The Hobbit

I LOVED this book! I don’t know if it is because I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much, if it is because I didn’t plan to read this, more that I just picked it up randomly instead of spending hours deciding, or because I was finally able to sit in the garden on Monday and so my mood was instantly cheerier. Regardless of any of these I just feel as though The Hobbit and I found each other at just the right time in my life so I was able to fully devour and appreciate it…so much so that I finished reading it in a day.

The Hobbit is the prequel to Tolkien’s renowned Lord of the Rings trilogy, which have become infamous since Peter Jackson’s fantastic film adaptations. In The Hobbit we meet Bilbo Baggins, the eponymous hobbit, who is essentially dragged away from his cosy hobbit-hole and life of routine, and taken on an adventure with thirteen dwarves and Gandalf the wizard. The dwarves are on a quest to recover the lost treasure of their forefathers, which is currently being guarded by Smaug the Magnificent…a dragon! On their treacherous journey our heroes encounter trolls, goblins, elves, as well as Gollum and the ring that plays a significant part in the LOTRs trilogy.

Why was I surprised that I enjoyed it so much?
The easiest way for me to collect my thoughts on this novel is to ask myself the above question; why did my enjoyment come as such a shock? Surely I wanted to read it, and no one willingly chooses to read a book they know they won’t like, so why am I so surprised? I think my answer comes in two forms, that are rather wrongly based on assumptions, and how many times do we hear that making assumptions is a terrible thing. And the two factors that led me to this conclusion – I’m not really a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy fiction and tend to avoid it, and I somewhat unsuccessfully tried to read The Fellowship of the Ring when the film first came out and I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. My previous struggle with Tolkien made me slightly sceptical when approaching The Hobbit, as I remember being weighed down with pages and pages of detailed (and dull) description, which I can only liken to wading through mud, and this in turn made the novel slow paced and difficult to get in to. This is one of the disadvantages of seeing the film first; you are aware of the plot and so expect the action to happen quickly. This is why I was keen to read The Hobbit before the film comes out (something I am keen to do with Anna Karenina too).
Luckily I had a completely different experience when reading The Hobbit. It was fast paced and thrilling; the characters were moving from one obstacle to another quickly, facing new challenges in every chapter. There was enough description of characters and setting for me to visualise them without getting bogged down with the minute details, and this allowed me to feel more in tune with the characters and the action as it happened. The world Tolkien has created is fascinating, and I am only sorry that my first reading experience of this was not as enjoyable as my most recent one. I am definitely looking forward to the film now, and I am almost tempted to give the LOTR trilogy another go, but maybe I will wait until I have worked my way through the other 9 million books on my TBR list.

Hopefully my attempts to add a video clip in to this post will work, as I feel like sharing The Hobbit trailer, mainly because I was very interested to notice that there are women in it and I don’t seem to remember reading about any female characters in the novel, but I could be wrong!

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Top Ten Characters That Remind Me…

of myself or those I know. It is Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish and this week’s category is literary characters that remind you of yourself or those you know, which is harder than you might think, so if I get to ten it will be a miracle.

1. Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding – Bridget reminds me of myself and quite a few of my friends. There are some factors that I don’t relate to, but on the other hand there are many times when I have said something/done something that is typically Bridget

2. Miss Marple – Agatha Christie – A mixture of my Mum and Grandma; the former who has always fancied herself as a detective and the latter who is just plain nosey

3. Linda – The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford – Linda reminds me of me and not just because we share the same name. When I was a lot younger I know I was selfish, cared more for animals than people and a bit of drama queen, and although I am nowhere near as bad as I was as a child, I am still a little bit like that. But as with all examples there are bits of her character and some of her actions that I know I do not relate to at all.

4. Hermione – Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling – I have a university friend who definitely reminds me of Hermione, so much so that when I first met her I didn’t like her because she seemed like a know-it-all. Now she is one of my best friends and I love her to pieces.

5. Georgia Nicholson – Series by Louise Rennison – When I was a teenager I loved this series, as did some of my friends, and one particular friend is exactly like Georgia, we even use some of her phrases in conversation.

6. Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – One Austen heroine had to turn up in this list, and I know it is a cliche to pick Lizzie, but I like to think I share some of her qualities and that I would be as brave as her in certain circumstances.

And that’s it! I can’t think of anymore, although I am sure inspiration will come to me.

Cat Among The Pigeons

Before I get on to the book I must talk about where it came from… a mobile library! For me this was a shocking first, and I love the idea of moseying to some village pub carpark to hop on a bus to collect my chosen book. I think it is such a quaint novelty and also an important part of the community; a fabulous way of bringing literature and enjoyment to those who perhaps aren’t as mobile (!) as others. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact I was the youngest person by at least 50 years. And the best bit about the nearest stop to me – if I miss it I can just go further down the village. I can’t believe I have never used a mobile library before, I fear this will be dangerous as I tend to get a bit book happy in libraries.

Now on to the book. I began watching a TV adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons last weekend and saw as far as the first murder (I am sure I’m not giving the game away when I say there was a murder). This is potentially fatal, in more ways than one, as I miss out on the whole ‘whodunnit’ aspect that Christie is famed for. This is where the hankering to read this particular novel came from, and why I needed to venture to the mobile library, as my local library didn’t have it.

Cat Among the Pigeons was everything I expected and wanted from an Agatha Christie novel; there was a crime or two, the classic gathering the suspects scene, a few red herrings and Poirot! Not that I have anything against any other Christie sleuth. The novel is set in an exclusive girls’ school, but flicks between Meadowbanks and Ramat, a Middle Eastern Country ravaged by a recent Revolution. Shortly before the Revolution, the Prince’s family jewels mysteriously disappear and various parties are interested in the whereabouts of said jewels; a quest that leads them to the school. Events centre on the school, and Poirot doesn’t make an appearance until the end of the novel, just in time to do a little investigating, gather all the suspects and pinpoint the murderer.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel; it was a thrilling, easy read, just what I wanted for the weekend, mainly because I was visiting friends and relatives and I ran Race For Life. I enjoy having to use my deduction skills to try and guess the murderer/criminal before they are revealed (something I didn’t do this time) and I love the comfort of returning to much loved characters, especially if they are in a mystery I have yet to read, hear or see on telly. A few years ago for Christmas I was given an Agatha Christie boardgame as a joke present and I have yet to play it, so maybe this return to Christie will help and inspire me to read more of her work and hopefully beat someone when I eventually play the game. And the best bit? The library always have LOADS of Agatha Christie novels on the shelf!

The Kenneth Williams Diaries

Ever since I was little I have been obsessed with ‘Carry On’ films; yes they are seaside postcard rude, predictable and I wasn’t even alive when they were made, but I LOVE them! They remind me of many childhood Christmases when constant reruns were on the telly, and of an England I wish I had been alive to see. I have all the films on DVD and I know I can put any of them on in the background when I am working etc and I can tune out and be comforted by the familiar characters, jokes and music, and it is this familiarity and sense of nostalgia that I find most appealing about the films.

Many years ago I read Barbara Windsor’s autobiography, and was ridiculously excited when I saw her in panto a few years ago, and I have seen various TV programmes about the actors and actresses involved in the films, but I have never read any other books relating to the series until now – The Kenneth Williams Diaries!

In many of the films Williams played the antagonist to Sid James’ good guy, and built a reputation as the snide, authoritive figure. Williams starred in 26 of the ‘Carry On’ films, so imagine my surprise when I discovered how much he hated filming them and saw them as repetitive, crass and dull pieces of film (a view that some people might agree with). It raises questions as to why he continued to play a significant role in the series, but it is clear from his descriptions of his fellow ‘Carry On’ stars that despite not liking some of them, he enjoyed the family type atmosphere they developed on set, and this seems to have been a considerable draw to him when debating the merits of starring in yet another film. Williams was famous for his dark sense of humour and ability to critique not only himself, but his fellow actors and friends in an uncompromising fashion. There were many occassions when reading his diaries that I laughed out loud; the following description of Sid James is a prime example:
‘Down to Pinewoord for the end of picture party. Apart from Jim Dale, I was the only actor there – O! no – Sid James attended – but perhaps the first half of the sentence is still correct.’

When reading someone’s personal diary there is always a sense that you are seeing their innermost thoughts, their feelings that they never expected to be made public; a sense that can sometimes prompt an uncomfortable feeling in the reader. Yes Williams’ diaries are funny and amusing, but they also display his personal struggle and attempts to come to terms with his homosexuality, celibacy and deep suicidal depression; a depression that would eventually lead to his death. Williams referred to his sexuality and experiences in code (perhaps hinting that he expected his diaries to be published) so his personal relationships were never completely clear…unless it is me missing something in my reading, which is a huge possibility. Regardless of this it is clear that Williams was constantly struggling with who he was and how he was perceived by the public and whether or not he was accepted, and this struggle is demonstrated beautifully in some entries:
‘The leaf that blossoms, dies and falls from the tree is, in the falling tragic: but I am the leaf that has not blossomed. I am the blighted leaf. My tragedy lies in the knowledge of my failure to blossom.’

Perhaps the most striking part of the collection was the vast number of performers, actors, actresses, comedians etc. who committed suicide. Yes, Williams’ diaries span 40 years, but it is shocking how many suicides he notes/comments on; I almost wish I had counted them as I read. I am not going to analyse or question all these suicides, and a lot of them I know nothing about, but from Williams’ comments, it is worth noting that most of those listed were struggling to come to terms with their faltering fame.

I never realised that Williams had killed himself until fairly recently when I was watching a programme about him, and it was this programme that prompted me to buy this book. The last few months of diary entries are difficult to read in places; throughout the collection Williams talks freely of suicide, but his change in mood and temperment is obvious in the months leading up to his death.

With non-fiction and autobiographies there is always the sense of knowing the ending, and I felt this all the way through the diaries, and perhaps because of this I was more in tune to the suicidal references and comments. However these didn’t take away from the fact that Williams’ was an educated and witty individual; he is bitter and malicious in places, but then we all have these tendencies, some more than others, and it is refreshing that he acknowledges this and doesn’t pretend he is something he is not. I don’t know if I will look at the ‘Carry On’ films or Williams’ roles in them differently having read his personal opinions on the films and those involved with them, but it has certainly been an entertaining and insightful experience reading about the life of Kenneth Williams.

Top Ten To Be Read This Summer

It is Tuesday, I have finshed my teacher training and time at uni (half sob, half yay) and am looking forward to the summer, so what better time to have a thnk about what I definitly want to read this summer. I have decided to follow a ‘read three books I haven’t read before, read one book I have read’ system, not sure how long it will last, but I have good intentions.

1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – Dowloaded this on to the kindle awhile ago and I haven’t read any Dickens in ages.

2. Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – I have read the novel that comes before this one and the one that comes afterwards, so I think it is about time I filled in the gaps.

3. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory – I love a good bit of historical fiction, so the opportunity to dive back in to a Philippa Gregory novel will be welcomed.

4. Appasionata by Jilly Cooper – I have been working my way through Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles throughout my PGCE year; I normally pick one up as an after placement treat, but now I have finished entirely it is time to enjoy another one.

5. The Shooting Part by Isabel Colegate – A review of this novel was what first inspired me to start book blogging and I have had my eye on it ever since.

6. Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn – I love novels set during the early years of the 20th century; whether they are contemporary to that period or written by modern authors they always have me enthralled.

7. Regeneration by Pat Barker – I have read The Ghost Road as part of my teaching work experience, hopefully another good read.

8. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh – When I first read Brideshead Revisited I did not enjoy it and it is not a novel I have returned to, but I might one day. However I have read a few other novels by Waugh and I LOVE them, his humour and depiction of various characters in British society is fantastic.

9. Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie – We started watching this on telly recently but as is always the case we missed half so I have no idea who dunnit?

10. Wicked by Gregory Macguire – Another reread. I have seen and enjoyed the musical since, can’t wait to reread the book with this in mind.

Who knows if I will stick to this reading list, only time will tell!

The Lost Art of Diary Writing!

Since I was 11 I have always had a diary on the go, and this past week saw the completion of my most recent diary. I use the term diary loosely in this sense, as it has taken me nearly 6 years to fill this one up. My sporadic diary writing and the fact I am reading The Kenneth Williams Diaries at the moment has got me thinking about diary writing as a whole, specifically my attitude towards it and whether it is something people still do in the ‘modern’ world of blogs, emails and a whole host of technology that I know nothing about.

For me one of the most important parts of the whole diary thing is choosing the right one. I upgraded from the Minnie Mouse Disneyland design when I finally finished that. Shortly after that I moseyed off to university, with a beautiful new William Shakespeare inspired diary in tow. And I followed the same path when I bought a new one, opting for a Charlotte Bronte inspired diary from the same collection.

I love them. They are so pretty, although who knows what I will do when I finish the Bronte one, as they were the only author inspired diaries I could find! But my track record is poor, so I don’t imagine having to confront this problem for a good few years.

Which leads me on to writing a diary. Why do I do it? What do I write about? And why am I so bad at it? My answers tie into one another. I’d love to say I write about really interesting and thought provoking subjects, but I don’t. I tend to write about my life in general, what I have been up to, my personal life, my worries, things I hope to remember in years to come. Unfortunately I am a terrible diarist and tend to write when I am upset about something…maybe this whole taking years to finish a diary is a sign that I am a merry bean. So why do I do it? It’s the cathartic element. There is nothing like writing down all that is in your head, in one long rabbling stream of consciousness…it is almost like my blog, accept not something I would want anyone else to read…EVER! I think it has become slightly neglected in the past few years due to the fact my best friend and I write letters to one another, which are slightly less personal and revealing diary entries in my opinion. Luckily for the diary she has been pretty slack recently, so I have been able to put some more effort in there. And the most pressing questions of all; now I have finished this diary, do I dare to go back and read it anytime soon? If I disappear from the blogging world it is because I have curled up in a heap of cringe worthy embarrassment in some corner of my room!

Top Ten Good Beach Reads

Firstly this topic is making me very sad that not only am I nowhere near the beach, especially not a beach like this…

but the weather in England is as typical and rainy as ever. Luckily there are some amusing sights to be seen to cheer one up when the weather gets too much, so yes the sky is grey and miserable, but there is always a giant haystack shaped like the Queen to bring a smile to one’s face!

I can dream about relaxing on a peaceful beach, so I hope and pray that this list wil inspire a sudden change in the weather.

For me the perfect beach read is easy, often trashy and doesn’t require much thinking, so don’t expect any literary classics to be making an appearance, although I might get to number ten and surprise myself.

1. Any Jilly Cooper…I love her and she definitly fulfills my three point beach criteria. Most of her novels are pretty long too, which I like in a beach read, because you don’t want to finish it in a day. I could essentially use up all my ten just naming her books, but I won’t bore people with that.

2. One Day by David Nicholls – I mentioned this novel in a previous ‘Top Ten’ posting, but it is perfect for the beach, romantic, original, funny, heartwarming; I can’t wait to read it again.

3. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – Another author who has made an appearance on one of my ‘Top Ten’ lists, but I have opted for her second book this time. I love how Morton mixes history with the present and how she uses this to create a gripping mystery. I have recommended her first two books to friends in the past, unfortunately I was not a fan of her third book, but hey ho!

4. Not Dead Enough by Peter James – Nothing beats a good crime novel, and Peter James is a recent discovery for me; shockingly an author recommended by my Mum, which is something that very rarely happens. James has created a series of novels set in Brighton, following the life of his detective Roy Grace. Like all good thrillers they are fast-paced, gripping and have short chapters, so are very difficult to put down.

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – Beautifully written and just perfect!

6. Any Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily Von Ziegesar – So I am going against my ‘I need long books on holiday’ by choosing this series, but I can vividly remember sitting under an exotic type of tree on a beach in Crete reading this when I was 14 and I have read and enjoyed the entire series on several occasions. I haven’t seen the TV show at all because I love the books and I have my own image of the characters in my head and hate ruining that.

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – Back to the crime novels and you can’t beat Christie.

8. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding – I LOVE Bridget Jones, she is such a funny character and an ideal beach companion.

9. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – Gregory’s writing is so complusive and the perfect historical escape.

10. Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling – You can’t beat Harry Potter for a relaxing and exciting read.

I have noticed a slight pattern in my good beach reads, in that the majority of them form part of a series or have reappearing characters. I guess this means I like to escape with familiar characters who I know well, which has the advantage of knowing, and hopefully loving, the characters beforehand, meaning I don’t have to worry too much about who is who…I really like an easy read! Now if the weather could just sort itself out I will be a merry bean!

Pride and Prejudice

Oh I love Pride and Prejudice! I haven’t read it since I was at Sixth Form about six years, so finally re-reading this novel was a lovely end of PGCE treat. This is a story I know so well, being a HUGE fan of the most recent film and having watched the BBC Colin Firth version fairly recently, but it amazes me how Austen’s writing seems so fresh and kept me interested throughout my reading – yes it’s a cliche, but I couldn’t put it down. I could quite easily bang on about how much I love this novel, but I am going to demonstrate some self control and discuss a handful of sections I highlighted during my reading. I have a few versions of this novel: book form, on the Kindle and a version starring me as Elizabeth Bennet, which was a brilliant and unusual birthday present from a friend, but I opted for the Kindle, as I hadn’t picked it up for a while.

Let’s begin with the frightful Mrs Bennet and the truly terrible Lydia, who just becomes more irritating as the novel progresses. Straight away Mrs Bennet puts Lizzy down, claiming she is not as ‘handsome as Jane, nor half so good humoured as Lydia.‘ and this is an attitude that continues throughout the novel, with Lydia hardly able to put a foot wrong, whereas Lizzy is an embarrassment to her mother; the irony is that our perceptions of Lizzy and Lydia are reversed. This in turn leads me to Lydia, who drives me up the wall. She is selfish, irritating and a nuisance! Her flirtatious manner and her complete lack of regard for her family very nearly leads to her sisters’ ruin, and the best part is that she doesn’t even acknowledge the impact her actions will have on those around her. Her smugness on her marriage is infuriatingly good; when Mrs Bennet asks her to write often, Lydia responds with:

‘As often as I can. But you know married women have never much time for writing. My sisters may write to me. They will have nothing else to do.’

This is just classic Lydia; the world revolves around her and her life is the most fabulous and exciting. However I do like an annoying, love to hate character in a novel, and Austen has created a perfect one in Lydia, who, despite the various social changes to her life during the course of the novel, appears to progress or develop very little as a character. She is the same shallow and selfish little girl throughout.

Another of my love to hate characters who made an appearance in my recent Top Ten Baddies post is Lady Catherine De Bourgh. I highlighted the funniest quote relating to her which sums her up perfectly in my mind.

‘The party then gathered round the fire to hear Lady Catherine determine what weather they were to have on the morrow.’

Oh how I would love to have the power to determine the weather, and have people believe me…although in Britain it isn’t hard since there is always a high percent chance of rain!

I mentioned my love of the film version of Pride and Prejudice, it always makes me cry and moan about how I wished I lived then. I just had to share my favourite scene in the film (and one of the best parts of the novel); The Bennets’ reaction to Lizzy turning down Mr Collins’ proposal. Their differing reactions are hilarious, and just reinforce how different the Bennets are as a couple.

Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Pride and Prejudice and this has just made me eager to begin re-reading all my Austen books, but alas they will have to wait. For the time being I am happy with my brief revisit to the romantic, beautiful and fabulous world of Jane Austen!

Top Ten Baddies!

It’s Tuesday and it is a freebie over at The Broke and The Bookish and I have decided to focus on my top 10 bad guys (and girls) from various works of fiction. Some of them are worse than others as is the way of baddies. They are not in any particualr order, more just an as I think of them.

1. Willoughby – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Pictured here played by the gorgeous Dominic Cooper, Willoughby is charming, money hungry and essentially a bit of a cad (I love that word) He misleads poor Marianne and breaks her heart; the moment where he ignores her is heartwrenching!

2. Lady Catherine De Bourgh – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sticking on the Austen front, and because I am reading Pride and Prejudice at the moment, I have chosen the vile Lady Catherine De Bourgh. She has yet to make an appearance in my reading, bar the incessant wittering of Mr. Collins, but she is horrible, snobbish and incredibly rude to our lovely Elizabeth Bennett.

3. Bill Sykes – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

My first experience of Oliver Twist and Dickens, was the 1960s musical Oliver! I can remember watching it constantly, back to back with Annie which was on the same video (yes that’s retro!) Bill Sykes is plain evil, he has no compassion, feelings or respect for anyone else and deservedly gets his just desserts.

4. Mrs Pratchett – Boy by Roald Dahl
One of my favourite children’s books, and my favourite Dahl book, Mrs Pratchett, the horrid sweet shop owner, is a figure all small children can hate..

5. Alec D’Uberville – Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
Alec is wicked and a constant presence throughout Tess’s life. He mirrors the stain motif that appears throughout the novel, and for me is primary reason Tess struggles to find happiness.

6. Voldemort – Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling
I couldn’t really let Voldemort get away without a mention. For all the millions of people who have read the books, and watched the films, his appearance on this list should be self explanatory.

7. Rannaldini – Various Jilly Cooper novels
A pantomime-esque villain to boo and hiss at as I devour my favourite Jilly Cooper novels.

8. Rebecca – Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Sometimes villains and baddies lists can be overrun with male characters, so I had a little think about which fictional females I would add to the list, and Rebecca popped up. Perhaps she isn’t a conventional villain and there are other characters from the novel worthy of a place on the list, but the ending of this novel always shocks me, and I think she deserves to be here purely because of her final actions.

9. Lucy Audley – Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
My BA dissertation focused on female criminals in Victorian literature, and Lucy Audley was one of the women I researched and discussed. She is scheming and treacherous, lying and plotting murder purely to better her position in society!

10. Count Fosco – The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Another Victorian criminal. I love Collins’ writing and the mystery and devious nature of Count Fosco makes fantastic reading!

Wolf Hall

Between all the end of teacher training madness and Jubilee celebrations I found time to finally finish Wolf Hall. This is the second time I have read this novel, the first being for a book club I don’t really remember, apart from that mad rush when you realise the meeting is in 2 hours and you still have 150 pages to go. Perhaps this rush is why I have blocked the first reading from my memory. Luckily my second reading was much more enjoyable.

My favourite aspect of historical fiction is the sense I get of knowing the characters and their fate, yet not knowing them at all. The Tudors and the many fascinating people who played a part in their reign have been reincarnated in so many different forms, from the amazing Philippa Gregory novels to the biographical works of Antonia Fraser and the brilliant TV show that was shown on the BBC, and yet they still seem to draw in readers, novelists, viewers and whoever is in charge of making TV programmes. Perhaps this is because, as Mantel states in the ‘About the Author’ section ‘The Tudors are the great national soap opera, when have we ever had a Royal family renowned for their determination and love of chopping off people’s heads?

As I have mentioned there is a lot of fiction and non-fiction based on The Tudors, the vast majority of which centres on Henry VIII’s numerous wives, so Mantel’s focus on the rise of Thomas Cromwell is, for me, a refreshing take on such a well-known chapter of British history. I loved discovering more about the enigma of Cromwell and how he came to become such a powerful figure in the court of Henry VIII. The beauty of this novel is that Mantel ends it with Cromwell on a high, we have yet to witness his fall from grace, but the tantalising thing is, the reader knows it is coming – the author can only twist and turn the tale so much, the fate of our characters will always be the same. This has made me eager to read Bringing Up The Bodies however the book buying ban is going to hinder this desire slightly.

I particularly enjoyed how Mantel portrays the relationship between Cromwell and Thomas More, which is summed up perfectly in the lines

‘He thinks, I remembered you, Thomas More, but you didn’t remember me. You never even saw me coming.’

I know Cromwell is far from being a good guy, but Thomas More is just insufferable. For me, he made Cromwell more appealing and more human. Of course I am going to favour the man who mourns the loss of his wife and shows a reluctance and remorse when ordered to oversee executions than the self-righteous More who comes across as hypocritical, narrow-minded and just plain horrible to his own wife. But then history isn’t as black and white as that, and I have essentially been manipulated by Mantel’s fantastic story telling, and I am not ashamed to admit that.

I was entirely swept along in the novel, transported from what was my sunny back garden in 21st century Britain (the weather didn’t last long) right back to Tudor London, and to be honest that is all I really want from a novel – to become so engrossed and to believe so fully in the setting, plot, characters etc, that I forget where I actually am! Luckily for me, Mantel fulfilled this need and has inspired me to read more of her books and to rewatch The Tudors, daydreaming about the lovely Jonathan Rhys Meyer and Henry Cavill in the process…don’t worry I am well aware they are unrealistic portrayals; the real Tudors wouldn’t have been anywhere near as attractive, but a girl can dream!