Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb *****
I spotted this lovely little Wordsworth Children’s Classics Edition in Waterstone’s Piccadilly’s fabulous Shakespeare section, and it looked too adorable not to purchase. The cover design is just gorgeous. I have been meaning to read some of Charles Lamb’s work for an age (ever since I saw it so favourably written about in the beautiful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), and I thought that it would be a great book to read after having Shakespearean withdrawal symptoms since finishing all of his plays last year. The stories in this collection, all of which are based upon twenty of his selected plays, were written to be an introduction to the Bard’s work. The beautiful illustrations which have been included throughout are by Arthur Rackham, whose work I have always found darling.
Each tale in this collection has been so lovingly adapted from its original form, and the collection is so sweet that I decided to read no more than three of the tales each day, rather than to rush them. I love the way in which the original dialogue has been woven in, and how wonderfully quaint the whole is in its execution. The Lambs’ writing is beautiful, and they have created a stunning collection to dip in and out of.
One Day by David Nicholls ****
Let me begin by saying that before I started reading One Day, I did not think I would enjoy it. I have read the first couple of chapters before – well, rather, I have listened to them, as I got a free partial audiobook of the novel free with something and started listening to it. It was my first and only audiobook, as a) I d not enjoy the format, and b) the story and characters seemed flat in the spoken word and did not interest me in the slightest. I would happily have chosen not to come across the story again, and have even been avoiding watching the film, if it hadn’t been for a trip to the library with one of my schoolfriends, who was so enthused with her love for the novel that she persuaded me to give it another try. I am so pleased that she did!
One Day, which I started to read with an open mind,begins in 1988 in Edinburgh. The structure of the novel is simple, yet quite clever: a man and woman, Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, meet on the night of their University graduation, and the story follows both characters on the same day in each consequent year. This allows us to learn a lot about them without the novel becoming bogged down with unnecessary details. At first, Dexter is a bit of a cad, and Emma comes across as being rather judgemental and full of her own importance. As the novel goes on, however, they become more complex beings, and their traits are explained by past experiences. Emma read the same degree as I did (English and History), and I found myself almost endeared to her from the start merely because of this.
The story is a lot better in word form than in sound, and the format which Nicholls has chosen to use has been executed well. It is not a challenging read by any stretch of the imagination, and whilst it can be intelligent at times, it feels essentially like rather highbrow chick lit – if there is such a thing. Nicholls sets out the social history of the last two decades well, and has presented an absorbing novel which is incredibly interesting in terms of a character study.