowding (excuse the pun!) the story, the reader is offered a plethora of minor characters who help push the timeline along, as well as supplying the reader with some welcome relief to the swirling serious and highly strung emotions.

As is often the case when my generation of reader attempts a 19th Century novel, I did find some of the language odd, vague and at times a little ‘flouncy’ in Hardy’s flourishes. But I didn’t find these clashes of language off-putting, rather as a modern reader it only made it a much starker reality, that many of the trials and tribulations of young love and tragic circumstances have not changed much over the centuries.

Hardy’s ending to this tale of love and betrayal was both subtle and extreme at the same time. Far from the Madding Crowd is well worth the read, but also well worth taking your time with. It’s not a quick read and perhaps not the one for a summer vacation, but with Winter approaching (the urge to quote Game of Thrones is agonising), it is certainly one to curl up on the sofa under a blanket with some hot chocolate.

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Filed under 19th Century Fiction, classic, Historical fiction, Romance

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender: Guest review by Violet Buttercream

Review of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Reader alert: This review may contain spoilers. 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender Author: Leslye Walton

Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Romance

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Synopsis: Out protagonist (Ava Lavender) looks back at her family history and the past residents of Pinnacle Lane to try and discover why she has wings, beginning with how her grandmother was born. Her family has always had a history of affliction with love and Ava is unprepared for what she discovers. Alongside side this is sixteen-year-old Ava’s life, unsure what to make of her wings, just trying to fit in.

 My thoughts: “Love makes us such fools”

This tale was not just written it was threaded and crafted and I feel like it has burrowed inside of me.

It has an atmosphere to it that just leaves you with goosebumps and an inexplicable understanding of the weight of human love and suffering and an insight into the choices we make and those we don’t and the impossibility and certainty of sorrow.

…Ava Lavender is so breathtakingly real and honest even in the fantastical parts there’s always a groundedness a sense of truth and palpable emotion. It is a story about love without being a love story. It is about motherly love, unwanted love, all-consuming love, endless love and I love this book to the moon and the stars. It is easily the best book I’ve read all year, possibly ever.

“My grandmother fell in love three times before her nineteenth birthday. My mother found love with the neighbour boy when she was six. And I, I was born with wings, a misfit who didn’t dare to expect something as grandiose as love…my story, like everyone’s, begins with the past and a family tree. The following is the story of my young life as I lived it…I have travelled through continents, languages, and time trying to understand all that I am and all that made me such.” 

I think it is suitable for all ages and holds its own with fairytale and mythological qualities while being refreshingly contemporary. This book is definitely not another formulaic YA novel.

As Goodreads describes it (and I think they can do it better than me) “Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.. Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.”

The writing is intoxicating and rich and flowing with darkness. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea (a girl turns into a bird) but even if you hate “magical” books read this because YES THAT IS A PEICE OF MY HEART BETWEEN THE PAGES. There are many characters, but they are all beautifully developed and the book unfolds simply so it is easy it follow (It is also relatively short despite it’s depth.)

 The strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is strange and beautiful and so, so much more and I urge everyone to read this divine book.

Your friend, Violet Buttercream

Check out my blog! http://booksandbakingandfeminism.blogspot.co.uk

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Filed under Guest blog post, Magical Realism, Romance, YA