Lord of the Flies – William Golding

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding

After a few weeks of reading modern titles I thought it was high time I return to the classics; and more specifically a 20th century classic.

Shockingly – and I hate to confess this – I had never read Lord of the Flies. Ironically I believe it to be one of those essential books to read as a teenager; a gentle bridge from children’s books into more complex and highbrow literature. Unfortunately I never made that step, during my teenager years I thought I was too cool for books – how wrong that turned out to be!

I always find it difficult to review a classic text such as this or Dickens or Hardy, after all who am I to critic a text read and loved by millions?!

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For those who haven’t read Lord of the Flies (and I’m sure there’s not many of you) it tells the story of a group of school boys stranded on an island after their plane crashes. With the reign of a whole island without societal or parental guidance, the boys are at first in their element. They decide to be diplomatic and initially elect rational Ralph to be the leader but soon personalities clash and what follows is a crash course in survival against the fittest as the boys fight over rules and power.

Golding’s creation has spawned many similar plots. I couldn’t help thinking about Lost, which really is a carbon copy of Lord of the Flies – the smoke, a mysterious animal – need I say more! I also remember have to discuss the text’s concepts in A-Level philosophy – yep, it is best we don’t ask about that course!

If I had read the novel as a teenager its underlying messages probably would have gone over my head. In a way I’m glad I’ve read it now, so I can appreciate Golding’s masterpiece in all its glory. It was written in 1954 and is still fresh, modern and relevant. It’s a nove which has and will continue to transcend the generations.

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Six Years – Harlan Coben

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Six Years – Harlan Coben

I happened to read Six Years upon chance. There it was just sitting on my desk at work. I had seen the book on many displays in Waterstones but I have to admit, crime and mystery books are not my favourite which is why on many previous occasions I had ignored this book.

I decided to give the book a try and I am glad I did. In the first sitting I demolished 100 pages.

The plot revolves around Jake, a college professor who is still deeply in love with his former girlfriend, Natalie, six years after they ceased contact. He last saw her marrying a supposed childhood sweetheart; just weeks after she had unceremoniously and suspiciously dumped him. Six years later he sees an obituary for Natalie’s husband Todd and tries to seek his former flame out. There’s one problem no one knows where she is or who she is.

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From the cover I assumed in my naivety that it was more of a boy’s book ladened with fights, conspiracy theories and general things boys enjoy. But I was surprised to find at the heart of the novel is a love story. It was refreshing to read a plot where the male is chasing the female rather than the other way around, it added something fresh and exciting.

Six Years is a real page turner and it’s not because I am biased towards Orion, it genuinely is a gripping read.  I actually became one of those people who stand reading on the tube – I couldn’t just leave the book in my bag, I HAD to read it! Coben writes cohesively and without fuss, it’s direct and to the point yet he still evokes emotion and empathy. The plot is not over complicated yet it’s straight forward, in short Coben is such an exciting writer.

This version included a sample from his latest offering Missing You, which I shall definitely be reading as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

The Hive – Gill Hornby

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The Hive – Gill Hornby

I probably should not admit this but as a newbie to the publishing world one of the best things about starting in the industry is access to free books! Not because of the obvious; yes they are free, but it has opened my eyes to genres of books which I would not have necessarily considered reading before. I am broadening my reading horizons if you will.

Unless you work in the industry it is unlikely you will realise the numerous processes a book undergoes; from the initial proposal to having a finished copy in your hands. Although I have had work experience in the industry it wasn’t until my first job that I realised how much work, love and care publishing companies put into their titles. Also, the fact I am eager to start reading a book as soon as I jump on the tube from spending all day working with titles has shown to me how much I truly love books! Please excuse all the gushing and the rambling, now onto the review!

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The Hive by Gill Hornby is one of the free books I have received thus far and it is Hachette’s Weekend Read for May. Before I describe the narrative I have to talk about the cover! This is one of the best looking book covers I have seen in a long while. I guarantee you will not be able to walk past this on the shelf – your eye is immediately drawn to it. It really is the most striking cover I have seen this year as it is totally different to anything else out there.

 

In The Hive, Hornby presents the tricky world of parent / school politics through her devilish humour and wit. There is Bea, the Queen, who everyone bows down to and is the chief organiser of quizzes, cake sales and meetings. Rachel is the outsider or so she thinks, but even she cannot resist the rabbles’ constant gossip. Georgie, (who in my opinion has the best one liners) is straight talking and does not care who she upsets and then there is my favourite, Heather. Poor old Heather, she is desperate to be involved to the point where it is excruciatingly painful and let’s not forget she is charge of writing the minutes from the school meetings. I like to think of this book as Gossip Girl for mothers.

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Although this novel has no comparison or resemblance to my life and is aimed at an audience a good ten years older than me I found it hilarious. Hornby has captured in abundance the stereotypical roles in school social strata and provides the reader with well-rounded characters who have extremely memorable characteristics. It is a very light read, I read the majority of it on a Saturday morning, and it will most definitely put a smile on your face. Considering this is Hornby’s first novel, I am very excited to see what else she has to offer.

The Other Half Lives – Sophie Hannah

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The Other Half Lives – Sophie Hannah

Apologises for the delay in posting, I have been a busy beaver at my new job in London and have somewhat neglected this little, old blog, but fear not here my latest review.

Confusion, annoyance and fatigue, these were just a few of the feelings I endured when reading Sophie Hannah’s The Other Half Lives.

I was given it as a Christmas present a good few years ago; I actually picked up the book in Waterstones, liked it and put it on a Christmas list. I thought it would be a change from the usual books I was reading at the time – university books such as my beloved Bleak House and my choice of titles – unintelligent chick lit.

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So, where to start. The Other Half Lives has so many different dimensions, it must have been an editor’s worst nightmare to proofread and to ensure it all made sense. The story is told from multiple perspectives namely by two women, Ruth and Charlie. Ruth is a broken woman, in love with the mysterious painter Aidan and a victim of abuse. Charlie is a policewoman dealing with a fiance who shies away from having any physical contact with her. Ruth’s life is changed forever when one evening her darling boyfriend confesses he has murdered a woman named Mary Trelease. However Ruth knows this woman is alive and well, as she was viscously attacked by her.

What follows is a complicated and highly convoluted plot. Dozens of characters are introduced causing the story to constantly change and develop. For example a painting is discovered depicting the suicide of Martha Wyers , Martha was thought to be a girlfriend of Aidan who was obsessed with him and then killed herself when she discovered he not return her feelings, a story told by Mary. Mary -an exceptional painter – then claims Aidan made her give up painting as her talent outweighed his, in fact this was opposite and Mary is actually Martha. And Martha used the name Mary Trelease as Aidan murdered her when he was a teenager. Confused? Yes, I was when reading this 20 pages at a time each night after a busy day at work.

One positive I can draw from this whole book, is the talent of the author. Hannah has created such a complex plot, which must have taken months of planning and considering, it truly is the mark of a great writer.

However, whilst I do like books to keep me stimulated I don’t like struggling to understand the title. At times I felt I needed to write down a web of characters and their stories just so I could keep abreast of the plot. If you have plenty of time to sit down and really devote yourself to a book for a good length of time, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a novel you can pick at and relax with this is not the one.