Flash Reviews (22nd July 2013)

Rather than write an enormous post for each and every book I read, I have decided to post a few flash reviews, relatively short musings on a lot of literature and non-fiction reads.


‘The Iron Woman’ by Ted Hughes, Faber

The Iron Woman by Ted Hughes
A read of The Iron Man led me to The Iron Woman almost immediately.  Stylistically, the book feels rather different to its prequel, and the issues tackled are far more serious.  It feels a lot darker than The Iron Man, and is even a little creepy in places.  Reading this from an adult perspective, I believe that it provides a great starting point for young readers about the awareness of pollution and how it is affecting our earth.  The storyline is both clever and imaginative, and not once does it feel overloaded with information.  I love the little threads of the story which Hughes binds together.  The final scene is also absolutely gorgeous, and is worth reading for that alone.

Gigi by Colette
Even in terms of a novella, Gigi is an incredibly short one, but it is filled to the brim with such beautiful writing.  The storyline is not a complicated one, or even one which contains many strands, but it works well with regard to the length of the book.  It tells the story of a young girl named Gilbert, Gigi for short, who is in her stubborn teenage years and is trying to fend off the advances of a male admirer.  It is not my favourite Colette by any means, but the story is still a sweet one.  She clearly understands her characters marvellously, and I love the way in which she brings in some of their foibles and some rather undesirable traits too.  I must admit that I rather liked Gigi as a character, even though she was ridiculously spoilt and often precocious.  There was just something quite intriguing about her.

The Wombles television series

The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford
I had a feeling before I began that this book would be utterly adorable, and I am pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed in the least.  I so love reading about ‘little people’ in literature – Thumbelina, Mrs Pepperpot, The Borrowers – and I now have another novel to add to my list of favourites.  Beresford is an incredibly imaginative writer, and I love the cast of characters which she has created here.  They are all so different in terms of their personalities and strengths – just like a real community, I suppose.  The interlinked adventures throughout work wonderfully.  Also, I must mention that I think the way in which the Wombles choose their names from an old atlas of Uncle Bulgaria’s is adorable.  I tried this three times myself and came up with Gadamis, Greenville and Kulsary.  New additions to the Womble clan, perhaps?

‘Daughters of the House’ by Michele Roberts, Virago

Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts
I spotted this in the Notting Hill Book and Comic Exchange and was entranced by the lovely cracked green Virago spine.  I knew before I purchased it that it wasn’t on the Virago Modern Classics list which I’m working my way through, but after reading the blurb, I just knew that I had to rehome it. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Michele Roberts before, but after reading the wonderful Daughters of the House, I believe that she is an author who deserves to be read by a much wider audience.  So many elements are encompassed here – the concept of family, the notion of identity, deep secrets, village life, the way in which the Second World War changed the social and political landscape of Europe, travel, growing up, and life and death.  The novel is an incredibly rich one, and it has been beautifully and carefully written.  For me, the strengths lay in Roberts’ descriptions, particularly those of the French countryside.  Daughters of the House is perfect holiday reading – intelligent, thought-provoking and well plotted, but not too taxing in its telling or pretentious in its style.