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Vodkafan's 2015 reading list

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Happy reading in 2015 James :)

Just to prove I have studied your lists .. Miss Peregrine's children are peculiar .. not unusual .. though they definitely qualify as that too  :D Hope you get around to reading it soon .. great book.

Can't be long now to wait for the Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell adaptation .. am looking forward to it but also nervous. They'd better not muck it up!

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I'd forgotten there was going to be JS&MN adaptation! It's been a couple of years now since I read the book... maybe I'll just watch the adapatation without refreshing my memory so I can enjoy it for what it is :lol:

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The Mangle Street Murders is great! :smile:  I'm only 20% away through, but it's gripping already.  Happy reading for 2015!

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered the existence of  The Crimson Petal And The White...I have just finished the book an hour ago. Thoughts are still reeling from it. I will try to review it soon.

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered the existence of  The Crimson Petal And The White...I have just finished the book an hour ago. Thoughts are still reeling from it. I will try to review it soon.

 

That's normally a good sign, I love it when a book does that to me.

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered the existence of  The Crimson Petal And The White...I have just finished the book an hour ago. Thoughts are still reeling from it. I will try to review it soon.

 

Sounds like you enjoyed it! I've read it a couple of times, and it is a very good read. Sugar is quite memorable, isn't she?

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Sounds like you enjoyed it! I've read it a couple of times, and it is a very good read. Sugar is quite memorable, isn't she?

 She sure is. I like that her character changes so much. She is not in control later on the way she is in the beginning. There is so much going on on lots of different levels about human relationships in this book. 

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The Crimson Petal And The White        5/5

 

Michel Faber

 

 How to review this fantastic book? I can't describe the plot as I don't want to spoil it for anybody. So I hope these few words can do it justice.

 It is set in late Victorian London,  the events all happening in a short span of time between 1874 and 1876. The blurb at the back of the book will tell you that Sugar is a 19 year old prostitute in St Giles, a rough part of London, so that isn't giving anything away. Sugar is unusual; she spends her money on books and has taught herself to speak well, which enables her to attract educated men as customers. She has a reputation for doing anything a customer wants; however, unknown to them she secretly burns with hate for men and at night alone writes a book full of sadistic revenge and death against these same men. 

 One of the things I like about the book is that  Sugar does not stay the same. At the beginning she is a predator, very much in control of her world, yet as things start to happen she is forced to change and becomes a different person. It would be a very different book, and not half as good, if she was still the hate filled lowlife at the end she is at the beginning.

The catalyst for the change is William Rackham, heir to a wealthy perfume manufacturing business. The author gives us a well rounded character study here. William feels rather sorry for himself; his trophy wife has turned out to be sick and increasingly embarrassing; his father is not sympathetic to his wish to be a writer, he has a girl child he doesn't want to know and he is weak and easily led. Sugar controls him and things start to change for the better for Rackham, although this means that the balance of power shifts and Sugar is soon the one who is in thrall.

There is a narrator who addresses us directly, invites us into rooms and tells us who to follow and watch. This works very well. 

One thing the writer always makes us conscious of is people's bodies and bodily processes. Doctor's examinations, going to the toilet in chamberpots, the ablutions of the prostitutes. The unwanted erections of William's overly religious brother, people's lumps and bruises and pubic hair. Sugar herself is not perfect;  she is ugly, tall, thin, and has a skin condition which gives her permanently dry cracked lips and scabby hands. (No doubt Hollywood would cast Scarlet Johanson and completely miss the point).

Sugar is at the beginning jealous of the beauty of Mrs Rackham.

Ah well I think I have said enough. I think this will be my best book of 2015; I doubt if anything else will match it.

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New Grub Street                 4/5

 

George Gissing

 

 This is a book about the lives of a loose group of writers and their wives set in London around the 1880s. I thought at first that I wasn't going to enjoy this book as much as other Gissings I had read, as the first character we are introduced to (Jasper Millvain) seems to be quite arrogant  and conceited. However as the book went on I got caught up in the struggles of the other writers in his circle. Reardon cuts a pathetic figure as  Millvain's friend who can't follow up on some small initial success, which has attracted him a beautiful wife who now expects to be kept, if not in comfort, at least in a respectable home. On the fringes and also struggling to survive are Alfred Yule, an old writer who has seen his reputation fall as a result of mauling by a malicious critic, and Whelpdale and Biffen, men of the working class who write for the love of it. Jasper tries to learn by and avoid the pitfalls that all these other men have fell into.

Will he succeed?

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So glad you enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White. It is such a standout book. I thought Sugar was very interesting as a character, and loved the fact that she was less than attractive - with her skin condition and scaly hands. I've read it a couple of times, but I'm sure I will read it again at some point.

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I started reading TCP&TW but I wasn't in the mood for it at the time and ended up wandering away from it. Great review though, I might go back to it this year.

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Glad to see you enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White, it was my favourite book the year I read it too!  Can I ask what you thought of the description of Victorian London by a contemporary writer?  I thought one of the stand out aspects were his description of place and society, going to places and situations that Dickens just couldn't in his own time.

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I was impressed by it Claire . Geographically, just like George Gissing, he names actual streets in a way that makes me think he must have walked over them himself to see how long journeys took not just looked at them on a map. The aspects of people's status and society, which was all important, I think he handled well. Because it is so outrageous that Sugar jumped from prostitute to the position she did (and was out of her depth) she didn't fool everybody, which was as it would have been. William Rackham was perfectly pompous and respectable but also weak. The differences in the descriptions of St Giles and Chepstow Villas and Priory Close worked well for me.

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Great reviews :). I'm glad you enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White! I really liked the book too.

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Great reviews :). I'm glad you enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White! I really liked the book too.

 Did you see the TV show too, Athena? 

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I also loved The Crimson Petal and the White. It just grabbed me and pulled me in and I felt like I was entwined in the lives of the characters if that make sense.

 

With less prostitution. Obviously.

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Did you see the TV show too, Athena?

Yes, I did! I read the book first, though. I quite liked the TV show, I thought for the most part they did a nice job. But I didn't like that the TV show ended before the book ended. There were a few more scenes in the book, that weren't in the TV show, and I wish they had included them.

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Yes, I did! I read the book first, though. I quite liked the TV show, I thought for the most part they did a nice job. But I didn't like that the TV show ended before the book ended. There were a few more scenes in the book, that weren't in the TV show, and I wish they had included them.

 

Yes on the DVD there a lot of deleted scenes. I don't know why they did not include them.

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Yes on the DVD there a lot of deleted scenes. I don't know why they did not include them.

Oh my DVD doesn't have deleted scenes I think :(, probably because it was a Dutch release or something.. It does seem a shame they didn't include them.

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I was impressed by it Claire . Geographically, just like George Gissing, he names actual streets in a way that makes me think he must have walked over them himself to see how long journeys took not just looked at them on a map. The aspects of people's status and society, which was all important, I think he handled well. Because it is so outrageous that Sugar jumped from prostitute to the position she did (and was out of her depth) she didn't fool everybody, which was as it would have been. William Rackham was perfectly pompous and respectable but also weak. The differences in the descriptions of St Giles and Chepstow Villas and Priory Close worked well for me.

 

I agree, there was definitely a feeling that he personally knew the location well, and I think you're right about the class aspects and people's place in society.  Again, glad you enjoyed it so much, it was an excellent book … one of my few 5 star books. :)

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I agree, there was definitely a feeling that he personally knew the location well, and I think you're right about the class aspects and people's place in society.  Again, glad you enjoyed it so much, it was an excellent book … one of my few 5 star books. :)

 

I could talk about this book for ages. Strangely enough I don't feel like I want to read anything else by him  just yet 

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