I wish that there were more hours in the day (or that I could stay awake), so I could spend an hour or so reading, without having to worry about everything else! However, over the past few months I have managed to squeeze in a few brilliant books, that I'd like to share with you!
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G.W. Dahlquist
In 2006, Penguin produced a novel, which, for £25, would be sent out to UK readers in 60 page instalments. Inspired by the serial novels of Dickens, it seems to me like a very unique way of publishing a book. A year later, the full novel was released and the instalments no longer available. It was this full novel that my boyfriend recently purchased for me to read.
When reading the first few chapters I felt quite intrigued and fairly connected to the characters, but I must say that after some time, my attention waned. It felt like Steampunk-by-numbers; anachronism - check, silly names - check, airships - check, (I won't go over the synopsis, as you can read one here) which I can normally tolerate if there is something more to the story. Unfortunately it was this something more that I think the novel lacked.
The layout of the book follows each of the three main character's separately, often covering the same sequence of events from each different viewpoint. In the novel form, this became tedious, and seemed better suited to a serial. To be honest, it was about 200 pages longer than it needed to be. Although the whole concept is based around conspiracy and mystery, the end geared up to be a complete flop - no shocking twist or revelation, just a lead up to the sequel.
Despite my criticism, I can't say I didn't enjoy reading the Glass Books. Perhaps I just expected more, especially from the ending. Perhaps it is just overshadowed by stronger novels that I have read since. I think the book is worth reading if you require something that isn't particularly taxing, and is different enough to be of interest. I also must point out that the Victorian-esque advertisements at the back of the book make it worth reading; my only wish was that they were included within the book!
The Master and Magarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
(poster by Chris Conn Askew)
An allegory of good vs evil, set in Soviet Russia of the 1930s, this book will not be new to many as it is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. This opinion, I can definitely agree with.
The Master and Margarita effected me in ways that I cannot explain. Nor can I explain just why it is such a good book. It can be consumed on so many different levels, and because of this, I feel it requires countless re-reads.
A Faustian-esque tale, it begins when the devil (calling himself Professor Woland/Voland) and his crew of bizarre characters (including a talking black cat, Behemoth) arrive in Moscow, chaos ensuing. Set in three parts, the novel covers the confrontation between Woland and the atheist head of the literacy food-chain, the story of Margarita and her undying love for a dejected writer (the master), and the realistic portrayal of Pontius Pilate's meeting with Yeshua Ha-Nozri and his subsequent crucifixion (told in the form of The Master's novel and Woland's first discussion).
I would love to see this book made into a big budget film, if it were kept to the surreal and distinctly Russian atmosphere of the book. It does appear to have been made into a series of shows, which are available to view on youtube that may or may not be any good (although my brief view of it seems fairly promising, of not just amusing).