Holiday reading (5)

For our next instalment of our ‘Holiday reading’ series, we are considering two books read by possibly the two most avid readers I know: Ms Wylie (Drama) and  Mr Harrison (English).  They have each enjoyed reading very different novels during the holidays; Ms Wylie’s recommendation being A little life by Hanya Yanagihara and Mr Harrison’s, A pocketful of crows by Joanne Harris.

Ms Wylie describes A little life as “one of the best books I have ever read” and this is echoed in reviews of the book in newspapers and book review sites such as Goodreads… Such reviews have provoked much weighty discussion and forthright views! Here’s a synopsis:

 “When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.” (Picador, accessed 31 January 2018.)

Of his choice, Mr Harrison says:

One of my favourite books over the Christmas holidays was  A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris – an enchanting tale which structurally follows the seasons of the timeless English countryside. The central figure is a ‘wild girl’, one of ‘the travelling folk’, who falls in love with a man of ‘our world’. It is the most graceful evocation of woodland folklore entwined with the agony of heartbreak. The composition is a dark fairy tale based loosely on one of the legendary ‘Child Ballads’. The hypnotising illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins of hares, foxes and stags are as delightful as the prose. If you are someone who finds beauty in nature, wonder in storytelling and mystery in white magic, I recommend this. Best enjoyed by the fireside with a hearty chalice of mulled wine and guitar melodies dreamily serenading you… “

Two intriguing novels, vastly different from each other, but equally arresting – which one to choose first?  Possibly A little life, with A pocketful of crows as a respite to follow? Do tell us what you think.

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Dark Tales from the Woods (Daniel Morden)

Grimm Brothers
Grimm Brothers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were very excited to welcome back to school the great storytellers, Daniel Morden and Oliver Wilson-Dickson, on Monday 3rd December.  Daniel and Oli came to see us for the first time last year (check out this entry here), and because they wowed us then with their telling of the Brothers Grimm tale, The Lucky Child, we invited them back to tell us a story from Daniel’s collection of folk talesDark Tales from the Woods.  During the week preceding their visit, we visited the English classes of our Year 7 pupils, to remind them how storytelling is important for the passing down of knowledge, traditions, morals and language followed by a telling of another of Daniel’s stories: The King of the Herrings.  The children told us that they really enjoyed this story, which boded well for the day when the storytellers came…  Daniel warmed us all up by illustrating how telling stories can be similar to telling lies which were really outrageous, everyone laughed and then we were delighted with Oli’s contributions both to the story and by playing his violin to accompany the story and sing.  How easy is it to play the violin at the same time as singing, I wonder?  Such talented people!  After a fabulous morning, Daniel went on to prepare for a storytelling event at the Crick Crack Club, based at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London…
darktales