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Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

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I listened to this audiobook across several of my training runs (which is basically how I listen to all of my audiobooks). I generally prefer a physical book to an audio, but I think this one worked as one to listen to.

The two main characters are Tiffy and Leon, and they narrate alternate chapters. Tiffy is just out of a bad relationship and needs somewhere to live, but on minimum wage, and in London, her options are limited. So she answers an ad for an unusual flat share…

Leon is a night nurse, who’s brother has been wrongly imprisoned and Leon needs to earn enough money to pay the appeal lawyer who is working on the case. He only needs his flat from 9.00am – 6.00pm because he is at work the rest of the time and spends weekends with his girlfriend Kay – so the answer seems obvious – he will advertise for a flatmate, who can have the flat to themselves every evening and weekend, as long as he can have it between in the daytime. Although they will be sharing a home and a bed, they need never meet. They still get to know each other though through the various post it notes which turn from quick messages to long conversations, and although Leon is initially bemused by all the girly stuff suddenly filling his flat, they become fond of each other despite never coming into direct contact.

This all sounds like a long explanation, and it is. But it’s set up really well, and I really liked the first half of the book. Both Tiffy and Leon are likeable characters, although very different – Tiffy is verbose and has a tendency to overshare, whereas Leon is quite closed and almost talks in bullet points.

I didn’t like the second half of the book quite as much. For quite a while the story seemed to go in circles and I do feel that a bit of editing could have improved it. It wasn’t awful though and still held my attention. But this being the kind of book it is, I knew – and I suspect every ready will know – how it is going to turn out although there are a few bumps in the road before we get there.

I think books with multiple narrators really benefit from the audio format. Carrie Anne Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune both did a great job of bringing Tiffy and Leon to life.

Overall, while I didn’t love this and don’t share the opinion of the huge amount of reviewers who have fallen in love with this book, it was an enjoyable read and a promising debut.

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December 31 1999.  Ten year old Amy Archer goes missing, and is presumed dead.  Her body isn’t found, and ten years later, her mother Beth is still struggling to cope with her grief.  On December 31 2009, there is a knock at her door, and a young woman claims to know where Amy is.  Beth is then introduced to a girl who looks exactly like her daughter, and knows things that only Amy could have known.  But this girl is only ten years old.  As Beth tries to understand the truth behind ‘Amy’s’ sudden reappearance, her enquiries take her down dark paths and reveal secrets long hidden.

I am in two minds about this book.  I think the premise is interesting – I don’t personally believe in reincarnation, psychics or mediums, all of which are discussed in this book, but I don’t think that you need to to invest in the story.  The narrative moved fast, and was interesting enough to keep me reading for hours, but the main issue for me was that I did not like any of the characters.  Not Beth, not Libby (the young woman who knocks on her door) and not even Amy/Esme, the young girl who claims to be Beth’s daughter reincarnated.  The other problem was that this author really REALLY liked his imagery and symbolism, and initially that annoyed me a little.  However, as I got further into the book, I must have got used to his way of writing, because I noticed it less and less.

Much has been made of the ending – I am not going to reveal anything about it here, but I personally did not mind it so much as other reviewers appear to have done.  I think if you are a fan of psychological thrillers, I would probably recommend this book, but beware that it does detail some particularly dark scenarios, which could make for uncomfortable reading.  Overall, I wouldn’t say it was a book I’d rave over, but I enjoyed it enough to read further books by this author.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This is a fairly low-budget British ‘horror’ film (albeit light on the horror aspect), which Cassie (Christina Ricci) is a young woman knocked over by a car in the sleepy town of Ashby Wake.  When she recovers, she has lost her memory and cannot remember what she is doing in the town.  The woman who knocked her over lets Cassie stay with her and her family, and Cassie forms a bond with the young son, Michael.  However, she is curious and concerned about the strangers who she keeps seeing in the town, but who seem oddly familiar to her, and she enlists the help of a man named Dan (Ioan Gruffudd).  Meanwhile, a buried church is discovered underground, and various members of the Anglican church in the neighbourhood are anxious to discover the mystery behind it.

I watched this film for the sole reason that Ioan Gruffudd was in it.  Horror is not really a favourite genre of mine, and religion is not a subject which would normally draw me to a film.  Nonetheless, I actually found this entertaining enough, despite a few plot holes and unresolved questions.

Christina Ricci was fine as the lead character, although some of the choices that character made seemed unlikely.  Ioan Gruffudd (who surely must have an ageing portrait in his attic, as he looks no different eleven years later than he does in this film) was also good as Dan – actually the best thing about the movie, from  my point of view.

In all, while this film does present more questions than it answers (or more truthfully just leaves some plotlines dangling), it’s an undemanding, slightly hokey experience, and not bad if you are a fan of the genre, or any of the main actors.

Year of release: 2003

Director: Brian Gilbert

Producers: Patrick McKenna, Pippa Cross, Rachel Cuperman, Marc Samuelson, Peter Samuelson, Steve Clark-Hall

Writer: Anthony Horowitz

Main cast: Christina Ricci, Ioan Gruffudd, Stephen Dillane, Kerry Fox, Simon Russell Beale, Peter McNamara

 

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This is the second adaptation of Virginia Andrews book of the same name (the first being made in 1987).  I read the book many years ago, although it is on my list to read again.  This particular version was made for the Lifetime channel, and while it was not brilliant, it was certainly watchable, and more or less faithful to the book.

The Dollanganger family have an idyllic life, until their father dies in a car crash, at which point their mother Corrine (Heather Graham) takes them to live with her Grandmother (Ellen Burstyn).  To their shock, the children are expected to live in the attic, and are never permitted to leave.  Their mother explains that after a fall-out with her parents years before, she is trying to win back her sick father’s affection, so that he will change his will and leave all of his money to her.  However, her father must never learn that she has children, because if he does he will never leave his inheritance to Corrine.  The children are told that their situation will be temporary, but they end up spending years in the attic, with their mother all but forgetting them.  Their grandmother resents their very existence and treats them cruelly, and Cathy and Christopher must find a way for them to survive.

Kiernan Shipka, better known as Sally Draper from Mad Men, plays Cathy, and Mason Dye plays Christopher.  The younger children, twins Carrie and Cory are played by Ava Telek and Maxwell Kovach.  Shipka is a wonderful young actress, and I really liked her performance.  She really has potential for a great career (I love her in Mad Men too).  Mason Dye was also very good, and Ellen Burstyn was fantastic – rarely do I wish for a horrible and painful ending for a character, but in the Grandmother’s case, I will make an exception.  The weak link in the cast was Heather Graham, who unfortunately was unconvincing as Corrine.  She looks perfect for the part, but was badly cast, and seemed wooden.

The story was compelling however, if not altogether pleasant to watch – anyone who has read the book will know this already, but honestly, things just keep getting worse and worse for the children, and Cathy and Chris end up finding a terrible way of coping with their new life.  There were a few things that could have been done better – for instance, throughout all of his time in the attic, where they have no access to any kind of hairdresser, Christopher’s hair didn’t grow at all and always looked immaculate!

The ending is somewhat abrupt, but that is understandable, as the book, and this film, are the first in a series.  An adaptation of the second book in the series, Petals in the Wind, is currently being made, and I look forward to watching it, although I would hope that the part of Corrine is re-cast.

Despite the slight niggles I have with this film, it was worth watching, and I would probably recommend it, especially to those who have read the book and are familiar with the story.

Year of release: 2014

Director: Deborah Chow

Producers: Lisa Hamilton, Merideth Finn, Charles W. Fries, Harvey Kahn, Tanya Lopez, Rob Sharenow, Michele Weiss, Damian Ganczewski

Writers: Virginia C. Andrews (novel), Kayla Alpert

Main cast: Kiernan Shipka, Mason Tye, Ava Telek, Maxwell Kovach, Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham

 

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Towner Whitney moved away from Salem, Massachusetts, years ago, after her twin sister Lyndley died.  Now Towner’s great-aunt Eva has gone missing, and Towner goes back to the place where she said she would never return.  The town is shaken by her arrival, and as Towner investigates both the disappearance of her great-aunt, and a young girl who her great-aunt was helping, the secrets of Towner’s own past start to unravel…

I enjoyed this book – on the whole.  I did like the character of Towner, and although I thought I had worked the ending out, as it transpired, I was off the mark.  While it’s always nice to be surprised by an ending of a book, I actually felt that the book fell apart slightly in the last 30 or so pages, and the ending, while satisfactory, was not as good as I had hoped or expected.

Much of the book is narrated by Towner, but at times it switched to a third person narrative – probably in order to tell events from the view of Rafferty, a Policeman who helps Towner, and who himself is searching for the truth behind the mysterious disappearances.  There is also a chunk of about 60 pages which is told by Towner, in the form of a short story she wrote when she was a teenager.  For me, these shifts in perspective did not really help the storyline, and I would have preferred the whole story to have been in either the first or third person, rather than changing between the two.

However, there were plenty of things to like about the book.  I very much enjoyed reading about Salem, and found it especially interesting as I will be visiting Salem later this year.  I loved reading about the traditions, stemming from the witch trials of the 1600s, and I thought that the author did an excellent job of describing the place, so that I could really get a sense of the atmosphere and setting of the story.

There was a definite undercurrent of tension throughout the book, which simmers nicely and adds an edge to the story.  Overall, I would describe this book as an interesting read, and would be interested in seeking out more books by Brunonia Barry.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This story is set in the deep American south, and the narrator (through a series of letters to God and her sister) is Celie, a poor black girl who is raped by her mother’s husband and has her two children taken away.  She is later forced into an unhappy marriage and separated from her beloved sister Nettie.  Life is hard for Celie, and then she meets Shug Avery, a strong woman who shows Celie that she can take control of her destiny, and that she has unrealised strength.

This is a wonderful and moving book.  Celie’s story is heartbreaking in itself, but as well as centering on her personal life, the story also explores the treatment of black people in the South at that time, and, through a series of letters from Nettie, the exploitation of certain tribes in Africa.

Celie’s written English is understandably poor, and often in books, this irritates me, but in this case it really didn’t.  Had Celie been able to write perfect English, it would not have seemed believeable.  The difference between her and Nettie’s lives is shown in Nettie’s considerably more eloquent letters to Celie.

There are a number of characters who feature prominently in the book, and each and every one of them is entirely believable and well depicted.  The author demonstrates through Celie’s letters why certain characters behave in a certain way, and resists judging them – instead showing how good people do bad things sometimes and vice versa.

Celie is a character who I really cared about during the reading of the book and she will stay with me for a long time.  More than anything, this is a book that made me think – and that is never a bad thing.

A recommended read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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