Category Archives: Lainibop

Lainibop Challenge – Book 28 – Sexing the Cherries

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SEXING THE CHERRIES
JEANETTE WINTERSON
 
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In a fantastic world that is and is not seventeenth-century England, a baby is found floating in the Thames. The child, Jordan, is rescued by Dog Woman and grows up to travel the world like Gulliver, though he finds that the world’s most curious oddities come from his own mind. Winterson leads the reader from discussions on the nature of time to Jordan’s fascination with journeys concealed within other journeys, all with a dizzying speed that shoots the reader from epiphany to shimmering epiphany.

This was a second time read for me, I took a course in college on Magical Realism and this was one of the books I had to read. 
 

“Magical Realism is a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment.”

Wikipedia. 

 
In this case this novel tells the story of the gigantic Dog Woman and her adopted son Jordan. The story is told amidst lots of flitting back and forth through time and space, with jumps from one story to another with little or no warning. 
 
For example, Jordan hears the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. However, he hears a sequel to this from eleven of the princesses themselves. 
 
They tell of what happened to them and their husbands after their wedding day and it is not exactly the happily ever after you might expect. 
 
Jordan then becomes obsessed with finding the missing princess Fortunata and hearing her story.
 
At time confusing, and always a little strange, I found this book to be quite enjoyable on the second reading, it’s fun, a little disturbing at times, but a real page turner. 
SCORE       

7/10

 

Challenge Accepted

Lainibop Challenge – Book 27 – Pride and Prejudice

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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
JANE AUSTEN
 
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This much-loved novel by Jane Austen was first published in 1813 and Solis Press is proud to produce this 200th anniversary edition.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” so starts this social satire on the marriage market in Regency England.

With five daughters and no money for dowries, Mrs. Bennet’s main ambition in life is to find suitable matches for her girls.

When eligible and wealthy Mr. Bingley moves into the area, Mrs. Bennet seizes the opportunity to advance her plan. She embarks on a determined campaign to see him settled with her eldest daughter, Jane.

The discovery that Mr. Bingley’s richer, handsomer, but haughty friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, will also be in residence sets Mrs. Bennet in even more of a spin. This is much to Elizabeth (“Lizzy”) Bennet’s distress, as Lizzy is daughter number two and so next in line in the suitor stakes.

The path of the Bennet sisters is fraught with misunderstandings, deceptions, jealousy, and hypocrisy, but it is a journey that has captivated readers, making Pride and Prejudice one of the most popular works of all time.

A certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless (IT’S ME!!!)cites this as one of her favourite books of all time. As such, she has been trying to get me to read it for quite a few years now. On a recent visit to her, I happened to be in a bookshop and found a very reasonable second hand copy so on her advice I bought it.
 
I’m sorry to say that the only thing I really knew about this novel before reading it, was that it was a love story about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. I also knew that Mr Darcy was the type of man to make women swoon in his presence and by women I mean female readers, not just the characters in the book.
 
Unfortunately for me and also for my friend, who will probably kill me for writing this, Mr Darcy did not have that effect on me. Not even close in fact. Let me start at the beginning….
 
Elizabeth Bennet is one of the main characters in the book, she is the second eldest of a family of 5 daughters. Mrs Bennet is primarily concerned with making decent matches for her daughters and will do anything to put them in the sights of eligible gentlemen. Elizabeths older sister Jane soon catches the eye of Mr Bingley the latest batchelor to move into the area, and Mrs Bennet has high hopes for the couple. Now enter Mr Darcy, who is a close friend of Mr Bingley, but in contrast to Mr Bingley’s friendly, and enthusiastic air, Mr Darcy is quite shy and reserved, which comes across to the Bennets as condescending and a little bit snobby.

 

So where is the grand romance?…I’m not too sure either, you see Darcy appears to take a dislike to the Bennets because of their status, and Elizabeth takes an immediate dislike to Darcy as she overhears him saying that there are no attractive women in the room for him to make the effort to dance with (bearing in mind he had just caught her eye moments before…ouch!). Things become yet more complicated when Elizabeth becomes a confidant for an old friend of Darcy’s and hears a story of his past that paints a very ugly picture.
 
You would think this should be the end of their aquaintance, but that would make a very short and uncomplicated story now wouldn’t it? No, instead things get more complicated and life keeps throwing them together.
 
My main problem with the book is the characters, I just couldn’t relate to them at all. From the annoying sister Lydia, who is supposed to be annoying to Elizabeth and Darcy themselves I just couldn’t bring myself to like any of them. Elizabeth is too quick to judge, for a character who is supposed to be strong willed, she believes whatever she is told about people without giving a second thought, and has no problems in spreading these lies to other people. Darcy is stubborn and condescending, he also judges people very quickly but in this case he bases his judgements on outward appearances, he wants nothing to do with the Bennets because of their status and also because of the way he see’s Lydia behave at a party and again delights in discouraging his friends from any association with them too.

 

For me to like a novel, I must have some sort of relationship with the characters in it, I must either love them, pity them, or despise them, but with this, my dislike of the characters only went so far as to ensure I didn’t really care about them or the events in their lives. I have a feeling I could get lynched for this review however the novel just didn’t appeal to me one little bit. Won’t be picking it up again I’m afraid, although saying that, I did watch the film with Keira Knightly and also the BBC adaptation which weren’t bad so maybe I’d recommend a night in with some popcorn instead of picking up the book.
 
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SCORE       

5/10

Challenge Accepted

Lainibop Challenge – Book 26 – Breaking Dawn

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BREAKING DAWN
STEPHANIE MEYER
 
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When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life–first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse–seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever?

The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

Sparkles? Geddit?
Sparkles!
At last the end is here! I won’t lie, I get quite a kick out of the Twilight series, both movies and books. I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t wait for Breaking Dawn Part 2 to come out in the cinema not least because I had decided to wait until I had seen it before reading the last installment.
 
Bella and Edward are finally getting married, just so that she can become a vampire though…..nah I’m sure she fancies him too. Jacob is none too happy about all of this, and disappears for a while. And just when you think the happy couple will have a happy ending to all of this, you realise that you’re only a couple of chapters in and this hunk of a book is kinda heavy. Nope they’re not getting away that easily, and after a fabulous honeymoon in Isle Esme, Bella finds herself with child. Uh oh. Now we have to contend with Bella’s fight against the “thing” growing inside her which kind of wants to eat her, and also against the Volturi who are coming to investigate.
 

It’s a really exciting climax to the series, and I really enjoyed it. I thought that the movie did a great job, and must confess I have watched it more than once.

it’s over…yippee!

 

Of course Bella and Edward annoyed me, just like they have in all of the other books (Team Jacob all the way!). However I think that there was plenty of suspense and action, to keep me gripped throughout, despite knowing what happens thanks to the film. It felt like an awful lot happened in the book and I have to say I like getting value for my reading time. It was a bittersweet ending when I read the last page, knowing that there was no more Twilight for me. Now what to get hooked on next?
 
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SCORE       

8/10

Lainibop Challenge Book 25 – Cloud Atlas

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25 105
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CLOUD ATLAS
DAVID MITCHELL
 
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Mitchell’s virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. 
These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel’s themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. 
Against such forces, Mitchell’s characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean,” he asks, “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” 

Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

I had wanted to read Cloud Atlas for quite a while, and when I heard that the movie was coming out I thought, What better time? Alas it didn’t live up to my high expectations.
 
The book is divided into 6 parts, following 6 different people at various points in history and also into the future. 
It starts off with The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, told from the first person perspective, and continues moving at seemingly random time gaps up until An Orison of Somni, set in the future where cloned people have become the slaves of mankind and further again to Sloosha’s Crossin an Ev’rythin’ After which seems to be set after the fall of the human race and it’s apparent degeneration into primitive tribes.
 
Now it wasn’t the composition of the book which put me off, on the contrary I tend to like novels which flick back and forth through time, I really enjoyed Kate Moss’ books which do this to a certain extent and have recently read The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson which can be quite confusing in its jumps, but which I also really enjoyed. Neither was it the change of style and pace between the historical and the science fiction chapters of the book as these are both styles of writing I savour.
 
I think, perhaps it was that my expectations were too high for this book and the story just didn’t grip me the way it should have. I enjoyed the individual stories contained in this book and I really liked the way it progressed into the future up to the middle of the book and then began to return to the past along the same course it had already taken. I think what bothered me the most was the fact that I felt that each person and each story deserved a novel to themselves. They felt disjointed from each other, there was no obvious connection. Reincarnation was alluded to at various stages of the book and little hints were dropped in here and there, however although the connection between some of the stories were obvious, such as An Orison of Somni and Sloosha’s Crossin, all in all, I didn’t see the point of putting this collection of stories together in this way.
 
I really enjoyed the story within a story, with Frobisher discovering the diary of Adam Ewing and in turn Louisa Rey reading through the letters from Frobisher to Sixsmith. I would love to say that I enjoyed it all, but I was also very disappointed. I still haven’t seen the movie but I definitely intend to as I’m still very curious as to how they will deal with certain sections, and I’m hoping the inspiration I missed while reading the novel will hit when I see it on the “big screen”.
 
LBC also reviewed the book HERE for #MedusaLBC and HERE for #ArcadiaLBC.
 
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SCORE       

6/10

Lainibop Challenge – Book 24 – From the Earth to the Moon – Jules Verne

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FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
JULES VERNE
 
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I love a bit of Jules Verne, I love the fact that he wrote so long ago, but his novels still shock and surprise me despite the fact that I’m surrounded by technology he couldn’t have dreamed of. What he wrote about, would have been considered implausible at the time, but now that we can look back, he was very accurate in what he imagined.


From the Earth to the Moon is a fabulous example of this for many reasons. It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club and a few of it’s members, who having realized that there was no longer much need for innovation in the field of guns and cannons, decided to put their energies into something quite different, a trip to the moon. Using their experiences with gun powder they put forward the idea of launching a projectile into space with a giant cannon. The novel was written in 1865 and set a few years after that, after the end of the American Civil War, but this novel about man’s first voyage to the moon has many parallels with the actual first trip there. Vernes launch site was Tampa Bay, Florida, which is along the same latitude as Cape Canaveral. The shape of the rocket was very similar as was the height weight and speed. It’s amazing to think that one man could plan out such an epic voyage which would take another 100 years to materialize.

As for the story itself, similar to other Verne novels, it is quite heavy on the science and facts and figures. Even more so in this than in other novels I have read, there is much talk of number and measurements, in fact there are chapters devoted to the size and shape of the projectile in relation to the distance it needed to travel and the force needed to launch it. Despite the fact that I enjoyed it, at times, it was very difficult to read through all of this to try to get to the story behind it.

Because of this, I have to admit this is probably my least favourite Verne novel. Probably because of the fact that it is quite short, but most of it is taken up with long drawn out explanations and measurements that I felt there was not quite as much actual story as I would have liked.

For any fans of Jules Verne, definitely give it a go, if just to remind yourself of what a marvelous brain this man had to envision so much, but I wouldn’t recommend this as starting point for his works, he has written far more interesting stories.

 

SCORE       4/10
 

Lainibop Challenge – Book 23 – Mockingay Review

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MOCKINGJAY
SUZANNE COLLINS
 
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Having been rescued from the Quarter Quell at the last second, Katniss finds herself holed up with the rebels in the supposedly destroyed District 13 which in fact has a well established if not very homey city underground. 
 
Unfortunately Peeta did not achieve the same fate and is being held in the Capitol. Suffering from severe shock, Katniss retreats into herself, however the rebels have other ideas. They want their Mockingjay to fight for them, or at least appear to fight in order to act as a symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol and to urge others to join the fight. So Katniss must make a decision, whether to join with the rebels or leave them to their own devices.


This to me felt like much more of an adult themed book than the previous two. We see how Katniss reacts to the horrors she has witnessed in both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Her mental breakdown is extremely heartwrenching and displays the traumatic experiences she has lived through that are finally taking their toll. I think up until now, Katniss has played a part, in the first book, she had to be strong for her sister and mother watching her and also had to pretend to fall in love with Peeta. This act continued in Catching Fire where she was forced under threat of death to make this love appear real for the other Districts during the tours. Finally the Hunger Games are over for Katniss, and because of this, her visage falls and she allows herself to react to what she has been through. Her anger and hatred show through and she no longer has any wish to put on a show for anyone. Because of this her immediate reaction to becoming a “mascot” for the rebellion is cynical, however we properly get to see her progression from this anger to a place where she realises she is not playing a part anymore, this is who she is now, she doesn’t just want to be a symbol, she wants to play an active part and get her revenge.

I was very surprised by the amount of violence in this book. Ok, I know the reader should expect some violence when the subject of the series is children being sent into an arena to kill each other, but I think this final chapter of the series takes a strange turn violence wise. There were some very graphic scenes in it, and while I enjoyed reading it, much more than Catching fire in fact, I found it hard at times to see how it fits in with the rest of the Young Adult series. On the back of that I’m not sure this book will end up translating very well to the big screen, as The Hunger Games movie was marketed at a younger audience than I would have expected. I recently saw a Katniss Everdeen Barbie doll for example. This is not the sort of film I would want a girl who plays with Barbies watching. Hopefully when they make the remaining films they will stay true to the book as I’d really like to see how they handle the topics raised.

All in all, I am giving this a higher score than Catching Fire because when I finished the final page, I had to sit back to catch my breath and take it all in. Even now, thinking about it, the book feels like it could have been a trilogy all by itself in a way as a huge amount happens, and it provoked a lot more emotion in me than the second. Great end to the series, and really looking forward to the movies.

SCORE       8/10
 

Lainibop Challenge – Not a Penny More… – Jeffery Archer

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NOT A PENNY MORE, 
NOT A PENNY LESS
JEFFERY ARCHER
 
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I picked this book off my shelf one sunny Sunday afternoon to read and got about 3 pages in before deciding to abandon it in favour of starting The Hunger Games. But luckily I did return to it, as it was quite an enjoyable book. The main character in the book is a man by the name of Harvey Metcalfe, an extremely wealthy business man who has made the majority of his fortune through schemes and dodgy deals. His latest strategy has gained him a large amount of money, but unfortunately for him, the 4 men he conned are not so willing to forgive and forget, and club together to formulate a plan to win back their money.

To me, this felt very much like an Ocean’s Eleven type of book, the four men have very different backgrounds and therefore very different skill sets. Each one must come up with an individual plan to gain their money back with the help of the other three. I really enjoyed the way each plot was described and enacted and the atmosphere of suspense he creates as the plans encounter pitfalls along the way. The actions takes us from Oxford university to Monte Carlo, and the protaganists impersonate everything from art dealers to doctors in an effort to make Harvey with his ill-gotten gains.

I really enjoyed this book, although at the start I didn’t think I would. The explanation of how Harvey managed to con these men through selling fake oil shares was drawn out and overly-complicated in my opinion, and it very nearly turned me off reading it. But luckily I persevered because once the revenge starts and the action picks up, I found it very hard to put down.

Previously I had only ever read a collection of short stories by Archer, and to be honest, I don’t have much recollection of their contents. In saying that, if his other novels are as good as this one, I would be tempted to pick them up. The book didn’t blow my mind or anything close but not a bad read once the story got going.

SCORE       6/10
 

The Lainibop Challenge – Book 21 – Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

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CATCHING FIRE
SUZANNE COLLINS
 
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The second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, was not quite as gripping as the first in my opinion. When we left Katniss Everdeen, she had just become the joint victor in the 74th Hunger Games, along with fellow District 12 inhabitant Peeta. Now, after returning home, she and her family have been moved to the prestigious winner’s quarter where they will live a fairly opulent lifestyle until Katniss’ death.

Her previous victory however is far from complete, as President Snow visits her with a warning about her effect on the rest of Panem’s population. It seems Katniss has stirred up a bit of a storm with her actions during the games. Between her “relationship” with Peeta, her heartwarming care of Rue’s body, and her willingness to sacrifice herself at the end of the games to ensure Peeta’s survival, she has won many followers and the people of the districts are beginning to question the government and their way of life.


All this just in time for the Quarter Quell. The Quarter Quell is a very special Hunger Games, which is “celebrated” every 25 years. Though the annual Hunger Games are a demonstration of the Capitol’s control over the districts and a reminder not to rebel, the Quarter Quell is generally a more brutal and vicious attempt at this. Every one has been different, much the games themselves, but the one similarity is that they have a twist which pushes the tributes to new extremes.

In honour of the 75th year, it is announced that 24 previous winners will compete. As the only winners in District 12 are Hamish, Peeta and Katniss, the list is quite short and it is a certainty that Katniss will be returning to the arena. As Peeta joins her to protect her, can she win a second year, and is there any chance that President Snow will allow 2 winners again?


As I said, this wasn’t quite the unputdownable read as the first one…which I read in the space of about 4 hours. It was enjoyable, but perhaps the pace could have been a little faster. Maybe it was the fact that by the time I reached the second book, the world was more familiar to me, which took away from the horrific impact that parts of the first had on me. Still definitely worth a read though, if only to get to the third one.


SCORE       7/10

 

The LainiBop Challenge – Book 20 – Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

 

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FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID
PHILIP K DICK
 
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I love Philip K. Dick, but have to admit I haven’t read anything by him in a few years. This was an excellent re-introduction to his works. 
“Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” is the story of Jason Taverner, a “Six”, in other words a genetically engineered person. 
Jason lives a lavish lifestyle, presents a TV show with millions of viewers and dates another “Six” Heather Hart. The Sixes are rare in this dystopian world and in fact almost a myth to other normal people. As a Six, Jason is good-looking, vibrant and talented and because of this has become very very rich. 
After being attacked by an ex-girlfriend, Jason wakes up in a sleazy motel room with no identification on him, he realizes and explains to the reader that this means certain transportation to a forced labour camp should be found by the Nats or Pols. After organizing forged ID cards, he discovers that there is no record that he ever existed, and in fact not even Heather knows who he is. So his journey begins, from being an extremely well-known TV star, to being an unknown on the run from the police whose attention he has unintentionally drawn. Jason must find out why he has become a “non-person” and try to restore his identity with only a slightly insane ID forger to assist him. 
I really got immersed in this dystopian world that Philip K. Dick created. Jason is considerably unlikable at the start, only retaining some degree of sympathy when contrasted to Heather, who looks down on anyone who is not as rich or beautiful as they are. However as the story progresses and we find out how dangerous his world is to someone who has no past or proof of his existence, you can’t help but feel sorry for his plight.
I flew through this book, and loved it all, but then in my opinion Philip K. Dick can do no wrong. 
There is plans for a movie adaptation of this, so looking forward to that. 

SCORE       8/10

 

The LainiBop Challenge – Book 19 – Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

 

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MRS DALLOWAY
VIRGINIA WOOLF
 
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Sigh, Virginia, Virginia, Virginia! This book was on my TBR shelf, but I also picked it this month as part of my mini challenge to attempt to read at least one book from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die every month. The reason this was on my shelf in the first place was because it was part of one of my courses for English Lit in college. I couldn’t finish it then, and I really struggled to finish it now.
It is set during the course of one day in London, the day of Clarissa Dalloway’s party. It follows numerous characters throughout the day; Clarissa and her husband Richard; Clarissa’s ex-fiancee Peter Walsh; also Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Rezia among others.
At this point I would normally give a brief synopsis of the beginning of the book, but with this I just can’t. I don’t feel that anything much happened and I get the feeling that that’s half the point of the novel, which just makes my head hurt. It is written in a sort of “Stream of Consciousness” style which I personally find very hard to read. It also flicks from one person to another so quickly that I found myself losing track of whose brain I was in at any given moment.
I won’t insult anyone who loves this book by trying to give a synopsis, and instead I’ll just give my opinion. I can see how people would think this is a wonderful book, I really can. When put in perspective of Virginia Woolf’s state of mind and her struggle with depression, you can see how this is reflected brilliantly in the character of Septimus Warren Smith – a war veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. Virginia Woolf herself suffered from severe depression, and treatments such as rest and good food were prescribed to her, much like Mr Smith in the novel. Judging by the way she writes about his depression and his doctors, Virginia Woolf was painfully aware of how ridiculous these cures were and how the illness she suffered from was not being taken seriously by anyone at the time. In fact it was mostly thought to be imaginary, something that the person would grow out of with rest.
To me, the story of Septimus and his wife was the only bit of the novel that I felt in anyway meaningful. It’s the only bit that I enjoyed, maybe because I felt that his mental condition was really what she intended to write about. All the other characters are much more 2 dimensional, and I just didn’t care about them. It also took me about 2 and a half weeks to read this, and considering it was only about 200 pages long, that shows how much of a struggle it was. Will be avoiding Virginia Woolf like the plague from now on I think, just not for me.
 
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SCORE       3/10

 

Challenge Accepted

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