Our Fountain Gate team are shining a light on their latest reads this week!
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent:
In Burial Rites, Kent has produced a deeply moving and haunting novel. What strikes you initially is the harshness of the landscape and this mirrors not only the living conditions of Icelanders during the 1830s but also the dire situation our protagonist is facing. The book is based on true events and is a fictionalised account of the final year in the life of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. She was sentenced to death for her part in the gory murder of two men and was beheaded by axe. By reimagining Agnus, Kent gives a long dead woman a voice which has been long denied. She portrays her as an intelligent and strong willed woman who speaks her mind. Kent implies that perhaps her biggest crime was flouting the societal expectations apparent during her own life time. There’s an inevitability throughout the novel as readers are aware of historical events. Suspense is built as Agnus’s fate draws closer and she comes to terms with her own mortality. Whilst Burial Rites is a novel heavy with melancholy and anguish it is lifted immeasurably by Kent’s poetic prose. The beauty of her writing emits light despite the bleakness of its subject. – Nola Killeen
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt:
Donna Tartt has proven herself to be one of the most astounding writers of the last two decades. Having only written three full novels in the entirety of her career, she knows how to depict a deeply moving and intense narrative that leaves her readers breathless.
The characters in The Goldfinch are so real that there are times you both love and hate them, wish them well and wish them to fail. The story is gripping, draws you in from the opening paragraph and keeps you rapidly page turning through to the very last sentence.
Theodore Decker is 13 years old boy involved in a devastating accident that leaves his whole world turned upside down. He is left with nothing but a small painting that reminds him of his mother, a reminder that leads him down a dark path as he grows up.
The Goldfinch is a story that provides extreme highs and lows for its characters and in turn its readers. With no weak points in its plot this story will linger in your thoughts for both it’s darkness and its beauty. – Liz Dalakouras
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden:
This is the first of a seven book series. It starts off with a group of teenagers going camping overnight. When they return they find things very wrong. Their families have disappeared.
Gradually, they begin to comprehend that their town has been invaded and everyone in their town has been take prisoner. So they must decide whether to hide to fight.
An action packed story right to the end. Just make sure you already have book two waiting when you finish! – Joanne Newitt
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde:
Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair follows the LiteraTech (a Detective specialising in literature related crimes) agent Thursday Next as she investigates the abduction of Jane Eyre from the novel. In this alternate universe, wherein the Crimean war still rages on in 1985, the enigmatic Goliath Corporation dictates and literature has a far more palpable hold over the lives of all people. As the first in the seven book ‘Thursday Next’ series, Fforde has created an exciting and funny adventure which defies a single genre, instead drawing from all – crime, paranormal, literature and romance. It is a must read for anyone who loves literature and have always wished to truly dive into the fictional worlds we know and love. – Rebecca Fishley
The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho:
Santiago has just bravely given up his days as a shepherd boy. Why? He has decided to follow his ‘Personal Legend’ in travelling from his homeland of Spain to the Pyramids in Egypt in search of buried treasure.
As the story forms, he parts with his beloved sheep and sets off to travel through the beautiful, curvaceous deserts. Along the way he meets a variety of characters, including the Alchemist, a Gypsy woman and a man who calls himself king. They teach the boy, some longer than others, and aid him in his challenging quest. The essence of Coelho’s message is that each of us has a Personal Legend, a true purpose for this Universe. If we recognize it and pursue it with utmost sincerity, the Soul of the World (wind, earth, water) will conspire to help us achieve it. That, I can believe to an extent. There is such a thing as fate. And yes, we are all connected within the Universe. However, if you decode this “inspiring wisdom” it means: 1) people who don’t achieve nor recognize their Personal Legends are never happy; 2) people who fail or refuse to pursue their Legends are both unhappy and afraid.
Once read, a good story should comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable. My problem with this book is that in some cases it may do the opposite. It was a letdown for me except for certain insights (which I admit were rather scattered and slightly repetitive). More of a new age/self-help book disguised as a symbolic fable, unfortunately it did not awaken anything within me. – Mihalia Dimitriou
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney:
This book is the 10th in the popular series from Jeff Kinney and sees Greg Heffley and his family pull the plug, and go electronics free and back to life in the olden days. Mum gets annoyed with Roderick over money and makes him get a job at the local ice-cream parlour. Greg also looks to find himself some work and creates a Lemonade stand and rakes leaves to earn a few extra dollars. Greg’s off on school camp again with Rowley which sees the kids get up to mischief. Grandpa has become a permanent residence at the Heffley house and comes with his own antics. This makes for another funny book which kids will enjoy and relate to. – Tineka Power
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon:
This is a beautifully written book about a love triangle through the centuries with the help of magic and time travel.
Diana Gabaldon has an amazing strong female lead in character lead named Claire, whom this book is based on. the author also brings the 18th century Scottish highlands to life.
Throughly enjoyable 1st book in the Outlander series. – Louise Bell-Chambers