Flash Reviews (2nd January 2014)

‘Winter’s Tales’ by Isak Dinesen

Winter’s Tales by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) ***
I have been looking forward to reading this for ages, but thought that I would wait until December to begin it.  Winter’s Tales was first published in 1942, and the stories centre around Danish life – sailors, sailing, and in that respect, they do seem quite similar.  There were some tales which I did not really enjoy, but I liked ‘The Dreaming Child’ and ‘The Fish’.  They are nicely written on the whole, but sadly the Penguin edition which I read was peppered with far too many commas, which detracted from my enjoyment.  I have given it three stars, but I think I should have plumped for two and a half instead.

The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket ****
The Vile Village is the seventh book in the A Series of Unfortunate Events tales.  As one can surmise from the title, the Baudelaires go to live in a village which is governed by thousands of rules.  This village becomes their protector of sorts against evil Count Olaf, who is ever-present in this series.  As ever, it is very well written, and the wit within it matches the storyline well.  The plot is both interesting and enjoyable, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

‘Jacob’s Room’ by Virginia Woolf

Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf ****
This was Virginia Woolf’s third novel, and ranks among my many favourites of her books so far.  I absolutely adore the way in which Jacob’s Room begins.  It is so incredibly vivid.  Throughout, her writing is so sensuous, and is appealing in so many ways.  Each chapter is like a vignette of sorts.  Each character is introduced merely because they encounter Jacob Flanders, the novel’s protagonist, in one way or another, be they family members, friends or acquaintances at college, or a woman passing by the window of the place where he lives.  This technique works marvellously.  It goes without saying that Jacob’s Room is beautifully written, and the prose throughout has to be savoured.  I truly do not feel that many authors could match up to Woolf’s perfect writing.  Whilst I did not adore this novel, I found it difficult to put down, and would recommend it to everyone.

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