I sat down to read The Fault in Our Stars with an awful lot of expectation. I have read and loved a lot of John Green’s back catalogue, I follow his youtube channel and watched him sign the entire first printing of this book and I have seen my internet explode with praise for this book.
In my mind this book had a lot to live up to.
It did not disappoint.
I read this book in one day. I just couldn’t help myself. I connected immediately with the main characters, they were funny, smart and Green’s way of writing their interactions was just delicious. The book, despite its subject matter, teenage cancer, was surprisingly hopeful. I didn’t come away from this book feeling depressed, yes parts of it were heartbreaking, and yes there were tears (mine), but at the end I came away feeling as if the story was complete.
The only thing for me that could improve John Green’s writing would be if he could do it faster! It generally seems to take him about 3 or so years to produce a new novel. And I know they are without fault excellent, thought provoking, funny and clever. I know each word is crafted, each sentence flows and each chapter is carefully plotted. But still. I’m greedy. His writing is so good I am addicted and I can only want more.
Well, I haven’t written one of these for a while! But its Sunday evening and I am nicely full from a delicious dinner which James just cooked so I am using this as a distraction from having to go and clean my kitchen!
If I didn’t have quite so many dishes to avoid doing this could be a very short review- its amazing go and read this book!
But since I do have lots of cleaning to avoid I will expand upon this. This book is brilliant. Seriously. I read it in a day. I just couldn’t put in down.
It is set in a dystopian future where birth rates have declined and fertile women are now a prized merchandise and locked in to a form of servitude valued only for their ability to reproduce- the handmaid’s of the title.
The book is written as the recollections of one woman Offred, literally Of Fred (clever huh?!) and the narrative jumps around a bit in that skilful way so by the time you reach the end of the book you have a consistent (if not complete) picture of this woman’s story. Note I don’t say complete here, Atwood leaves many gaps which the reader can only fill in themselves and I guarantee you will be fervently wishing for a sequel!
I can’t remember now where I found out about this book- all I know is that it was sitting on my Amazon wish list for months before I finally brought it, and oh how I regret stalling. This book has given me so much food for thought when it comes to the position of women within society and the consequences of how we treat those around us. It is easy in our bright western world to forget that there are still some countries where women are treated as property, valued for their ability to reproduce only and denied basic rights… like say voting, an education or perhaps driving. Whilst in 1985 (when this book was first published) the feminist agenda was still one to be fought on home territory now the platform and location for the fight has changed. Now that it is no longer on our door step it is easy to forget the immediacy of the themes which this book raises; because I live in a country which grants me equal rights and status it doesn’t mean that my sister on the other side of the world goes to bed tonight with the same security. This book has reminded me of the path which some societies take to the detriment of half their members and has taught me that complacency because my own situation is fair is not an option.
This was for me an incredibly thought provoking novel which has been on my mind ever since, I will certainly be seeking out more of Margaret Atwood’s work. I highly recommend that you pick up this book and think on what Atwood has to say.
(I wrote this poem mostly because I love to watch birds flock.)
undulating across the sky
dancing, swooping and soaring
leading my heart-
sweeping above the clouds
towards the sun.
The hope of flying
holding my hand through winter.
I thought I would do this a little differently this week and list 7 things which I have been thankful for this week…
1. I’m thankful that there is food in my cupboards and that my next meal is not in doubt. For too many in the world, this is not a certainty.
2. I’m thankful that I live in country where the printed word is not censored and I can get my hands on high quality works of literature, politics and poetry cheaply and easily.
3. I’m thankful that I live somewhere where political debate is an everyday, encouraged activity.
4. I’m thankful that clean water pours from my taps for pennies, plentiful and cool.
5. I’m thankful that I have the education to make informed choices about my actions and my future. I truly believe that a good education and a curiosity for the world around me is the greatest gift my parents could have given me.
6. I’m thankful that my knee is healing and I can feel myself becoming stronger day by day.
7. I’m thankful for James and for our relationship, having him to come home to is the greatest gift I could ask for.
Please let me know in comments what you are thankful for this week…
ps: You have to the end of the week to enter my giveaway to win a book, tea and chocolate… the recipe for a perfect afternoon!
this filled my heart with joy...
So I saw this on the way to work yesterday. In my head it was a sweet gift left by one young lover to another. A reminder of how much he cherishes her as he leaves for work early in the morning. A surprise for her to find as she left the house. A memento to be pressed between the pages of a well read love letter.
... and then broke it...
It was still therre when I walked past this morning, there was no eagerly waiting sweetheart to pick up that tenderly left flower. I actually felt sad for that unknown boy so in love.
Then I remembered it was all in my head and I should probably check in with reality more often.
Dancing on the clouds of my dreams…
ps extra points if you recognise the song!
>So I was thinking whilst I got dressed this morning- yeah I know, a pretty miraculous activity for 6:30 in the morning. I’m right there with you on the insanity of that one. So as I was getting dressed, sorting my hair, finding my make up I was struck by the thought that it is so much more difficult for me to get dressed than it is for James.
Women’s clothes are infinitely more uncomfortable and impractical than men’s. You name it, skirts, tights, heels, funny blouses that mean you have to suck your tummy in- all far more hassle and time consuming than their male counterparts. And then one item in that list struck me more than the others- make up. Why do we religiously apply this to our selves? I know that there are some women who cannot go out without it. That see it as so integral to what makes them an attractive woman that they can’t even let their significant others see them without it on. In reality I think that a society where women have to wear makeup and traditionally men do not is telling us something quite scary about ourselves. It’s telling us that we do not think women are enough. We look at our faces, and society tells us that they are not good enough. Not beautiful enough, that they need more. In order to be attractive we have to add to ourselves. That a woman, in all her glory, intricacies and yes flaws, is not enough without a mask. That their face is not what we want to see and deal with. Just a side point, I’m not saying that men don’t wear makeup I’m just saying that it’s not acceptable in out society for a man to turn up at his office suit and mascara.
Then do you know what worried me further? We sell make up to children. On the market at the moment there are a whole variety of different make up products aimed solely at little girls. Designed to show girls that this is what they can aspire to when they grow up. We, as a society are teaching our little girls that they are not enough, and that their brothers are. This is sad.
Margaret Cho (an American comedian) once said that, ‘Ugly. Is irrelevant. It is an immeasurable insult to a woman, and then supposedly the worst crime you can commit as a woman. But ugly, as beautiful, is an illusion.’
Yet convexly I guess makeup can be construed as a tool of feminine empowerment. Allowing us to present ourselves as we see fit, for ourselves. Whilst beauty is undoubtedly ephemeral we are all guilty of wanting to be seen as attractive and desirable.
So I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you think that makeup is a mask or a tool of empowerment? This is something that came to me one morning whilst getting dressed, so feel free to weigh in.
I look forward to hearing your views.