Flash Reviews (8th October 2013)

40 (Canongate) by Various Authors **
2013 has marked the fortieth anniversary of several publishing houses, two of whom have already released celebratory volumes (Picador and Virago).  Within the responses to the theme of ‘forty’ in this volume, there are fragments of memories, lists, illustrations, poems, reminiscences of fortieth birthdays, and even a couple of comic strips and a recipe.  There is also rather a nice section which includes the first lines of the forty bestselling Canongate books of all time.  Some of the authors are familiar (Charles Schulz, Margaret Drabble, Margaret Atwood), and some are not.  <i>40</i> is an interesting amalgamation of forty inspired art, but sadly there is nothing very outstanding within it.

The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green ****
I feel, after finishing this absorbing murder mystery, that I should have read it some time ago.  This is the first of Green’s books which I’ve encountered in my foray into crime fiction, and I found it a very enjoyable book on the whole.  The writing throughout matches the unfolding storyline perfectly.  Although it is not original to the modern reader, per se, the mystery itself and the way in which it has been carried out was, I imagine, relatively ‘never before seen’ to its original Victorian audience.  The plotlines which carry less emphasis combine wonderfully to produce the coherent whole, and everything is neatly tied together.  The story kept me guessing throughout, which is a must to me with such novels.

The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin ***
I am always so excited when I receive or buy a new Nin novel, enamoured as I am with her stunning writing and often quiet but memorable plots. The Four-Chambered Heart, particularly in its beginning, is a beautifully written novel, particularly with regard to its Paris setting. Nin captures her characters so well. Whilst none of the protagonists – Djuna, Rango and Zora – are likeable for the mostpart, they have a marvellous depth to them, and are made up of a complex mixture of emotions. Their relationship with one another, tumultuous as it often is, is portrayed with such clarity on the part of the author.

Sadly, The Four-Chambered Heart is by no means my favourite of Nin’s books, and it pales entirely in comparison to Collages and Under a Glass Bell, which are both incredible works of art. I very much enjoyed the writing, but as I was in no way sympathetic towards the novel’s characters and did not find much of worth in its plot, I feel I cannot award it more than three stars.

Recommended playlist:
‘The Everglow’ by Mae
‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ by The Smiths
‘Think I Wanna Die’ by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

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