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Category Archives: Literature

Beautiful bookshelves

The thought of being able to have a bookshelf like one of these (just let me dream!) makes me want to stop renting and try to buy a flat more than anything else.



Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

I am an unashamed Jane Austen fan, Pride and Prejudice alone has brought me more joy, and Elizabeth Bennett more inspiration, than any novel seems to have a right to – though whether it has also ruined me for life romantically as I wait for Mr Darcy remains to be seen.

As a fan, I have watched with interest as various parody novels have appeared, unsure whether or not to  read them. Curiosity, inevitably, won out.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H Winters has been my first foray into this world, and it has let me down. It has done the unthinkable, made me think less of the original.

The novel is a bizarrely exact copy of Sense and Sensibility,  with the obvious addition of sea monsters. Sea monsters themselves I have no problem with, in fact I think in fictional terms, I’m in favour. But such a close repetition of the original, less artfully constructed, just serves to exaggerate issues with the original for me. Have they really forgiven Willoughby so soon? Has Marianne really fallen in love with Brandon having not looked twice at him for more than three quarters of the novel? Are they really talking about food again?

I’ve decided to give them one more chance however, and Death Comes to Pemberly by PD James is next on the list…


The 20 most amazing bookshops

So, all previous life goals have gone out of the window, to be replaced with one new life goal. To visit all 20 of the bookshops in the gallery, and not pass out from happiness. Portugal here I come!

20 coolest bookstores in the world

Connecting Cultures

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has long been a favourite author of mine, capturing my imagination with her first novel Purple Hibiscus and then creating one of my favourite books of all time, Half of a Yellow Sun (which I mentioned in a prior post on world book day).

She was asked to speak at the 15th Commonwealth Lecture held yesterday evening at the Guildhall in London on the subject of “Connecting Cultures”. She was an inspired choice, as was the venue, which caused me – a Londoner – much embarrassment for having never been there before!


I am clearly not the only Adichie fan as she has been recently named one of the 20 most important fiction writers today under the age of 40 by the New Yorker.  Born in Nigeria in 1977 Adichie has won both the Commonwealth Writers prize for Purple Hibiscus and the Orange prize for fiction for Half of a Yellow Sun.


 Adichie herself was inspirational, speaking with as much grace, poetry, intelligence and humour as she writes with.

 Adichie talked about the worth of books, and realist fiction in particular, to enlarge our imagination and “to turn fact into truth”. Newspapers give us facts and statistics but it is human stories that give truth, and truly have the power to change people’s minds and open their eyes.  

 “We should know how people die, but we should also know how they live”.

 And as a frivolous aside, but one I can’t resist, Adichie looked absolutely amazing, in a bright red and green peplum dress (excuse the quality of the photo)


PS. A reading list of mentioned titles:

–          The Dark Child – Camera Laye

–           Reef – Romesh Gunesekera

–          Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

–          Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

–          Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

World Book Day

For me, World Book Day is one of those days that confuses me; surely every day should be about books? Surely every fortnight should be about fairtrade? However, this is not always realistic, and there will never be a down side to taking the time to appreciate something particularly, to raise awareness and to encourage people to try new things.

As a keen reader I am often torn between reading a brand new book that has been intriguing me, and reading a tried and tested much-loved classic. But the feeling of reading a book for the first time, that is so utterly captivating you find yourself unable to concentrate on everyday tasks, really cannot be bettered.

Growing up, Roald Dahl, Michelle Magorian, Carolyn Keene and more authors than I could possibly list here, had a profound effect on me. There is absolutely no substitute to the magic of reading about worlds that are sometimes beyond comprehension and sometimes so relatable as to be breathtaking.

As an adult, books continue to have such an effect, Jane Austen, Khaled Hosseini and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name just a few authors have given me such joy, and sometimes such heartbreak, that there really is no way of adequately appreciating it.

I have often wished that I would be able to write my own novel, but I can’t help but feel that I have far too much fun being carried away by other people’s words to put my own on paper. However if you have always thought that you have a novel in you, a crime novel particularly, then Stylist magazine is offering an incredible prize, so get writing!

To enter you will need to complete the first 6,000 words of your original crime or thriller novel, which must feature a female protagonist. Alongside this you will need to submit an outline, no longer than 300 words, to show how the story will develop but which doesn’t reveal the ending, plus a 250-word biography of the central character. The prize will be the novel’s publication by Faber and Faber publishing house and a book advance of £5,000. Ruth Rendell will be one of the judges and you have until 12 July to submit your entry.

For more information go to

Dickens on Screen

In the Bicentenary month of Charles Dickens’ birth the British Film Institute (BFI) continue to celebrate the author’s influence, through the multitude of television and film adaptations he inspired.


From the 17-28 February, BFI Southbank will be screening the following:

Great Expectations
Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert De Niro and Anne Bancroft star in Alfonso Cuaron’s modern take on the Dickens tale, set in Florida and New York.
Hard Times
Re-edited version of Granada TV’s lavish dramatisation of Dickens’s exploration of contemporary social and economic pressures.
All Day Event: Dickens and the Theatre: Nickleby & the RSC – The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
The Old Vic’s ambitious re-staging of the now-legendary 8-hour theatrical interpretation of Dickens’s epic novel.
Martin Chuzzlewit
Dickens’s favourite among his own novels is brought to life in this acclaimed BBC adaptation.
The Only Way
British silent take on A Tale of Two Cities.
Alastair Sim’s definitive performance as the miser in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.