Stop right now, thank you very much…

…whether or not I need somebody with the human touch is none of your business.

Spice Girls and my eternal loneliness aside, hello. Three packets of crisps and one diet coke later and that fifth gin last night is feeling more memory than physical, I’m finally feeling a desire to write.

After a long period of, “GOD, WHY DON’T I WANT TO READ!?!” I’ve binged some crime fiction and am very excited to read The Lessons by Naomi Alderman. I didn’t like The Power (I know, I’m sorry – great concept, boring book) but The Lessons seems as though it could hook me.

Here are some mini-reviews of stuff what I have read recently. Please bear in mind that Gin has ruined my sleep, so these opinions are combined with a deep-seated despair.


The Owl Always Hunts At Night by Samuel Bjørk

Second in the crime series by Bjørk, set six months after I’m Travelling Alone. It was enthralling, very easy to read, though at times frustrating in that it followed similar patterns to the first novel. Surely only so much can happen to one family.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest

Witty, beautiful and generally a wonderful coffee table book.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

100 pages too long, amusing, not as helpful as I had hoped. It felt like something anyone vaguely amusing could write, so it has inspired me to see if I can do something similar. After all, I am vaguely amusing (well, I make myself laugh, but that’s probably not the same).

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Not at all what I was expecting, I spent reading the novel interrupting my flatmate with theories. I don’t usually cope well with memory loss stories, but this was very clever.


Now I need to go catch up on other blogs. Fair thee well, reader.

first love by gwendoline riley

Review: First Love by Gwendoline Riley

First Love; the complexity, pain, failure, and abuse of love. A short novel, at 160 or so pages, when tense emotions ooze from the pages.

 

first love by gwendoline riley“A blistering account of a marriage in crisis and a portrait of a woman caught between withdrawal and self-assertion, depression and rage.

Neve, the novel’s acutely intelligent narrator, is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. Told with emotional remove and bracing clarity, First Love is an account of the relationship between two catastrophically ill-suited people walking a precarious line between relative calm and explosive confrontation.” GoodReads.

 

Neve and Edwyn are married, and at first, it seems content but that Neve settled. As the novel progresses and Neve tells the reader about her past, her abusive and controlling father, self-involved mother (utterly unable to read other people) and brief romantic entanglement with the selfish musician she saw but once or twice a year, you realise that the people in Neve’s life take from her until she is more a product of their needs than anything else.

Eventually, we discover that Edwyn is a variant of her father, emotionally abusive and able to twist an argument at every turn to his favour. He constantly belittles her, accuses her of being selfish every time she expresses her own needs. During every argument, Edwyn brings up a moment where Neve got very drunk with her friends in his flat and when she awoke unable to remember the night before, he accuses her of throwing up everywhere which he then had to clean up. Edwyn uses it to cement his control when it is likely that Neve was never sick at all, he merely dislikes any moment she isn’t solely focused on him.

Ultimately Neve begins to unfurl and express herself, pushing Edwyn back, but the novel does not end with her leaving, she has no person to turn to. But, perhaps it ends with the hope of change.

 

What did you think of First Love?

 

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

What would you do, if you awoke one day to find you could shoot electricity from your hands?

the power by naomi alderman“In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.” Goodreads.

 

Reading The Power was an experience of two halves. Half of me that love the idea and execution, and half that didn’t enjoy the way the story was told.

Both the idea and formation of the novel are clever. One day young women across the world discover they have a power, a mutation stemming from a Second World War experiment long forgotten in the annals of history. The balance of power shifts from men to women, as every aspect of patriarchy gradually switches to women embodying the masculine and vice versa. Women become the aggressors. Alderman exercises a subtle play on language, as you realise that everything that the women do to oppress the men has been (and is) done to oppress women.

The construction of the novel was well thought out, framed within a conversation between two writers. Neil is writing to Naomi for advice, it’s hard to be taking seriously when you are writing “men’s fiction”, had he considered using a woman’s name to be taken more seriously? As well as historical records and internet chatroom logs scattered within the story to accompany the character narration.

Yet, despite all of this, I just didn’t enjoy the writing, there was nothing that made me want to continue reading. Perhaps I was craving a style of writing more akin to Angela Carter or Philip K. Dick. Regardless, it’s a clever novel well deserving of its place on the Baileys Prize shortlist.

 

Did you enjoy The Power?