I hope you are all having a marvellous time filled with sparkling festivities and recovering from the scrumptious indulgences of Christmas day.
I’m raring to go for another afternoon filled with overflowing plates and bottomless glasses to properly get into the spirit of things, but seeing as it is Boxing Day and the shops were teeming with bargain-hunters, I thought it would be a good time to bring your attention to some of the best titles that you need to get in your kitchen, if Santa hasn’t delivered them already…
I first heard about Duck & Waffle from a friend who has excellent taste in London dining (thank you, Rachel!), and when I looked up their website, I thought it would be the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion that was coming up in my calendar. Now, let’s be clear about this, if you want to get a table high in the sky, you need to book in advance, and I’m not talking a week or two. These tables are in high demand. As one of the few 24-hour London restaurants, I couldn’t resist trying the midnight dining experience, but even a table for two at this ungodly hour required booking over a month in advance. But by golly miss molly, it was worth it. Continue reading Duck & Waffle reviewed: Dinner with a View→
POTENTIAL SPOILERS (THOUGH I PERSONALLY DON’T THINK THERE ARE ANY….)
On this day, only 3 months ago, we celebrated the launch of Franny & Perks and already we have filled the blog with almost 20 book reviews, 8 bookish event round-ups, a few delicious recipes and even some recommendations on things to see in London (watch this page tomorrow as Franny’s heading to the dizzy heights of Duck & Waffle where she’ll report on her midnight skyscraper experience). So this seems like the right moment to launch our Man Booker 2014 Longlist Challenge. This summer, we will be bringing you our honest reviews of each of the Man Booker titles and will round it off with a special Man Booker longlist summary (for those who may not have found the time yet but want to look well-informed… we’ve been there) and also a shortlist prediction feature! It’s going to be a busy August but challenge accepted. Continue reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler→
Picador are on fire and it seems like they can do no wrong. They are publishing the work of some of the finest contemporary literary writers of the year and with each new announcement, my wish list grows ever longer. We all know that I was crazy about Burial Rites (let alone Hannah Kent) and I am getting excited for the release of Station Eleven having contributed to the unbelievable hype that has surrounded it. But not only are these books intelligent, captivating and thought-provoking, they are also beautiful objects to own. If you check out some of their latest titles you’ll see that each one has been designed thoughtfully, creatively and with the end-user in mind.
But none more so than the cover for The Miniaturist.
It’s been an incredibly busy couple of months, but, as all book lovers can attest, there is always time for reading. However, when I started hearing all the hype about The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, in spite of my natural desire to read it as soon as possible, there was a moment of despair when I realised I was embarking on a 624 page epic. Don’t get me wrong – I love big books, and they’ve certainly had their time to shine recently what with the mighty Luminaries and Goldfinch – but sometimes that weighty hardback is the last thing you want to lug around, especially when you’re flying home to Guernsey with hand-luggage-only!
As a huge fan of Half of a YellowSun, I approached Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book with admittedly high expectations, but reading the opening pages immediately felt like slipping back into a familiar world. Adichie’s hyper-sensitive descriptions indulged every sense so, despite the fact that I had never visited Africa, let alone Nigeria, I embraced the setting as if it were my own, tasting the Nigeria in which Americanah‘s protagonists, Ifemelu and Obinze, begin their lives. For a novel where location has an incredibly profound effect on lives, there could not be a more suited author. Adichie’s narrative is beautifully absorbing and richly challenging – a book that is clearly of the world, spanning across three continents, but also for the world, fearlessly addressing love, race, politics and selfhood. Continue reading Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie→
‘I tried to see his face as he screamed in pain, but…I saw no-one I recognised’
The Testament of Mary is a relatively short novel, especially when compared to other monsters on the Booker shortlist. It has just become very relevant again, with Fiona Shaw getting consistently high reviews at the Barbican with the theatre version. The story is a simple one and with the signifiers ‘Mary’ and ‘Testament’ in the title, a pretty obvious one at that. However, don’t expect angels, demons or any immaculate decorating let alone conceptions. It explores a snippet in time of the pain of the Madonna without her holy trappings. Mary is left broken and alone in a darkened room in Ephesus, left to consider how she arrived here. She looks back at the events of her son’s life that have led to this isolated end to her existence, visited by his followers whom she neither trusts nor respects. It ends with a stripped back, honest re-telling of one of the most glorified executions written into history.
Despite its recent successes – winning the inaugural Goldsmiths prize, shortlisted for the Folio Prize and a current contender for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing has not been universally well received. Heralded as ‘virtuosic’, ‘remarkable’ and ‘unique’ but simultaneously ‘pretentious’, ‘challenging’ and ‘incomprehensible’, I remained unsure as to what to expect from such a divisive novel.
Following the stream of consciousness of an anonymous young girl, the reader is pulled into a fractured narrative, physically distressed by its content. Driven by the familial relationship between sister and brother – the latter always referred to as ‘you’ – and the effect that his brain tumour has on her life and decisions, the story reaches out and pulls the reader into an intimate and viscerally tormented experience. Continue reading A Girl is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride→
Imagine the concept of global pandemic visualised in Contagion meets survival narrative of The Hunger Games, throw in a set of seemingly different yet fatefully connected characters and you have Station Eleven. Moving between the outbreak of Georgia Flu and the lives of fragmented and vulnerable survivors twenty years later, Station Eleven is an addictive read which forms a welcome addition to the multitude of books and films that explore human instinct and survival in the face of catastrophic events. Continue reading Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel→
“A woman fallen has no future; a man risen has no past.”
― Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
When we decided to start the blog, it seemed to me that a great opening gambit would be to complete the Booker Challenge and review those six esteemed titles of 2013. I thought, what better way to alert the world to the timely, informed entry of Franny & Perks to the book blogosphere than to complete something most literary fiction readers did last September.