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Our Tragic Universe
Our Tragic Universe
by Scarlett Thomas
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A storyless story? or fictionless fiction?, 8 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Our Tragic Universe (Hardcover)
On the cover of this book the question is asked 'could a story save your life?'...

This book is about a regular British girl leading a fairly regular life. The magic of the book lies within Thomas' amazing ability to meld theory and fiction. Throughout this book Scarlett Thomas magically weaves together theory and fiction in a way that challenges the mind to think of bigger questions. Scarlett Thomas poses questions and possible answers to life's biggest questions, within the context of a very ordinary life.

Throughout the book implicit parallels are drawn between the theory presented and the actual plot of the book - in so doing has Scarlett Thomas achieved...

...a 'storyless story'? - "It is not something from which the reader should strive to learn something, but rather a puzzle or a paradox with no 'answer' or 'solution'..."

...a fictionless fiction? - "something super-authentic and with so much real emotional truth that none of it seems like a story at all"

...a character who "didn't worry about what they wore or said or did", a fool "stepping over the edge of the cliff on all our behalves, so that we can also step out of the restrictive frame of contemporary Western narrative", thus combatting the hero-myths that she refers to.

This book is a beautiful summary of a snippet of Meg's life - there isn't high drama, our main character isn't the perfect heroine that we strive to be like in our lives, but never achieve. For me the book is an account of everyday life, the normalness of living - the slight lows and slight highs. That is what makes this book unique...

For me this book is the Labyrinth that Thomas describes at the end: "There is no drama in the centre of the Labyrinth, just a place where you have come to rest for a while before you walk the path out again."

So could a story save your life? This one didn't save my life, but it has certainly changed it...

The Lollipop Shoes (US title is The Girl With No Shadow)
The Lollipop Shoes (US title is The Girl With No Shadow)
by Joanne Harris
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another magical tale of chocolate and love, 4 Sept. 2008
What an amazing follow-on from Chocolat. Set four years later, this book marks the continuing narrative of Vianne Rocher (now going by the name of Yanne). Just like in Chocolat Harris continues to write her story in 3 first person narratives, this time we see Anouk giving her account of events, along with a new character Zozie. This form of narrative is used far more successfully in Lollipop Shoes than it was in Chocolat. Seeing events from the perspective of Anouk, still a child, really adds flavour to the book - Harris accurately captures all the struggles that a teen can go through with family and friends - it will have you sympathizing with her interpretation of the world.

Magic features more obviously in this book, compared to the hint of Vianne's magical abilities in Chocolat, which adds a colourful streak to the story that will leave you wanting more each time you read. The tension in the book is immediate, as you realize the significance of the new mesmerizing character Zozie, and urge those in the story to also see this. The tension continues to build as the story moves forward and makes you long to know how it will all end and what will happen to the characters that you come to love.

I can highly recommend this to all that enjoyed Chocolat, as it will make you see how much more Harris can amaze you with her writing.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu
The Ladies of Grace Adieu
by Susanna Clarke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic follow-up to Strange and Norrell, 26 July 2007
When I heard that Clarke had written her second book, I eagerly awaited it's release and was not disappointed. My enjoyment of this collection of short stories surprised me since I do not normally opt for this kind of writing. But Clarke has changed my opinion. I often thought that there is not room for character development in short stories, but Clarke manages to build up an image of those she writes about with the greatest ease. With her beautiful writing, she easily creates tales of worlds and people that are full of the magic first seen in Strange and Norrell, and makes them so easy to escape into.
I was particularly impressed with the different style of writing that Clarke adopts in the Rumpelstiltskin style story. This is written from the first person perspective of the main character, and is a great technique for helping the reader get to know the character. Although I found it tricky to adapt to at first, this is now one of my favourites from the book as it further demonstrates the skill in writing that Clarke has.
I would highly recommend this book. Fantastic.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply magical, 26 July 2007
This book is fantastic. The size of it seemed a little daunting at first, but I was soon absorbed in the world that Clarke creates.
Excellent development of some curious characters, as well as the magical world that the story takes place in. The development of the relationship between Norrell and Strange put me through a roller-coaster of emotions and the stories of those that surround them were a joy to read. The threads are woven together into a beautiful tale of the two magicians.
This book has quickly stormed into my favourites. Would happily read it over again.

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