Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (Review)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

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About the author

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Capote was born in New Orleans in 1924 and was raised in various parts of the South. He left school at the age of fifteen and worked at the New Yorker which provided his first and last regular job. Capote wrote many novels in his lifetime and died in August in 1984.

Blurb

It’s New York in the 1940’s where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexed, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

Review

This is a book that I have been meaning to read for a very long time but have never got around to it. I only wanted a thin book to read and when I went mooching through my many book piles I found it. I did not realise that this book also has three extra short stories, so that was an added bonus.

I enjoyed the book but I also found it rather annoying at times and frustrating. Holly is making the best of things and trying to improve her life till she gets her dream life and she really does not care who she steps on to get there, that also includes her friends.

Holly has many men falling over themselves to be with her and she uses them to her own ends. Her neighbour, who is also the narrator, she names Fred although that is not his real name but we never find out his real name. Fred is rather strange in my opinion and at times a little creepy. He is obsessed with Holly, to the extent he goes through her rubbish to see what type of person she is, that in my opinion is stalker behaviour.

I found Holly to be really selfish and uncaring and I really did not like how she treated people, she didn’t even bother to learn Fred’s real name and tended to treat him like dirt. However, at times she did suddenly show a caring and considerate side that showed you she wasn’t all bad.

I have not seen the film but really want to, especially after reading the book, I imagine the movie to be very glamorous possibly more than the book. Audrey Hepburn makes anything look glamorous and the character Holly does nothing but smoke and drink which will be interesting to see on screen.

I enjoyed the story but it did annoy me at times and for that reason I only gave it 3 out of 5 Dragons. I recommend it to everyone as a must read as Capote is an excellent author.

The three extra short stories were lovely little stories, especially the last one which brought a tear to my eye.

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Purchase from:-

Amazon

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The Book Depository

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Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (Review)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, illustrated by Edward Gorey

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About the author

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Edward Stearns Eliot born 1888 in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He settled in England in 1915 and published his book of poems in 1917. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats began life as a collection of poems dedicated to his godchildren, it was published in 1939. Eliot received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 and sadly died in 1965.

About the Illustrator

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Edward Gorey (1925-2000) was an American writer and artist well known for his macabre and humorous illustrations. His first book, The Unstrung Harp; or, My Earbrass Writes a Novel (1953) was followed by many more. He illustrated work by T. S. Eliot, Edward Lear and Saki, among others.

Blurb

Cats! Some are sane and some are mad. And some are good and some are bad.

Review

I read this book as soon as I brought it home, but I read it in a very special way. I put on the musical movie starring Elaine Paige and John Mills and read the poems along with the musical, I might have also sang along as well. In short I had way too much fun and my poor husband had to endure a great deal.

I absolutely loved this book, I love the poems and I love the illustrations. It is all wonderful and I’m not sure I can choose a favourite poem because how can anyone choose a favourite cat?

The main thing I love is how all the different cats have attributes you can see in real life cats. I can certainly see many familiarities with the cats in the book with my own cats. T. S. Eliot clearly owned and had a lot of love for cats in his lifetime.

My favourite poem and cat was The Rum Tum Tugger he is just the epitome of cats. When you offer a cat some yummy food they would rather have something else, when you offer them fresh water they would rather drink from a puddle and so on.

I had amazing fun with this book and to be honest I keep going back to it now and reading my favourites. I also loved how the illustrations perfectly complimented the poems. I can not recommend this book enough to people especially if they are cat lovers, a quick read and would make a perfect gift to the cat lover in your life. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

Purchase from Waterstones

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Amazon

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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey (Review)

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey

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About the author

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Thomas De Quincey was born on the 15th August 1785 and died on the 8th December 1859. He was an English essayist best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

Blurb

The provocative early-nineteenth-century essayist casts a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages.

Review

So on to the fourth Penguin Little Black Classics book and this one really took me out of my comfort zone. I picked this book up thinking normally I would never dream of reading a book about murder being a fine art and to be honest after this I do not think I will read another book about murder being an art form.

I did struggle a great deal with this book and I really did not see the comic side in it that is mentioned in the blurb. I found it very hard to get into and very disturbing that people seem to enjoy studying murder. I also did not like the fact that murder was referred to as an art form. However it wasn’t all bad, I did find certain little stories inside it interesting, for instance the story about Descartes was very interesting.

I think it was a disturbing essay and it made me wonder what type of mind Quincey has to come up with this essay. However the essay was an eye opener about things that were happening in that point of history. However I didn’t really enjoy the book and wouldn’t read it again. This is why sadly I have only given the book 1 Dragon out of 5.

To purchase this book from Waterstones please click here.

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon (Review)

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

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About the author

The author is sadly anonymous but this is a well known Icelandic saga composed at the end of the 13th century.

Blurb

Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair

Review

This is the third book of the Penguin Little Black Classics and a quick little read of just 52 pages. The book contains 25 verses of skaldic poetry which are scattered through the story.

This book is essentially a love story, where two poets are in pursuit of Helga the Fair, both travel around earning glory and renown hoping to make themselves worthy of Helga’s hand in marriage.

I enjoyed this book to begin with and found the verses of poetry enjoyable, however as the story went on I found the poetry began to get on my nerves and broke up the flow of the story. I must admit I started to skim read it as I could not bare it any longer, the story was still really good though. The thing I found a struggle to get used to in the beginning was the big lists of names, but once I got used to the style this was ok. A lot of store is held in one’s ancestors and family in this book so great lists of names are often given, even if those characters are not featured in the story.

I also enjoyed how the characters travelled around Scandinavia, England and Ireland and the accompanying adventures. It was interesting learning about the kings and rulers of that time and what they were like. The other element I enjoyed was how Christianity moved across the countries and the old ways were forgotten. This was considered a really good thing in the book but I wonder whether everyone was so willing to drop the old ways and take on the new faith. In my opinion I think this element is seen through rose tinted glasses by the author.

“All the men who have been mentioned were living at the same time, and it was about this time that the best thing ever to have happened in Iceland occurred: the whole country became Christian and the entire population abandoned the old faith.”

This is an excellent little book, which will not take long to read and was a good introduction for me to Icelandic sagas. I enjoyed reading the book but because the poetry got on my nerves I only give this book 3 Dragons out of 5.

To purchase this book please click here

Lady Book Dragon

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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About the author

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He studied law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson was against the Presbyterianism of both Edinburgh’s professional classes and his devout parents, but the influence of Calvinism started his fascination with evil. After much travelling Stevenson eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, he passed away at the age of 44.

Blurb

Published as ‘shilling shocker’ in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.

This edition also includes Stevenson’s sinister story ‘The Bottle Imp’.

Review

This is another book I am ashamed to say I have never read and just recently I bought a lovely little edition from Waterstones and it has been sat on my TBR pile ever since. I decided it would be a good book to discover Robert Louis Stevenson’s work as I have never read any of his work before.

The first and main story is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I went into it with high hopes, however it quickly started to disappoint. Mr Utterson the lawyer and good friend of Dr Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and shows the reader that you would be blessed to consider him your friend. Mr Utterson in fact was my favourite character and he was probably the only reason I kept reading. Mr Hyde was also a good character, he was bad to the bone and showed a man with no morals to guide him or conscience, he was happy with his actions, showed no remorse and was dangerous to all around him.

Dr Jekyll is the character which I disliked greatly! He was weak and pathetic he had bad desires within him and a perverted mind that lay hidden because of his status in society and his title. We have no idea what horrors he performed in his past but they are hinted at, now due to getting older the desires are still there but he can not act upon them without losing everything or facing the gallows. Then Mr Hyde comes along, Mr Hyde is Jekyll’s answer to everything, Hyde does all the horrors and faces the gallows and Jekyll remains the good Dr. In my opinion Jekyll is evil, he just does not show it.

Jekyll tries to reform himself but this soon fails and Hyde starts to take over. Hyde was always going to take over because Jekyll is weak but also enjoys what Hyde does, if he was truly horrified and repulsed by Hyde’s actions he would have beaten Hyde and got his life back. Jekyll did not deserve the life he had or the dedicated friends like Mr Utterson in my opinion because he was as guilty as Mr Hyde.

This story annoyed me greatly because Dr Jekyll is shown in a light where the reader should feel sorry for him but I disagree with that. Dr Jekyll was weak and evil and in my opinion worse than Mr Hyde because he had the power to stop Hyde but did not. This story on its own would have only got 2 Dragons from me.

The second story in this book is The Bottle Imp and that was my favourite out of the two. This story is about a magical imp that lives in a bottle and can grant you any wishes, however it comes with conditions that could leave the owner going to hell.

The story contains many topics greed, love, hopelessness, despair, faith, courage and much more. I really enjoyed how Stevenson came up with the story and the morals behind it. Keawe is not a greedy man he does not ask for millions off the imp he asks for enough for his dream house that he can live in for the rest of his life and enjoy it. Kokua is the woman that Keawe falls in love with and risks everything for and she in turn risks everything for him. Their love is so strong they will do anything for each other. Others in this story do not show such selflessness and greed is the dominant trait in their characters. These two people are not greedy they just want to live happily together for the rest of their lives, but can they?

A real love story that was beautiful to read and not too long. I gave this one 4 out of 5 Dragons, so overall balancing the results I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon

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Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio (Review)

Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio

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About the author

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Giovanni Boccaccio was born on the 16th June 1313 in the Republic of Florence and died in 1375. He was an Italian writer, poet and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote his imaginative literature mostly in Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin. He was unusual for medieval writers because he did not follow the formulaic models for character and plot.

Blurb

Bawdy tales of pimps, cuckolds, lovers and clever women from the fourteenth-century Florentine masterpiece The Decameron.

Review

When the Penguin Little Black Classics first came out I slowly started buying them and reading them, however moving house and forgetting which box they were all kept in did not help. I just recently found them all and have started to read them from the beginning with the hope of this time reading them all, so here is my first review.

I have already read this book once and I loved it, reading it for a second time I loved it even more. I forgot just how amusing medieval literature can be. I am going to review each of the four stories individually.

Andreuccio’s da Perugia’s Neapolitan adventures

This story is about a young man called Andreuccio who is the son of a horse dealer, he hears that horses are trading well in Naples and so takes a lot of money to Naples to trade horses and make more money. However things do not go as planned.

Poor Andreuccio is not the brightest of men and falls victim to fraud. Then he has a load of other adventures after the fraud. I found this story highly amusing and to be honest felt no sympathy for Andreuccio as really he should have known better. The part I particularly enjoyed was where he got covered in poo and could be smelt everywhere, if that does not teach him a lesson to be more vigilant than I do not know what will.

A very funny read and nice and short.

Ricciardo da Chimica loses his wife

Ricciardo is a judge who has more brain than muscle and thinks his way of life would also please a wife. His mistake is the type of wife he chooses, he goes for a very beautiful, young wife who will be expecting more than Ricciardo can provide in the bedroom department and life in general. Bartolommea is the unfortunate wife of Ricciardo but then she gets a better offer.

Another amusing read, now I know I should be on the side of Ricciardo but to be honest I felt sorry for Bartolommea, she ended up married to a much older man who makes any excuse possible to avoid physical contact with her. In my opinion this story has the moral of do not bite off more than you can chew and not be greedy, otherwise you will get your comeuppance.

Mrs Rosie and the Priest

Well what a naughty priest! This is my favourite story in the book because I can not help but smile about this naughty little priest. I have this image of a short dumpy priest wearing a cloak, winking at women. I do feel sorry for Mrs Rosie as she was very wronged by the priest and could do nothing about it.

A brilliant little story, that made me giggle.

Patient Griselda

This is my least favourite story of the book. I can not believe that one husband can be so cruel to his wife and she does nothing but patiently take it. It made me angry to think a woman would stand so much, I know times were different then but still, how did she not run away.

Poor Griselda is tested to the limits by her husband to see if she is a good wife, it is mainly for him to prove to his friends that he has chosen, created and tested the best wife like he said he would.

I gave the whole book 5 out of 5 Dragons because I enjoyed it so much and desperately want to read the whole of The Decameron. Even though I was not keen on the last story the other three I loved so much I still give the book full marks. I think it is a fantastic start to the start of the Penguin Little Black Classics and I can not wait to read them and see what I discover.

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann (Review)

The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, translated by Anthea Bell

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About the author

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Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was born in 1776 in Konigsbarg, Prussia (which is now Kaliningrad, Russia). His educational background was law, but his real love was music. As a young man he moved to Germany hoping to begin a musical career, he went on to become a composer, director and conductor. As a way to help his income he took up writing in his thirties. He wrote four novels and approximately fifty stories and novellas and was possibly one of the most influential writers of his time. He passed away in 1822.

About the illustrator

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Robert Ingpen was born in 1936 in Geelong, Australia. He studied illustration art and book design at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In 1986 he was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Medal for his contributions to children’s literature and he has been honoured with Membership of the Order of Australia.

About the translator

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Anthea Bell was born in 1936 and was an English translator of literary works, her speciality was children’s literature. She translated French, German and Danish into English. She is best known for translating the Astrix comics into English. She past away on the 18th October 2018.

Blurb

The Nutcracker is well-loved by many, and is perhaps best known as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, performed as a favourite Christmas spectacle the world over. The ballet was based on a French retelling of the story, and Hoffmann’s German original is rarely translated in its entirety. This version includes the familiar tale of the gentle young girl and her love for the enchanted Nutcracker – a Christmas gift from her enigmatic Godfather Drosselmeier – who leads the toy soldiers in a dramatic battle against the sinister Mouse King, and whisks her away to the Kingdom of Toys. But it also retains the original ‘story within the story’, told to Marie by Drosselmeier when she is ill in bed: The Tale of the Hard Nut, about the cursed Princess Pirlipat, which explains the background of how the poor Nutcracker came to be.

Review

I do love reading Christmas stories on the run up to Christmas as amongst the chaos of preparing for Christmas they provide some calm. Very sorry this review is rather late. I actually forgot to do this review with the chaos of Christmas and New Year and it was only when I started sorting and tidying up books that I realised I had not written the review.

Anyway back to The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann and translated by Anthea Bell with the wonderful illustrations by Robert Ingpen. I love the story of the Nutcracker and have previously read the translated versions by Alexander Dumas and Joachim Neugroschel. However I found Dumas’ translation very difficult to follow as it lacked fluency and did not have the story within a story. I believe the ballet is based on Dumas’ translation. Bell’s translation however flows beautifully and made the book a joy to read, including The Tale of the Hard Nut also helps the story make sense and helps the reader understand how the Nutcracker came to be.

The Nutcracker is a wonderful fairytale story for all ages young and old with some very subtle morals hidden in there. I loved Marie’s young innocence and Godfather Drosselmeir’s kindness with a hidden layer of something sinister. Fritz, Marie’s brother however is a little trying for me and is clearly just a spoilt child, who probably due to being the only son has been allowed to get away with a lot more than his older and younger sisters. Luise the older sister I feel for, as she is not mentioned much and her character is not greatly expanded and she seems to be rather ignored by her siblings and parents.

The beautiful illustrations in the book are stunning and really aid your imagination in visualising the story. And of course the main lesson that you learn from Marie at the end is a lovely ending to the story. It really is a timeless story that can not help bring a smile to your face and make you look forward to Christmas.

I highly recommend this book and translation and look forward to reading it again on a future Christmas. I have given this book a very fiery 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

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