30 Mar 2011

Willa Wants to Read... Books about bankers

I know, I know. Seems like a random subject doesn't it? Not only random but also weird and - at best - niche. However, it just so happens that my boyfriend is a banker so of course I am interested in the subject and the species of the banker. My favourite banker-book (I bet you didn't know that that is a genre, did you?) is "The Bonfire of Vanities" by Tom Wolfe which is spectacularly long but also really good if you ask me and "Liars Poker" by Michael Lewis is another chillingly great book from the world that brough you "Wall Street".
However, there are quite a few banker books that I still want to read and these are on the top of my list.

"Cityboy - Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile" by Geraint Anderson
From amazon.com: 'Who is Cityboy? He’s every brash, suited, FT-carrying idiot who ever pushed past you on the tube. He’s the egotistical buffoon who loudly brags about how much cash he’s made on the market at otherwise pleasant dinner parties. He’s the greedy, ruthless wanker whose actions are helping turn this world into the shit-hole it’s rapidly becoming. For one period in my life, he was me.'

In this no-holds-barred, warts-and-all account of life in London’s financial heartland, Cityboy breaks the Square Mile’s code of silence in his own inimitable style, revealing explosive secrets, tricks of the trade and the corrupt, murky underbelly at the heart of life in the City.

"The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine" by Michael Lewis
From amazon.com: Michael Lewis has written from the perspective of a financial insider for more than 20 years. His first book, Liar's Poker, was a warts-and-all account of Wall Street culture in the 1980s, when Lewis worked at the investment bank Salomon Brothers. Everything Lewis has touched since has turned to gold, and The Big Short seems to be another of those books, combining an incendiary, timely topic with the author's solid, insightful, and witty investigative reporting.

"Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves" by Andrew Ross Sorkin
From amazon.com: Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world’s economy.

Do you have any banker or banking books you can recommend?

26 Mar 2011

Review: "Never Let Me Go" - Hard to let it go

It was seriously hard to let go of "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro, when I had finished the last sentence. It almost clung to my hand and I re-read pages and paragraphs over again. It is strange because when I first started out reading the novel, I gave up a few pages in and thought that it would be one of those books that end up gathering dust without me ever getting them read. However, when I gave it a second try something clicked and I became absorbed in the story. I will try to write a brief review here with no spoilers because this is one of those novels that deserve to exist in a spoiler-free environment.

It is England as we know it and then not really. Kathy H., a women in her late twenties, is reminiscing about her idyllic childhood at the oh-so-English boarding school Hailsham. Her memories are full of afternoons playing rounders, doing arts and crafts projects and hanging out with the other children, especially Ruth and Tommy who becomes Kathy's two closest friends. However, as the plot evolves, it becomes apparent that something is going on. It is not all as perfect and peaceful as it seems on the surface, actually something rather sinister is looming just around the corner.

I won't tell you anymore but if you like a book to surprise you, to keep you on your toes, to engage you and leave you breathless, you simply need to read this book. Especially as it has been made into a film starring Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan. I really want to see it now that I have read the book - and I hope that you will also feel the need to see it when you have read this incredible novel.

25 Mar 2011

Friday Fun Facts!

Want to learn more about your fellow bloggers? Then you need to go visit www.parajunkee.com!


1) I ALWAYS have a book in my bag. Always. Even when I am going to a party or going out for drinks, I bring a book to read in the metro.

2) When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. However, I never become really good at playing the piano because I always ended up trying to read while practising...

3) I love shopping - my favourite shopping involves hunting for second hand books.

4) Instead of meditating or doing yoga, I find my inner calm by sitting down and just looking at my colour-coded shelves of books. It makes me relax and remember all the good times I have spent reading the books and all the good times to come.

5) When I was a little girl, I really wanted to be a librarian, it was my dream job and I used to go to the local library (tiny and only open 8 hours a week) and just walk around looking at the books and enjoying the smell of books.

Now it's your turn :-)

24 Mar 2011

Review: "Bonjour Tristesse" - The troubled teenager

I read this beautiful little novel on a sunny Saturday last week. It is set in a summer decades ago in the south of France and I read it lying on the floor in a patch of sunshine. We have panoramic windows in our flat and when the sun shone through them, it was warm and golden so that when I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine that it was summertime in France and not early spring in Scandinavia.
"Bonjour Tristesse" by Francoise Sagan is a classic, one of those books that have popped up on my book-radar several times over the years and after reading a review of it by Simon at Stuck in a Book, http://stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.com/2011/02/from-mouths-of-babes.html. You should read his review, it is as always well-written.

Now there were several reasons why I wanted to read this:
1) It is set in France in the summer, the perfect escapism for someone like me who is craving sunshine
2) It caused a lot of controversy when it was published in 1954.
3) The author was 18 when she wrote it and it has become a classic

Cecile is a precocious teenage girl who lives with her Don Juan father Raymond whose goal in life seems to be staying forever 25. Togther they drift through a life of hedonism, partying and enjoying entertaining dinners. Raymond has a string of lady frinds that Cecile happily tolerates until the day one of the these relationships ends in a marriage proposal. Suddenly Cecile sees her days of indulgence disappear and be substituted by a life of routine and deference to her new step-mother. Therefore she concocts a scheme with her lover Cyril to scare off his fathers fiancée by tempting him into the arms of another woman.

This coming-of-age tale is brutal in its honest portrayal of Cecile. She is a selfish girl with little thought for anything but her own entertainment, however, as she is confronted with a different way of life where intelligence and cultured manners count more than good looks and youth, she sees the shallowness of the life that she is used to and it unsettles her. She is constantly veering between fighting and embracing change, not sure what she really wants to do with her life and in the end somebody else ends up paying the price for Cecile's actions.

I enjoyed reading it even though I found it difficult to like Cecile. It reminded me of one of my favourite films: "Pauline a la Plage" but where Pauline is a likeable clever young women who refuses to be caught in the games of the adults, Cecile is the opposite.
However, I think it will serve well as an antidote to much of the bad YA fiction on the market at the moment. It is not long so will not be too daunting for teenagers to read and I think it is an appropriate reminder of the consequences of not thinking about the consequences, wrapped up in a beautiful language and wonderful descriptions of the joys of summer in France.

22 Mar 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: What I have about reading...

I have said it before and I will say it again: I love Top Ten Tuesday, the wonderful meme created at The Broke and The Bookish: http://www.brokeandbookish.blogspot.com.

This week the topic is pet peeves related to books and I can definitely find ten of those... easily! So here are mine - now share yours and link up on The Broke and The Bookish :-)

10) Memoirs/biographies by reality stars or teenagers. The first ones are just boring and a waste of paper, the second rarely have lived enough to actually write a book about it. Yes there are exceptions but they are few and far between.

9)Authors that overtell and over-explain. You don't have to spell out every feeling or thought of the characters. Sometimes (often) being subtle is so much better.

8)Spoilers on the back cover. So not cool!

7) Publishing PRs that hype a book as the next "Harry Potter" or an author as the nexst Stieg Larsson. Please respect the individuality of auhtors, that type of PR is not cool.

6) Ugly covers. Why? Why? There is no reason at all to ruin the sales of a book by giving it an ugly or stereotypical cover. One of the covers that I found so disappointing is the orange cover of "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.

5) Stereotypical characters... It just gets so boring when you can predict what each character is going to do or say.

4) Authors that blantantly copy plots and characters from other books... You know who you are and you should be ashamed of yourself!

3) Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Not acceptable. This is why you have people proof-reading! It is disrespectful to readers who have paid (a large sum) to buy a book.

2) Snobbish readers that never read. Fair enough to have opinions about literature and books but if you have never read Harry Potter, don't tell me that it is a badly written children's book. If you haven't read it, don't pollute the air with your unfounded opinions.

1) Fast endings. A plot has built up, you have gotten to know the characters and you are really wondering how it is all going to end. Then poof everything sorts itself out over a couple of pages. Anti-climax, majo

20 Mar 2011

Review: "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" - Wondrous indeed

As I wrote a post about earlier this week, I am taking part in the "Back to the Classics 2011" Challenge. As part of this challenge, I have to read a Pulitzer Prize winner or nominee and as I had "The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz waiting for me on a bookshelf, I took this opportunity to read it. It has been widely praised and I have been quite sure that I would like it but at the same time have not starting reading it for fear that it would be a disappointment... I know, silly!

The Oscar of the title is Oscar de Léon whose family the reader gets to know intimately. His grandfather, the famous doctor living in Santo Domingo while it was governed by the dictator Trujillo who stopped at nothing to eliminate suspected enemies. In this country of spying neighbours and fear, Oscar's family is struck by a fuku, a sort of curse which might follow them for several generations. Then there is Oscar's mother Beli who immigrates to USA because of the aforementioned Trujillo and who seems to be forever dissatisfied with her life and whose love is tough. In her home in New Jersey, Oscar and his formidable older sister Lola grow up but while Lola is a strong girl, a survivor with legs that go on forever, Oscar is a geek, a nerd and a loser. He loves role play, dungeons and dragons, manga, playing computer for hours and to make his life even harder, he is horribly overweight and loves girls. Falling in love and loving fiercely are central themes in this novel which is told not in chronological order but stumbling from one decade to another as we get to know the de Leons better and better.
I loved that the author did not let himself by confined by a need for chronological order. It makes the story come to life and keeps the reader guessing. What will happen now? Who is the narrator?

The book is very very well-written. My favourite part is that it mixes English with an abundance of spanish words and slang which at first was every so slightly difficult to understand but soon became part of the story and it added flavour and authencity to the tale. I knew nothing about Santo Domingo when I started out reading the book but as the story unfolds, the island plays a central role and now I find myself wanting to learn more about Santo Domingo and the story and culture of Santo Domingo. So if you have any suggestions for books about this topic, please send me a comment.

What really caught me about this book was not the style or the story as much as Oscar himself. At some points, especially during his college years, I was moved to tears because he is such a sweet boy. Such a good man and so lonely, so misunderstood and so sad. I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him that everything was going to be okay. That, for me, is the must impressive part of the book. That it brings Oscar to life, makes to a real person and made me want to get to know him and spend time with him and his cool sister Lola. Being able to do that, create that magic, is the gift of a great story teller.

16 Mar 2011

Worst simpering females in fiction

We all know them, the simpering, inane, worthless, boring females in fiction that character-I-love-to-hate, are supposedly heriones but who are really just bloody useless. I was reminded of them when I reat this article about pathetic female film charaters in The Guardian:

So now I am in the mood for my own personal collection of fictions's females-I-love-to-hate:

Bella Swann from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
She just had to be on the list didn't she? I mean really, she does seem to be the most opinionless, fantasy lacking female character I have seen around for a long time. Her main hobby involves going Jacob? Edward? Jacob? Edward? and she seems incapable of making friends that are not really her boyfriends' friends. Sorry people but Bella is an awful role model for modern females.

Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Never marry a woman purely for her beauty - beauty fades with age but folly and silliness are character traits that don't fade as easily as looks... As Mr. Bennett had to realise in Pride and Prejudice. Yes, Lydia is bad but at least her youth is somewhat an excuse, Mrs. Bennett is just as bad and has no real excuses. Hated her for being so close to ruining Jane's and Elizabeth's lives but loved her for the drama and humour she brought to the book.

Erin and Shaunee aka The Twins from The House of Night series by Kristin and P.C. Cast
These two annoyed me from the very beginning and it only got worse. Honestly, they don't seem to be capable of thinking a single thought that is not about boys or shopping. They are supposed to be the main protagonist's close friends and allies - really they are just a waste of space.

Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic seris
by Sophie Kinsella.
This character makes me want to vomit as she stumbles through life and a large variety of shops wielding her collection of credit card as if they were weapons. Her professional success is based solely on luck and that fact that she manages to find a boyfriend baffles me as her egoistic and spoiled behaviour is really rather repelling.

If you want to feel free to post your own rant about pathetic female characters and link to it here :-)

15 Mar 2011

Back to the Classics Challenge - Marching on in March

First I want to say that I am really pleased that Sarah - the creator of this challenge whose blog can be found at http://www.sarahreadstoomuch.blogspot.com/ - decided to extend this challenge. So instead of finishing in June, we are now finishing on the last day of 2011. So happy about that decision because honestly peope, I was getting stressed out.

Sarah herself, the mother of Back to the Classics Challenge 2011, has already read 6 out of 8 books! Myself I am way behind... story of my life, I guess. I have read two out of the 8 and I am half way in two more. So getting there but my speed is that of a turtle not that a of a hare.

A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (half way through, hoping to finish it this week)

19th Century Classic:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

20th Century Classic:
The Collector by John Fowles

Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes:
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (half way through this one as well...)

A Banned Book:
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)
Atonment by Ian McEwan or The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

A Children's/Young Adult Classic
Peter Pan by J. Barrie

A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen or Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

Have you signed up for this challenge? Otherwise head over to Sarah's blog and check it out, it is a great way of sharing the love of classics!

Top Ten Tuesday: Welcome to my family!

Tuesday means that is it time for a Top Ten!
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish - http://www.brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/ - a wonderful blog, that you have to visit.

This week the topic is characters in books that we wish were in our family! So here we go:

10)William of Baskerville from Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose". It would be so cool to have this utterly intelligent and wise man as an uncle. The kind of uncle that will discuss the difficult things in life with you and always be there with kind advise.

9) Mr. Bingley from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". Even when his sisters are behaving rudely and being openly hostile to the girl he is in love with, he is still a good brother to them and take care of them. A very patient brother indeed!

8)Tamar from Iris Murdoch's "The Book and The Brotherhood". She goes through a lot and comes out stronger. She is a really cool girl - would love for her to be my cousin and friend.

7)Ariel from the "Darkangel" trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce. She puts her life at risk to save her best friend Eoduin and both my sister and I adore her and would be happy to welcome her as a third sister.

6)Anne Shirley from L. M. Montgomery's series. Would love to have her as an extra little sister!

5)Holly Golightly from Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Would love to have her as a cousin - she would be sure to introduce me to really cool people and get invitations to great parties. Only drawback is that it would probably be difficult not to be a little jealous of her as she is so popular and admired.

4)Cassandra from Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle". Cassandra would be a great sister, she is so sensitive and clever and I think you could have some really great girls' night in evenings with her.

3) Mr Bennett - again from Pride and Prejudice. He has a special place in my heart and I think he would be a really cool uncle with a great sense of humour.

2) Kay from Alan Warner's "The Sopranos" and "The Stars in the Bright Sky". If I could have an extra sister (I also have one and she is amazing!) I would go for Kay. She reminds me of myself and I have loved her from the very first time I read "The Sopranos".

1)The Weasley family from the Harry Potter series. Can't imagine a more loving, caring family. I would love to be able to spend Christmas with these people - would make for the perfect bunch of uncle, aunt and cousins!

Who would you like to add to your family?

14 Mar 2011

What is it about vamps?

Saturday night I went out for dinner with a girlfriend and after having discussed the big questions in life (i.e. why are men so different from women and what are we going to do when we grow up), we went for drinks at a popular bar. While we were sipping a happy mix of passion fruit, vodka and somthing else delicious, we ran into a friend of mine and his friends.

Somehow - as one drink turned into two turned into three - we stumbled into a conversation about... vampire fiction. For us YA lovers here in blogoland that is not so special - I mean we have all taken part in Edward vs. Jacob/Peeta vs. Gale discussions at some point - but for professional men in their mid-thirties with good careers to be discussing the merits of Eric Northman vs. Bill Compton... It was so surreal!

Apparently even men like these are susceptible to the charms of the True Blood series and yes, they had actually seen the Twilight movies though they were not keen on admitting it. However, they were not afraid of admitting their love of True Bloood and miss southern belle Sookie Stackhouse.

I saw that Harvard (yes the Harvard University) was offering an online course in vampire fiction - it is a genre that has suddenly been revived and also changed quite a bit. In the classic vampire fiction - Bram Stoker's Dracula and Anne Rice's vampire world - the vamps are definitely not the good guys. Even in Buffy, the vampires are pretty awful.

Then True Blood, Twilight and House of Night comes along and now the vampire seem to be plauged by a lot of conscience and only feed from willing humans - or even go vegetarian. Quite a change. However, it seems to have made vampire fiction much more palatable that they vamps have become tamed, de-fanged, bloodless.
So people, I ask you: what is it about vampires that is so fascinating? Why do you read vampire fiction?

13 Mar 2011

Willa Wants to Read... Exotic cookbooks!

I do like a good book about cooking- I LOVE cooking and I love to read cookbooks to get inspiration. These are some of the wonderful books about food, lovely, delicious food, that I have on my TBR and that I really want to read. And they are all about exotic and exciting kitchens!

The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. Because I have absolutely no knowledge about the Jewish kitchen but after visiting the Jewish Museum in Berlin a few months ago, I really want to learn more about traditional Jewish cooking.

Thai Food by David Thompson includes a large range of Thai recipes from all over that country. I will be going to Thailand in a month's time and I imagine that when I get back I will be full of foodie inspiration and wanting to try my hand at cooking lots of Thai recipes. I've heard that this book has all the information needed to get started so it is definitely on my TBR list!

Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible by Madhur Jaffrey. I guess the title says it all: a great guide to cooking curry. Up here in Scandiland there is nothing better than a curry to banish the cold. So I really want to learn more about curries so that when next winter comes, I will be able to cook up an Indian feast for the taste buds.

Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlo. There is no such thing as a good Chinese restaurant in this city where I live. Lots and lots of bad ones but not one decent one. If you ever want really beautiful Chinese food, try Hakkasan in London. For now, I will have to make do with cooking my own Chinese dishes and what better way to get inspired than to read Sichuan Cookery?

What are your favourite cookbooks?

11 Mar 2011

My first Follow the Book Blog Friday

I have seen this Follow the Book Blog sign sooooo many times but never actually reacted to it. Well, I am going to now! It was started by Parajunkee over at http://www.parajunkee.com/ and it is a great way to get to learn about other bloggers out there. So here is today's question:

Who are you, the boy/girl, instead of you the blogger?

I am a Scandinavian girl, 26 years old working in marketing and sales for a global company. When I am not working (which I do rather a lot if you ask me), I relax by reading - I love reading and I read everywhere. A lot of my reading is done either on the bus in the morning/evening to and from work or at a bicycle in the gym...
I don't have children or pets but I have a wonderful boyfriend who is very understanding about all my books and bunch of fantastic friends that I try to spend as much time as possible with - and on the weekends we usually end up partying. When I need to get out of the city, I go the countryside to visit my parents, usually my lil' sister comes to and we pretend that we are still teenagers and spend the gossiping about YA fiction, a sure way to feel 16 years old again.

Now, please tell me about you :-)

Review: "Devil's Cub" - The Taming of...

Lately I have been wanting to read Georgette Heyer - a lot of Georgette Heyer. Maybe it is because a lot of stuff is going on in my life at the moment and nothing is as soothing as losing myself in the Regency world of Heyer where the men are either rakes or gentlemen and the women are either frilly and silly or strong ladies with an opinion of their own. Nothing like a regency romance to make me feel that all is right in the world.

So last weekend I indulged myself by reading "The Devil's Cub" by aforementioned Heyer. The title refers to the scandalous Marquis of Vidal who lives in excess, gaming, dueling and seducing young ladies of dubious quality. One of these young ladies is Miss Sophia Challoner, a shallow 18-year-old who schemes with her mother to catch the rich heir in her net. When Vidal has to flee London due to an unfortunate episode involving dueling guns, he asks Sophia to come with him to Paris as his mistress. Unfortunately for Sophia and Vidal, the note he sends her is receive by her older and much more straitlaced and modest older sister Mary. Mary instantly realises that her sister will be a ruined woman if she allows herself to be set up as a kept woman and knowing that she will find no support in her mother, Mary takes it upon herself to save her sister by playing a devious trick on the haughty Marquis. However, Mary's plan go horribly wrong and suddenly she is the ruined sister...

It is a great Heyer novel this one. A bit different from the other ones that I have read because Vidal really is a bit of a crook and a scoundrel and Mary is not as impulsive and spirited as many of the other Heyer heroines.
As always though it was a pleasure to read and very soothing for a stressed mind. So if you need a bit of Regency romance, the Devil's Cub is a great choice.

8 Mar 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos in literature!

Top Ten Tuesday - as you probably know - was created at The Broke and the Bookish: http://www.brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/.
Each week a lot of us list-crazy bloggers will post a new Top Ten list and this week's topic is Top Ten Dynamic Duos!

10) Peter Pan and Wendy from "Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie. I loved Wendy when I was a child, I really really looked up to her. However, I always found Peter a bit of a spoiled brat. Wendy's patience, understanding and caring nature is the perfect antidote to Peter's childish nature while his courage and love bring out her adventurous side.

9)Sparhawk and his horse Faran from the Elenium series by David Eddings. What is a knight without his noble steed? In this case a very short-tempered, angry, passive-agreessive noble steed.

8)Milady de Winter and Cardinal Richelieu from "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas. Ooh these two are a really great pair of villians. He is the dark force that lead this vicious, revenge-loving beauty. Together they are seriously scary.

7)Mapp and Lucia from the Mapp and Lucia series. Bitter rivals and an early example of the frenemy tendency that was made famous by ugh Paris Hilton (can't believe I just wrote that name on my blog!). I think they keep each other on their toes and what would their lives be without their incessant battles to be the first lady of the village?

6) Marianne and Elinor Dashwoodfrom Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility". They are a great example to other sisters. Even though they are very different, they value these differences and bring out the best in each other.

5) Katniss and Peeta from "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. Katniss has the logical reasoning and the cool while Peeta has the emotional intelligence and good sense. They are absolutely a power couple!

4)The three musketeers and d'Artagnan. I know they are more than a group than a duo but hey, they are really really cool!

3) Jane and Lizzy Bennett. Sisters seem to feature heavily on my list :-) I love how supportive Lizzy and Jane are of each other, I think they would have been so lonely with that mother and those sisters if they did not have each other.

2)Hermione, Ron and Harry from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Normally they say that three is a crowd but in this case, three is exactly the right amount to battle evil.

1) Georgette Heyer's heroes and heroines. I am on a bit of a Heyer roll at the moment, reading a lot of her books and what is quite clear is that her heroes and heroines usually adhere to the "opposites attract" saying. The males are noble, clever, fashionable but not slaves to fashion, eligible but unable to find the woman who can be their soulmate. The heroines have common sense and are independent. They are not missish and they take chances and usually they find the heroes annoying - at least in the beginning... Oh they fit so well together :-)

5 Mar 2011

Review: "The Collector" - Obsessions

I had actually read this book before but I didn't realise it until I had read quite far and in the end it didn't matter because I couldn't remember anything about it anyway. That is one of the very few perks of having a bad memory - you get to re-experience great books and films over and over again.

"The Collector" by John Fowles is a great novel - his debut which I find extremely impressing. The narrator Frederick, who calls himself Ferninand, is damaged at best and outright crazy at worst. He is a 25-year-old orphan who has grown up in a loveless home with this aunt and cousin but who comes into a large amount of money when he wins at pools. Frederick is obsessed with Miranda, a 20-year-old art student from North London. Miranda is obsessed as well but not with Frederick whom she hardly notices. She is obsessed with being bohemian, arty, leaving her middle-class background behind and becoming part of the world that she adores and which is symbolized for her by G.P., an libertine and artist old enough to be her father.
However, Miranda comes face to face with Frederick's obsession with her and with love when she is kidnapped by him and imprisoned in his basement somewhere in the English countryside.

As the days go by Miranda and her captor circle each other in little power games where Miranda always has the upper hand except for the fact that Frederick literally has the key to her freedom and denies her the use of it.
What does Frederick/Ferdinand want from Miranda? She wonders and the reader wonders as well. I think Frederik himself wonders. He collects butterflies and Miranda is the triumph in his collection. He doesn't want anything from her except to have her.

It is a fascinating read because both Miranda and Frederick call for pity even though both of them are really quite annoying and caught up in their own webs of self-deceit. The story is more reminiscent of the plot in Lucy Christopher's "Stolen" which is like a YA version of "The Collector" than of "Room" by Emma Donoghue. However, all three books deal with the same topic, kidnapping, in a way that is worth reading.

"The Collector" is great. It is a piece of classic literary fiction and it deserves your attention.

3 Mar 2011

Last night I dreamt I was at...

Well not Manderley. But I did daydream about going somewhere. The last month has been hectic and beyond and this week I have been in Oslo where snow is thick on the ground and time for reading is sparse. So before falling asleep last night I dreamt about going away on a lazy vacation with lots of books and my boyfriend!

These are some of the places I was thinking about:

Gellert Spa Hotel in Budapest. Who needs to lie in the sand on a beach reading when you can do it in spa? (actually I do prefer the beach but in the winter I will settle for a spa)

Hotel Telegraaf in Tallin - the rooms are great for reading when the winter darkness is shrouding the city

The Library Hotel in Manhatten. The name says it all - it even has a reading room!

And then I dreamt about Thailand where I will be going in April with the boyfriend and the books!