Monday, 17 July 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith Book Review (no spoilers)

Deep down, I know I shouldn't really admit this. It's a thing that could be regarded as treasonous to the world of reading as spoiling a book for someone. Heinous even. The first thing that enticed me about Windfall was the pretty cover. Yes, I hear your gasp most clearly but perhaps my reasoning will put me back in your good books. The matte mint cover reminded me of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I book that I loved reading and once I'd read the blurb and learned that similarly to Fangirl, the book is derived of a spectacularly simple idea; What if a teenager won the lottery?

Just like that, I knew my eye had chosen well. Such a straight forward idea was startlingly compelling and I tip my hat to Miss Smith for putting her own twist on the idea. I devoured the book in a day and it is substantially paged. Told from the perspective of a Californian orphan living with family in Chicago, the book is incredibly emotive. I must admit it is not exactly what I expected, a few more details on what else the coveted money would be spent on would be intriguing but the impact of the win upon the main trio was exciting enough. The book dodges the cliche that easily could have a risen. 'Teenagers with problems finally win dream life.' No, the book isn't just about the money. I mean, obviously it was about the money, the lottery win is the essence of the plot. Family, friends of first love are key elements too, contributing to a lovely tale of teens finding themselves once they're world changes. I laughed, I cried and I enjoyed every twist and turn of Alice, Teddy and Leo's story. For an easy read with a charming tale, I recommend Windfall.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights. It's a very famous piece of classic literature that many of us have heard of. However, it's a brilliant novel that not enough of us have actually taken the time to read. Perhaps it's the complicated and aged diction of Emily Bronte's only piece of published work that's put so many of us off, or the love story predicted to be trapped within the pages that too many find the thought of an inexorable cliche awaiting them unbearable. Whatever the reason, I've found that the novel is as unpopular with my generation as an unflattering selfie and as a result, classic literature will eventually pay the price.

When I first bought the novel, I initially reckoned that it would be a tale of goodhearted characters battling through the repressions of the regency era for love and honour. The only thing I knew of Heathcliff were the comments made about him in the American sitcom 'Friends' and I thought Cathy would be some golden-hearted heroine, a little less stubborn than Elizabeth Bennet but more passionate than Juliet Capulet. As it happens, both predictions I made couldn't have been more wrong. Each character kept surprising me and never in a good way. Any time I thought that maybe one of the dour and brooding characters had set themselves on the right path, they decided to take an abrupt left-turn. Even dear Nelly, who was reputedly the most loving character spawned of Bronte's mind had enough gossip of the families she served to tell for a lifetime and recited it all to the first person who asked with no second thought. I was dumbstruck with the manner that Cathy Senior composed her self with and the girlish attitude that had somehow managed to form the personality of her naive daughter. 

Yet despite the vindictive and ill-tempered natures of the characters, each one was believable and well-rounded. Every character seemed to escape the clutches of the time's cliches. Heathcliff was not the Prince Charming who would be destined to sweep Cathy off her feet, and in turn she was not the penitent and amiable girl who chased potential husbands until the cows came home. Even the dour and dank setting of the moors was refreshing. I found that as a whole, the book was an alternative to the romantic tales being told of the time, perhaps Emily sought after a story more real. 

The whole two part story revolves around love, there's no denying that. However the message is clear, love isn't perfect. In addition to this, it's not only for rich and beguiling gentlemen and their golden-haired damsels, it's also for poor urchins from the impoverished streets of Liverpool and bossy little brats on moorland estates. Each lesson taught to the reader in the book is important. Sadly, love doesn't work out for everyone and in the case of those who found themselves at Wuthering Heights and in the control of Emily Bronte, love simply wasn't enough.