Book review: Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2006

“Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for thoe glorious future.” Ngozi Adichie’s ftirst novel, Purple Hibiscus, took as its focus a very personal, i0ntimate look at a troubledContinue reading “Book review: Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2006”

Book review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie, 1990

  I didn’t realise when I picked Haroun and the Sea of Stories as my next read that it was a children’s book. Despite the publisher’s description of it as such, I’m still not convinced. Granta is not widely known as a publisher of children’s literature, and the front cover of the edition I readContinue reading “Book review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie, 1990”

Book review: The Gate of Angels, by Penelope Fitzgerald, 1990

There are a number of novels buried within Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Gate of Angels struggling for our attention. Juggling such a wide range of themes and structures would be difficult in a novel of conventional length, let alone one of barely 160 pages, and in the end I was not convinced that Fitzgerald pulled it off. FirstContinue reading “Book review: The Gate of Angels, by Penelope Fitzgerald, 1990”

Book review: Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, 2003

There’s an immense power to DBC Pierre’s 2003 Booker Prize-winning Vernon God Little which with its troubled and intense fifteen year-old narrator has unavoidable echoes of Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. In style the novel owes an obvious debt to the energetic first-person participatory traditions of Gonzo journalism. Any summary of the novel willContinue reading “Book review: Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, 2003”

Book review: Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003

I honestly didn’t choose Purple Hibiscus deliberately as a companion piece to I Capture the Castle, (reviewed last week) but it works really well as such. It too is a coming of age novel, narrated by a teenage girl living in a ‘challenging’ family environment, and is often considered a young person’s novel. Over theContinue reading “Book review: Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003”

Book review: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, 1948

“I know all about the facts of life, and I don’t think much of them.” I think I originally read I Capture the Castle about ten years ago, and my impression at the time was that it was charmingly naive. A reread was therefore disappointing – what initially seemed sweet now grated. Much of thisContinue reading “Book review: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, 1948”

Book review: Possession, by A S Byatt, 1990

Possession was Byatt’s breakthrough novel, the first to attract significant levels of attention and sales, not least for winning the 1990 Booker Prize. I have a lovely hardback first edition of the novel with this gorgeous painting of the “Beguiling of Merlin” by Edward Burne-Jones used to illustrate the front and back covers. Possession isContinue reading “Book review: Possession, by A S Byatt, 1990”

Book review: The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter, 1979

Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is her breakthrough 1979 collection of short stories in which several well-known fairytales are updated and given a modern twist. Several of the stories had previously been published elsewhere – only two were original to this collection. At the time of publication there was some debate about whether Carter hadContinue reading “Book review: The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter, 1979”

Book review: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, 1764

The Castle of Otranto is widely considered the first English gothic novel. It tells the story of Manfred, lord of Otranto and opens on the day of the wedding of his son Conrad to the princess Isabella. Shortly before the ceremony Conrad is crushed to death by an enormous helmet which falls on him. Yes,Continue reading “Book review: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, 1764”

Book review: Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, 1959

“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.” Published in this edition by Orion books in their Science Fiction masterworks series, Flowers for Algernon is a much loved sci-fi classic. Charlie Gordon has an IQ of 68.Continue reading “Book review: Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, 1959”