Tracy Chevalier

All posts tagged Tracy Chevalier

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

Published October 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s My Mother’s Wedding all about?:

My Mother’s Wedding follows our young female protagonist, Jane at her mother’s wedding and the life-altering choices that are made that day.

What did I think?:

I’ve had my beady little eye on this collection for the longest time and I’m delighted it’s finally time to enter it into my Short Stories Challenge and enjoy fiction from a number of celebrated authors including the author of this piece, Tessa Hadley as well as Sarah Hall, Evie Wyld, Susan Hill, Lionel Shriver and Audrey Niffenegger to name a few and as the ones I’ve mentioned are some of my favourite female voices, I knew I was in for a treat with this collection. Edited by Tracy Chevalier, the idea is that each of the authors has been given Jane Eyre’s most notorious line: “Reader, I Married Him,” and allowed to let their imaginations run wild. I thought this was a fantastic idea and was really looking forward to seeing how each writer would use that infamous statement to tell their own story whilst maintaining the spirit and essence of Jane Eyre and indeed, of Charlotte Bronte as an author herself.

Tessa Hadley, author of the short story, My Mother’s Wedding.

Our story begins as you may have guessed by the title, in the run up to a wedding, one of which our female protagonist Jane (or Janey as she is known) is not looking forward to. The wedding is her mother’s and she is not marrying Jane’s father or the father of Jane’s half-siblings but a much younger man called Patrick. The family live a carefree, bohemian existence in the Welsh countryside and are often looked down on by other members of the community for their open and nonchalant ways but all individuals in the family appear to be content with their lot. This is until the day of the wedding however, when after much merriment (and maybe a bit too much home made mead!), tensions begin to bubble to the surface, secrets are revealed and decisions are made that will affect the dynamics of the family forever.

The beautiful Welsh countryside, where our story is set.

This little story kind of sneaked up and surprised me a little bit and as I’m always delighted by the unexpected, this was a very welcome turn of events for me personally as a reader. At the beginning, it feels kind of cosy, happy and languid with plenty of beautiful descriptions of nature, the weather and the surrounding area although before long, we begin to sense that there may be undercurrents of anguish below the serenity on the outside. My favourite thing about this story though was the way in which Tessa Hadley used the line: “Reader, I Married Him,” as a very particular nod to Jane Eyre and her creator Bronte, whom at the time was admired as brave and independent for this utterance considering women’s position in society at the time. That is to say, Bronte didn’t fall back on “we married,” or “he married me,” but made a definitive statement that it was HER particular choice to marry not that of her eventual husband, Mr Rochester.

Without giving anything away, Hadley uses this idea to illustrate in My Mother’s Wedding the decisions that are made in the story without having to actually have her characters say the line at any time. The way everything unravelled, particularly by the end, felt different, felt interesting and was a novel take on such a celebrated literary quote in history.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Ringing Night by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

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Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Two

Published April 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of my Short Stories Challenge for 2018. I have to admit, I’m feeling a little disillusioned writing this post and preparing which short stories I’m going to read for the next few months as in Part One earlier this year, I had so many disappointments and very few stellar stories that stood out to me. I think the biggest failures for me would have to be The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe and Books And Roses by Helen Oyeyemi but I could mention a few more. However, let’s end on a positive – there was the wonderful The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier and Dibblespin by Angela Slatter which completely restored my faith in short stories. It is because of stories like these that I want to carry on with this challenge and find more great authors like the many, many ones I’ve found so far, purely from their short fiction alone. Let’s do this!

Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Vol 7.

20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Beachworld by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

The Underhouse by Gerard Woodward from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

 

Book Tag – Books Beginning With S.P.R.I.N.G.

Published March 21, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and hope you’re all well! Today I’m celebrating Spring as yesterday was the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. I came up with this idea after seeing one of my favourite book tubers, Lauren from Lauren And The Books do a video at Christmas. She took each letter of the word CHRISTMAS and presented a title from her bookshelves that began with that letter. I’m going to nab that great idea and today I will be taking each letter of the word SPRING and showing you a book from my TBR that begins with that letter which I hope to get round to very soon. So without further ado, let’s get on with it!

S

What’s it all about?:

Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’.

With great characters, a superb narrative set up, and language that is witty, bawdy and thrillingly alive, Sugar Money is a novel to treasure.

I’m so excited to read this book after loving Jane Harris’ previous novels, The Observations and Gillespie And I. If you haven’t read her before, I highly HIGHLY recommend her. She writes such beautiful historical fiction you could almost believe you were right there with her characters.

P

What’s it all about?:

A fiercely imagined fiction debut in which two young women face what happened the summer they were twelve, when a handsome stranger abducted them 

Everyone thought we were dead. We were missing for nearly two months; we were twelve. What else could they think? –Lois

It’s always been hard to talk about what happened without sounding all melodramatic. . . . Actually, I haven’t mentioned it for years, not to a goddamned person. -Carly May

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

I love to support debut authors whenever I can and this synopsis looks too good to be true! I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this novel from the publishers and I still cannot believe I haven’t got round to it yet.

R

What’s it all about?:

The twenty-one stories in Reader, I Married Him – one of the most celebrated lines in fiction – are inspired by Jane Eyre and shaped by its perennially fascinating themes of love, compromise and self-determination.

A bohemian wedding party takes an unexpected turn for the bride and her daughter; a family trip to a Texan waterpark prompts a life-changing decision; Grace Poole defends Bertha Mason and calls the general opinion of Jane Eyre into question. Mr Rochester reveals a long-kept secret in “Reader, She Married Me”, and “The Mirror” boldly imagines Jane’s married life after the novel ends. A new mother encounters an old lover after her daily swim and inexplicably lies to him, and a fitness instructor teaches teenage boys how to handle a pit bull terrier by telling them Jane Eyre’s story.

Edited by Tracy Chevalier, and commissioned specially for Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary year in 2016, this collection brings together some of the finest and most creative voices in fiction today, to celebrate and salute the strength and lasting relevance of a game-changing novel and its beloved narrator.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long! Stories inspired by one of my all time favourite books (and definitely my favourite classic)? YES PLEASE.

I

What’s it all about?:

‘Even if medical tests cannot explain your pain or tiredness or disability, it does not lessen your suffering. The pain of medically unexplained illness is every bit as real as any other and, if anything, is multiplied by the lack of understanding.

Most of us accept the way our heart flutters when we set eyes on the one we secretly admire, or the sweat on our brow as we start the presentation we do not want to give. But few of us are fully aware of how dramatic our body’s reactions to emotions can sometimes be.

Take Pauline, who first became ill when she was fifteen. What seemed at first to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then food intolerances, then life-threatening appendicitis. And then one day, after a routine operation, Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly after that her convulsions started. But Pauline’s tests are normal; her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.

Pauline may be an extreme case, but she is by no means alone. As many as a third of men and women visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected and yet, when it comes to a diagnosis, this is the very last thing we want to hear, and the last thing doctors want to say.

In It’s All in Your Head consultant neurologist Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan takes us on a journey through the very real world of psychosomatic illness. She takes us from the extreme — from paralysis, seizures and blindness — to more everyday problems such as tiredness and pain. Meeting her patients, she encourages us to look deep inside the human condition. There we find the secrets we are all capable of keeping from ourselves, and our age-old failure to credit the intimate and extraordinary connection between mind and body.

Science/health books are amongst my favourite non fiction topics to read about (anything about animals coming a close second). This book speaks to me on a personal level as I struggle with a chronic invisible illness and have done for the past seven years. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this one.

N

What’s it all about?:

Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins. Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby’s skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders. The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story about maternal ambivalence, the way we try to control children, and about women’s vexed and passionate relationship with work. Moss’s second novel displays an exciting expansion of her range – showing her to be both an excellent comic writer and a novelist of great emotional depth.

I have to admit, I bought this book a while ago for the cover initially, isn’t it gorgeous? Then I read my very first Sarah Moss, The Tidal Zone recently and absolutely loved it. I’m excited to get stuck in to more of her work.

G

What’s it all about?:

The first new collection in almost a decade from a bewitchingly original writer hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”

One of today’s most celebrated short story writers, Kelly Link creates brilliantly detailed, layered fictional worlds pulsing with their own energy and life. The situations are at first glance fantastical, but the emotional insights are piercing and the characters vividly real. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural Florida serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a one-time teen idol movie vampire takes a disturbing trip to the set where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a bizarre new reality show; in “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present, a new animated doll. Funny, uncanny, always deeply moving, these stories demonstrate a writer of wondrous gifts operating at the height of her powers.

Another collection of short stories, this book was recommended to me in a book spa by the wonderful booksellers at Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath. I’ve never read any Kelly Link before and have heard such great things about her writing that this just needs to be done!

Well everyone, that’s the end of my Books Beginning With S.P.R.I.N.G. post! Hope you enjoyed reading it, I’d love to see books from your TBR that make up the word S.P.R.I.N.G. If you decide to do a post, please leave a link in the comments so I can check it out or leave your answers in the comments below, it would be fun to see. I’m hoping to get to all of these books in the next few months and then I’ll be showcasing my books beginning with S.U.M.M.E.R so watch out for that post, coming later this year!

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #5

Published March 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

For my very first Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

For my second Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

For my third Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

For my fourth Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A HERE and Shelfie 1B HERE.

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the fourth shelf of my first bookshelf (I’ve chosen to split it up into two separate shelfies because of the sheer number of books, oops!). Here is the back shelf.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Again, with a lot of my shelves, this one is a little bit random and I’m starting to see the error of my arranging ways. On this shelf we mostly have a few review copies, some books I’ve been hoarding for quite some years but still really want to get around to and my favourite/still to read Tess Gerritsen novels.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

I’m going to stick with the theme and pick The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. It was one of the first books I read by this author and it was this novel that made me fall in love with her plots and characters, particularly Rizzoli and Isles. I haven’t read a book by her for a while but read a recent short story called Freaks which has made me quite wary of going back to her. I’m worrying that my tastes have changed but I’m determined to read something else by her this year just to check, probably Keeping The Dead.

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

I think it would have to be Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. I was really excited to read it and it’s been on my shelves for many years now. However, when I read the synopsis, I’m just not as eager to get to it as I once was. If anyone has read it and recommends I get to it soon I’m willing to listen though!

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

This is hard. Perhaps Motherland by Jo McMillan, purely for this gorgeous cover and now I’ve read the synopsis again, I’m very keen to read it!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I think that could be Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I’ve enjoyed this author’s books in the past so don’t ask me why I haven’t read it yet! I think a lot of the problem with the back shelves is that I don’t see the books that often so sadly, some of them often get forgotten.

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

These books are all sadly well past their prime but I think the newest one would have to be The One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood which I was kindly sent a review copy of but just haven’t had the chance to get round to it yet.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

Stoner by John Williams. I’ve heard some great things!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There isn’t any object on this shelf, there’s no room for anything else apart from books (and even then, not enough room for some of them, eek!).

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Like my other shelfies, I think it shows I have quite eclectic taste, there’s quite a mixture of classics, thrillers, historical, contemporary and literary fiction here so I have quite a lot of variety whenever I feel in the mood.

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Anyone who wants to do this, please feel free, I’d be delighted but please tag me in your post so I can see your shelfie in all its glory. This time round I’m going to choose a question for myself:

Is there any book on this shelf that you’d like to see a review of by a fellow blogger?

I’d love to see a review of There But For The by Ali Smith. I don’t think I’ve quite “got” her writing yet and because this is an older title of Ali’s I haven’t seen any recent reviews. Perhaps reading one would either push me to read it sooner or donate it to someone who might appreciate it more!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #6

Talking About The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier with Chrissi

Published December 19, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.

Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.

However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did the opening chapter pull you in?
BETH: Completely. The first chapter introduces our main character Honor Bright, who is leaving her home in England to embark on a sea voyage to America with her sister Grace who is recently married and is joining her husband out there. Unfortunately, her new life does not begin too well as Honor is desperately sea-sick on the journey. This is a wonderful introduction to a stunning piece of historical fiction in my opinion, and I couldn’t wait to see how the story would continue.
BETH: How did you think the slavery issue was dealt with in this novel?
CHRISSI: I think it was dealt with well. It was interestingly portrayed. Tracy Chevalier covers the politics of slavery in a sensitive manner. She highlighted the moral dilemmas faced by those who opposed slavery but were too afraid to help due to the laws of the time.
CHRISSI: Did the use of religion put your off or was it handled well?
BETH: Normally, if a book “harps on” too much about religion, it puts me off completely however I did not feel this way about this book at all. In fact, it made me more intrigued, and I found I wanted to learn more about the Quaker faith by the end, especially in the way that complete silence is advocated and encouraged.
BETH: What did you think of Donovan as a character?
CHRISSI: I found Donovan to be a memorable and believable character. I’m completely undecided about how I feel about him. I was always interested when he appeared in the story.
CHRISSI: What did you think of Belle as a character?
BETH: Belle is a wonderful character. She is the first person who really helps Honor when she first arrives in America and gives her somewhere to stay, encouraging her talent in quilting and bonnet making. I also enjoyed the way Belle came into her own regarding runaway slaves, and I admired her morals and values.
BETH: What did you think of the relationship between Honor and Donovan? What do you think her true feelings are towards him?
CHRISSI: I really liked the relationship between Honor and Donovan. Right from the start I thought there was a spark between them. I think Honor really liked him despite his bad ways.
CHRISSI: Did you like the use of letters in the book?
BETH: I loved them. I found it was a nice break between the chapters, and felt I learned more about the characters than I would have done if the letters had been omitted. I would have liked to have letters from other characters rather than Honor, especially Donovan who was such an intriguing personality.
BETH: Why do you think Honor feels she cannot go back to England?
CHRISSI: I think Honor feels obligated to stay in the US as her sister was meant to be there. It’s almost like she wanted to be there for her sister and by going home she would be seen as a failure.
CHRISSI: What did you think of Honor as a protagonist?
BETH: Honor was one of my favourite characters in the book. We see her strength and forbearance when dealing with tragedy and her determination as she tries to integrate herself with the American Quakers, despite the difficulties. I also admired her morals and ethics when trying to practice her religion in the way that she sees fit.
BETH: Have you read anything else by this author? Would you read another?
CHRISSI: I’ve read Girl With A Pearl Earring which I really enjoyed. I’d definitely read more from Tracy Chevalier.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #24

Published December 11, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Hello everyone, it’s WWW Wednesday! Thanks as ever to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

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I’m reading this book as part of a “Talking About” series I participate in with my wonderful sister ChrissiReads and am really enjoying it so far. Look out for our review at some point next week! (I think)

What did you recently finish reading?

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This was the first book of Laurie Halse Anderson’s that I’ve read, and I was really impressed! Look out for my review in a few days time.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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I read the Man Booker prize winning novel The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga not so long ago and really enjoyed it so looking forward to checking out this one.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit. Happy Reading Everyone!

Richard and Judy Announce Their Autumn Reads 2013

Published September 1, 2013 by bibliobeth

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Richard and Judy are back for the Autumn with eight new titles for the Book Club. I always enjoy seeing what they have to offer, and again there’s a great selection:

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

Snow White Must Die – Nele Neuhaus

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

The Twins – Saskia Sarginson

The Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier

Never Coming Back – Tim Weaver

Heartbreak Hotel – Deborah Moggach

Instructions For A Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell

Looking forward to digging into these, if anyone wants to join me for a read-along, they are more than welcome!