Tuesday, 13 June 2017

45 Not Just Jane, Ghachar Ghochar & The Last Piece of My Heart

I rated Not Just Jane 3.5 stars, Ghachar Ghochar 3 stars and The Last Piece of My Heart got 4.5 stars.

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature, Shelley DeWees
336⎟ Harper Perennial ⎟ 12th January 2017

Jane Austen and the Brontës endure as British literature’s leading ladies (and for good reason)—but were these reclusive parsons’ daughters really the only writing women of their day? A feminist history of literary Britain, this witty, fascinating nonfiction debut explores the extraordinary lives and work of seven long-forgotten authoresses, and asks: Why did their considerable fame and influence, and a vibrant culture of female creativity, fade away? And what are we missing because of it?

You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel (or at least seen a film one). Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add George Eliot or Virginia Woolf to this list…but then the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late 18th and 19th century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. As the country, and women’s roles within it, evolved, so did the publishing industry, driving legions of ladies to pick up their pens and hit the parchment. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women, among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel, DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate, and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life—and the literary landscape—during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women, who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.

Rediscover Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Mini Review
I was so looking forward to learning about some of the pioneering women who wrote in the 18th and 19th centuries and I was blown away by some of the things these women achieved, how they were treated and the tragedy in them being forgotten.

The stories of all 7 women in this book were fascinating and I loved learned about the things that they achieved, but even more fascinating may be the glimpse Shelley DeWees gave us into a different side of Victorian society - the darkness, the persecution, and the unfairness of living in that time as a woman, regardless of social position. I did sometimes struggle to go back to it as it was a collection of biographies rather than a narrative non-fiction, but it’s a brilliant read for every literature fan.

Ghachar Ghochar, Vivek Shanbhag
192⎟ Faber & Faber ⎟ 20th April 2017

In this masterful novel by the acclaimed Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag, a close-knit family is delivered from near-destitution to sudden wealth after the narrator's uncle founds a successful spice company. As the narrator - a sensitive young man who is never named - along with his sister, his parents, and his uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house and encounter newfound wealth, the family dynamics begin to shift. Allegiances and desires realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background.

Their world becomes 'ghachar ghochar' - a nonsense phrase that, to the narrator, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Told in clean, urgent prose, and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings - and consequences - of financial gain in contemporary India.

Mini Review
After reading a short sample of this, I was captured by the simple style and the reviews of the book. I snapped it up!

Ghachar Ghochar is the story of a family as it almost becomes corrupted by wealth. The relationships change, the goals and attitudes of the family members, the way life is altered beyond recognition - but not in a good way. I loved watching the clashing of family dynamics and the distinct lack of agency the unnamed narrator of the novel has and the effect that has on the family. It’s a very short novel - I read it in under two hours - and the ending was a bit of a shock. I felt like there was a lot more to the story and I’m not really sure what happened in the end. I even popped into a bookshop to double check that my Netgalley proof hadn’t been cut short!

Thanks to Faber and NetGalley for the review copy.

The Last Piece of My Heart, Paige Toon
432⎟ Simon & Schuster ⎟ 18th May 2017

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it's the small pieces that make up the bigger picture... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole's grieving husband, Charlie...

Mini Review
My love for Paige Toon’s novels in no secret. I’ve followed her career since Lucy in the Sky debuted 10 years ago and loved every one, but The Last Piece of My Heart is one of my favourites in a long while.

I’ve loved Bridget from her side roles in a few of Paige Toon’s other novels, but she quickly became one of my very favourite heroines - she’s the type of person I’d love to be friends with. I felt like I was following her every step of the way on Bridget’s journey and I fell in love with her, Charlie and little April. One of my favourite elements of Paige’s books is always the locations and I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual trips to Cornwall, Ireland, Sydney and Thailand - I wonder where she’ll take me next!

I laughed, cried and didn’t want the book to end. Why do I have to wait another year for her next book?!


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