Norah Vincent – Adeline

norahvincent-adelineOn April 18, 1941, twenty-two days after Virginia Woolf went for a walk near her weekend house in Sussex and never returned, her body was reclaimed from the River Ouse. Norah Vincent’s Adeline reimagines the events that brought Woolf to the riverbank, offering us a denouement worthy of its protagonist.

With poetic precision and psychological acuity, Vincent channels Virginia and Leonard Woolf, T. S. and Vivienne Eliot, Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, laying bare their genius and their blind spots, their achievements and their failings, from the inside out. And haunting every page is Adeline, the name given to Virginia Stephen at birth, which becomes the source of Virginia’s greatest consolation, and her greatest torment.

Intellectually and emotionally disarming, Adeline—a vibrant portrait of Woolf and her social circle, the infamous Bloomsbury Group, and a window into the darkness that both inspired and doomed them all—is a masterpiece in its own right by one of our most brilliant and daring writers.

Virginia Woolf is one of the icons of twentieth century British literature. She and her fellow writers of the Bloomsbury Group are some of the most influential authors of the previous century and every student of English Literature has been assigned at least one of their works to read for class. As was I. As it was, I liked some of the Bloomsbury Set’s works, and those of their contemporaries, I had to read better than I did others—couldn’t get through Joyce’s The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, really enjoyed Eliot’s The Waste Land and Woolf’s Into the Lighthouse, and adored E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View and Howard’s End. So when I discovered that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was publishing Adeline by Norah Vincent, a historical novel about Virginia Woolf focusing on her mental state and the events that drove her to choose her final journey into the Ouse, I was intrigued to read it and when I was offered a review copy I happily accepted.  Read More …

Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: YA April-June

2014We’re almost there! Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Read More …

Anticipated Books (Winter-Spring) 2014: YA January-March

2014Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. YA books have become a big part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!   Read More …

Joelle Charbonneau – The Testing

joellecharbonneau-thetestingIt’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing is one of the latest additions to the crowded dystopian YA field. I’ve seen the usual comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I haven’t read any of the books in that series or seen the film, so it’s hard say whether they’re justified. In some ways the book reminded me of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, even if world-building and story largely have nothing in common beyond a Chicago-setting and the cut-throat competition between the candidates. Then again, in the flood of dystopian stories that have been published in the past few years, it’s unsurprising that certain elements become recognisable, even to one as sparsely read in the subgenre of YA dystopia as I. Whatever the resemblances might be, I rather enjoyed The Testing and found it an interesting read.
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