Archives for posts with tag: Victorian

Hi all:

I was very intrigued by the description of this book when I read it in Net Galley, and despite my long list of books waiting to be read, I could not resist. It did not disappoint (I’ve seen it in the Guardian List of the Non-Booker prize books), although it is not an easy read.

But first, a bit about the book:

Rawblood by Catriona Ward

Rawblood by Catriona Ward

She comes in the night.
She looks into your eyes. 
One by one, she has taken us all.

For generations they have died young.
Now Iris and her father are the last of the Villarca line.
Their disease confines them to their lonely mansion on Dartmoor; their disease means they must die alone.
But Iris breaks her promise to hide from the world. She dares to fall in love.
And only then do they understand the true horror of the Villarca curse.

Editorial Reviews

Review

From Victorian ghost story to anti-war polemic and back again: I raged, wept and hid under the bed covers. As full of science as it is the supernatural, this is a hauntingly brilliant virtuoso performance. — Emma Healey author of ELIZABETH IS MISSING Gloriously dark and claustrophobic, Rawblood is a haunting gothic novel of intelligence and complexity. It has many echoes of the classics but is entirely its own book. Essie Fox, author of THE SOMNAMBULIST

About the Author

Catriona Ward was born in Washington DC and grew up in the US, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen and Morocco. She now lives in London where she works as a writer and researcher for Bianca Jagger’s human rights foundation. Rawblood is her first novel. @Catrionaward.

The book was due to be published on the 24th of September, so if there haven’t been any problems, it should be available by the time you read this review.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U67GLR8/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00U67GLR8/

Now, my review:

Thanks to Net Galley and Orion for giving me a free early copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Rawblood is a challenging novel (it’s not an easy read) and a novel difficult to define. The story of a ghost, or a haunted house, the Rawblood of the title, has elements of the gothic horror tale. The house itself, the characters, the Victorian era some of the stories are set in, the setting, even the style of writing. But there’s much more than that.

The story is told from many characters points of views, in different styles as pertains to the characters. We have a young girl who narrates the story in the first person, as she grows up. We have the diary of a young man, a doctor, who observes and takes notes of everything as if it was an experiment (and there is something of the mad scientist locked up in the cellar also), there is a woman with magic powers (a witch) who also tells us her story, in a stream-of-consciousness style. There is a sick woman and her companion; they both go to Italy and become embroiled in the story too. There is a young man who’s lost a leg in WWI and is trying to find his bearings. There are not only multiple characters and protagonists, but also different eras. Although the readers senses they must be all related somehow to the family cursed, the Villarcas (if that is what is happening), the connections don’t become clear until the very end. And most of the book we spend wondering who is who and what their role is in the story.

It is a haunting book, not only because of the nature of the story, but because of the beauty and lyricism of the language, and the strong emotions of all the characters who get touched by the ghost (for lack of a better name). The mysterious she of the story has an intense hold on everybody she comes in contact with, no matter how cynical or sceptical they might be to begin with.

The pace of the novel varies depending on the fragment we’re reading, and as I said, so does the style. The language, with many archaic words, is not for easy consumption, and it shows a care an attention to detail not common these days.

Perhaps if I could change anything, I wonder about the ending (not the explanation behind the ghost. I think that’s perfect) and the re-rehearsing of much of what has happened before again from the point of view of the ghost. But then, perhaps that’s right too, as it makes the point stronger.

I wouldn’t say this is a book for everybody, but it is a gem for readers with a taste for the extraordinary, time, patience, and a love of literature. I’m sure we’ll hear more about Catriona Ward.

Thanks to Net Galley, Orion and of course, Catriona Ward for her novel, thank you all for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it’s Friday and I bring you another classic. Not sure one should say that there are classics that are more classics, but indeed you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who hasn’t heard of Charles Dickens, or his stories. Even if you haven’t read them, you’ll know what they are about, will have watched some of the adaptations (not only BBCs, but movies, etc), or surely watched the musical ‘Oliver!’ based on his novel Oliver Twist. Considered the Victorian writer per excellence, he’s forever popular.

Biography:

There are very great and detailed biographies available, not only online, but also, of course, in printed form. I leave you a number of links to sites where you can read more about him. Only a few details:

He was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. He went to school briefly but as his father was imprisoned for bad debt when he was very young (around 9) this cut his formal education short and the whole family (debts and ending up in prison were quite common at the time…Some things don’t change) was sent to Marshalsea, although Charles, instead, went to work in a blacking factory and had to bear appalling conditions. After 3 years he went back to school but he was marked by these experiences and they’ve been reflected in many of his works.

He began his writing career as a journalist and he worked in a variety of journals. In 1833 he became parliamentary journalist and three years later married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of an editor who had been publishing some of his sketches. Shortly after he started publishing ‘Pickwick Papers’ and his success continued.

As we all know he wrote many novels (see links below), and quite a few of them in a serialised format, publishing them in periodicals weekly. He was a model for current authors keen on getting feedback and interacting with the public, as it is known that he would modify characters and story plots according to the public responses to his stories.

He also drew inspiration from his life and people he met along the way and there is a wealth of information on the real life basis for some of his best known and loved (or hated) characters.

He didn’t only write novels, but also an autobiography, periodicals, travel books, plays, and run charitable organisations.

Dickens became well-known and loved in the lectures circle and the travelled twice to the United States (where he did readings of his own books but also talked against slavery), to Italy (with fellow writers Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins) and toured the UK on many occasions.

He left his wife in 1858 (they had 10 children) and maintained relationships with his mistress, actress Ellen Ternan (who was many years his junior). He died of a stroke in 1870 and he is buried in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Links:

CharlesDickensMuseum

http://www.dickensmuseum.com/

BBC Biography page:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/dickens_charles.shtml

Wikipedia, of course:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_dickens

The Literature Network:

http://www.online-literature.com/dickens/

The Complete Works of Charles Dickens. It has links to read his works free on-line.

http://www.dickens-literature.com/

Entry on Charles Dickens at the New World Encyclopaedia. Good links:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Charles_Dickens

Biography.com (it even has videos!)

http://www.biography.com/people/charles-dickens-9274087

Imdb page with information on movie and TV versions. He is listed as writer of 338 titles!

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002042/?ref_=sr_1

Links to FREE works (see also above):

Free audiobook of A Christmas Carol

http://librivox.org/a-christmas-carol-by-charles-dickens/

Great expectations:

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Expectations-ebook/dp/B0082SWC30/

A Tale of Two Cities:

http://www.amazon.com/Tale-Two-Cities-ebook/dp/B004EHZXVQ/

Oliver Twist (not currently available…Might be soon. Versions for very little available):

http://www.amazon.com/Oliver-Twist-ebook/dp/B000JQUT8S/

Bleak House:

http://www.amazon.com/Bleak-House-ebook/dp/B00847G1PY/

David Copperfield:

http://www.amazon.com/David-Copperfield-ebook/dp/B004GHNIQQ/

A Christmas Carol:

http://www.amazon.com/A-Christmas-Carol-ebook/dp/B0084BMUFA/

The Old Curiosity Shop:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Old-Curiosity-Shop-ebook/dp/B0082ZEKSI/

Little Dorrit:

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Dorrit-ebook/dp/B0083ZY2LC/

Nicholas Nickleby:

http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-Nickleby-ebook/dp/B000JQV5MM/

Martin Chuzzelwit:

http://www.amazon.com/Martin-Chuzzlewit-ebook/dp/B0084BZU48/

And something a bit different. I normally only add free links on the post about classical authors but…I could not resist. I’ve heard this audiobook of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Alan Cooke (a.k.a. Wild Irish Poet, Emmy award winner, writer, and a true master of voices, who’s also recorded an audio for me that I hope will be available soon) and thought I’d leave you a link. I think it brings it to life and I truly love it. The webpage also offers you a sample so have a listen and see.

http://wildirishpoet.com/?page_id=279

Thank you for reading, and if you enjoyed it, don’t forget to like it, comment, share it, and of course, CLICK!

Signature of Charles Dickens

Signature of Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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