Category: Books

Book review: The Oscar Wilde Mysteries

Book review: The Oscar Wilde Mysteries

Oscar Wilde is one of the most celebrated literary figures of the 19th century and, in this series by the well-known Giles Brandreth, he takes on the role of detective.

Brandreth takes us to the London Wilde knew, complete with members’ clubs, secret societies and the other literary doyens of the day; Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Sickert and Bram Stoker all feature. Narrated by Robert Sherard, grandson of Wordsworth and Wilde’s biographer, the books are quick to read and pull you along at quite a rate. Whilst Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the characters, his writing style is evident in Brandreth’s, with Wilde and Sherard forming a detective pairing similar to that of Holmes and Watson. Brandreth has clearly researched the books well, with real elements of Wilde’s life woven into the narrative alongside phrases that he is known to have written or said. This adds to a rich sense of Victorian London, alongside wonderful descriptions of travelling by carriage and long lunches with champagne.

Having read the first three books out of six, I would recommend these to anyone looking for a quick and lighthearted read with added literary merit. Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders focuses on the murder of a young boy, whilst Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death sees a dinner party game go wrong when those named begin to die in mysterious circumstances. Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile is a little different, with the story taking place years before Oscar was married, using a manuscript written by Sherard as its framing device. Whilst this opening is a little less engrossing, the mystery itself is just as gripping. There does not seem to be a specific order to the books, and Brandreth’s website suggests reading whichever comes to hand first.

I will definitely look forward to reading the other three!

World Book Day

World Book Day

It’s World Book Day! With this in mind, I wanted to share a few of my favourite books, all of which have changed my life in some way.

I love so many books so it was hard to choose, but these are some that are stuck in my mind at the moment. The power of reading is something that never ceases to amaze me, and I’m grateful every day for the books I have the opportunity to read, especially when many in the world are not so lucky.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Orlando, Virginia Woolf

I haven’t included links to buy the books because I would strongly recommend that you support your local book shops, charity shops and libraries if you can.

Now I’m off to finish the day with some yoga and reading – currently What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Oranges are not the Only Fruit

Today I finished Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. What a CRACKING book (I’ll admit I probably don’t have a career ahead of me as a book reviewer).

Quite apart from the fact that it highlights the impact of the church on women and LGBT, it’s a flipping excellent look at female fear of the body. Jeanette’s mother isn’t repulsed by her daughter being a lesbian, far more importantly, she is repulsed by her being free with her body, whoever that might be with.

I think this is a pretty common phenomenon, not just amongst controlling mothers, but in young women themselves. The amount of girls I know who are uncomfortable naked, or admitting they might have ever had sex, or *shock horror* even masturbated.

It scares me that people are living in fear of themselves – you aren’t a mind with a body, it’s a part of you. Embrace it, go jump about naked! And don’t even get me started on the sex shaming – sex is NORMAL, people, it’s allowed to be fun, you can have it with whoever you want! You don’t have to talk about it, although if you want to you should be able to, but if you have some crazy fetish and you keep it secret from everybody but the one occupying your bed, that’s all that matters, because you’re having fun! This goes for boys too.

I feel like I’m on some kind of sex positivity mission. I’m going to write my next essay on female acceptance of the body and sexuality, and in my head (probably not on paper) I’ll be calling it SEX HAPPENS.

Read Oranges, I think it’ll change your life. (And for a little further reading, this article from Jeanette herself.)