Lake District

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Recently Read

I realised recently that it's been absolutely aaages since I did a book post!! I suppose it's just been down to the fact I haven't had as much time for reading in the last few months so I'm not really getting through books the same way I was this time last year, which is a shame. Thankfully my life is starting to get a little less busy now with my Year Abroad paperwork all done and university (albeit in Spain) back in full swing, so I'm looking forward to having a lot more reading time.

Would you believe I only managed to conquer two books this summer, one of which I absolutely loved; the other, not so much...

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

She was of the stuff of which great men's mothers are made. She was indispensable to high generation, feared at tea-parties, hated in shops, and loved at crises. 

As I've mentioned on my blog before, this was the first Thomas Hardy novel I've ever read and I completely adored it. The novel tells the tale of Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful and spirited young woman who inherits a farm and small fortune from her uncle following his death. Soon after arriving in the town of Weatherby, where she has gone to assume her place as the estate's sole proprietor, she attracts the attention of three men of very different stature who all set about trying to pursue her.

I think the thing I love most about classic British literature is the way it allows you to escape to a different time and place. I'm sure everyone knows by now that I am absolutely mad about the British countryside, so the county of Wessex that Hardy describes, full of sweeping green hills, forests, and ocean, really appealed to the anglophile in me. His engaging use of sensory description also really allowed me to picture every shifting and varied rural scene in incredible detail, which I loved.

Bathsheba herself has taken a firm place among my favourite literary characters of all time. Despite an unflappable exterior (and a pretty face), she is infinitely flawed; as are all of the characters in this book. However, it was these flaws in part that endeared me to her. Watching her battle to overcome the hurdles of her position not only as a female landowner, but a very young one (I think she's around 20 years old at the beginning of the novel), was as fascinating a story as any romance in this book and she is definitely a force to be reckoned with if there ever was one.

I know English classics are not to everyone's taste, but if you've ever thought you might like to give some classic literature a go, I feel like this book is a good place to start, especially if you need a bit of an escape. Rating: 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

People say children from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.
I finally got around to reading 'Gone Girl' after featuring it in my December/January Book and Poetry Haul, so I think it goes without saying that it wasn't particularly far up my reading list. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with the plot of 'Gone Girl', it's the story of a couple who from the outside appear to have the perfect marriage. Nick is a handsome and charismatic young writer and Amy, his beautiful and captivating wife, has long been known and loved by the public as the subject of a popular series of children's books, 'Amazing Amy'. However, when Amy mysteriously disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary- apparently the victim of a kidnapping or worse; murder- the subsequent police investigation brings the true cracks in Nick and Amy's marriage to light, with all evidence from Amy's disappearance pointing in Nick's direction.

Obviously there's been a huge amount of hype surrounding this book, especially with all the buzz the movie adaptation created last year, but I have to say, I just wasn't a fan of it. I didn't find it to be a pleasant or particularly engaging read in any way, and I definitely would not describe it as "addictive" as the front cover so claims. It's a thriller, and I suppose thrillers will always sell well, and I will admit I did keep reading on to find out how the Amy mystery would unfold, but by the end I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied with a bad taste in my mouth.

I've heard this book being criticised over and over again by people who claim their main issue with the book is that none of the characters are particularly likeable, and I definitely agree, though in Flynn's defence, I don't think they were ever meant to be. In any case, the fact that so many of the characters were so horrible just didn't make for an enjoyable read for me, nor did the fact that the plotline just kept getting more and more ridiculous and the characters more and more like garish caricatures and genre clich├ęs as the story went on.

That being said, I thought the writing itself was good and a lot of the imagery was very original but I just found some parts of the book so, so vulgar and crude. I feel like there's a fine line between trying to create dramatic impact and just trying to elicit a cheap shock out of your readers for the sake of it, and I don't feel like Gillian Flynn really knows the difference. In any case, for me it took away from the novel rather than added to it.

I'm really sorry to any diehard 'Gone Girl' fans who might be reading this, maybe it just wasn't to my taste, and I definitely didn't hate it, but I don't think I'll be in a rush to reread it any time soon! Rating: 

Again, I hope I haven't offended anyone with that kind of harsh review. In fairness, 'Far from the Madding Crowd' was always going to be a difficult book to follow because I just loved it so much!

What have you been reading recently?

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