Tag Archives: book reviews

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile blogger Many thanks to BetweenTheLines for the nomination for a Versatile Blogger Award, I was truly surprised and pleased as punch! So according to the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award I now have to tell you 7 (hopefully interesting facts) about myself… 1. I’ve recently started cross stitching. 2. I’m addicted to Coca-Cola- I once drank 6 cans in one day and didn’t sleep properly for two days, never again! 3. I’m a wee bit obsessed with Harley Quinn (or Harleen Quinzel) from the DC comics. 4. I’m also infatuated by all things Wolverine and Thor related. 5. I broke my foot in two places by slipping down a curb and landing on it heavily, because I was too busy giggling at a student dressed as Bane and wasn’t looking where I was going! When I went to A & E they told me it wasn’t broken, then the next day they rang and said they’d had another look and could I go in to have a cast put on! 6. I (not so secretly anymore) think all things supernatural have some real grounding somewhere down the line 7. When I was 16 I told my friends and family that if I ever had children I would name them Kiwi and Pineapple (hey if it’s good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow right?) And now you know me a little better here are my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award 2014:

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The Tennis Party- Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham

The Tennis Party is much like many of Kinsella/ Wickham’s novels- well written, well –paced and consistent, three things all good books should be. Add funny to the mix and you’ve got a perfect read for all seasons. Although this is definitely the perfect novel for reading at the beach or on a sun-lounger, I enjoyed it just as much on a cold December night, tucked up in bed; reminiscing about the sunny days of July and August.

The novel’s opening chapter introduces the reader immediately to three of the four couples who are the focus of the plot. You will quickly discover those you like (Stephen and Annie) and those you’re not quite sure about yet (Caroline). By the end of chapter three the characters who had stolen my heart were Georgina and Nicola. You only have to read these first three chapters to understand why. The friendship, which appears to have stood the test of time, between Georgina and Nicola brings back memories of your first ever best friend, all the things you did together and all the reasons why you were friends. It’s a trip down memory lane that I expect almost everyone can relate too.

This brings me to take note of one of Kinsella/Wickham’s most obvious skills and stylistic approaches. Her ability to have a character deliver a line which is not only something the reader themselves wishes they had the courage to say, but also to convey it exactly how you imagined you would say it yourself. It’s this skill and talent that makes the characters of the novel so relatable- even if the actual settings of the novel are only familiar to a few readers. This is much more than ‘chick-lit’. I enjoy Kinsella/ Wickham’s work so much that I would even go so far as to say, that her work can be viewed as every bit the social comedy of the twenty first Century, that Jane Austen’s is of the nineteenth Century. There are twists and turns in what feels like every turn of the page, but Kinsella/ Wickham always gives just enough detail without giving away any surprises. By chapter eight the reader is starting to see the perfect worlds of our couples disintegrate.

The Tennis Party

Although the exact events within the pages of The Tennis Party may not occur in everyone’s world, the key issue of miscommunication most certainly does, and the mind boggles at the extent that some people will go to; too avoid talking about their problems. The fast pace of the novel makes the character revelations- in particular those of Charles, Cressida, Patrick, Caroline and Ella- all the more shocking. You expect to be surprised, but I did not expect what I received at the end of Chapter nine!

The Tennis Party is a story of rise and fall, friendship, love, self-realisation and self-development.  It’s also a novel that could be interpreted in many different ways. It could be a feminist piece displaying men in a particularly unkind light, or a social commentary on the fabulously wealthy, their lifestyles and the consequences of money. I choose to view it as an easy, entertaining read with a not-so hidden moral that communication is always better for a relationship, one way or another.

The final two chapters of The Tennis Party are extremely explosive and here readers will suddenly decide in-definitely who they like and who they don’t, and in doing so will probably find that their opinions of a few people have changed, during the course of the book. But having said that, by the end of the novel I felt underwhelmed- in my opinion there was minimal resolution given for any of the problems which came to light.

Overall The Tennis Party is a good read and I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed it’s narrative style and humorous delivery, but my personal preference for having nice clean endings with everything explained and tied up, made me feel that the ending was lacking somewhat.

© Gemma Feltham 21st December 2013 

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Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

So having studied Nineteenth Century Literature at University, the world of classics has been recently opened to me. Wuthering Heights is a title I did not study, but chosen because it is considered a classic.

wuthering heights

My initial reaction was of pleasant surprise. Although I had no preconceptions of the book, I was not expecting what I was offered in the first few chapters. A striking feature is how easy a read it is. The prose is particularly flowing even when describing the moors- which I had very little interest in, and I sometimes wished the narrator Mrs Dean/ Mr Lockwood would move on from the scenery of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. 

I do not doubt a scenery such as the moors works brilliantly, any less dramatic a choice and the novel may not have reached the longevity that it has acquired. However I doubt that, in my reading the setting of the two homes in the moors was well wrapped in the novel; but more could have been done to maximise the potential those moors held. As it is the moors remained a stagnant thing if beauty, depicted, described, drawn out for effect- but never quite utilised.

Unfortunately I fell quickly into the category of readers who had a strong dislike for poor Cathy. As a leading lady Cathy’s entire allure is held in her ability to attract all varieties and variations of tragedy, abuse and ill temper. Beyond this, I found her every word irritating, her actions showing more of her character than her conversation. Her flights of self-supposed fancy were too flighty for my liking. 

In contradiction both Heathcliffe and Hareton were filled with all the character depths, misconceptions and opportunities to redeem themselves to the reader- all things I found distinctly lacking in any of the novel’s Catherines. Mrs Dean I found to be a pleasant choice in narrator, and it was pleasant to see Ms Bronte return to both her narrators periodically as befitting. 

The ending of the novel remains something of mystery to me. It was conclusive, yet left me feeling empty. I suppose it was meant to be happy- Catherine Linton finally able to be happy and regain what was taken from her. But it was a cold, soulless ending. Almost as if Emily Bronte disliked her own characters.

In summary, Wuthering Heights will always be a classic, and is well written beyond doubt- to an extent. However it is no Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park- then again it was never going to be.

© Gemma Feltham January 9 2013

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January 9, 2013 · 7:15 pm

A Place For Passion

A new year, new start. I’m Gemma and with a budding new career in a publishing house- an industry I’ve always wanted to work in, I’ve decided to keep tabs on my reading during 2013, by writing a review of each book I read throughout the year. 

My first entry is dedicated to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a novel I have always told myself I would read; “because it’s a classic” but never found the time nor inclination until I graduated. First it was a case of getting a copy, then came the nitty gritty part’ actually reading it.

Never the less, I am a firm believer that ambition, dedication and hard work will see good things happen. Books and reading have always been a passion of mine and this year I’m determined to give that passion a real place in my life, rather than a hobby I always feel I neglect too often. 

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Stay tuned for more thoughts as I turn the pages of novel after novel in the coming months- 2013 is going to be filled with adventures!

© Gemma Feltham January 9 2013

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