Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review of 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

Review of 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

This is the third Jane Austen novel that I've attempted in my life, and the second that I've completed. Before reading Persuasion I really did hate her works. Pride and Prejudice is one of only a handful of books that I've started reading and not completed because I simple couldn't stand it, and Mansfield Park didn't win the author any favours with me either. But I think we've finally had a little breakthrough: Persuasion was tolerable, in fact it was even enjoyable. I'm kinda starting to see what the Austen hype is all about.

Anne Elliot, the novel's heroine is someone I can relate to. She's an Austen heroine who doesn't accept the first man that toodles along, and acts with a reasonable level of maturity. Anne's family are sinking financially, and her father needs to take some rapid action to save them from plunging into debt. Since the death of her mother, Anne has been a little isolated from the heart of the family - her sister Elizabeth and her father are eternally in cahoots, and they look down on her. But, she knows that a friend of the family, Lady Russell, holds sway with the pair, and between them they persuade the rest of the Eliots to downsize their home.

This isn't the biggest change for Anne however, as she soon goes to visit her sister whilst the remainder of her family move to Bath (a place she doesn't particularly enjoy). There she learns that a man she once loved as a young girl has returned from overseas. She listened to the advice from her family and Lady Russell, went against her heart's desire, and broke off her engagement from him. He was deemed to be beneath marrying an Elliot. Now, seven years on, he's made his way up in life, and Anne is more mortified than ever at her past actions.

Will she see if they can repair a seven year rift? Or will she succumb to other men's persuasions?

Have you read it? What did you think?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Review of 'Ceremony' by Leslie Marmon Silko

Review of 'Ceremony' by Leslie Marmon Silko

This was the most eye-opening and thought-inspiring book that I've read in a long time. It's also the first adult book that I've ever read that discusses the life of a Native American. This is honestly a novel which I think we should all read. It discusses good and evil, life and death, war and peace and all the grey areas in between in a variety of different forms. As well as narrative we have poems, which are more like oral ceremonies of tradition. These intertwine with the main plot of the novel as it draws towards a close. 

Ceremony's main character is Tayo, a young man suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after returning fighting in World War II. He is consumed by guilt after the deaths of his cousin Rocky and uncle Josiah. After the war, Tayo spends a few years in a mental institution, trying to recover from the hallucinations and physical symptoms of his PTSD. He gets a little better, and returns to his home with his auntie, but is by no means anywhere near recovered.

Tayo has been an outsider his whole life. His mother abandoned him when he was young, and his father was one of a possible myriad of white men, making him mixed race. Although he lives with his auntie and Grandma, he knows he is not respected by the community they live in as being a 'true' member of the family. 

He turns to alcohol to deal with the trauma of being a war veteran, as do his closest friends. The story of Tayo's recovery from being on the battlefront is interspersed with memories from the war, and his childhood and stories from folklore. The novel in itself becomes a sort of 'ceremony' of recovery. Tayo uses old Pueblo methods of healing to help move forward, and the modern story of the war is bound up in these.

I would definitely recommend reading this! Have you read it? What did you think?