The Midwifes Confession – Diane Chamberlain

Diane chamberlain is often compared to Jodi Picoult (one of my all time favourite authors), even the caption on the front of the book says ‘as good as Jodi Picoult or your money back’, that right there was a set up for disaster. If as soon as you look at a front cover you see it being compared to another author you are going to judge, wanting too or not, you will after all we are only human.

As we are told in the blurb, after midwife Noelle’s devastating suicide, her two best friends Emerson and Tara try to find out the truth after this shocking suicide (which coincidently does not do the character justice at all), and instead find secrets that will change there lives forever.

Now I have to say I was not overly impressed at all with this book, after a great start (for the first few chapters I was totally hooked), my interest seemed to just fizzle out (meaning I did have to have a sneaky peak at the end because I was so bored).  I am not saying all of Chamberlain’s novels have the same effect, this is the second I have read, The shadow wife was absolutely fantastic and I could not put it down as the story linked together seamlessly, something that The midwives confession is seriously lacking. Although I did enjoy the novel and the storyline could have worked perfectly, Chamberlain seems to have tried to over complicate certain parts of then novel (especially when regarding relationships and the past of the three women) or has simply gives us a tasted and left it hanging it is just so frustrating to be given a good piece of information (which annoyingly seems to happen to information we learn about Noelle all the time) and then that’s it it barely links into the story or has a weak relation.

Without giving too much away the ‘terrible secret’ (which I’m sorry but most people could work out most of the plot after a few seconds , so unlike Picoult who I am generally surprised by especially in Nineteen Minutes total shock!), is fairly obvious if you link the title and a few chapters together and the relevance of certain characters, and is also was beefed out by relationships that were’nt really that important , you could argue that it relates to real life but to me it was just boring I wanted the real story. After the blurb being about this midwife, Noelle, you would expect a lot more of the book to be focused on her and her life (maybe even letting the reader into this that the main characters would not find out, it just adds more life and knowledge to a readers perception), but it is surrounded by the snippets of information and then all the great information we find out about her life is just abandoned with a slightly unlikely scenario. Yes the ‘terrible secret’ could happen in real life, it has happened before, but the resolution seems to just be for an ending that just doesnt really happen and when the book is split into 5 narrators with loads of different problems it sort of leaves parts lacking and adds in a lot of unneeded page space that could have given us helpful information.

I’m trying to find a way of describing the rest of the book but unfortunately it would give away spoilers and I really want people to make their own judgements on how they feel about a novel and author. So I’m afraid  I’m going to have to leave it too you folks!

I’m going to give it 3 stars because it’s not a bad book at all just feels a bit squashed in. As usual let me know what you think and please recommend me to people you know 🙂

Thank you!

The Midwife’s Confession – Diane Chamberlain  published by Harlequin UK £7.99, ebook also available. 

Review by Chloe Metzger

P.S,I love you – Cecilia Ahern

I like to try and vary the books I read, I do like books with serious issues woven into a story but sometimes I need to sit back and read a feel good funny book! Although P.S, I love you focuses on the heart wrenching tale of Holly and her childhood sweetheart Gerry’s tragic death, it still manages to cheer you up about life in general (with a box of tissues beside you, I cried at the book and the film and loved them both in different ways).

The story begins with  Holly in the depths of grief over the death of her husband Gerry, struggling to deal with life after him after all he is all she has known since she was a teenager. As her 30th birthday fast approaches, Holly is not in mood to celebrate, instead this milestone  brings more heart ache of the ‘what if’s’ and what should have beens, as her hopes and dreams of the future are destroyed, after all what is life without the man she loves?  Although it seems that Gerry will never let Holly be totally alone, a package has been sent to her mothers from Gerry, a series of letters one for each month of the year, to get what Gerry knew would be the hardest year of his wife’s life, each one ending P.S , I love you. Slowly but surely with a reassuring hand from Gerry on her shoulder, Holly begins to embrace life again in little steps as each letter brings a new surprise and a new challenge to give her the confidence she needs to pursue life (of course with the love and support of her and Gerry’s closest friends and family).

What struck me about the novel was Aherns key attention to real life, there is no fantasy involved,no ‘Gerry comes back as an angel and tells her everything is okay’, nor is every goal and challenge set by Gerry a mystifying life changing decision, some are simply about enjoying life,or a little secret joke enjoyed by the two of them. I really wish I could tell you more but I do not want to spoil the beautiful surprises of this book. Holly’s life is also very real and therefore easier to connect with, a normal woman who grew up with a normal childhood, looking for a job she will be happy in (although nothing amazing or glamorous), leaning on her family (who drive her up the wall), her best friends (who prove that life will carry on around you no matter how ready you are) and a woman who was totally in love with her husband (and not as mushy gushy as some reviews will tell you).

Although the novel is mainly about Holly, Ahern never forgets those also left devastated by Gerry’s death, the impact it had on Holly’s family, the close friends of both of the couple,which to Holly seem to be rushing by her in a whirl of happiness while she still cannot remove her wedding ring. There are many other aspects to the story as well as loss, family ties and the love and strain that comes with that bond, finding something you love and the importance of friendship and supporting others and throughout this there is definitely some laugh out loud comedy that is intelligently sewn through the pages in an appropriate manner. Ahern has done a brilliant job of steering away from the stereotypical OH MY, MY HUSBANDS DEAD I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT HIM! it is the story of a woman who loves her husband deeply and does not just have her trying to find new love and comfort in a mans arms to feel whole again.

There isn’t much else I can say about this book without giving away surprises. This is a truly beautiful book, I just need to recommend like crazy!!!! I really is a lovely book, with a brilliant heartfelt idea…..after 12 little envelopes, you have honestly fallen in love with the characters.

Five stars no questions asked, such a lovely book that will really warm your heart.

P.S, I love you by Cecilia Ahern, £7.99, Harper publishing

Thank you!

Can I just say a huge,huge thank you to everyone who has read the blog and I’m glad people seem to be enjoying it! Please don’t be afraid to leave a comment, also hopefully I will be buying hte domain name so the blog will simply be ihadtobuyanotherbookcase.com, but I will keep you up to date when this happens.

 

Thank you Thank you Thank you!

 

Chloe x

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde

Now this is a book which could very well have two reviews in the next year or so.

I had rarely heard about this book before I started my AS levels in September, only by chance that I got it as a free give away a few years back but I never read it never interested me that much, but either way I started reading the blurb a tale about a vain young man trading his soul for eternal beauty it sounded fantastic, I have to say I was throughly disappointed.

The preface in total honesty just sounds like someone very opinionated moaning about what art should and should be, now I don’t want you thinking that because I studying and revising it is why I hate it because I love a great deal of books I have studied before, I just simply had no inkling to pick up this book again and again. Dorian Gray himself seems so,so spoilt and childlike through the whole novel and not very charming even before he trades his soul, Lord Henry is pompous and quite frankly an extremely boring character (the only good part about him is challenging societys views at the time and even that falls through!) and Basil Hallward disappears for half of the book.

Don’t get me wrong I think that Wilde can be a fantastic writer, his children’s stories are raved about (I have heard part of the selfish giant from watching the film ‘Wilde’ starring Stephen Fry although after watching it I could never see him the same way ever again!) and his plays are apparently fantastic (although I have not watched one myself lately), but I think that within Dorian Gray there are so many parts that just drone on and on, if the novel was shorter it could have been brilliant, if there was reason for the change.

The plot, could be seen in two very different ways, both of which conflict how I personally feel about it , simplicity is wonderful, it seems as if Wilde is trying too hard to over complicate matters within the novel, although of course it was brave of him (or very stupid) to add in homoerotic hints to a late Victorian audience (and let me tell you the critics certainly picked up on those hints!), although I think there are possibly too many hints and it takes away from the brilliance of Wildes mind. for example the word ‘Dorian’ coming from the Greeks a civilization known for it’s role in being one of the first cultures to fully accept homosexuality of course linking in with one of the themes, but this would generally be lost by unnessesary babbling. Which unfortunately a lot of Dorian Gray is babbling, what could have been a brilliant story has been ruined by possibly an over active mind trying to squeeze everything in to a certain number of pages.

Although I must admit in the last few chapters  after struggling on for a while, the novel really picked up mirroring the nervousness of a certain character, I though yes!, this is where it gets interesting and then it fizzled out once again to a fairly disappointing ending. I’m glad I had to study it though and hopefully I wont be too cruel on it in the exam in May, I’m glad to see the brilliance of Wilde but unhappy that it seems wasted.

I only give this 2 and a half stars, sorry folks but classic? really? apart from challenging the views of society…nothing.

Review by Chloe Metzger

The Help by Katheryn Stockett

Ok, so you all know that I am not a world known (or even locally known) writer or reviewer so just give me some credit here.

So for my first book I will be reviewing The Help by Katheryn Stockett. In my opinion this is  one of the best books I have ever read and after reading so many books I’m not easily impressed. The book is set in Mississippi,America in 1962 (and I can draw so many comparisons between this and the oh so brilliant To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee). As many authors have tried to do before Stockett focuses on the racial divides in southern American at the time, and the relationship between Skeeter, a young college graduate dreaming of being a writer but crushed by the mystery of the sudden disappearance of her beloved black maid and mother figure Constantine, Aibileen a maid raising another white child (each of which she has loved so dearly) while struggling to come to terms with the death of her only child and finally a fellow black maid Minny who is unable to hold her tongue in most situations although finds herself harbouring both her own secrets and the secrets of her new employer while in fear of a powerful white woman.

Throughout the book Stockett separates herself from other authors injecting brilliant humour throughout the novel, although while doing this she does not take away from the seriousness of the issues being raised, she simply makes the characters seem more human to us all as I am sure we could all find the Minnie in our own lives that we all know and love  and more importantly we could all identify with the push that each woman must make to be true to herself and the people who rely on her. Although at the beginning of the book the women that the maids work for could be seen as terribly stereotypical, fake, bad mothers, incapable of looking after a home without help as the book continues each character really comes alive with the hidden secrets of their pasts revealing something about them (even very minor characters), are given the chance to add something to this small town and it’s secrets.

At the very back of the book Stockett gives us her very own reasons for writing the novel and the reason for her clear passion for the voice of the black people, who were treated so badly in these times. She speaks dearly of her own maid and the hardships she had to face and her fears of trying to portray the voice of a black woman, even though she was not and trying so hard to create a balance, knowing that she could never truly write the feelings of a working black woman in the times and conditions that ‘The Help’ is set in. In my personal opinion taking the leap to try to write the book in the first place is both brave and heartfelt as I am sure she almost felt some betrayal in writing a book with links to her hometown, knowing her pride for where she came from but also her shame.

The events of the novel are divided by the three women and tells the tale of the unlikely birth of the book Skeeter, Aibileen and Minnie write together, after a chance comment Aibileen makes about the idea of a book her son longed to write about working for the white boss, the dangers and consequences of trying to tell the truth and the unlikeness of how much each woman needs the other. The book has been criticised by others saying Skeeter doesn’t seem to understand the danger she is in, I totally disagree there are chapters where your heart matches the rhythm of hers, stopping as you feel her shock, breaking as you learn certain truths. The novel flows seamlessly, even with changing narrator ( in my opinion a brilliant idea, just as other writers such as Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlian have used before to explore different aspects of the story), and although the books main focus is racial equality, I was touched by the link of the relationship between a mother and child that has been woven through the story, Minnie and her brood who she loves dearly and worries for (especially her younger daughter who is a true reflection of herself) who reflects on the advice her own mother gave her at the young age of 14 when she started her first maids job. Aibileen’s loss for her own son, while loving the children she brings up,teaching them right from wrong, being the mother that many of them needed especially little Mae Mobley  the child Abilieen looks after throughout the novel and her heart breaking each time she says goodbye as they start to ‘stop being colour blind’ and learn the difference between black and white. Skeeters relationship is still as touching, although, hers is from the side of the child brought up by the black maid, highlighting the awkwardness between her and her own mother, as really she was not brought up by her as was the sad reality for many children of the time (although I’m sure there are many children now who feel brought up by a nanny or another care provider, sadly somethings never change).

The bond between the three women, although not always as strong as that depicted in the blurb, is truly remarkable as they work together to promote the truth in a way that nobody will ever realise it was them. In my opinion though it is Aibileen who holds the book together, a bridge between the black and white community and unlike so many other books a protagonist without a hidden agenda or shocking past she is trying to make up for, this book and it’s characters truly come from the heart.

I don’t want to give away much more because I really want people to go and read this book and make your own judgements. Personally I loved this book and it really opened my eyes and made me want to do more reasearch into the lives of racial attitudes at this time and the relationships between the help and the employers. Stockett has really brough to light not only the hardships of the time but also the goodness of some people (not totally damning the white community) and opening the readers eyes not only to the black and white line but to the complex relationships of family, friendship and society.

I give it five stars – absolutely brilliant and thought-provoking

The Help – Katheryn Stockett, Penguin publishing, £7.99 (also available for kindle)

Review by Chloe Metzger

Welcome!!

Hello everyone and welcome to one of my two new blogs!

First of all I would like ot introduce myself. My name is chloe and I am a book geek, a bloody massive book geek (my first lot of wages I ever got from a real job went on a beautiful bookcase…..I now need to buy another one hence the title). My aim is too review almost every book on that book case (and believe me it is growing!). Hopefully there is a comment feature on here and you guys can recommend books to me, I may even put up some of my own creative writing just to get some feedback!

 

I hope you enjoy

Chloe