King Lear by William Shakespeare ****
This is one of the plays which I’ve been most looking forward to reading during my Year of Shakespeare. I liked the bare bones of the plot, and felt that they worked well, particularly when Shakespeare’s beautiful writing came into force. I very much enjoyed the different prose styles in King Lear, particularly with regard to their concurrent use by the same characters. Rather a sad play, but an incredibly good one.
The Dwarves of Death by Jonathan Coe **
My Dad told me that I should read this book merely due to the amount of Smiths lyrics used within it. (This was one of the only aspects of the novel which I enjoyed – along with the title, of course). He had warned me before I began that it wasn’t very good. (He was right). The entirety of The Dwarves of Death is poorly written, and the narrator, William, is nothing short of an idiot. The dialogue is dull, and the dwarves which feature in the title only star on a couple of pages. There is very little about the actual murder, and the majority of the book goes into a kind of sad reverie, focusing almost solely upon middle-aged men rehearsing music with one another. I would not be inclined to read another Coe book after this one, that’s for sure.
Treasure Hunt by Molly Keane ***
Let me begin by saying that I adore Helen Dryden’s 1915 Vogue cover which has been used to adorn this book.
Isn’t it absolutely lovely? I was expecting great things from Treasure Hunt as I so enjoyed Keane’s Good Behaviour, but was a little apprehensive about it when I learnt that the novel had been translated from play form, something rarely done in the literary world. In terms of its plotline, Treasure Hunt was rather weak. I certainly expected more to happen as it went on. I found the entire cast of characters difficult to sympathise and empathise with, and they weren’t believably built up as individuals. Keane’s descriptions, particularly those of landscapes and the interiors of buildings, were lovely. I think that their beauty contrasted well with the lacklustre, almost melancholy feel of the family dynamic. My major qualm about this novel was the amount of dialogue (too much) and the information it actually gave to the reader (not much). The three stars which I have awarded the book are for the descriptions alone.
Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson ****
I think Lily is one of Wilson’s best protagonists. She is strong, brave and courageous, and despite being only eleven years old, she always tries to do the best things for those around her. The characters in Lily Alone are so well realised, and Lily’s younger sister, Bliss, was particularly lovely. The only downside I found in this novel was the language which Wilson uses. I can’t imagine many eleven year olds saying a lot of the things that Lily does, nor any three year olds saying, ‘You bet!’.