Monday, September 26, 2011

the great gatsby: f. scott fitzgerald

"And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out Daisy’s light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it."

I seem to be reading lots of books about dreams lately - most of them encouraging, and this book was like a breath of fresh air.  The what-happens-after-you-get-everything-you-ever-wanted affair.  The morning after the night you have been dreaming about your whole life.  The not so happy-ever-after.  People rarely tell that side of the story.  And this was told so beautifully that it almost broke your heart. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

the alchemist: a review

I am a firm believer in following your dreams; I am also constantly aware of how terrifying that can be.  "The Alchemist" by Paolo Coelho is a fable-style novel about just that: how scary following your dreams can be. 

I have to admit - I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about this novel.  Some have raved to me about how fantastic it is - something which I just have to read and others have told me to steer well clear - the people who love it are clearly insane as it's horrible.  There doesn't seem to be a middle ground where "The Alchemist" is concerned. 

Don't get me wrong, the novel can be a bit much - and the constant reference to the "language of the world" seemed a bit lost on me.  I can understand why people thought it was rubbish - there didn't really seem to be anything breathtaking about the novel.   The ending was a bit underwhelming but I did enjoy reading the novel and found it easy to read.  I did wonder that whether the novel had been hyped so much to the novels detriment - yes, Coelho's style of writing is fresh but it's not, in my eyes, all that fantastic.  And yes, the point of the story is heartwarming but it isn't edge of the seat exciting nor remotely something we haven't heard a hundred times before.

The message of the novel, I feel, was the best part but again - I have read this message before elsewhere and I've felt it had been better done.  I personally can never tire of reading stories about people struggling, in human terms, to follow their dreams and more importantly uncovering their destiny.  I found the novel very easy to read and finished it in a day - there are some fantastic lines in the novel but overall I found it a bit disappointing.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

the bourne identity by robert ludlum

allow me to start this review by mentioning that one time i bumped into matt damon in central london and he was an absolute sweetheart; chatting to me for about five minutes, posing for photographs and giving me the obligatory autograph (which i have subsequently lost after struggling to find a use for it).

the original novel, by ludlum, upon which the films are based was published in 1980.  it is the story of a man found, shot in the head, in the meditteranean sea.  he is nursed back to health by an alcoholic ex-doctor but has lost his memory.  certain place names hold special significance to him: zurich & the bank account engrained on a chip on his body and paris: he must find his way to paris.  he makes his way to the bank and there he finds not only $5million but also his name: jason bourne.  jason bourne is still the subject of a top secret american mission but the mission is set just after the vietnam war: jason's family were killed in Phnom Penh, hence his willingness to forget his past and become this 'character' utilised  by the government to snare Carlos: the world famous assassin.

i have seen the films countless times (did i mention that i met and love matt damon?) and remember an interview with stephen fry about said films where he mentioned that he loved the books.  so when i saw one in a book shop i thought i would try it - but even with a strong love for the films expected to be disappointed by the book.  i always feel that the excitement and atmosphere is sometimes lost in a novel where it can be excellently portrayed in films - but ludlum is great at keeping a strong pace, excellent characters and a fantastic plot.  the book is similar enough to the film in the sense that you know as little about the main character as he does about himself but his mission is different enough to keep you not only entertained but turning the pages at a rate of knots.

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