Women’s Prize for Fiction/Orange Prize shortlist

All posts tagged Women’s Prize for Fiction/Orange Prize shortlist

Elmet – Fiona Mozley

Published January 2, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape. 

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

What did I think?:

So, I finally got round to reading Elmet! After being short-listed for a number of prizes including the Man Booker and The Women’s Prize For Fiction here in the UK I had heard so much about this work of literary fiction and knew it was something I just had to experience. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to do it alone. The wonderful Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader, blogger extraordinare, beautiful bookstagrammer, all round good egg and one of my blogger besties read this with me as our very first buddy read and that’s just one of the many reasons why this book will now always have a special place in my heart. Elmet is not only a literary masterpiece and one of the very best examples of the genre for those wishing to dip their toes into literary fiction but is a debut novel for crying out loud! It’s almost impossible to believe, the author writes with such beauty and conviction that you’d assume she’d been mistress of her art for decades.

Fiona Mozley, author of the debut novel, Elmet.

Jennifer and I had such a wonderful discussion about Elmet and it really was a pleasure to share this quiet but powerful read with her and feed off each others insights. The story of Daniel, Cathy and their Daddy who live quite a simple, meagre existence out in the wilderness moves along at the beginning at a relatively slow pace but the emotional punch it ends up packing is truly a mighty one. There are so many questions and reasons for wanting to carry on reading and each moment we stopped to discuss what we had read, I found myself eagerly anticipating not only how the narrative would continue but how interesting our chat was going to end up being! Why have the family isolated themselves in the woods? What has happened to Daniel and Cathy’s mother? Furthermore, when their way of living is threatened, how will each character individually respond and what will be the ramifications of their actions?

Imagine our contemporary world right now and a dwelling built right here in these woods where our characters live, surviving on what the forest gives them for food and comfort. Enter the world of Elmet.

It was fairly obvious to me from the very start that Mozley is a spectacularly gifted writer. Her words drip from the pages like honey and she talks about the landscape in particular so vividly and in so much glorious detail that you could almost smell the mud under your feet. Elmet is a celebration of nature and how we can harness it to live a far less complicated existence but more importantly, this is a story of the bond between a father and his children. Daniel, Cathy and Daddy are such outstanding and impressively drawn characters, all with their own unique personalities that it was exciting to follow their journey, celebrate their eccentricities and worry about their futures.

If you like your fiction to have a clear and distinct resolution, I have to say this might not be the novel for you. Elmet can be kind of vague, nothing is wrapped up neatly with a little bow, occasionally the reader makes up their own mind about what a specific individual might be thinking or indeed, by the end, how their story may continue. However, the subtle little clues the author expertly drops along the way left me in no doubt about my particular interpretation of events. Even now, weeks after finishing this novel, I’m still thinking about where our characters might be and how they might be coping after a dramatic finale that left both Jennifer and I reeling.

Elmet is a book that works even better when the finer points of the narrative are chewed over with a friend and I’m so grateful to Jennifer for being that person that I was fortunate enough to experience it with. If you like your literary fiction descriptive, full of heart and thought-provoking, I would definitely suggest this novel and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

For Jennifer’s fabulous review please see her post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #8

Published July 10, 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!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the fifth 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 front shelf and we’re looking at the middle part of this image.

And here are the questions!:

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

Finally we have a bit of organisation on my shelves! Just a little bit though, I didn’t want to go too mad…haha! This shelf has a couple of miscellaneous books at the far left and horizontally but generally we have a few books by Zoe Marriott (which I haven’t read yet, surprise surprise!). Then the rest of the shelf is all of my short stories collections which are either in use or lying in wait for my Short Stories Challenge.

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 don’t have too many strong memories associated with books on this shelf but I’m going to mention 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while or knows me well is aware that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve only started getting into his son, Joe Hill’s writing recently and this was one of the first books that I bought of his. It’s currently active in my Short Stories Challenge – I think I’ve read two of the stories so far?

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

Sigh. I’m afraid I have a definite book in mind for this. It’s again another book active in my Short Stories Challenge, the collection by Helen Oyeyemi called What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. I’ve only read one of the stories in the collection so far – Books And Roses but unfortunately I really wasn’t impressed and I was so disappointed, I’ve heard such wonderful things about her writing! I am definitely going to carry on with the collection for now but if I had to, that’s the book I would ditch.

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

Purely for the cover alone it would be Angela Carter’s Book Of Fairy Tales. Look at it – it’s just gorgeous!!

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

I think that would be The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw. I just haven’t managed to get round to it yet but it’s on the front shelf to remind me of its existence. Apparently!

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

The newest addition and one I hope to read VERY soon (who am I kidding?!) is When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy. It was short-listed for The Women’s Prize For Fiction this year and I’ve heard such amazing things.

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

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. I’ve mentioned it before on the blog and I’ll probably mention it again before I blinking get round to reading it!! (*eye roll*).

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

There’s no room for any object on this shelf unfortunately, it’s double stacked as a lot of my shelves are!

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

Like other shelfies I’ve done, I think it demonstrates the variety of genres I enjoy although because I decided to be organised with this shelf, it says that I enjoy a short story or two!

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

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

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

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie and Stuart for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag, please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #9

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #6

Published May 4, 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 my fifth 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 front shelf and we’re looking at the middle part of this image.

And here are the questions!:

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

This is probably one of my most organised shelves (shock horror!) The majority of these books have been donated to me from my sister Chrissi Reads for a bi-yearly challenge where for the months of June and December I read mainly books that she has given me a.k.a. Chrissi Cupboard Month. A few of the books on the left hand side are review copies that I haven’t managed to get round to yet and some on the top are new releases that I still have to read but apart from that….Chrissi’s books!

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.

If they are given to me by my sister they are all special to me (Ick, pass the sick bag!). No, in all seriousness, I’ll talk about Stasi Wolf by David Young. I attended an event at Guildford Library for the first book in the Karin Müller series, Stasi Child that I still remember really vividly as it was such a fun event! You can find my post about it HERE. I still haven’t managed to get to this book, the second in the series but the first was such a fantastic read it’s definitely on my radar to read very soon.

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

Tough tough tough. I think it would have to be Grow Up by Ben Brooks. I haven’t read it so can’t comment on the story but it’s probably the book on this shelf that I’m the least excited to read.

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

There’s a couple but I’m going to go with Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin purely for that gorgeous cover that whenever I take it out, I can’t stop looking at it.

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

I think that would be The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw. I can’t believe I haven’t read this book yet. My sister keeps having a go at me – it’s stunning!

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

That would be Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. It has won the National Book Award and is now short-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction this year so I’m VERY excited to read it. Soon….soooooooon.

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

A toss up between Sing Unburied Sing and Little Nothing by Marisa Silver. I bought the latter on a bookshop crawl in the amazing bookshop Libreria in East London and I predict that it’s going to be absolutely brilliant. Once I get round to read it, that is!

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

There’s no room for any object on this shelf unfortunately, it’s double stacked as a lot of my shelves are!

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

I think it says that I have a lot of books to read from my sister?! I just can’t catch up with them all, seriously. Also, that I should stop leaving books that I say I’m really excited for on my shelves and just READ THEM.

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

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

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

Hmm, I’d like to be pointed towards a review of The Story Of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli. I haven’t heard much about it and it’s such a short little book – I’m intrigued!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #7

Buddha Da – Anne Donovan

Published June 23, 2013 by bibliobeth

6011248

What’s it all about?:

Anne Marie’s dad, a Glaswegian painter and decorator, has always been game for a laugh. So when he first takes up meditation at the Buddhist Center, no one takes him seriously. But as Jimmy becomes more involved in a search for the spiritual, his beliefs start to come into conflict with the needs of his wife, Liz. Cracks appear in their apparently happy family life, and the ensuing events change the lives of each family member. Donovan completely captures these lives in her clear-eyed, evocative prose, rendered alternately in the voices of each of the main characters. With seamless grace and astonishing veracity, Buddha Da treats serious themes with humor and its characters with humanity. From prize-winning writer Anne Donovan, this stunning debut novel — shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Award — will appeal to readers of Roddy Doyle.

What did I think?:

As a proud Scotswoman this novel appealed to me not only because it was short-listed for the Orange Prize (now the Woman’s Prize for Fiction), but because it was written in the Glaswegian dialect in the same manner as Irvine Welsh’s novels. It is the story of a family, consisting of Jimmy, Liz and their young daughter Anne-Marie, and how their lives are turned upside down when Jimmy decides to explore his spiritual side by becoming a Buddhist. Each chapter is written from the point of view of the three main characters which I found to be very effective, and added to the charm of the whole story as a whole. When Jimmy starts to spend more time away from home in the Buddhist Centre and changes his way of life – no alcohol, meat etc, his relationship with Liz begins to fall apart, and it was interesting to read how the outcome of this affected each character.

Anne Donovan’s story seems to flow off the page so effortlessly and I was completely drawn into the story, and found myself engrossed and caring for each character as an individual. I think she has captured the ups and downs of relationships, and the troubles we all face with daily life so easily, that it was a real pleasure to read. The dialect, as I mentioned earlier, was a big attraction for me, and it was wonderful to read small words like “oxter,” and “boking,” that transported me right back to my childhood (and  the periods of my adult life, whenever I am around my Scottish parents!). A worthy short-lister for the Orange Prize, I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in spirituality, family dynamics, and great story-telling.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars