The Mysterious Affair at Styles

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the novel where Agatha Christie first introduces her infamous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Hastings is visiting a childhood friend in the country and lo and behold who is living in the village, Poirot! It is not long before a murder is committed and thus ensues the usual searching for clues and gathering of suspects. As the first Poirot novel I was particularly pleased that the murderer chose poison as their weapon of choice, considering Christie’s expertise in the area.

I love Chrisite’s novels, both reading them, watching them and listening to them and The Mysterious Affair at Styles didn’t disappoint. It was full of everything I expected from a Christie novel; a choice of suspects; a few red herrings; numerous clues and as usual I failed to guess the murderer. Shocking when I think I went through every single character. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie, her writing is pure genius and I know whenever I pick up any of her work I will be gripped and thoroughly enjoy it. Her work is comforting and nostalgic which I think is why people still love it to this today.

I am going through a complete Christie phrase at the moment. I am off to London to see The Mousetrap in half term, which I am really looking forward to. During the Christmas holidays I bought the audio book for Dead man’s Folly, one of the novels inspired by her country house in Devon, Greenway. Listening to this reminded me of my holiday last August and the lovely time I had in Devon with my mum and the dogs and filled me with a longing for lazy summer days moseying around the countryside and reading in the sunshine…so I have booked a return holiday for this August! Yay!

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

During The Classics Club Readathon a few weekends ago, I started reading The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. I have watched the films on numerous occasions and have had this book on my shelf/in the wardrobe of books for months. I originally attempted to read this book when the first film came out. I was about 13/14 and reached roughly page 100 and I gave up (shocker!) The language was too dense for me and not what I anticipated. A few summers ago I picked up a copy of The Hobbit at a Vintage Fair and one hot summer’s day I sat on the sun lounger and barely moved until I finished it later that evening. I absolutely loved it and became entranced with the world of Middle Earth. After such a positive reading experience I was determined to give The Lord of the Rings Trilogy another chance.

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You probably have to have been living under a rock not to have at least some awareness of Tolkien’s work and the storyline, but just in case I will give you a very brief summary. Frodo Baggins lives peacefully in The Shire until he is given a ring by his uncle, Bilbo. This ring is no ordinary ring, it is inscribed with the following:

‘One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them; One ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them’.

And so begins the biggest adventure of Frodo’s life; a journey that takes him to meet elves, dwarves and men; to the depths of Moria and to Elven lands; along great rivers and through dark and magical forests.

As I have mentioned I have seen the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings several times and I watched the trilogy recently. Luckily for me this enhanced my reading of the novel and I am pleased to say that not only did I get to the end oft he novel this time, but I actually really enjoyed it. I found it easy to visualise the different descriptions and environments and this in turn made the novel an easier read and also an enjoyable one. Although I knew the outcome of the novel, there were still many sections within it that surprised me, such as the character of Tom Bombadil. I fully understand that film makers cannot include everything within the film, so it is lovely to read the novel and experience the bits that didn’t quite make the cut.

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Tom Bombadil

I think it would be difficult to choose a favourite character from the novel; I liked Tom Bombadil for his cheerfulness and of course Gandalf is an infamous character synonymous with the mere mention of LOTR.

Overall, reading The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings was an enjoyable experience and I am very glad I picked it up again and also that I picked it up when I was a bit older and fully able to appreciate the mastery of Tolkien’s writing. For me it is not quite as engaging or easy to read as The Hobbit and I still think I prefer The Hobbit overall as it is a book I can imagine recommending to children, teenagers and adults alike, whereas I think you have to be a voracious reader to fully appreciate The Lord of the Rings.

I read this book for both The Classics Club and as a reserve for my TBR Pile 2014.

TBR Pile 2014 Check-In #1

The 15th of every month brings about the check in for the TBR Pile hosted by RoofBeamReader (unfortunately my iPad is being a pain and won’t let me copy the official picture). This is my first year joining the challenge and I am very excited, mainly because January always makes me excited about trying new things and setting goals and also because I want the motivation to tackle some of the books gathering dust on the bookcase.

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So far I have read 1 of my 12- Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence. I read this as part of The Classics Club Readthon, again another book blogging event that I participated in for the first time this year. It was lovely to chill out and spend a large portion of the 24 hours just reading before I had to return to school and let the chaos ensue.

I did make a sneaky addition to my original list of 12 as I realised it was foolish not to have any ‘backup’ reads. So after umming and ahhing about whether or not to add it to the original list, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings rounded my list up to a very (un) lucky 13. I have been intending to read this for absolutely ages, possibly since I gave up on it as a fourteen year old, and I am pleased to report that I am currently over halfway through and enjoying it more than I imagined.

Overall a good start to my TBR Pile and I think as long as I aim to save the larger books for school holidays I will be just fine.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Classics Club Readathon #2

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a book surrounded in controversy; published in 1928 it was originally banned and then published in the 1960s after an obscenity trail deemed it had significant literary merit this resulting in its publication. Due to all the drama surrounding the novel it has become synonymous with the notion of ‘erotic’ literature, to use the term loosely, and I know from my personal experience this is all I knew of the novel before I read it.

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This is the third time I have attempted to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover; as is clear I failed on the previous tries so I included this novel on my 2014 TBR pile in order to ensure I finally read and finished it. Set after the First World War it focuses on Lady Chatterley (Connie) and her relationship with her husband, Clifford, who was severely injured in the war and as a consequence is confined to a wheelchair with no feeling below the waist. Set in the country estate of Wragby Hall, Connie is soon restless with the mundane repetition of her life and seeks solace in the arms of Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper, a decision which ultimately leads her to happiness. However this is not a novel focuses purely on the physical relationship between Connie and Mellors. It also explores the emotional and physical aftermath of a devastating war, the rising tensions between the social classes and the changing and face of England.

I can’t write about this novel without discussing the relationship between Connie and Mellors, although it was not this that made the novel so interesting for me. Due to their varied positions in society and the fact they are both married their relationship is full of taboos from the start. In a society where we are essentially free to live our lives how we please it is hard to imagine being as strictly bound by social and moral conventions as Connie is and I did emphasise with her as character, especially as her married life has not turned out the way it was expected. Her relationship with Mellors is poignant as there is a tenderness and intimacy that allows Connie to discover her true self and to take pleasure from her body and being a woman. It reads like a journey of self discovery on her part. For me the descriptions of their physical relationship were not overly shocking, but I am a product of the twenty-first century, so I expected this. What I did find shocking was the language used in places. I’m not big on swearing, but I’m far from being a saint, however I actually sat there in open mouthed shock as I read the ‘c word’ on numerous occasions (I’ll leave you to decide what kind of ‘c word’ shocked me).

The novel also explores the aftermath of the First World War and the impact this had on men and woman and on the social classes as a whole. For me this was the more interesting aspect of the novel. I emphasised with Connie, it is difficult not to. She married Clifford when he was fit and healthy and shortly after their marriage he was injured resulting in a life changing disability that had a huge impact on Connie’s life as well. She ends up shut off from society, essentially leading a life of quiet solitude with little hope of children or a fulfilled and happy life. I completely understand and appreciate that life for the men returning from war was traumatic and difficult, however it was lovely to read more about the impact this had on the woman left to cope, and although Connie perhaps doesn’t work things out in a completely moral way, I was glad that she found happiness at the end of the novel.

There is much written about how the First World War was a catalyst for changes in the lives of women and in the lives of the working class, offering a wider variety of jobs and more independence and freedom. It is always slightly ironic how men of all classes fought and died together in the trenches and yet when they returned to ‘normality’ they were subject to the class prejudices of pre-war. Throughout my reading I highlighted several paragraphs, however one in particular stuck out as reinforcing the theme of the upper class, intelligent individual against the brainwashed, working class masses. Clifford, in his aristocratic arrogance tells Connie that the workers in his colliery ‘are not men. They are animals you don’t understand, and never could. Don’t thrust your illusions on other people. The masses were always the same, and always will be the same.’ I love how he generalises all of his workers, refusing to see them as individuals, reinforcing the hypocrisy and the difficulties of the class struggle in pre war England.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a book I was reading for two challenges: TBR 2014 and The Classics Club. It was the primary book I read during The Classics Club Readathon this weekend and as part of the event The Club posted some finishing questions.

What book(s) did you read during the event?
I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings.
What book(s) did you finish?
I finished Lady Chatterley’s Lover before I went to sleep last night, so I was very pleased to finish it as I hate completing a book and then immediately picking up a new one.
What did you like about the event?
I liked the fact there was a focus, so I knew I had 24 hours and I wanted to make sure I spent as much of that time as I could reading and just enjoying reading before the craziness of school starts again tomorrow. I also liked discovering a few new blogs on Twitter.
Would you participate in future Readathons?
I think if the timing was right and I wasn’t snowed under with work then I definitely would participate again. I think holding it right at the start of the year is a great idea as I was still chilled out from Christmas.

Hope everyone enjoyed reading as much as I did.

Classics Club Readathon #2

The Classics Club are holding a 24 hour Readathon today which I have decided to join last minute. As I am in England it runs from 1pm Saturday until 1pm Sunday this weekend; highly convenient for me as it is currently 830am so I can sort out the various bits and pieces I need to do this morning before settling down to read. I am currently reading D.H.Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover for both my 2014 TBR pile and my Classics Club list so I am going to continue with, and possibly, finish this book.

Happy reading to everyone else taking part!