Discount Treasure Hunting

As a writer it does make me sad to see the piles of half-off and similarly discounted beautiful novels lying on those tables. It’s not that the leading bookstores are being kind or generous, they simply want to get rid of those little gems. I think how I would feel (heartbroken, inconsolable) if one of those novels were ones that I had spent years of my life (and soul) working on.
Then I think about my very limited bank balance and I have to be grateful for these small mercies. However, there is one benefit to the discount cull. It leads to amazing discovers. You find a hidden treasure in the dusty stacks of forgotten lore. This is how I happened upon Kate Morton. Two novels for 10 bucks. Even if they were crap, it wasn’t a real gamble. I took the pretty pieces home and placed them on my bookcase where they were promptly forgotten in the midst of business. 

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A few months later I noticed the same book on my mother’s case. She thought they were interesting and I was reminded of my own copies. Newly intrigued, I went home and took out that first big tome and started. I couldn’t put it down. “The House at Riverton” also known as “The Shifting Fog” in some countries. I was enthralled.  I read straight on to the next one. When I was finished with them both, I was hungry for more. Since then, I buy her books as soon as they are released and at full price.

I guess the moral of the story is that the reduced price was like a taster platter, where I paid a respectable price if I wanted more.

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Notes on a Scandal

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I’ve been watching this film (starring Cate Blanchet and Judy Dench) a few times over in recent days. As much as I think the story is riveting, there are some things I have trouble seeing as realistic.  Please be aware that there are spoilers ahead.

Firstly; when Dench confronts Cate’s character initially, why doesn’t she just say you’re a crazy old bat. No one will believe you so please sod off. Brilliant actor that Dame Judy is, she conveys the creepy sociopath without much effort. Why would a young, beautiful woman waste any time on pandering to her? It doesn’t make sense to me. This is one of the reasons I keep watching it. I hope that I might find the answer to my confusion. Oh and I guess I must enjoy being creeped out.

What in the Dickens…

Many years ago when life seemed simple (also known as the 80s), I was laying on the loungeroom floor getting sucked into a black and white film the likes of which I’d never experienced. It was my first viewing of Great Expectations. I was afraid with Pip when he entered the moors and came across an escaped criminal. I felt his rejection when Estella refused to give him the time of day. However, I was repulsed and enthralled when Miss Havisham showed Pip the moldy Wedding Breakfast, taking over the once resplendent room for what I could only imagine was decades.

This was the image I took away from my introduction to Charles Dickens. This was how he captured my attention. The hideous moment of pain in a person’s life that is usually buried where no access is granted. It was there visible in Satis House, a shrine for the life not lived and a heart turned to stone. This Havisham character was something I’d never come across in modern literature or television. She was grotesque but magnificent.

I guess my imagination is not the only one to have been capured by her untold pain. In the novel “Havisham”, written by Ronald Frame, we’re given a possible account of the life of Catherine Havisham. I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed this version of events. There didn’t really seem to be a driving force behind it. I loved the writing, it was beautiful and flowing. By its very essence, however, anyone who knows this character can get a good idea of what the outcome will be within the first few chapters.

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Although it was an interesting idea, it might be a bad choice to read the book after the personal connection I feel to the original story. The most redeeming factor comes after Pip enters the story and get to see the same events through the eyes of another.

If you enjoy reading prequels, I would suggest “Rebecca’s Tale” by Sally Beauman. The story of the elusive Rebecca from Daphne du Maurier. As far as “Havisham ” goes, it doesn’t completely work. I would have preferred to read “Rebecca’s Tale ” for the 4th time around.

The “Silo” Trilogy

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How to find the words to do justice to this amazing series? Tantalising? Mind – blowing? I think I will settle for spectacular. Wool, Shift, then Dust is a finely tuned world of life taking place in a not-too distant future. Here’s the rub – they live underground in huge silos with only a small glimpse at the world on top.

The world follows similar patterns of futuristic worlds in that there are very specific rules to follow and intense (sometimes lethal) consequences for the rebels.

It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into the story and rip through the books, one by one. It reminded me of reading John Wyndham for the first time. That feeling when you experience the previously unknown voice of a spectacular author who makes the very act of reading feel effortless.

If you’ve got some spare weekends coming and you need some truly inspired dystopia for entertainment, this series is your answer. I can’t remember feeling so strongly about a group of foctional characters. It’s a wild ride of the imagination.