Genre: Literary

Essays by George Orwell

Posted August 15, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Essays by George OrwellGeorge Orwell: Essays (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell
Published by Penguin on January 2nd 2014
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Non-Fiction, Political, Short Stories (single author), Social History
Pages: 466
Format: Paperback
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This outstanding collection brings together Orwell’s longer, major essays and a fine selection of shorter pieces that includes My Country Right or Left, Decline of the English Murder, Shooting an Elephant and A Hanging.
With great originality and wit Orwell unfolds his views on subjects ranging from the moral enormity of Jonathan Swift’s strange genius and a revaluation of Charles Dickens to the nature of Socialism, a comic yet profound discussion of naughty sea-side picture postcards and a spirited defence of English cooking. Displaying an almost unrivalled mastery of English plain prose style, Orwell’s essays challenge, move and entertain.

I have always enjoyed Orwell’s writing. Like many people, Nineteen Eighty Four is one of my favourite books. But I had never read any of his essays before now. I chose this book specifically for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a real mix bag of stories. From the short to the long; from diatribes on Charles Dickens to essays on “Bookshop Memories”; this book has it all. Although many of the essays are now 80 or more years old, they still hold a remarkable amount of relevance.

A lot of the writing is founded upon Orwell’s socialist leanings, and many essays cover uncomfortable topics such as war and death. The writing certainly isn’t what you would call “politically correct” in today’s terms, with numerous references to the N-word, C-word and F-word, among others. These are all in context – especially when viewed against the backdrop of the time – however if you’re likely to be offended by such language, then give this book a miss.

It would be a shame to miss out though, as this is a superb collection of essays, which are incredibly readable and still very relevant today.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell (3/5)

Posted July 2, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell (3/5)This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
Published by Hachette UK on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, General
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle
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A Sunday Times top ten bestseller, the dazzling new novel from Costa Novel Award-winner Maggie O'Farrell THIS MUST BE THE PLACE crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage.'A tour de force... her best novel to date, a book that surely confirms her as one of the UK's most assured, accomplished and inventive storytellers' Observer
'A symphony of stories and voices... absolutely gripping' Sunday Times'Inventive, moving and hilarious. I loved it' Rachel Joyce
Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.
He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

This was an enjoyable read, but the story jumps around all over the place, making it hard to get to grips with in the early pages. There are numerous time-lines, characters and seemingly disjointed stories, it’s hard to get into it. Once I got the characters and time-lines straight in my head, I began to sink into the novel a bit more. But it was an uneven start to say the least.

Perhaps due to the writing style, the characters were difficult to engage with. I found it hard to empathise with the characters. Ultimately this book was an OK read – but didn’t grab me in the way that O’Farrell’s books normally do.