Flash Reviews (11th October 2013)

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken ***
I still adore reading children’s books, and had had The Wolves of Willoughby Chase written onto my wishlist for quite some time before I purchased it.  I found within its pages elements and echoes which reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Enid Blyton and, oddly, Daphne du Maurier, which was a most interesting amalgamation.  The storyline was intriguing, and I liked the way in which Aiken had woven in a Gothic darkness.  There was also an overriding sense of melancholy, which made itself known almost at the outset.  Whilst I very much enjoyed the imagined historical setting, I wasn’t quite expecting the storyline which Aiken presented me with in this book.  I enjoyed it on the whole, but the rather insipid characters who peopled its pages at times have ensured that it does not feature amongst my favourite children’s stories, by any means.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky *****
I read this marvellous book at least once every year (yes, I have been known to read it twice in just a few months), and have lost count of the number of times I have immersed myself in its pages.  I cannot express my adoration of it enough.  It is a stunning, perfect, lovely book, which will leave you with fond memories and the most wonderful narrator in the guise of adorable Charlie.

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman ****
I have been most intrigued by the title of this novel ever since I first spotted it in Waterstones, and it was from a series of great reviews and a recommendation that I decided to purchase it on a whim.  When God Was a Rabbit tells the story of Eleanor Maud (darling name!) and her brother Joe as they meander from children to adults.  The story was unexpected at times, and it really pulled me in.  The style of it, told in a series of vignettes, worked marvellously.  It gave me the feeling that what was being written about were fragmented memories, coherent only to the narrator.  For a novel told in retrospect, this was a marvellous touch.  I really liked Elly’s narrative voice throughout, and her growing up within its pages was done believably. The balance of humour and sadness was perfect, and the characters were all built up wonderfully.  I loved learning little bits and pieces about them as the book went on.  Jenny Penny and Arthur were absolute sweethearts, and I very much enjoyed the eccentricity which Winman wove into them.  This novel comes highly recommended, and if you are after an absorbing and surprising read, look no further.

A Tree With a Bird In It by Margaret Widdemer **
I downloaded this onto my Kindle along with several other Widdemer books.  I liked the idea of the collection, in which a singular view of a tree in Widdemer’s garden inspired each poet.  The entirety of the book is rather odd and there were many poems which I didn’t much enjoy, but there were some sweet additions throughout.  My favourites were ‘The Bird Misunderstood’ by Robert Frost, ‘Frost and Sandburg Tonight’ by Edith M. Thomas, ‘At Autumn’ by Sara Teasdale, ‘The Sighing Tree’ by Margaret Widdemer, ‘Ballade of Spring Chickens’ by Richard Le Gallienne, and ‘Tea o’ Herbs’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay.