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There is something about stories that magnify and illuminate the concept of social control that spooks me. I think they yield their power by highlighting elements vaguely feared by readers and bringing them to life as to turn that fear into terror. Whether it be the anxiety you feel when a police car is next to you at traffic lights, the thought of the Nazi or Pole Pot regime or what can happen when Communism takes a turn, however you look at it social control is a scary thought.

The Handmaids Tale exists in the same realm as George Orwells 1984 and Animal Farm and Aldous Huxleys Brave New World . If you have read any of these you’ll know what I mean. In each instance, the general population is controlled, monitored and punished as higher authorities see fit. The Handmaids Tale is unique in that is is from a women’s perspective and the regime that is detailed bases its principles on obscure interpretations from passages in the bible.

Without ruining too much, Atwood had me convinced for almost 5 minutes that what she had written about was long lost, though true history. As troubling as that was, the reality is that its themes are true. Things like this are happening in the world as we speak, women are oppressed whether it be in far away countries or in our own neighbourhood. Just because it isn’t happening to us doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

The book didn’t detail it’s message or intent. It just left you to stew the principles and figure out what it means to you. For me I felt it told the story of complacency. When we get comfortable in this world and hand over our power we leave ourselves open to an array of consequences. It’s not about paranoia, it’s about being aware, maintain our independence and making sure we are active not passive thinkers.

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Well you and I have both noticed that I have not posted anything for some time and despite trying to ‘buy’ time with some personal entries I realise I can no longer fool myself. 52… just ain’t going to happen.

It turns out trying to become a teacher in a year is harder than expected. And with my husband offering incentives (clothes and shoes! ) for high marks all of my attention has turned to my studies. And rightly so I suppose but I should have thought that through before attempting such a lofty goal of 52 books in a year.

So I have offered myself and you this compromise. I’ll do my best. I love reading and writing, and rather than avoiding writing because I am so certain I can’t accomplish my initial goal, I’ll read and write as much as I can manage.

Any who, I’m happy to report that I’m currently sitting on a distinction average in my course, with more high distinction than I have ever seen in my life, so I’m happy with how my teaching ambitions are coming along. It’s exciting to be doing something I like so much.

All my love, xoxo

Next review will be on ‘The Hospital by the River by Dr Catherine Hamilin’ – amazing stuff.

Happy Holidays

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter break. Levi and I made use of our time off together going to the easter show, riding the Loftus tram with family – which incidentally ticked a ‘must do before I die’ box and having a fantastic easter egg hunt in the garden. It was great.

So I’m still reading, but clearly not writing. I’ve been in an unproductive rut these last few weeks, but bear with me people, I will get there, promise. Until then, here’s some photo’s.

Jade xo

Coming up…

So I’ve been reading at quite a rapid pace, however whenever I sit down to write a review the residual backchat and white noise of unimpressed Year 9 students fills my head with a slow and stead thump, thump, thump.  So until I get it together here a few cover shots of my reading escapades. Love Jade xoxo

It’s been a busy week. The arrival of Tristan Ryan came, my new nephew, born perfect and beautiful to excited parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles and my first week of teaching prac. I’m at my old High School of all places, which was my secret desire amd has turned out really well. My supervising teaching is my old year 12 English teacher and has thrown me right in the deep end, planning and teaching her year 7 and 9 class for the next two weeks. It’s scary and great all at the same time. I have to do it at some point, and I figure some hard work now will pay off when I’m teaching on my own next year.  So it’s exciting times. Obviously the busier I get the harder it is to manage this book a week goal, but I’m still dedicated and hope that someone out there is benefiting from my reviews.  And remember I love comments – they keep me motivated, so I’d love to hear from you. Wishing all my readers the very best for the week to come. xoxo

For me, historical fiction reigns supreme. Like a true and loyal friend, I know I’m not going to be disappointed. And this book was no exception. Dedicated to my kindred spirit Jen Loker for recommending it and being just that type of friend. xo

White Rose Rebel is set in Scotland in the early 1700’s. Anne, the heroine of the novel is loosely based on a historical figure almost entirely lost to time. Scraps of her story that remain, paint the picture of a Scotswomen, who risked everything, including her marriage by defying her husband and going to war for her country’s freedom. Though the novel is fictious, war was rife during this period and Scotland was on the verge of losing all. The last of their customs, freedoms and way of life were about to be lost to the English, much of which would not be regained for hundreds of years if ever.

Against that backdrop we meet the characters who paint the picture of Scottish society and its culture. Their way of life is beautifully portrayed – a people driven by their sense of community and deeply imbedded beliefs of freedom, equality and justice. You can’t help but recognise and relate to what is good and true about their way of life.  Particularly enjoyable were the descriptions of the equality between men and women which were vital to their societies functionality.

Sex and passion are major themes through the novel, as is sexual freedom. One critic describing the book as ‘pacy, racy…a hot little kilt lifter’ which it certainly is. However, I’m a believer that there is a difference between realism,sensationalism and pornography. Many a romantic scene represents much more than a few hot pages. I wouldn’t go as far to say that every novel is pure in its intentions but I think that a characters development and motivations, sexual or otherwise make for a realistic portrayal of time and people in history.

There’s not much left wanting in this novel. I must admit though that I have a love/ hate relationship with the writing technique of ‘long build up/conflict’ for the majority of the novel and then ‘resolution’ for the last few pages, or last chapter if you are lucky. I’m completely drawn in by the emotions it causes ie. fending off the desire to skip 20 pages and find out what happens, being completely unable to eat or sleep until you finish the book etc, but honestly sometimes it’s just heart wrenching!

Paisely writes with great passion for her country. You feel her sense of lost for her countries history and with each page that history becomes introduced to you so poignantly.  She has such a deep, abiding sense of patriotism and a genuine love for her characters. It’s one of those stories you wish wouldn’t end.

In this novel the author has drawn extensively on his own actual experiences as a criminal in exile. After being divorced, Roberts’ life collapsed into drug abuse and he was convicted of a series of armed robberies. After being tortured in prison, he escaped over the wall and fled through New Zealand to India on a false passport. After spending eight years as a renegade in Western Asia and Europe, he was re-captured in Germany and eventually served out the remainder of his sentence in Australia. This novel is a semi-autobiographical account of time he spent in India.

 In writing about this book it is impossible to separate the story from the author. Although the story is evidently well-crafted, it’s impossible to guess how much is fact, how much embellished, and how much complete fiction; I constantly wondered about this. His language is conversational and natural, and carries the conviction of having lived the events: I found it required me to allow a generous dose of poetic license and go along with the story as it is told.

 I love stories and appreciated the well-woven and layered tale that emerges. The narrative is entertaining, surprising and gripping, and maintains a quick pace while developing lush textures. Alongside the narrative is the journaler’s moral observation and introspection. In this novel, Roberts has a strongly philosophical intent and sets forth his own and other’s motives and meanings for a range of challenging ideas and behaviors. At times the themes are heavy and difficult, but rewarding. Roberts looks for – and finds – humanity in the individual irrespective of who or what they may be. He reveals and considers the good and bad in people with depth, compassion and humour, and identifies great triumphs in both trivial and terrible choices. Roberts doesn’t try to justify his frequently nefarious and criminal activities, but presents an honest exposition of the effects of people’s choices in their own and other’s lives. In addressing the battle of morality with intelligence and practicality, this book is a daring victory.

Roberts’ greatest achievement is his power to draw the reader into the scene – and there are many rich scenes in this book. His declarations of love for Bombay are supported and made authentic by a compelling descriptive talent. The devotion he pays in portraying his city makes clear that Roberts really does love Bombay. With the non-judgmental eye of the lover, Roberts portrays the vibrancy, friendliness, corruption, honor, crime, racial tension, kindness, greed and poverty of Bombay with openness and affection. His descriptions of the people and their environment focus on the evocation of feelings, and just as the feeling of a place remains with the traveler long after they have returned home, these feelings of Bombay are what have stayed with me from this book.

 Among the very best Australian novels I have read; for the experience and education it is easily worth the shelf price.