Books Told from Different Perspectives

Narrators are an essential part of all novels, novellas and short story collections. They can either be one of the characters or mere fictional observers that take no part in the action. Some books even have more than one narrator, the story being told from different perspectives or points of view. Those perspectives can be conveyed in a variety of ways – via a first-person narrator; an omniscient narrator, who knowns everything about all of the characters; or a third-person narrator who adopts the point of view of a specific character.

I’m always drawn to books that feature chapters narrated from different perspectives, presenting a compelling mix of voices. From the ones that I’ve read and enjoyed, despite not all being favourites of mine, there are seven that immediately sprang to mind.

 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

At the beginning of the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, Robert Baratheon is the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and sits on the Iron Throne. After the death of his Hand, he invites his old friend Lord Eddard Stark to assume the suddenly vacant role. Peace is fragile, though, since the lords of Westeros are playing dangerous games and the exiled Targaryens want to take back their father’s throne. The intricate characters and the enthralling plot turn this book into a compelling mix of fantasy and political machinations. It is told in the third person from the perspectives of various characters: Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and six members of the Stark family – Ned, Catelyn, Bran, Sansa, Arya and Jon Snow. Continue reading

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Favourite Book Covers VII

It has been more than a year since I last shared with you my favourite book covers, but my love for gorgeous books (inside and out) hasn’t decreased a bit. Although paperback editions are still my all-time favourites, I also have a soft spot for colourful naked hardbacks. They are still a bit too heavy, but them not having an annoying dustjacket is a huge plus. Non-removable “stickers”, on the other hand, is an idiotic trend that publishers should refrain from following. They didn’t fully prevent me from loving some of the covers below, but they would look much better without them.

My latest favourite book covers just seem to have one thing in common – the colour blue is present in many different tones (one so dark that it could be black)!

 

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Cover design: Angie Lewin

Publisher: Virago Press

Collection: Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2021

2021 hasn’t been the year during which I read the highest number of books by no stretch of the imagination, but I surely read some good ones. Picking up some massive books throughout the year didn’t help, particularly because I ended up not finishing three of them, so they didn’t count for my read books. So far, I’ve read in their entirety 22 books. Until the end of the year, I’m still hoping to finish the humongous The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb and to read another two much shorter books. None of these are likely to be good candidates for my favourite books of the year, though.

Throughout 2021, I read books from various genres and of several formats. Novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections were all part of my reading choices. They can be categorised as historical fiction, fantasy, dystopian and literary fiction. The majority of the books that I read were new to me, but I also reread two books. Livro by José Luís Peixoto I certainly enjoyed, although not as much as I remember doing the first time, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Only taking into consideration the books that I read for the first time in 2021, however, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words. Continue reading

Quarterly Favourites – April to June 2021

Three months have passed since I last wrote about my favourites from what essentially are the things that I enjoy doing in my spare time. Nevertheless, I didn’t struggle too much to select just a few of them. I could have mentioned one or two more books, as I enjoyed almost all of the ones that I read from April to June, but I slightly cherished one of them more than the others.

Set in Northern Iceland in 1829, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is touching and poignant. Its ambience undoubtfully suits the story. Agnes, who is believably portrayed as someone who is misunderstood, was sentenced to death after being accused of killing two men, Nathan, who was her lover, and Pétur. She has to wait for the date of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district. There she receives the visit of Assistant Reverend Thorvardur.

The TV series that I enjoyed the most during the second quarter of the year was, without a doubt, Mare of Easttown. This crime drama shines mostly thanks to the personal tribulations of the main character and her family. Kate Winslet does a fantastic job playing Mare, a detective that is investigating the murder of a young woman. Continue reading

‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent

My rating: 4 stars

The picture that people paint of a person may not be entirely accurate. At first, Agnes, the protagonist of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, instils fear in many of the other characters in this historical fiction novel. She has been considered a criminal after all. But, as time passes, they start to see another side of her, she stops being just a stranger that committed a crime. The same happens to the reader. Throughout the book, set in Northern Iceland in 1829, we learn more about her previous predicaments, making it easy to empathise with her and feel her pain.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir is one of the three people charged with the murder of two men, Nathan, who was her lover, and Pétur. She is sentenced to death. At the orders of the District Commissioner, she is to wait for the date of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, Jón. His wife, Margrét, isn’t happy about it, and neither are their daughters, Lauga and Steina.

While staying there, Agnes receives the visit of Assistant Reverend Thorvardur, whom she requested as her spiritual advisor and the priest responsible for her absolution. Their paths had crossed in the past, but he doesn’t remember her at first. He is not confident of his abilities to carry this task, as he doesn’t have much practice as a reverend yet. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2021

March felt like a good month to get more books, though since last year I’ve been trying to read all of the books that I own before buying new ones. This haul consists of both novels and short story collections, almost all of them written by women. Some have been on my wish list for ages, others are more recent discoveries.

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a servant girl who becomes the student and muse of the Dutch painter. Scandal erupts when he gives her his wife’s pearl earrings to wear for a portrait. I’ve been meaning to read this historical fiction novel for ages and hopefully won’t be disappointed.

 

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield’s debut collection of short stories is supposedly filled with lyrical prose and dark humour. How could I resist buying it? Various feelings are explored in these tales: isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Continue reading

New Authors Whose Work I Want to Continue Reading

Falling in love with an author who already has a long writing career means that we can add a significant number of books to our wish list. But there is also something special about discovering new authors who are at the start of their writing journey and looking forward to their future work being published. After reading just one book by the five authors below (who have only published three books or less as far as I know), I became interested in continuing delving into their work.

 

Madeline Miller

The name Madeline Miller was not unknown to me when I decided to read Circe, but I had never read a book by her before. In her latest retelling of an Ancient Greek myth, she focuses on Circe, a daughter of Helios. She was sentenced to exile on a deserted island for using witchcraft against her own kind. The novel is similar to a fictional memoir, and Circe’s emotions are tangible. I now want to read The Song of Achilles and am eager to follow her career.

 

Imogen Hermes Gowar

Imogen Hermes Gowar’s debut novel, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, shines thanks to its believable characters and detailed writing style. Although the plot is not particularly remarkable, I still liked reading this character-focused novel set in eighteenth-century London. Jonah Hancock may have lost a ship, but he gained a mermaid. To recover the money that his vessel was worth, he consents to exhibit the strange creature. One of the places where it can be seen is at Mrs Chappell’s nunnery. There, he meets a beautiful courtesan – Angelica. When Gowar publishes a new novel, I’ll most certainly read it. Continue reading

‘The Good People’ by Hannah Kent

My rating: 4 stars

Hannah Kent takes the reader to a world full of superstition, rituals and folklore in The Good People. The story being told focuses on how some individuals struggle to accept those who are perceived as abnormal, and end up allowing pagan superstitions to guide their actions, as there is a lack of scientific knowledge, which possibly would have enlightened their search for answers.

The year is 1825. In rural Ireland, Nóra’s husband collapses and dies while digging ditches. This is the second death in her family in a short period of time. Her daughter, Johanna, died a few months before, and, from then on, her four-year-old son, Micheál, has been living with Nóra. He hasn’t been able to speak nor walk since his mother fell ill, and is also extremely skinny and underdeveloped for his age. Nóra keeps trying to hide Micheál from the preying eyes of her neighbours to avoid gossip about his condition. People believe him to be a changeling, a fairy.

When neighbours and family members gather at Nóra’s cabin to pay their respects after her husband’s death, we have a first glimpse of a world full of rituals and superstition. Nance is among those who go to the cabin to take part in the keening, a traditional form of vocal lament for the dead. She is a kind of handy woman, who some people believe deals with the fairies. The town’s inhabitants ask for her help to solve health issues, to aid deliver babies and when people die. Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers III

I’m a beautiful book covers lover. I admit to sometimes even buying a book just because the cover appealed to me, although that may turn out to be a terrible idea if the words inside don’t serve as instruments to achieve a compelling story featuring interesting characters. I particularly love paperback editions and books whose stunning covers are complemented by French flaps.

This is not the first time I reveal some of my favourite book covers. You can see the first two instalments here and here. I have now other five covers to add to the previous lists. Two of the following books I’ve already read and reviewed, the others I’ll probably only read next year.

 

The Good People by Hannah Kent

Cover design: Rachel Vale, Pan Macmillan Art Department

Publisher: Picador Continue reading