Thursday, April 29, 2010

Will and Lyra's Bench

I know that by now, this is hardly an original post, but given that I am reading Wolf Hall and it will probably take me until 2020 to finish it, so thought I would write about this in the mean time. The day I discovered that Will and Lyra's bench existed. Seriously? Yep, I didn't know it was real. So when I found myself on a train to Oxford two years ago I thought I might go and see (with no expectations at all) if it existed, or if I could find where it might have been.

So you can imagine my delight when I found the following:

She led him past a pool with a fountain under a wide-spreading tree, and then struck off to the left towards a huge many trunked pine.
There was a massive stone wall with a doorway in it, and in the further part of the garden the trees were younger and the planting less formal.
 Lyra led him almost to the end of the garden,
 over a little wooden bridge,
 to a wooden seat under a sprawling low-branched tree.

"Will, I used to come here in my Oxford and sit on this exact same bench whenever I wanted to be alone, just me and Pan. What I thought was if you - maybe just once a year - if we could come here at the same time, just for an hour or something, then we could pretend we were close again - because we would be close, if you sat here and I sat just here in my world -"
"Yes," he said, "as long as I live I'll come back. Wherever I am in the world I'll come back here -"
"On Midsummer's Day," she said, "At midday. As long as I live. As long as I live..."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My friend came over last night and told me about all the cheese she's been eating of late. She loves cheese. Really really loves cheese.  So it got me thinking of this, and made me chuckle.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Grief is the price we pay for love."

The Queen said that, and for that, I feel that it is an ever-so-romantic quote! I love the Queen, most likely because a) I am not English; b) she has a posh British accent; and c) she looks like my Nanna. I can't remember where I initially found this quote but it has got me a-thinking. Grief and love are two of the strongest emotions a person can feel and everyone would have experienced both at some point in their lives. So does this make them easier or harder to depict in art and literature? I just know that when it is done well, the impact is phenomenal!! Here are my favourite depictions of grief and love. What are yours?

Grief: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Image from here
"Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you - haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe - I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"
'Wuthering Heights' is my FAVOURITE book. Really seriously absolutely my favourite. I even have an 1858 edition of it. Bliss!! So of course my choice for Best Grief (at the macabre Oscars here at Once, Oh Marvellous Once) would come from there. I chose this passage mainly because it is the most widely known, not because it is necessarily my favourite bit. But doesn't it just portray grief in such a desperate heart-wrenching manner?

Love: Possession by A. S. Byatt

Image from here
I shall see you - as you were the moment before the madness - until the day I die. Your little face, with its pale candour, turned to me - and your hand out - in the watery sunshine, between the great trees. And I could have taken your hand - or not taken your hand - could I not? Either? But now only the one. Never have I felt such a concentration of my whole Being - on one object, in one place, at one time - a blessed eternity of momentariness that went on forever, it seemed. I felt you call me, though your voice said something different, something about the rainbow spectrum - but the whole of you, the depth of you called to me  and I had to answer - and not with words - this wordless call. Now is this only my madness? With you in my arms (I tremble as I remember it to write it) I was sure it was not.
I love 'Possession'. So many of my friends haven't made it through. I will admit that I was struggling a little at first as well and then I peeked forward and saw this letter from Randolph Henry Ash to Christabel Lamotte and I was hooked. Again, perhaps not the best passage from the whole book, but one that I just loved!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Words are cold, muddy toads trying to understand sprites dancing in a field.
I have been left completely gobsmacked by this new book by Yann Martel. I don't even know what I can possibly say in a review to do it justice, or even how to describe how I feel about this book.

'Beatrice and Virgil' is the second major novel from Yann Martel, following his hugely successful 'Life of Pi' (which I thought was sensational). It draws its title from characters in Dante's 'Divine Comedy': Beatrice is Dante's guide through Heaven and Virgil is his guide through Hell and Purgatory. In this book Beatrice and Virgil are a donkey and monkey (respectively) in a play within the novel. Where to begin here? I just don't know. Once again Yann Martel has baffled the reader with fact and fiction. The main character in this novel, Henry, is a writer who has been unable to produce a second novel following his initial success (translated into several languages, won prizes, included several wild animals, sound familiar?) and has recently abandoned a work about the Holocaust. Years following this abandonment he receives a letter containing a short story, an excerpt from a play and a note requesting help. Upon seeking the author of this mysterious passage, Henry finds himself in a taxidermy shop run by an elderly man, also named Henry, and meets Beatrice and Virgil who have both been previously taxidermied (is that even a word?). From here Henry becomes embroiled in helping this man write his play.

This book is astoundingly beautifully written. All the excerpts of the play are divine, full of beautiful adjectives and metaphors, with existential musings that mirrors Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot'. This book is also multi-layered. While on the surface it is the story of a writer struggling for inspiration and a somewhat creepy old taxidermist with a donkey and a monkey, it really is about the Holocaust. Here again, Martel has blurred the lines of reality and fiction, a story about struggling to write about the Holocaust is, in fact, a story about the Holocaust. 'Beatrice and Virgil' is a fable, an allegory for one of the most horrific scenes of human history, simplified and at the same time complicated by the use of metaphor. And the truth is, because of this, it is the most moving and tragic story of the Holocaust I have ever read.

Beatrice and Virgil's friendship is made all the more beautiful by their differing of species. They genuinely love each other, desperately almost, they are all the other has in life. It is amazing how affectively their vulnerability is highlighted in this book, simply by not being human, and it makes the tragic and shocking end to this book so utterly devastating. Please don't think I'm giving things away here, this is the sort of book you get so caught up in you forget everything you have previously read.
Not a moment to be lost. Be happy right now. Be happy. I'm so happy with you, so very happy. Let us dance with our porcelain shoes. Everything will be all right.
Though this book is barely 200 pages long it does become convoluted at times, and you wonder if things are necessary. Though while it lagged a bit in the middle and the allusions became increasingly less subtle as the book continued (to the point that they were often explained in case the reader missed them, cringe), the emotional affect this book had on me was immense. I will admit that it is not unusual for me to cry in a book. In fact it is more common for me to cry than not. I read very innocently. Like I said in my review for The Little Stranger I am completely gullibly sucked in to the plot of any well written book and therefore I think books like this have a maximum impact on me. I don't read cynically and I don't look for flaws (I lie, I picked Twilight to pieces) and therefore I am more likely to give a book such as this a far more glowing review than a somewhat more discerning reader. Despite this, I don't think this is a sit-on-the-fence book. You will either love it, or you will despise it. I am on Team Love. Thank you Yann Martel.

Please let me know if you have reviewed this, I would love to hear what you thought.

Other Opinions
Amy's Book Obsession

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April Poetry Month: Alexander Pushkin

It is poetry month! It is now late in the month but I thought I would sneak in a post about one of my favourite poets, the great Alexander Pushkin. Pushkin is a Russian poet from the Romantic era, which was a divine era in music, art and literature. Pushkin had one of those amazing lives that people just don't have anymore. I can just imagine him swanning around Moscow society mixing with people like Anna Karenina and the long lost Anastasia, in a long fur coat and one of those furry hats. And a beard. Though the picture here suggests that at least the beard is correct!

I'm left alone at my ends,
The feasts, the mistresses, the friends
Had vanished with the slim illusions -
My youth had faded right away
With all its gifts of false allusions.
Like this, the candles, that through night
Were burning for young feasters' sight,
In ending of the mad profusion,
Are paling in the light of day.
(Translated by Yevgeny Bonver)

Pushkin married his wife, Natalya Goncharova, in 1931 and for a while they lived a glittering life in society. However they became increasingly in debt and Pushkin became suspicious that Natalya was having a sordid affair with a French military officer, Georges d'Anthes, who he then challenged to a duel. The poet vs the military man. I am sure we can all guess how that ended. Pushkin was mortally wounded and died two days later.

I loved you; even now I may confess,
Some embers of my love their fire retain;
But do not let it cause you more distress,
I do not want to sadden you again.
Hopeless and tonguetied, yet I loved you dearly
With pangs the jealous and the timid know;
So tenderly I loved you, so sincerely,
I pray God grant another love you so.
(Translated by D. Zhuraviev)

One of Pushkin's most famous poems is the epic narrative, The Bronze Horseman, written about the large bronze statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg. Pushkin was extremely interested in the history of Peter the Great and had mentioned him in previous poems.

City of Peter, just you shine
And stand unshakable as Russia!
May make a peace with beauty, thine,
The conquered nature’s casual rushes;
And let the Finnish waves forget
Their ancient bondages and malice
And not disturb with their hate senseless
The endless sleep of Peter, great!

The awful period was that,
It’s fresh in our recollection…
This time about, my dear friend,
I am beginning my narration.
My story will be very sad.
(excerpt, translated by Yevgeny Bonver)

1. Portrait of Alexander Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin (1827) from here
2. Pushkin reciting a poem at age 16 by Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1911) from here
3. Bronze Horseman by Alexandre Benois (1904) from here

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Where did you get that hat?

Apparently I don't look good in hats. My 'subtle as a brick' sister tells me this often. She says I look like Letitia from The Vicar of Dibley (who died on the show because she was so old) who favoured tea-cosy-style hats. I love knitting (I am quite the grandma) and hats are quick and easy to knit and subsequently I have a LOT of knitted tea cosy hats. So come winter, my sister has a field day when she sees me in a hat. It gives her enough material to last her until the next winter.

So today I was in hat heaven when I went to the Queensland Art Gallery to see Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones. It (as the name suggests) is an exhibition of hats. All kinds of hats. It was SENSATIONAL. I never knew you could make a collection of hats look so fantastic!! Here are some hats from the collection:

Image from here
The Royal Porcupine my father calls this (Image from here)
Image from here
Image from here
Image from here

There are some wonderful wonderful hats in this exhibition. I am now desperate to be a milliner. If you are in Brisbane, please please go and check it out, its free and FABULOUS!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I have been rather disorganised this week with blogging, but it is because I've been reading this AWESOME book!! And by awesome I mean terrifying. Can you believe I was genuinely frightened by this book? I have read other reviews that have said they were disappointed by the lack of 'fear factor'. Well I did not feel this. However I am the person who can't watch the ads for those spooky criminal TV shows because I get all jumpy, and couldn't walk down my darkened hallway for 4 months after I saw 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. And frankly, I think I really picked the wrong time of my life to read this book. I am house-sitting an old house at the moment which comes with its own 'little stranger', a 400 year old dog. She howls. A lot. So no sooner would my rapidly beating heart recover from a moment of suspense in the book and I was beginning to think that I might indeed survive the night...

would I hear...


I tell you what, that dog does a damn good impression of a ghost.

Now. Shall I tell you a bit about the actual book? 'The Little Stranger' is narrated by a local county doctor in Warwickshire in England, Dr Faraday, who is called to old manor house, Hundreds Hall, to see the young maid who has become ill. Over the following months he becomes increasingly involved with the family who live here, Mrs Ayres and her two grown children, Caroline and Roderick. Following an unforseen tragedy at a party hosted by the Ayres family, their lives begin to unravel as more and more seemingly inexplicable events occur.

I don't want to go into too much detail as this book unravels deliciously, if not a little frustratingly. I found Dr Faraday to be quite annoying and thought that he was far too sensible in regards to the possibility of a ghost. He was always able to rationally explain the appearance of strange marks, strange noises and strange happenings even when logic really didn't fit, passing the most bizarre happenings off as mental delusion (as any good doctor would). I found most of the characters in this book difficult to like and to relate to and found the character of Betty (the malingering adolescent parlour-maid) to be the most endearing. Mrs Ayres appeared cold and distant at first, however as her story evolves she becomes a warmer and more motherly character. Caroline and Roderick both experience the house differently, Roderick becomes desperately maddened by events, whilst Caroline initially resists and justifies them until she too, slowly succumbs to the drama as it unfolds.

This is my first Sarah Waters experience and won't be my last. Apart from all the apprehension and lack of sleep I suffered whilst reading this, I thought it was an utterly brilliant book. I was unnerved by the activity within the house and the tragic effect it had on the family. I just finished this book last night and really want to read it again as I think that upon a reread a somewhat sinister and ever so subtle twist will reveal itself to me. Alright, maybe not entirely subtle, but very much open to interpretation. And for that Sarah Waters, I take my hat, scarf, and sparkly red shoes off to you! You are a genius. This book had a really interesting effect on me. I believed everything I was told (OK, I'm quite gullible) so that when supernatural influences were implied I believed them, and when they were rationalised by logic I believed that too. So I wonder if what I think was implied was actually implied, or if I was looking for too much information and insight that I could never actually receive given that this book was written in first person. Despite its first person narrative, I feel that the perspectives of each character were mostly fairly represented, as much as they could be at least. I think that the narrative was a strength of this book and really gets the reader stuck in wonder as to whether the root of the problems here are mental delusion and strain or supernatural phantasms?

To be honest, I don't know what I believe about the conclusion of this book. I think it is a must read and am desperate to hear what other people thought of this one. Have you read it? Could you sleep?

Other Reviews [if you've reviewed this please let me know and I'll add it to the list]
Farm Lane Books
Savidge Reads
First Tuesday Book Club (spoilers)
Books Please
Book Bath
Constance Reader
Books I Done Read

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee

Do you remember when you were little and you watched Fern Gully for the first time and it was the most magical and visually stunning thing you had ever seen? Then you tried to relive the magic when you were all grown up and it was poor quality (because you're watching it on video) and dull with a very simple story? Well I am afraid that that is how I felt about The 'Halfmen of O' by Maurice Gee. When I was in grade 5 we read this as a class and I loved every minute of it. However I moved to another city and subsequently left the class before we finished and I have wanted to finish it ever since. So I took the opportunity of the Once Upon A Time IV Challenge as the perfect opportunity. Oh how I wish it was perfect.

The blurb of this book reads...
Susan has always been a bit odd and never really got on with her cousin Nick, but the mark on her wrist draws them together in a frightening adventure. They are summoned to the beautiful land of O in a last-ditch attempt to save the planet from cruel Otis Claw and his followers, the evil Halfmen, who have lost every trace of human goodness and kindness.
I don't quite know what to say about this book because it is a children's fantasy book, which is a genre I haven't read since I was a child myself. The book is average length for a children's/YA novel, 186 pages, so the action begins and finishes very quickly. I felt that the writing wasn't stellar, however it was appropriate for its target audience. I will be the first to admit (and I've said it before) that I am far from an expert on the fantasy genre but I felt that this book had all the fundamental elements of a fantasy. A young heroine who rises to a mammoth task, another world, strange creatures, lots of things that warrant capital letters (the Halves, the Motherstone) and people wearing cloaks. But I am not able to discern if this makes it an original and unique children's fantasy, or a run-of-the-mill adventure book set on another planet.

What I liked: The land of O was beautifully described and made out to be a beautiful planet. It seemed to me reminiscent of Pandora, of Avatar fame (which I haven't seen), or Fern Gully. O was so diverse and full of different and fantastical species, the Halfmen, the Woodlanders, the Birdfolk, the Stonefolk and the Seafolk, and their quest took them to such different environments throughout the land. Susan was a worthy heroine and got appropriately drawn in to the drama and enormity of her task.

Image from here

Image from here

What I didn't like: Nick. Possibly one of the most annoying characters I have ever read. He was so full of his self importance, yet obviously an idiot (harsh?). He tried to be protective and noble but had his own agenda (of being the protective and noble) and stated the obvious ALL THE DAMN TIME!! All the big action bits were over in a couple of pages and there was always a convenient solution to the bigger challenges. I never felt the suspense, worried for the characters or wanted them to complete their task.

So... the biggest letdown for me was the memory. I think if I had finished it when I was 11 I would have just loveloveloved it. I am giving this a big yes for the 10-13 age group but sadly a no for me at this age. Maurice Gee is a New Zealand author and this book was first published in 1982. It won a few awards back in the day, but I haven't seen it in any book shops recently, nor have any of my friends read it. Though I didn't love it myself, I think this book is too good to be forgotten. I am interested to hear of anyone else out there who has read this? What did you think?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pillars of the Earth Movie

What? Apparently I have been living underneath a huge ignorance shaped rock and had absolutely no idea that The Pillars of the Earth was being made into a movie!! And by movie I mean eight-hour-made-for-TV-movie. Which is almost the same thing, yes? So today when I received an email about it from Oprah I was mighty excited.

A couple of years ago I lived in the UK and my two besties came over to visit and do a bit of Euro-travel themselves. While I stayed in the UK and worked they went to cathedral upon cathedral in Europe upon which Bestie 1 said to Bestie 2 "Have you read The Pillars of the Earth?". This occurred in every single cathedral. And church. And temple. Pretty much any form of religious building. Now poor Bestie 2 was becoming rather exasperated with these questions as (as she had previously stipulated) no, she hadn't read Pillars of the Earth. Then they came back to the UK and we went to St Paul's Cathedral. What do you think was the first thing I said to Bestie 2?


So anyway for those who don't know, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is one of those 'Big Books' that I was talking about previously. It is set in the twelfth century and focuses on the building of a cathedral in Kingsbridge in England. It takes years and years and therefore this book is a sprawling masterpiece that spans several years and encompasses all things that are loved about the middle ages: knights, monks, royalty, scandal, witches, draw bridges and chain mail. It is, in a word, an epic book.

What do you think of the casting?

Matthew McFadyen as Prior Philip

Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder

Natalia Worner as Ellen

Eddie Redmayne as Jack (ridiculously appropriate name!)

Hayley Atwell as Aliena

I wonder if this will ever cross the sea to Australia? It looks a bit exciting!!

Pictures from here

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dawn and Lenny :(

So it has officially been announced on BBC news that Dawn French and Lenny Henry have split after 25 years of marriage. I think this is so sad. As previously mentioned I am a huge fan (skipping opportunity for inappropriate Dawn French joke here) of French and Saunders and love everything they have done. This includes their husbands. Very poor phrasing there but I'm going to be cheeky and leave it in! So when a friend rang me yesterday and announced in a very sombre voice that Dawn and Lenny had separated I was a bit shocked and sad.

25 years is a very long time to be married and I suppose not everything works out. However I really thought these guys would. In Dawn's 2008 book Dear Fatty (a memoir in the form of letters) she wrote a beautiful love letter to Lenny...
Dear Len,
Really this book should be called Dear Len and simply be one big long love letter to you. It's hard to know how to sum up everything I want to say to you in one letter. We have been married for 24 years now, and we were together a couple of years before that, so half of my whole life is you. You. You. Obviously there are things i can't and won't write about in these pages because we both, but especially you, are quite rightly very private about our life together, but when I think hard about who you are to me, and what I really want to say to you, it is, essentially, thank you.
I am sure that Dawn and Lenny have thought long and hard about their decision and have come to the right decision for them and how can one not have a huge respect for them for being brave and making this decision? And I am the first to admit that I really have no right to pass judgement or draw my own conclusions to the dissolution of a once happy marriage so I just shan't.

All I can say is 'Hmmmm, what a mighty shame'. All the best for the future Dawn and Lenny, may happiness find you.

Here is a video of happier times:

Pictures from zimbio

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

3 Big Books

Reading is something I just love but often find difficult to fit into my day. Subsequently my reading list is MASSIVE and my 'have-read' list is embarrassingly devoid of several must-reads. I am a full time shift worker, have just finished post-grad uni (finally!), play violin in an orchestra, socialise and so on and so forth and by the time all that is over I am tired. So I set myself little goals, like my '50 Pages a Day' goal, my '5 Classics a Year' goal and this year a new one. The '3 Big Books' goal. I have so many 'Big Books' on my shelf that I avoid because they are too cumbersome!! NOT a good excuse not to read a book!! So my 3 Big Books for 2010 are:

A S Byatt, how I love you! 'Possession' is one of my favourite books ever. Ever ever ever. So I was very excited to see the beautiful cover of 'The Children's Book' (with GOLD on it!!). I actually started reading this in October soon after it came out in Australia and got a quarter of the way through and then had a bit of an accident (involving skydiving and a dislocated shoulder) and literally couldn't pick it up again!! Plan to finish this.

Gone With The Wind. I hang my head in shame. I haven't ever read it all the way through. Again, it is one I started in 2008, when I was backpacking. I got about half way through and then it was given to a second hand book store because I was massively culling. Devastating I know. It was the book or the coat and I was heading to Poland in winter... I plan to restart this one.

The Kindly Ones is apparently the new War and Peace so I want to read it. In saying that I haven't read War and Peace. But, like, I seriously, know it's, like, totally, a big deal. Plus it is a fictional account of WW2 with a mixture of factual and fictional characters and this appeals to me.

Anybody read any of these?

In other news, I am listening to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. Yay!! And I just made an amazing bolognese sauce. And Sarah Waters and Markus Zusak are on First Tuesday Book Club on ABC tonight for all those Aussies!! Should be a fab show.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book Review: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

image from here

This will be my first review for the Once Upon a Time IV Challenge, and what a beautiful book to begin with! I have always been a wee bit cautious when faced with a 'fantasy' book, well lets be honest here, frankly terrified!! My brother is an avid fantasy reader and can often be found battling with a book that weighs more than he does and his endless refrains of "Don't worry! It's easy! It's the second book of the 4th trilogy, you read it before the 6th book in the prequel series but the events in it don't actually occur until after the 6th trilogy. Oh yeah, and all the characters are called Saraman." follow me as I run away in terror. And that is why I have never read 'Lord of the Rings'. So where does 'Tender Morsels' actually fit? To preserve my own sense of morals, I am placing it in the 'fairy tale' category, which is frankly a synonym meaning 'fantasy for chickens'.

Tender Morsels is a retelling of the tale of Snow White and Rose Red, a German fairytale. It tells the story of Liga, a broken young woman who disappears from her sad and difficult life into a world far more beautiful, her own perfect heaven. With her she takes her daughter Branza, and a second unborn daughter Urdda. In this world they live peacefully with no threat of danger, poverty or heartbreak. However this magic and perfect happiness cannot last forever and before long, the divide between the real world and Liga's world begins to break down.

It is not only Liga that has made the transition to this world; a kind young man finds himself within this world in the body of a bear and seeks warmth and kindness from the family. An uncouth, beastly dwarf makes several visits searching for riches he cannot attain at home; and another man/bear appears, though not as placid or kind as the first. As the children grow, their encounters with these foreigners lead their paths in separate directions and force them to realise there may be more to life than they know.

This book is beautifully written, exquisitely beautifully written in fact, Margo Lanagan WHO ARE YOU?? The description in this book is vivid, everything just grows inside your head until you feel as though you're there, and that is a rare thing in a book. One thing that Ms Lanagan does which just gives me a hundred goosebumps, is describe the smaller things, the things that don't really matter, that the book doesn't need to fulfill the story, yet makes the reading experience so pleasurable that you wish it was Margo Lanagan who was writing your life! One such passage is when Branza and Urdda are feeding some birds:
The air began to fill with the light, dusty sound of their wings, and the pips and peeps of their calls. They landed and landed, and Urdda's arms rocked at each landing. The birds were bright in the sun, and the busyness of them flaunted and flapped the sunlight so that Urdda felt radiant with them, as if they were a kind of fire flaming across the top of her. What a grand idea this was! 
She stood straight and still, not frightening a single bird away, and Branza, hands clasped, watched her from the wood-edge until the birds had pecked up all the crumbs from Urdda's person, and all the spilled crumbs and and pieces from the grass around her feet, and one by one had flown off, leaving widening breaks in the flaring line of sunlight. Two sparrows must sit and preen awhile once they had fed, but when they were done they, too, darted away, and then Branza ran out of the trees in delight and satisfaction, waving the other bread-end. "Now me!" she said. "That was quite wonderful!"
Whilst I loved every word within this book, I found the story at times unnerving and difficult to follow. It dealt with issues such as abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) and incest in graphic detail and is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is marketed as a young adult book, however I don't think I personally would have enjoyed this book at that time of my life, and at the same time I know several grown up adults who would love this.

I was initially confused with the switching between worlds and times, and the narrative also switches between first and third person with regularity, and the first person sections have different narrators as well. I found this confusing at times and it took me a while to get used to this style. However I think this is also a very positive aspect of this book as it allows the reader to have perspective of both worlds and what goes on within each.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The writing often moved me to tears, but the story wasn't my favourite. I think this is really just because I'm new to fantasy/fairytale beyond His Dark Materials and Harry Potter. In saying that, I think this is such a valuable piece of writing, especially as it is written by an Australian author. And if you love anything fantastical and magical you will love this. And Margo Lanagan is a storytelling genius. Full stop. No argument. The end.
Imagine, always to have this arm at your waist, the arm of a good man and kind, who had been to your heaven and loved it too; who had seen your daughters in their childhoods there and begun wanting daughters himself.

Other Reviews
things mean a lot
my fluttering heart