Writing the Seasons with Books: Autumn

This year, instead of recommending books that some people may deem appropriate to read during a specific season, I’m writing the four seasons with books. I take a look at my shelves and select books with titles beginning with the letters of the name of the season that is just starting. And the time has come to welcome autumn! Temperatures have started to slowly drop. The leaves of the trees are getting ready to fall.

 

Autumn by Ali Smith

This was the first book that I read by Ali Smith. It’s not easy to describe what Autumn is about, as it mixes a couple of elements. Not only does it compile recollections about how 101-year-old Daniel Gluck, who lives in a care home, influenced Elisabeth Demand’s life, it also alludes to a variety of current events. Brexit, the plight of refugees and various economic issues connect this novel to the time of its writing.

 

Uma Casa na Escuridão by José Luís Peixoto

The Portuguese author José Luís Peixoto penned a hugely implausible story that doesn’t aim to be anything else. The plot of this novel, which hasn’t been translated into English yet as far as I know, is merely used as a way to convey feelings – love, jealousy, fear, suffering and solitude. Although I struggled to finish it, I truly cared for the characters and enjoyed the poetic prose. Continue reading

Jane Austen: A Love Story with The Novel of Manners

Jane Austen needs no introduction. Even if you have never read one of her books, you surely have heard her name mentioned a million times. I first became aware of her work when I watched the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and immediately decided to read the book. I know this is an unconventional opinion, but I really loved the film by Joe Wright, who is one of my favourite directors, and I still picture Mr Darcy as Matthew Macfadyen.

If someone had just randomly and briefly told me about the plot of any of Jane Austen’s novels, I would probably have thought that I wouldn’t enjoy them, since they would seem to be just about simple love stories with nothing exciting to offer. However, that would be a wrong assessment, because, most of all, they are novels of manners which depict the middle-class life during the early 19th century. I love the wit of the writing style, the way in which the characters are portrayed with distinguishable personalities and the irony used to subtly criticise some of their actions. They offer so much more than just stories about love and relationships at a time when marriage was seen as means to achieve security in life.

After reading all of the six major novels by Jane Austen, who was born in 1775 and died in 1817, Pride and Prejudice remains my favourite. It tells the story of the Bennet family. Mrs Bennet is anxious to marry her five daughters. The second eldest, Elizabeth, is the heroine of the novel. She is intelligent, playful and witty, but assesses people after first impressions. Mr Darcy is one of the people she makes fast judgements about. But he is not innocent in the misunderstandings that arise between them. He struggles to overcome his pride and to give less importance to social status. I loved the development of their relationship and the well-conceived characters who enrich the satire present throughout the novel. Continue reading

Characters Who Could Be Protagonists in New Books

After choosing some of my favourite supporting characters, I started to think about how some of them could be protagonists in new books. Sometimes you just have that desire to know more about a specific character even if the book isn’t focusing on her or his story. Some of the characters I am about to mention may not be my favourites, but I think they have potential to take centre stage in a new or parallel story.

 

Johannes Brandt – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist was my favourite book among the ones I read last year, I wouldn’t particularly change anything about it. But I would definitely read a different book just about Johannes Brandt. He is a complex character, dealing with a difficult situation. Knowing more about him in The Miniaturist wouldn’t have worked, as the mystery surrounding him is an essential part of the book at first and the story is told from Petronella’s point of view.

 

Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The idea for this post arose from Henry Tilney being one of my favourite supporting characters. In fact, he is my favourite character in Northanger Abbey thanks to his sarcastic remarks. I would love to know what he was up to before meeting Catherine Morland, the heroine of the novel. Continue reading

Favourite Supporting Characters

The most famous or loved characters in books usually are the protagonists. However, a fascinating book wouldn’t be the same without captivating supporting characters. They have a significant role when it comes to add depth to the story and even to the protagonists. Being a supporting character doesn’t mean being secondary to the protagonist or less important. In fact, they usually help us to better understand the main characters.

When I first decided to write about this topic, I thought it would be quite easy to choose my favourite supporting characters. But I was quite wrong for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t always easy to establish if a character has a main or a supporting role. And second, too many characters sprang to mind. Nevertheless, I managed to select six among the myriad of possibilities.

 

Levin – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The main story in Anna Karenina centres around Anna and Vronsky, so I consider Levin to be a supporting character. However, I could read an entire book just about him. He’s one of the most enthralling characters in my opinion, because it’s mainly through him that we get to know more about Russian society and politics, and his internal struggle to adjust to having a family (and it not being perfect) is rather thought-provoking.   Continue reading

‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 stars

Every time I read a Jane Austen novel I expect to be delighted by a comedy of manners that satirizes the society of the 18th century. In Northanger Abbey Jane Austen does that by alluding to the importance of social status and the use of marriage to improve it. But at the same time this book is also a satire of the gothic novels of that age, making fun of the plot machineries that they featured and which were sometimes improbable. Jane Austen used the same devices employed in gothic novels to make both the readers and the characters reach the conclusion that some things are just what they first seem and don’t have any hidden story behind them.

Catherine Morland is the heroine of this novel. She goes with her wealthy neighbours, the Allens, to Bath and while staying there makes a few acquaintances. Among them are Isabella (who becomes her best friend at first), Mr Thorpe, Eleanor and Henry Tilney. Her interactions with these acquaintances have both great and dismal consequences.

Although growing up she was a bit of a tomboy, Catherine is described as an almost beautiful girl since she turned 15. She has a very active imagination and loves gothic novels. When she is invited by the Tilneys to stay for a time at Northanger Abbey, her imagination is propelled. She expects the abbey to hide secrets, as in the novels she likes to read, and looks for them whenever a chance arises. Continue reading