This Valentine’s Day spoil someone special or simply treat yourself to this beautifully bound collection of Jane Austen novels. Why settle for one book when you can have all seven of her fabulous stories to curl up in your favourite reading corner. With some of the world’s favourite characters and perfect love stories to warm your heart. After all, in the words of Miss Austen herself, ‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.’
The Red Queen follows 12 year old Margaret Beaufort in her journey to marry well and produce a male heir to carry the Lancaster Royal Lineage. Despite being heavily religious Margaret’s family push her into an advantage marriage into the Tudor family and in time her dedication to God is turned to her little boy Henry who she is determined to see him crowned King of England.
After her husband dies, Henry is left to be brought up by his Uncle Jasper while Margaret is married off in another advantageous match for Henry’s cause. Her life is dedicated to planning her next move, spying on her enemies and plotting with her friends. The question is, how far is she prepared to go?
The story spans roughly the same period of the first novel in the cousin war’s series so the same events are chronicled as The White Queen but from Margaret’s point of view. Even though Margaret and Elizabeth are similarly ambitious and strong women, Margaret seems to be on a different level with her brutality which makes it difficult to warm to her.
Although, as a modern reader you don’t feel much sympathy for Margaret, you can appreciate the turmoil and destruction that was being caused in the struggle for the crown. A fascinating read of for those who love historic fiction but I think many will prefer the loving White Queen, Elizabeth to the calculating Lancastrian Margaret.
The Story of the Stone by Cao Xuegin is a family saga so epic it is spread across four volumes. Within the traditions of Chinese culture you follow Bao-yu as he grows up surrounded by his family and their world of Buddhist understanding.
If classical literature is not your thing then why not celebrate by taking an adventure by travelling along the Yangste River from the mouth to its source. Along the way you will discover the cities and people that live by it. A journey you can take from your own arm chair.
And finally for something different we have chosen The Year of the Hare by Arto Pasilinna (we said it would be different). This international bestseller tells the story of a Journalist who wanders Finland looking after his Hare. A heart warming book to celebrate the year of our little fury friends.
Happy Rabbit Everyone!
This year we are inviting you to take part in some fantastic book reading challenges. Not only can you collect points towards a ReaderIReadIt bookmark and a place in our Hall of Fame we hope it will inspire you to think creatively about your book choices and also find some fabulous reads.
Each month we will give you three different challenges to choose from which will complement each month. So this month you can be swept off to the Oscars on your very own red carpet or snuggled up at home with your favourite couple on Valentine’s day. You will receive a point for each challenge you complete and will be awarded with a bookmark and a place in our special Hall of Fame.
Take a look at our Challenge Page for further details and start thinking creatively about what books you will choose.
This week was a first for me when I became an owner of a virtual bookshelf using my Windows Phone as an E-Reader. Within minutes I had the Kindle app successfully installed and was browsing through the many free books. As this is quite a big and moving moment in a bookworm’s life, my first download, my step into the e-book world could only be one thing (I’m sure you have guessed already). Pride and Prejudice is now a click away from me wherever I go. This is one of few novels that can be read over and over again so it could only be Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, Kitty and Mary that could keep me company when I find myself without a book need to turn to my mobile for classic entertainment.
This week I have been planning a series of challenges that you can take part in each month. I don’t want to give too much away before tomorrow when the first challenges are announced but I can promise they will be fun and get you thinking creatively about what to read next.
Happy reading this week
Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ Wars series explores the women behind the King’s of England in one of the most fascinating and bloody periods of history. The White Queen is the first book in the series and chroniclesthe life of Elizabeth Woodville, an ambitious woman whose beauty captures Edward IV as he rides through her village. Elizabeth becomes Queen of England and although she enjoys the position of power she uses for her family’s advancement, she soon realises it isn’t all fun and games in such an unstable court where you never know who your enemies are.
As Edward continues to battle to keep his crown against other claimants for the throne, Elizabeth secures his position by producing an heir. But for the bloodthirsty, even her two young sons aren’t much trouble to dispose of when the title of King can be won.
Gregory uses her own theory of what happened to the Princes in the Tower to describe the events around Elizabeth’s sons disappearance and a mystery that is still unsolved today.
There is an element of magic brought into the book with the Woodville women using witchcraft to shape events but what is more important to the reader is the strength and love Elizabeth has to protect her family. It is an enjoyable read which if not taken too seriously as historically accurate, many will enjoy.
Another adaptation of Jane Eyre will be gracing the big screens this March with Mia Wasikowska taking the lead role in Charlotte Bronte’s dark love story alongside Michael Fassbender as the troubled Mr Rochester. Director Cary Fukunaga has explored the story’s darker side and from the trailer it looks like it will be an exceptional adaptation showing that Bronte wrote more than just a love story.
Tell us what you think of the trailer in the comments below and if you haven’t got a copy of the book yet click on the cover to get this beautiful edition of this classic.
A new four part series on BBC two takes us on a journey through the heart of the British novel. Bestselling author Sebastian Faulks explores the greatest characters of literature from the castaway which captured the nations imagination with this new literary genre, Robinson Crusoe to the infamous Mr Darcy, to tragic heroines Tess D’urbeveille to terrifying baddies like Fagin. Faulks sets out to demonstrate how these much loved characters and their stories have shaped our world.
As the episodes are broken into a theme per episode; heroes, lovers, snobs and villains, we can only hope Faulks doesn’t stick to one label each but instead, explores the multi-dimensional characters that they are, resulting in them being so mesmerizing.
Nevertheless, bookworms will welcome the opportunity for a Saturday prime time slot dedicated to the literature which inspires not only passion and discussion today as it did from its first publication, but inspiration for others, even if it is only the writers of Eastenders.
Click on the cover to get your copy of Faulks on Fiction which accompanies the series which begins on 5th February, 9.00pm BBC2.
I write this as I sit in the kitchen sink…well not entirely true but the opening lines of I Capture the Castle, captured me this week. When the cold, dark days of January drag on, the 30 minute train journey into work was brightened by this book. While other grim faced commuters read even grimmer newspapers I was transported into a romantic ideal of life with Cassandra and her family in the castle they call home. It is certainly one of those books you sit and think about long after you finish it.
Nevertheless, I was kicked back into reality when my attentions turned to the proposed closure of my hometown library in Great Ayton. Everyone is aware that cuts need to be made but when so much money is constantly wasted by Government it has to be asked why they turn to our source of education, enjoyment and community (not to mention much needed employment)
A public meeting to discuss the possible closure will take place at 5.30pm on Thursday, January 27, in Christ Church Parochial Hall, on Guisborough Road if you are in the area please go along and show your support not just for our community but for the importance of literature and education in our society.
However, enough with the doom and gloom this week I’m excited to get stuck into The Crimson Petal and the White which arrived in the post last week. I can hardly put it down already.
An exciting new drama is coming soon to the BBC adapted from Michel Faber’s international bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White. Taking the role of the heroine Sugar, Romola Garai (Emma, Atonement) leads an all-star cast including Richard E Grant (Gosford Park) Gillian Anderson (The X Files) and Chris O’Dowd (The Boat That Rocked).
The story follows Sugar and the hardships and risks she endures while determined to make a better life for herself while exploring the dark and dangerous world of Prostitution in Victorian London. Dickens and Elliot fans beware this won’t be the usual heart-warming costume drama you are used to and in Sugar’s own words ‘If you dare enter this world, you had better tread carefully.’
Faber’s novel is a mesmerizing journey for any reader to make thanks to its depth, detail and unforgettable characters so we can excitingly anticipate what should be another outstanding period drama from the BBC.
Don’t have this classic among your bookshelves? Click on the cover to get your copy and leave your thoughts on the book in our comments section below.