Book: Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero
Author: William Thackeray
Thackeray’s “novel without a hero” is a witty satire and caustic indictment on human nature and British society in the 19th century. The heroine, Becky Sharp, is one of literature’s most interesting; at times completely dislikeable and at others highly sympathetic. Vanity Fair tells the story of her dramatic rise and fall in high society; where people put themselves and their ambitions first and even true love isn’t immune to pride. Vanity Fair is an enjoyable, but long novel that examines the dual nature of ambition. Whether or not you agree with its premise it is a thought provoking read and highly recommended.
Literature of the 1800s reflects the many changes which were affecting society, including social and scientific advances. Jane Austen could be credited for inventing the rom-com, although her one-liners are funnier and her men more swoon-worthy than those found in romantic comedies of the 21st century. Austen was one of several female authors who found great success in the male-dominated world of writing in the 1800s and helped pave the way for more women writers. Another 19th century author whose work still inspires contemporary writers is Bram Stoker. With the twilight phenomenon still raging why not check out where it all began by reading Dracula. It’s a horror which explores sexuality, the role of women and fear of the outsider, recurring themes in most vampire fiction today.
Written by SIAN CAIN
Book: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author: George Orwell
1984 is arguably George Orwell’s masterpiece. It was first published in 1949. Orwell creates a chilling and frightening picture of what he imagines the future to be like, after having witnessed two world wars and social upheaval across Europe. Having examined the effects of fascism and socialism in the USSR in Animal Farm, in 1984 Orwell explores the idea that any society or country can become repressive, controlling and domineering. 1984 sounds like a sci-fi novel but reads like a very real history story. When first published, it was brave, it was new and it was a very dark prediction for what was to come based on what had come before. Brilliant.
Two World Wars, the Great Depression and seismic social change really brings the literary potential out of people.
Huxley, Orwell, Steinbeck and Hemingway embarked on extensive careers commentating on everything –ism in the book, from fascism and socialism to capitalism and racism. Miller and DH Lawrence broke down barriers and introduced the world to open sexual discourse. Waugh and Woolf watched and wrote as society changed and moved with them. Sir Conan Doyle gave us Sherlock in the Baskervilles, Chandler created the all-American tough talking PI, and Fleming gave us the hedonism and splendour of Bond, James Bond.
All that can be said is thank you, era between 1900 and 1950. Thank you.
Book: The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
As far as murder mysteries go this classic bestseller is remarkably compelling from start to finish. The Secret History follows a group of elite college students and their profound interest in the study of Greek. The story suddenly changes when an unimaginable event takes place. Forced to do the unthinkable, the group find themselves caught in a web of remorse, lies and deceit. Engaging and packed with twists and turns, Tartt’s novel will keep you guessing until the very end.
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