Saturday Poem: ‘Love’s Philosophy’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another’s being mingle–
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;–
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?


Flash Reviews (12th March 2014)

‘Far to Go’ by Alison Pick

Far to Go by Alison Pick ****
I adore historical fiction, and I absolutely loved the Czech Republic when I visited in 2012, so it was only natural that I have wanted to read Alison Pick’s Far to Go since I first learnt of its publication.  The prologue of the novel begins in the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia, in December 1939, and it then goes back to 1938, which is where its story begins.

Throughout, the second person perspective, along with the use of letters and the like, is engaging from the outset.  Pick uses each of these perspectives just as well, and is firmly in control of her story and the language which she uses.  Each and every one of her characters is as strong as the sense of place which they inhabit.  The looming of war is almost like a character in itself in the novel – ever-present and full of foreboding.  The history, and the way in which it affected the Czech people, has been so well researched, and the consideration of events from different points of view has also been well rendered.  This probably would have been a five star read for me, if it wasn’t for the modern day narrative which unwound alongside the main story.  In my opinion, this was not necessary at all, and it drew me away from the novel a little.  Still, Far to Go is a great novel, and one which depicts the way in which one family ‘flee Nazi oppression’ very well indeed.

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2BR02B by Kurt Vonnegut ***
I really enjoyed Slaughterhouse-Five when I read it last year, and when I spotted this just waiting to be read on my Kindle whilst on a long weekend in France, I thought I would give it a go.  The title of the story refers to a phone number (‘To be or not to be’) which those in rather a dystopian society, the average age of its citizens around 109 years old, are urged to call if they no longer want to live – the number of the Municipal Gas Chambers.  As with much of his fiction, Vonnegut’s concept is interesting and, like George Orwell’s 1984, it seems like such a modern vision to have in the time in which it was written.  The entirety of 2BR02B is really quite creepy, but it is certainly intriguing and thought-provoking in equal measure.

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A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays by Percy Bysshe Shelley ****
I also decided to read this whilst I was in France, particularly after realising how long ago I had downloaded it to my Kindle.  The book is comprised of seven essays in total.  The majority of them are quite short, and it is possible to read the first few in just a few minutes.  Those towards the end of the volume are longer, and require far more contemplation.  As one would expect, each essay is beautifully written, and everything has been sculpted so well.  Throughout, Shelley plays upon such things as memory, psychology, philosophy, theology and the notion of love.  The entire collection is intelligent and well measured, and I particularly loved all of his musings upon Greek literature.

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Flash Reviews (5th September 2013)

Cookie by Jacqueline Wilson ****
This novel starts off in rather a heartrending manner, with a downtrodden young girl, Beauty, and her mother abused by their controlling father.  Despite this, Cookie is such a sweet, feel good story, particularly once Beauty and her mother realise the strength they have.  In this book, Wilson shows that everything, however bad, can be overcome, which is such a nice message to put into children’s and young adult fiction.  The characters are well developed as a whole, and I didn’t guess where the story would end up, which was a very nice touch.

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann ***
I have read some absolutely marvellous reviews of this novel, and couldn’t wait to begin it.  The prologue of Let The Great World Spin is visually stunning and well thought out.  If only the rest of the book had been the same!  I enjoyed the author’s writing on the whole – some of his descriptions, for example, are sumptuous – but my stumbling block came with the characters.  They were interesting enough on the whole, but they were all so broken, often by alcohol and drugs.  Because of this, no distinct characters stood out for me, and I found it difficult to empathise with any of them in consequence.  An interesting novel, but a little disappointing by all accounts.

'The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley - Selected by Fiona Sampson' (Faber)

‘The Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley – Selected by Fiona Sampson’ (Faber)

Poetry: Selected by Fiona Sampson by Percy Bysshe Shelley ****
Sampson’s introduction to this gorgeous Faber edition draws parallels between Shelley’s life and his poetry very well indeed.  It is a beautiful little volume, and is incredibly aesthetically pleasing.  The poems too are lovely.  I enjoyed every single one, but my favourites were ‘Mutability’, ‘To Wordsworth’, ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’, ‘Julian and Maddalo’, ‘The Mask of Anarchy’, ‘Adonais’, ‘To -‘, ‘To Jane: The Invitation’ and ‘To Jane: The Recollection’.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner ****
I adore the Deep South as a setting and am wondering why, after finishing this stunning novel, I’ve not read any of Faulkner’s work before.  I adored the differing perspectives throughout, and the way in which each and every one of them was so marvellously distinct.  The story is such an absorbing one, and I love the idea of it – a family waiting for and commenting upon the death of one of their members.  Faulkner’s differing prose techniques in use in As I Lay Dying are wonderful, and show that as a writer, he is incredibly skilled.  Terribly sad on the whole and very cleverly constructed.