Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dotter of her Father's Eyes by Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot

A deserving Winner of the Costa Biography award, this book is a revelation. If you have never read a graphic novel or indeed a graphic memoir as this is, then give this a try. Intertwining her own childhood and the relationship between her and her father; Joycean scholar James S. Atherton with the relationship between Joyce and his daughter Lucia, this is a wonderful portrait of difficult relationships and growing up female in the twentieth century. Bryan Talbot is well established as a comic book writer and artist but it is Mary M Talbot’s first foray into the area, she is most famous for her books on language and gender, having taught at a number of universities, she is now a freelance writer. The book is sometimes sad but it is also funny and fiercely intelligent. The pairing of the writing and illustration is often painfully poignant particularly as it touches on Lucia’s declining mental health mirrored in James Atherton's own decline. There is a love of language and reading emphasised from the beginning, opening as it does with the lines from Finnegan’s Wake "my cold mad feary father".
There are many parallels between Mary and Lucia; they both have parents called Nora and Jim, they both have a hard time asserting themselves against their domineering parents, they are both fiercely ambitious. However Lucia found her ambitions thwarted by her parents repeated dismissal of her dancing and insistence on moving to London in 1931. When she tried to press them to let her stay James Joyce replied "Lucia dearest, you needn't trouble yourself about career. As your dear mother knows, as long as you know how to walk into a room properly, that is all that matters." The looks on her parents’ faces say it all; the very idea of her having a career is disdainful. Lucia's first break down happened not long after. 
Growing up through the sixties and seventies Mary has an entirely different career pursuing her academic dream despite; not instead of marriage and motherhood. 
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in 20th Century history especially the changing lives of women and to anyone who has ever been a daughter.

Published 2012 Jonathan Cape

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Hey there I am making some changes to the blog and I hope you all like what you see. I would love any feedback. It is a work in progress and I will be changing and tweaking as I go. I will hopefully be blogging more often and on a range of different topics including media, culture, movies, feminism, parenting and literature as well as writing book reviews. I will also be blogging about writing and maybe even including some previews and stories. Stay in touch. Enjoy the Bowie video below.


Ch Ch Ch Changes

The Engagement

Liese Campbell is an Architect from London who has fled the recession in search of work in Australia. She accepts a tedious job with her uncle as an Estate Agent based in Melbourne. Through her work she meets Alexander Colquhoun a handsome and wealthy rancher looking for a city crash pad. To amuse herself and make some extra money Liese starts sleeping with Alexander for money. When he invites her to his remote property for the weekend she sees no reason to say no. However while Liese thinks she has been playing the game by her rules she soon learns that all is not as it seems. 
Chloe Hooper has cleverly subverted the Gothic Drama of the girl trapped in the big house by a handsome charismatic man. Here the girl is no innocent but sexually blasé and desperate for money. As in the gothic drama she depends on him financially and by going to the remote farmhouse a rambling Victorian mansion she comes to depend on him for everything food, water, clothes. She uses her sexuality to try and appease him and he points out that this makes her a whore. While Liese is all too modern with her debts and lack of ambition Alexander is a strangely old fashioned character who feels the need to save Liese from her “whoredom”.  Tension mounts as he reveals himself to be increasingly unstable and Liese starts to question her safety and plan her escape. A dark unsettling read which will appeal to fans of the gothic as well as those who enjoy tales of twisted relationships such as Gone Girl.
The Engagement is published 24/01/13 by Jonathan Cape

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Reviews Coming Soon

Some books which I am currently reading or have recently finished. I shall be adding reviews for these titles over the next week or two.

Housewife with a Half-life by A.B. Wells

Wild Irish Women by Marian Broderick

The Visitor by Maeve Brennan

The Istanbul Puzzle by Laurence O'Bryan

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

Dotter of her Father's Eyes by Bryan & Mary Talbot

The Engagement by Chloe Hooper

The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack
Hereward the Devil's Army by James Wilde

An Interview with Laura Jane Cassidy author of Angel Kiss and Eighteen Kisses

1. Did you always want to write?
I wanted to be a writer from a very young age. When I was in fourth class we had to write an essay for school entitled When I am Twenty-One and the opening line of my essay was:
When I am twenty-one I want to be an actress or a writer. I left drama school to work on Angel Kiss, so that essay was strangely prolific.
2. What was your favourite book as a child?
Roald Dahl’s Matilda was my favourite book as a child and is probably still my favourite book, although it’s so hard to pick just one. I also adore Pride and Prejudice, The Lovely Bones and Wuthering Heights. Recent favourites include The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars.
3. When/where/how do you find the time to write? (do you have a separate writing desk or room?)
I write full-time so I’m almost always writing or thinking about writing. I wrote the first drafts of all my books in my bedroom. I can pretty much write anywhere – in my house, in coffee shops, on the train. I don’t need to be in a specific place. If I’m out writing in public I sometimes forget that I’m not at my desk and start talking aloud to myself. It’s very embarrassing!
4. Who/what inspires your writing?
Good movies, music, books, people and life in general.
5. What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Be positive, patient and willing to listen to constructive criticism.
6. What's the best advice you ever got?
‘Get an agent.’
7. Do you have a favourite fictional character that you love to write about?
I love Colin. I recently started a new series and the character I missed writing about most was Colin. I know my characters so well, they almost feel like real people to me.
8. Have you ever/Would you ever base a character on a real person?
Some of the characters in Angel Kiss were initially inspired by real people, but then they evolved into completely distinct characters in their own right. I used to say that I would never base characters on real people, but several of the characters in my subsequent books are actually based on people from my life.
9. why? or why not?
Although some of my characters are similar to real people, I would never lift a person from my life and place them in a book in the exact
same form. I think it would distract from the world of the book and would also be slightly unethical!
10. How long did it take to write your first book?
The first draft of Angel Kiss took me four months to write. Most of my first drafts take this long to complete.
11. What's the hardest part about writing?
Middles are hard. I love writing beginnings and endings and I always write those first. Middles are challenging. And synopses are SO difficult to write, they melt my brain.
12. What made you want to write about ghosts?
The idea for the character of Jacki – a girl who helps the ghosts of murdered women - came into my head one day while I was in college. I’m not sure exactly where the idea came from, I think it was a combination of lots of different things.
13. Have you ever had a ghostly experience?
I haven’t had one personally. I’m very open-minded so I wouldn’t rule one out, but I’d probably be absolutely terrified. I like writing about scary things but might not be so brave in reality.
14.Will you always have ghosts in your books or is it specific to the Angel Kiss series?
It’s not necessarily specific to the Angel Kiss series, but I won’t always have ghosts in my books. My new series also has a paranormal slant but it doesn’t involve spirits.
15. Are Jacki’s lyrics your own?
Yes. I’m not as confident with lyrics as I am with prose. I sometimes worry that I’m not doing justice to Jacki’s song writing skills, because I know she’s probably quite good at it (even though she’s not actually real!).
16. Have you been in a band?
I was briefly in a band when I was a teenager. We were called The Violet Kerosene Biscuits, or ‘The Biscuits’ for short. We weren’t together for very long, we jammed in my friend’s garage but never played any gigs. I wrote one of the songs in Angel Kiss while I was in The Biscuits. It was written about the guy who initially inspired Nick, and was very angst-ridden.
17. What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
I think I probably would’ve been an actress. I did drama in college and all through my teenage years I never wanted to be anything else. I briefly considered being a profiler or a lawyer, mostly because I was obsessed with the T.V. show Criminal Minds and the movie Legally Blonde.
18. How easy or hard did you find it getting published/getting an agent?
It was one of the most difficult processes I ever went through, but it was worth it in the end. Things actually happened quite quickly for me, although it didn’t feel like that at the time. I got my first agent about two years after I started writing Angel Kiss. I’ve just moved to The Darley Anderson Agency in London, who were my dream agency when I was starting out.
19. Can you tell us anything about your current work in progress?
I can’t say too much, but I can say that I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait for you to read it, so I can hear what you think! It’s paranormal crime, but is very different from the Jacki King series in some ways.
20. What would you like to have written?
I’m okay with not having written any of my favourite books because then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience them as a reader. But if I really had to give an answer – I’d love to have been a writer on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because it is perfection.