Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

As ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ is a hugely popular Hollywood film starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, I thought that this would be the best novel to introduce me to the writing style of Truman Capote. I’ve had the film on DVD for ages but have put off watching it until I read the novel, therefore I could read it without any other preconceptions of the characters and whether what happens in the Hollywood movie is different than the original novel envisioned by Capote.  (more…)

Advertisements

The Christmasaurus: The Musical Edition – Tom Fletcher

Yet again, I’ve read another of the Fletcher’s books and this will probably be the last review of a book written by that family for a while – although I do have Tom’s younger sister’s first novel on my bookshelf waiting to be read so who knows, another review could be sooner than expected. If you’ve kept up with the reviews, you may well have read ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ and/or ‘The Creakers’ or even thought that they would make perfect last-minute Christmas presents for loved ones. A well-chosen book always make the best gifts.

(more…)

The Creakers – Tom Fletcher

Tom Flecther makes up a quarter of the band McFly who rose to fame in 2004 with the song ‘Five Colours In Her Hair’ and ever since that hit, they became my favourite band and by the time I was 13 I was completely obsessed. I’m 19 now and not quite obsessed and has finally accepted that I will never marry Tom. He’s married to Giovanna Fletcher (my review of her latest book ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’) with two beautiful boys – Buzz and Buddy.  (more…)

Some Kind Of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

I was lucky enough to pre-order a signed copy of this novel and had it delivered straight to my flat a couple of days before it was released in the shops. It arrived the same day that I received my moomin pen holder, so it was just as exciting as Christmas if not more.

I have been excited for another of Giovanna’s books as I find them so easy to read and the characters so captivating; plus for an English Literature student if you’re constantly reading ‘literary works’ then a novel like this is the perfect break from Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Lewis and so forth.  (more…)

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

I had to give this novel two stars on GoodReads due to the uncomfortable subject content and plot of the story, especially due to the recent sexual abuse allegations in the media.

For those of you readers who do not know the storyline of ‘Lolita,’ it is about a 37-year-old man named Humbert Humbert who moves to America and in order to get close and groom the landlady’s daughter, he chooses to marry her before her untimely and horrific death; thus means Humbert enables to court Lolita whilst travelling across the US.  (more…)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? – Peter Hedges

I felt incredibly privileged to arrive at work a few months ago and open up the package addressed to myself from Fox, Finch & Tepper (a publishing house based in Bath, UK) giving me one of the first UK editions ever printed of ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’ by Peter Hedges.
I knew the film was released in 1993 and starred Johnny Depp and one of my favourite all time actors: Leonardo Dicaprio but had no idea until I contacted the publishing house that it was originally novel. When I received the book, I told myself that I wouldn’t watch the film until after I’d read the book so as to not influence myself based on the caliber of actors starring in the film.

I found the blurb to be really basic and not very descriptive as to how the novel would pan out but I actually preferred it that way because as I had previous knowledge or assumptions of the story, I could read and imagine what happens next completely innocently. I would predict what would happen but every time I was wrong. I was so sure I knew what the outcome of the ending would be based on Gilbert Grape’s telling of his story and his increasingly strange and abusive behaviour. I was wrong, it took a completely different turn to what I had interpreted.

Hedges writing was so simplistic but had such a powerful impact on me, especially the fond way he would talk about his “retard” brother Arnie Grape, the main character Gilbert writes as if he doesn’t care about his family or himself and his own emotions but he quite often writes “I wanted to say this but didn’t, instead I said,” which just proves the intense conflict he has with himself and how in order to protect him and his family he speaks what they want to hear. Gilbert Grape takes the father role from a young age after his father’s suicide when he was younger despite Larry being the eldest son in the Grape family and this has an incredibly severe impact on himself and the eldest daughter Amy. Whilst obese Momma is sat smoking, eating and watching television every day Amy and Gilbert become the mother and father of the household, looking after everyone and taking responsibility of things they shouldn’t have to whilst living at home and taking care of their mentally handicapped brother when their mother is lazy and fat.
It is not an overtly sad story but if you choose to read the novel in depth and read in between the lines, then you can see the pain, sadness and other emotional baggage that every single character within the novel has and influences their behaviours and various personalties and relationships with others. The ending is pa enrtially sad not because of the crucial event that takes place but how the characters respond and act, in particular Gilbert and Amy Grape.

I haven’t read a book I truly have enjoyed as much as this in a while, it was something completely different to anything I’ve read about before. A poor family struggling to make ends meet in America is not a situation that I’m used to; it’s usually about the rich upper classes struggling to find love or becoming corrupt and killing themselves, very rarely have I come across a novel with such genuine characters that you could place into real life society and know they would fit in.

 

 

 

Anxiety & Exeter’s Underground Passages

Sitting here in my grandparents’ house exactly a year ago, my family and I were supporting my dad’s sudden mental breakdown and battle with anxiety and depression. A year later, he is much better and roles have reversed. In the winter of 2016, I had a severe breakdown whilst at university affecting various important relationships and even the standard of my uni coursework. It was only a few months later that I realised that nothing was going to get better if I didn’t seek out help from those closest to me and most importantly: a doctor.

Six months later, I’ve completed my CBT programme (thanks to Rebecca Thomson at Wiltshire IAAPT Service), taking 150mg Sertraline daily and taking each day as it comes. Every day is different. Some easier than others but all completely unpredictable.

Yesterday, as a family we decided to visit Exeter and explore the city that my dad once inhabited and to visit the passages that run under the centre of the city.
Ever since I was about 9 years old and visiting Cheddar Gorge and Caves, I developed a terrifying and paralysing fear of the dark and confined spaces because they make me feel trapped, blind and completely vulnerable to whatever lurks in the dark. That trip affected me so badly that I didn’t sleep properly for the following six months, surviving on only 3 hours sleep, at least, a night. I barely function on six hours a night, how did I manage on three?!
Since then, I have avoided situations like that due to the ‘worst case scenario’ part of my anxiety coming to the forefront, this meant I missed on an adventure trip to Wales in Year 8 (age 13) and just doing other things out of my comfort zone. I am conscious of when my anxiety comes out to play, I can feel it creeping up on me and beginning to constrict and control me; and this needs to stop. My dad suggested the trip to the underground passages and catacombs and at first I wasn’t going to venture 16 feet down under the city, but if I didn’t go I would not only continue to suffer from this irrational fear but also FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

So I went down. I hated it. The history of the tunnels was amazing and it was incredible to actually touch the walls that people from hundreds of years ago built and walked through in order to fix water piping, however it was tiny and claustrophobia inducing. A fat person definitely would not be able to fit through some of the passageways because even I had difficulty and my BMI says that I’m underweight! I took my water bottle because in ‘worst case scenario’ I would survive longer down there compared to the others without water; when I began to get panicky, the trapped feeling, and the tour guide told me to lead the way down one passage in which had a weird ending towards it I would clutch my bottle and focus on it and drink to help regulate my breathing if I began to hyperventilate.

On the way back to the entrance, we could do either the easy way back or the more difficult tunnel. My FOMO struck me again as all my family wanted to go through the difficult passage and my anxiety wouldn’t let me separate from my family and go with the tour guide who’s name was unknown and therefore I couldn’t know if I could trust him.
When he said it was a difficult passageway, he wasn’t far off. At one point it got less than a metre high, many people in front of me, and my mum and sister crawled on their hands and knees to the very end, but somehow (and I don’t know how) I managed to squat walk the whole way through without touching the walls or the ground with my hands.

I hated the experience and how anxious and panicked it made me feel despite the amazing historical background and importance of the passageways were to Exeter city years ago. I wouldn’t do it again in the near future, maybe once I have overcome the severest parts of my anxiety I would consider doing it again, but not yet. I am proud of myself for doing it and proving to myself that anxiety is manageable step by step and I can do anything if I’m surrounded by the right supportive people and not doing too much all at once.