1950s Short Story

The Victorian Chaise-Longue – Marghanita Laski

  Persephone No. 6





Claire from Paperback Reader and Verity from The B Files are hosting Persephone Reading Week. I have not read a Persephone book before and so decided to take this opportunity to try one. I admit to searching out the shortest one I could find (The Victorian Chaise-Longue is just 99 pages long), but I think it was a very good choice, as I really enjoyed it and will go on to read many more in the future.

The Victorian Chaise-Longue tells the story of Melanie, a young woman suffering from TB in the 1950s. She recovers enough to be allowed out of her sick bed for the first time and decides to sleep on a Victorian chaise-longue. When she wakes up, she discovers that she has been transported back in time and is now living inside the body of a Victorian woman, who is also ill.

This book is suppossed to be dark and spooky. Nymeth described it as being a

chilling, atmospheric and suffocating novella.

but I’m afraid this book didn’t scare me at all. I think the main reason for this, is that this isn’t very likely to happen. Blindness had a real impact on me, as I can foresee it’s shocking events occurring one day, but I’m afraid I’m not a big believer in time-travel.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I actually found it funny as opposed to scary. The rantings of Melanie trying to persuade the people in her Victorian world that she was from the future just made me smile.

‘You think I am Milly Baines gone mad,’ she said, ‘but I am not. I am another woman. I don’t know where Milly Baines is, perhaps she is in my time and we have got changed somehow, or perhaps I am just dreaming and I cannot wake up. But I do not belong here, I tell you, all my life is in the future, my child, the man I love.

This is a lovely little book, and whether it scares you or makes you laugh, I’m sure you will enjoy it!


Am I alone in finding this book funny?

Have you ever found a scary book amusing?




Persephone reading week begins!

 Claire from Paperback Reader and Verity from The B Files are hosting
Persephone Reading Week.

They are encouraging people to read as many of these special grey books as possible in the next seven days. They have come up with some great quizzes and have several Persephone books to give away.

Please head over to their blogs and help them to celebrate the books from this special publisher.

I have to admit that I have never read any Peresphone books before. This event has encouraged me to take a few off the shelves and give them a try. The timing isn’t great as I am still trying to get through all the Bookers before the short list is announced, but I will do my best to squeeze a few in.

Tonight I am going to read The Victoria Chaise – Longue by Marghanita Laski. It sounds scary!

I’m really looking forward to reading it and will hopefully be able to tell you all about it tomorrow.


Are you a fan of Persephone books?

Which is your favourite?

2009 Booker Prize

Not Untrue and Not Unkind – Ed O’Loughlin

 Long listed for the Booker Prize 2009

Not Untrue and Not Unkind follows a group of foreign correspondents covering breaking news stories in Africa. Their work is dangerous, but brings a camaraderie not normally seen between people with such different personalities.

This is a very good book and I can see why it made it on to the Booker long list. The writing is vivid, shocking at times, but always clear and easy to follow. It lost some momentum towards the middle, but picked up again after a few chapters.

The subject matter of the book means that some scenes are disturbing to read. The contrast between the African people and the reporters, who only glimpse the horrors before heading back to their posh hotels, emphasizes the differences between the two groups.

The plot was straight forward, but while it was an interesting insight into the life of a reporter, it didn’t have that special spark I’m looking for in a book. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and often felt detached from the horrors I was reading about.

Recommended to anyone considering becoming a war correspondent, and fans of Kate Adie’s books, but it isn’t really my sort of thing.


Do you enjoy books written by war correspondents?

Was this book one of your favourites from the Booker list this year?

Other Weekly Geeks

Weekly Geeks: Why Haven’t I Read This Yet?

My TBR pile is currently standing at around 500 books, so there are a lot which I would love to read. There are a few which stand out as being long overdue though.

Here are the ones I am most looking forward to reading:

The Wind – Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

I love Murakami, but for some strange reason I haven’t read his most famous book yet. I plan to read it in the next few months (but I have been saying that for about a year now!)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

I have had a copy sitting on my shelves for about 6 months now – I really want to read it – especially when I see everyone has now moved on to the rest of the trilogy.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

I have no idea how this book avoided my radar for so long. It only entered my TBR pile a few months ago, but the main question should be why it failed to get there sooner.

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
I don’t think I’ll love this book, but I hate being the only one who hasn’t read it. I’ve somehow ended up owning three copies – I should really make the time to read it soon!

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffery Eugenides

This book has been on my shelves for years. I loved Middlesex, so I really should have got round to this ages ago. I think I’ll save it until 2010 though – it is always good to have a favourite waiting to be read – I’d hate to have nothing to look forward to!

Have you read all these books?
Which was your favourite?

Have a look what the other weekly geeks haven’t got round to reading yet.


The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenger (Film)

I don’t watch many films and tend to wait until they come out on DVD before watching them, but I loved reading The Time Traveller’s Wife so much that I ventured out to the cinema for the first time in four years!

The Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my favourite books and one of the only ones which has moved me to tears. I saw the trailer for this film for the first time a few weeks ago and it affected me so much that it brought tears to my eyes. I have never been so moved by a trailer before, so I couldn’t wait until the DVD was released – I needed to know if they had managed to adapt it successfully to the big screen.

I was very worried about what they would do to such a special book, but I think they did a good job. It was emotional throughout and I think I cried more in the cinema than when I was reading it. Inevitably they changed a few things, but I think these were necessary for the move from text to screen.

There were a few points when the acting didn’t come across as very natural, but I quickly forgot about them as I was swept along by the story.  The switching of points in time occasionally confused me when I was reading the book, but this didn’t happened during the film. I’m not sure if this was because I’d read the book or because seeing the pictures made it more obvious, but my husband who hadn’t read the book, did not get confused.

This film will appeal to women more than men and this was reflected by the large majority of women in the cinema, but my husband didn’t regret seeing it and enjoyed the plot too.

Overall I was very impressed with the screen adaptation. It wasn’t as good as the book, but it gets quite close.

Highly recommended.


Have you seen it yet, or are you worried about the directors ruining your favourite book?

Were you impressed?

Is this the best film you’ve seen this year?

2009 Booker Prize Historical Fiction

The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds

 Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2009

The Quickening Maze was shortlisted for the Booker prize on Tuesday, and having read the entire longlist this year I have to say I was very surprised to see it there. I can only assume that this book improves on re-reading – it’s poetic words making much more sense second time round.

The book is set the mid 19th century and centres on a mental asylum in Epping Forest. The two poets, John Clare and Alfred Tennyson, have a strong presence in the book and the historical details of their lives are described as accurately as possible.

I was really looking forward to reading it as I used to live very close to Epping Forest, enjoy historical fiction and find madness a great addition to any story! Unfortunately I was a little bit disappointed, as although the writing was beautiful and individual scenes were captivating, the book failed to fully engage me. The plot had no real forward momentum and the interesting episodes in the book didn’t feel entirely linked.

The large number of characters added to my sense of confusion, perhaps they emphasised the madness present in the mental asylum, but there were so many people fighting for my attention that in the end they just washed past me.

The author is a talented poet, but I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of poetry and so I think much of the beauty of this book was lost on me – it was too quiet.

The wind separated into thumps, into wing beats. An angel. An angel sat there in front of her. Tears fell like petals from her face. It stopped in front of her. Settling, it’s wings made a chittering sound. It paced back and forth, a strange, soft, curving walk that was almost like dancing.

The book was well researched and I loved some of the snippets of historical information. The desire to bury everyone in consecrated ground, leading to sneaking a dead baby into the coffin of a rich gentleman was one such revelation for me. I also loved the descriptions of the forest. The trees seemed to play a more important part in the book than the people.

There was a lot to like in The Quickening Maze, but it didn’t really work as a novel first time round – perhaps a second reading would reveal many more of the subtle layers.

Recommended to poetry lovers or anyone who enjoys quiet pieces of historical fiction.