Friday, 15 April 2011

Enchanted the Life of Audrey Hepburn

Donald Spoto's biography is simply a detailed and enthralling read if you are an Audrey Hepburn fan like myself.  Hers was an interesting life that wasn't at all dominated by a need to be in the spotlight.  If anything, it was pure fate that Hepburn, who initially wanted to be a dancer, became a movie star.
The book is full of interesting facts, for example, how a young Audrey never had one base language and so this is why her accent was so distinct and different.  However, her personal life is not the sole focus.  Her various roles throughout her career are discussed in depth, with quotes from reviews added to provide a context.
From the 'other title' list at the beginning of the book, it seems that Spoto is a prolific biographer of old Hollywood and I would be interested to read another of his offerings if they can match this non judgmental, but still insightful, study of a true legend and her career. 

Wuthering Heights

I am owning up to my literary crime now:  I never read many classic novels as a child or teenager.  This fact always makes me feel like a hack of an English Lit. student, but I'm currently attempting to rectifying this by expanding my classical reading horizons.  Hence why I finally managed to finish Emily Bronte's tragic love story.  It wasn't the book I was expecting after being inundated all my life with references to the book through different mediums and I'm still not sure whether I liked it or not. 
  Set in the Yorkshire moors, two family's whose lives are forever changed and interlinked by the arrival of an orphan only known as Heathcliff.  I think I preferred the later half of the book, once I had gotten used to the style, but maybe once I get around to re-reading I may begin to see what everyone else does.

Little Gods

Little Gods, by Anna Richards, is a novel that had been featured briefly on one of the programs that the BBC had broadcast for World Book Night.  It contains the tale of Jean, who can only be described as a mostly gentle giantess, trying to find her way in a world that can't seem to accept her; whether that be in a coastal town of England or in the outskirts of post-war Hollywood. 
  This debut offering was a delight to read.  I'd even go as far to say that this would be a perfect holiday book, with it's cross continental journey of sometimes comedic self discovery.  Full of vivid characters, whose backgrounds are so expertly delivered, they become three dimensional without getting in the way of the forward narrative of the novel, or that of Jean's own personal story.  If anything they meld together and provide a contrast against Jean's character, highlighting both her strengths and weaknesses.  The ending, ambiguous and yet still conclusive, left me secretly hoping that Richards will write a sequel and I could follow Jean through the rest of her interesting life.   


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Winter's Bone

Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone is about seventeen year old Ree Dolly's search for her father .  In what can only be described as redneck America, she has to be a mother to her two younger brothers while also taking care of her mother; who has finally succumbed to the effects of a life filled with booze, drugs and who knows what else.  Things get worse when she finds that her dad has skipped bail, and has put the house as his bond.  If he doesn't show up within the next few days the house will be repossessed.  With no-one else to depend on Ree begins the search for her father, before everything is taken away from her.

Be warned: it's a good read but it's so bleak.  

Lady Chatterly's Lover

It may sound rather sad, that me, a 23 year old who should be out partying like the mad women she truly is, actually preferred spending some time at home over the last few weekends, especially on World Book Night.  I managed to catch one episode of Faulks on Fiction, which on that evening was discussing the lover.  It included books such as Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) and Lady Chatterly's Lover (D.H Lawrence).  After that moment I kept on hearing about Lady Chatterly's lover, either as a reference or documentaries on t.v, so of course I headed to the library to inspect what all the fuss was about.

  An incompatible match from the beginning, the lame Clifford Chatterly is desperately to cling onto his wife.  In so many words he gives her the okay to have an affair, having never been that much interested in that side of their relationship anyway.  He doesn't realise that by doing this he push Connie further away.  She begins an affair with the groundskeeper and eventually it turns into something more.  I found the book to be somewhat sad.  How no one could own up to their own feelings outright.  How much simpler it would have been if all the characters had been honest with themselves from the beginning!  I still loved it, for the lush imagery and mainly for reason that there was always a small speck of hope for Connie, and that's all I ever really want.

Waking The Witch

Waking the Witch is the eleventh installment in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series.  It's strange having read all of the books in just under two years, as I still think of Savannah (who narrates this story) as an annoying twelve year old brat.  Now twenty-one, she is still slightly annoying and very cocky but it would be out of character if she wasn't! 

The book starts with Savannah being somewhat desperate for her first solo job as a private investigator.  With her guardians, who also happen to be her bosses, away on holiday, and a stranger propositioning her with a case, it seems like the perfect time to prove her worth.  The case in question brings her to a small town where three young women have been murdered.
  As with all the plots in Armstrong's series, everything is not as it seems and there are multiple possible suspects and tangents that make her novels a pleasure to read.  What I also like about this series is that you don't necessarily have had to have read any of the other books and you could pick a book and read it out of sequence.  While I don't think Waking the Witch isn't Armstrong at her best (my personal favourite from the series is The Living Dead) hopefully it has lead the way for a stronger second act in Spellbound.