The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
My favourite aspect of Eliot’s writing is the way in which she crafts places. She does so incredibly deftly, and she weaves her settings and scenes into beautiful views which come to life in front of your eyes. I also love her writing style. Despite this, I do not feel that novellas really suit her authorship. She is far better, in my opinion, when she is filling a novel and crafting her beautiful words without any kind of restriction upon them. It feels as though her creative spirit has been suppressed a little in this form, and it is a real shame. The Lifted Veil is rather a quite novella – a nice enough story, but not a memorable one, unfortunately.
The Luckiest Girl in the School by Angela BrazilI still can’t resist a good school story, and it’s quite a few years since I left education. I hadn’t read anything of Brazil’s before, and so I was intrigued to see how The Luckiest Girl in the School would compare to my favourite school stories – the St. Clare’s and Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton. The book is incredibly well written, and doesn’t dumb itself down to a child or teenage audience, which I think goes in its favour. The characters are all rather sweet. Unlike in Enid Blyton’s school stories, there is nobody who really stands out that much, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it matters particularly here. I loved the ‘jolly hockey sticks’ atmosphere woven throughout – all the nature rambles and the school spirit, for example. There was a little too much focus upon games and hockey for my liking, however, so for that reason I don’t feel too bothered about carrying on with the series. Still, a very enjoyable story, and one which lends itself well to be read in the summer.
The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott
I have been looking forward to this novel since it came out and I first read its blurb, and despite requesting several review copies, I had to wait until it was given to me as a birthday present back in June. What I found when I opened its pages was a marvellous novel. I am so interested in vaudeville, and this story is such a great one. I love the way in which the story is split up into sections pertaining to the theatre – ‘Ouverture’, ‘Act 1/Act 2’, ‘Intermission’, ‘Act 3/Act 4’ and ‘Finale’. Endicott’s descriptions are sublime, particularly those which relate to the theatre. Her words weave a vivid picture. I loved the relationship which she built between the Avery sisters, and their care of one another was very sweet. The many strands of story which come together and then separate again have been well realised, and make for a very rich and unforgettable plot. True to its content, The Little Shadows is a novel which sweeps you up and takes you on tour with it, and I for one cannot wait to read more of Endicott’s books.
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The atmosphere and setting which Yates builds in Revolutionary Road builds are truly stunning. He writes with such assertiveness, understanding and power. The strength of this novel – and there are many strengths, believe you me – describes the fragility of life with such clarity and sadness, and he portrays the damaged elements of his protagonists in the same way. The intricacies of the relationships which exist between characters here, some of them unexpected, are described with such knowledge that in consequence, everything feels so very realistic. This is a novel which I have nothing but praise for.