12 January 2015

Brilliant Books To Read This Year

I read quite a few books last year and read some absolute stunners, but below are a few of my absolute favourite reads of 2014. I'm hoping to do a lot more book reviews this year, so let me know of any books that you would highly recommend. 

I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

My favourite book of 2014. It follows the story of two young girls, sisters Cassandra and Rose, living in beautiful, if slightly dilapidated, Godsend Castle with their father, Mortmain, mother-in-law, Topaz (an eccentric hippie who was a great secondary character), their younger brother Thomas and their house-helper, the handsome young man Stephen.  The story is not overly fast-paced, but I like a slow read and this one just managed to really touch me. There were a couple of paragraphs in particular, towards the latter end of the book, that I adored and bookmarked...

"Once I got used to the idea of being alone by 
myself for so long, I positively liked it. 
I always enjoy 
the different feeling there is in a house when 
one is alone in it, and the thought of that 
feeling stretching 
ahead for two whole days somehow 
intensified it wonderfully."

The main story follows older sister Rose who becomes romantically involved with the wealthy heir to the castle when he comes from overseas to visit. There is romance, some twists and turns, as well as an abundance of love, compassion and a truly relatable plethora of feelings. I recently read a review of this book on The Guardian that said the below, and I absolutely agree:

'This book was such a wonderful, enchanting and unpredictable read that by the end of it I felt like I almost was Cassandra'. Perfect.

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood

A recommendation from Jean @ Bookishthoughts on YouTube. She speaks with great passion for her love of Greek and Roman myths and legends, and studies the classics at university (possibly doing her masters now if I am correct?). She's got an easy to listen to Scottish accent and you can tell she just loves reading. Definitely go and check out her channel if you're into books at all. 

She recommended this book for some more easy reading from her favourite subject, and it was fantastic. This tells the story of Odysseus' travels after the Trojan War, but from his wife Penelope's perspective as opposed to his. Atwood, with her usual stunning writing, gives Penelope a magnificent, feisty and entertaining voice - it's a brilliant read, especially if you know even a little bit about the original myth. 

There is also a chorus of singing maids who were, in the original story, hung for their part in the myth and who tell their side of the tale in an interesting and fun way. This book is humorously written, interesting and easy to read. I would highly recommend. 

We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson

How beautiful is this book cover? This is a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition and is absolutely stunning in real life. Written by Shirley Jackson, an author renowned for her creepy, dark and often sinister fiction, We Have Always Lived In The Castle follows the story of Merricat and Constance, living in Blackwood Castle. Merricat offers a slightly unhinged narrative throughout as the heart of the story is revealed and the reason the neighbours of the nearby village are so hostile towards them comes to light. 

Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian have, over the years, developed rules and routines that enable them to feel safe and protected, however, with the arrival of a distant cousin, Charles, things at Blackwood Castle turn awry. The end of the book is filled with a dramatic final few scenes and you are left feeling thoroughly disturbed and unnerved. Definitely give it a go if you like a mystery full of suspense and a slowly developing plot. 

Let me know if you give any of these a go. Do go and look for some reviews on t'interwebs because Lord knows I'm not great at describing books. 

I hope you had a great Monday!

N.B. I would not recommend reading I Capture The Castle and We Have Always Lived In The Castle at the same time, or even near each other. I made this mistake and found myself getting the two mixed up. They are both stories about sisters living in a castle. Just a heads up.

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