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Snapshots: May 2018

Featuring: (0:00) Glasgow | (1:18) Glasgow Necropolis | (2:39) Riverside Museum, Glasgow | (3:58) Falkirk and the Falkirk Wheel | (5:04) Edinburgh | (5:19) National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh | (6:06) Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh | (6:21) Glasgow Botanic Gardens | (7:19) The Lighthouse, Glasgow | (7.24) Hill House, Helensburgh (designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh) | (8:59) Helensburgh | (9:33) London

Music: ‘Four Winds’ by Bright Eyes | ‘Kreuzberg’ by Bloc Party

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Book Haul: May 2017

I have decided that I need to refrain from telling myself that I won’t buy any books in any given months.  It rarely (if ever!) works, and I just end up feeling a little disappointed that my willpower so easily crumbled.  In this frame, I told myself that I wouldn’t add anything new to my shelves in May, and I inevitably did.   Without further preamble, here are the purchases which I made during May.

9780857524430The first book which I just couldn’t resist was, contrary to what I normally buy, a new release in hardback format.  I so enjoyed Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train, and headed to Waterstone’s on the release day of her second novel, Into the Water.  In my defence, it was half price, and I did read it immediately; I also wasn’t at all disappointed with it, which is always a bonus on tomes which have been so hyped up!  Later on in the month, I also took another trip to Waterstone’s in order to buy a travel guide for a wonderful holiday which my boyfriend took me on for an early birthday treat at the end of May.  They had very little available in store, so I plumped for a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Bulgaria.  It was largely useful, but not quite up to the standards of my beloved Lonely Planet Guides.  I also ended up buying three of the latter for future holidays, after receiving an email saying that they were all three for two from the Lonely Planet website.

I’m on a quest to read all of Anita Brookner‘s work, even though she probably isn’t an 9781840226812author I’m going to include in my thesis.  My sister managed to find three of her tomes in old orange-spined Penguin editions in a secondhand bookshop for me: Providence, Falling Slowly, and A Closed EyeTalking of my thesis, I had to buy a physical copy of Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts and The Years.  I plumped for a Wordsworth Edition, as I really like their designs, and find their introductions quite informative.  Plus, you can’t scoff at the price!

I also added a few more books to my Kindle this month.  I spotted 9781509810116that several Mary Stewart tomes which I did not already have were priced at just 99p, and couldn’t resist.  I chose Touch Not the Cat, Nine Coaches Waiting, and Madam, Will You Talk?.  I also decided to purchase a copy of Gabrielle Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve‘s The Beauty and the Beast, as I had never read it before.  My final choice was one of Richmal Crompton‘s non-Just William books, The Holiday, which I absolutely adored.

Which new books have you welcomed onto your shelves of late?  Do you find that book-buying bans ever work?

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Book Club: ‘Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold’ by C.S. Lewis *** (May 2014)

‘Till We Have Faces’ by C.S. Lewis

In Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis retells – or, rather, reinterprets – the myth of Cupid and Psyche.  Throughout, the story, which takes place in the Kingdom of Glome, is told from the first person perspective of Orual, Psyche’s ‘ugly’ older sister.

Redival and Orual are the daughters of a king and queen.  When their mother dies, their father remarries rather quickly, and their stepmother passes away after giving birth to a baby girl named Istra.  Istra is rather quickly given the nickname of Psyche by Orual, who dotes upon her from the first.  As one might expect in a novel such as this, there is a thread of brutality which can be found from beginning to end.  Violence is a way of life in Glome, and the king in particular exemplifies this cruelty.

Orual is quite a strong heroine, but in some ways, she did not quite feel fully developed.  I did not like her, but on reflection, I do not think that I really needed to.  She is such a pivotal character in Lewis’ retelling of the myth, who serves to bring all of the story’s threads together coherently, and her behaviour – nasty though it was – was rendered understandable due to her past and the treatment of others under her father’s rule.  The same can also be said for Redival.

Lewis’ take on the myth has been well thought out, and the twists which he weaves into the plot are clever and often unexpected.  He clearly knows the original material well, and successfully puts his own spin onto the story’s events.  Despite this, I found that it took rather a long time – until Psyche’s birth, really, which does not occur for some time – to get into the story.  Lewis does not make the best use of his Ancient Greek setting throughout, and the beginning of the novel does not therefore feel grounded in any way. Some of the dialogue used sadly felt a little flat, and it was particularly unemotional during those scenes in which it really should have been.

Whilst I did not enjoy Till We Have Faces as much as I thought I would, it is a good choice for a book club read, as many points within its pages are worthy of discussion.  I am looking forward to reading more of Lewis’ adult books, particularly to see the ways in which they compare to this one.

Purchase from The Book Depository