GUEST POST- Mrs P’s Journey by Matthew Ruddle (A Book Review)

Book Review: Mrs P’s Journey

by Matthew Ruddle

IMG_9432Mrs P’s Journey by Sarah Hartley

Phyllis got lost in London. We’ve all been there. Lost in a big city, trying to find that little, hidden gem a friend told us about, going around in circles, walking down the wrong side street, and ending up in a dead-end. We retrace our steps, double-check the street names, and somehow, accidentally, find our destination. Finding your way around an American city, for example, isn’t too bad, due to the way the streets are set out in a systematic grid system, but in older European cities, like London, the streets are unpredictable and haphazard, with complete disregard for logic or common sense.

These days, help is readily at hand; we can check our phones, use sat nav, or click on a website and find the way to our destination in a matter of seconds. However, Phyllis Pearson didn’t have the technologies of today when she got lost in London in the 1930s. There wasn’t even a street map available to help her.

Phyllis, who? I hear you ask. Well, she had an unremarkable name, but lived an extraordinary life, and founded one of the UK’s most famous and recognizable brands. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

On reading Murakami’s works I realised that sometimes some writers’ works aren’t meant to be good books or bad books, there are some exceptions. Haruki Murakami is that exception in the contemporary world. When reading any of his novel, the vulnerability of reading a bad book is reduced drastically. His words, the structure, the flow of text, the plot, and the characters together make a mesmerizing mesh for a reader to experience. When I first read Murakami’s first published book, Hear The Wind Sing, I was astonished by how a writer can maintain the calmness throughout the text and let the reader feel that calmness in similar or almost the same manner it is written, while reading the text. There is never any hurry in Murakami’s books, and that is what I like most about him.

KAFKA ON THE SHORE is a story of a runaway 15-year old boy named Kafka Tamura from Tokyo and his sculptor-father who kills cats to make flutes from their souls. Kafka winds up in the provincial city of Takamatsu on the smallest of Japan’s main islands, Shikoku. Here the cross-gender librarian of a private library, Oshima, and its enigmatic owner, Mrs. Saeki, provide the runaway boy an employment and a place to live. This odyssey gets more attentive simultaneously when Nakata, an aged man, who considers himself ‘not very bright’ but has a power to converse with cats. Alternating chapters for each character, Murakami follows two seekers who seem to have nothing in common until they are brought together by fate or by prevalence.

Meanwhile, Tamura begins an affair with his employer Mrs. Saeki and starts realising that she might be his mother who renounced him when he was four. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis

THE MONK by Matthew Gregory Lewis was first published in 1796. It is an early gothic novel and despite being written over two hundred years ago, now considered under the classification of classic, it is a real page turner. Matthew Lewis has described the story in an effective manner, and this book is a good display of his story-telling. Previously read a few books related to the specific genre: Gothic, I am very much fascinated by the writings, the display of the words, and different type of plots. And by other books I mean Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I don’t know if Dracula by Bram Stoker is a true horror or can also be considered as a part-gothic but it does give the similar experience and produce similar set of feelings inside me.

The book is set in a monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, Spain, and the overall plot is mesh of three stories appended together and sharing same set of characters. The story starts with the Monk, Ambrosio, on whom the title emphasise. He is one of the most respected abbot both in the monastery and in Madrid. He never leaves the monastery except once a week, to deliver his sermons that attract a large amount of crowd from all over the city. He is dedicated to his vows and is almost considered a saint by the few. But being a human, he is duped by a young woman called Matilda in to breaking his vows. He is then driven by a passion of lust and sexual temptation. After failing to resist his newly discovered fervour, he continues to commit one crime after the other, each worse than before. Continue reading

Marcel Proust on Reading and Dying

Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life? tries to find an inspiration and explore various themes out of Proust’s essays, letters, and his fictional work. So far, it succeeds to achieve its goal, it’s a clever book with an amusing  and an evoking title. No prior knowledge of Proust or his epic, seven volume novel In Search of Lost Time is necessary in order to read and enjoy this book but after reading it, half of you will go for the first volume of In Search of Lost Time if you haven’t read Proust’s work before.

In summer of 1922, a French newspaper formulated an elaborate question for its contributors. Marcel Proust was one of the contributors. The question asked was:

An American scientist announces that the world will end, or at least that such a huge part of the continent will be destroyed, and in such a sudden way, that death will be the certain fate of hundreds of millions of people. If this prediction were confirmed, what do you think would be its effects on people between the time when they acquired the aforementioned certainly and the moment of cataclysm? Finally, as far as you’re concerned, what would you do in this last hour?

Reclusive Proust sent the following reply to the French Newspaper: Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Life A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

Sometimes there is a perfect time to read a book. Sometimes, there isn’t. One could argue that, perfectionism is another part of being vulnerable. Life is vulnerable. We are vulnerable to many different things, all the time and that what makes our lives vulnerable. However, there is no perfect time to read Georges Perec’s LIFE A USER’S MANUAL.

Perec begins this book by explaining what a jigsaw puzzle is, and makes a connection between the puzzle maker and the puzzle solver. Then the book, which is a puzzle itself, begins in an apartment block in the XVIIth arrondissement of Paris where, chapter by chapter, room by room, like an onion being peeled, and extraordinary rich cast of characters is revealed in a series of tales that are bizarre, unlikely, moving, funny, or quite ordinary.

Soon the plot concentrates on an eccentric English millionaire, Percival Bartlebooth, who has devised a way to waste his money and his life. He spends ten years taking watercolour lessons from Serge Valene, an artist and fellow resident at the apartment block (which has a hundred rooms arranged in a magic square), then spends 20 years travelling round the world, doing 500 watercolours in various ports, posting them back to the same building to be turned into jigsaws. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Dead Souls by Ian Rankin

This is my fifteenth John Rebus novel, and before starting this book I had a question in my mind. When an author as successful as Rankin has been with his tough and idiomatic Scottish thrillers, a problem sets in after several books: how to keep the formula fresh?

One thing is that, after reading a John Rebus’ book, I have an anguished feeling of visiting Edinburgh, see all those places describe the author with my own eyes. The series is set in Edinburgh and Rankin displays an unnerving knowledge of, seemingly, how crime works there. Rankin has a very unique of displaying simplistic events. His engrossing words will get under your skin.

The novel, Dead Souls, starts on a greater node. In the prologue to the book, the suicide of one of Rebus’ colleagues is detailed. Rebus chases a released pedophile when he is supposed to be trying to catch someone who has been poisoning the animals. Then there was the Shellion case, regarding young children abused by their custodians, and now his superintendent had saddled him with another case a violent serial killer, Gary Oakes, was deported back from US to Edinburgh. I wonder, is he never tired? Continue reading

Five Dystopian Novels to Read

These five novels based in an imaginary society are worth reading.

1984 by George Orwell

Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

Find Me by Laura van den Berg Continue reading