Monthly Archives: December 2013

Submarine

Submarineby Joe Dunthorne

First published in 2008, this début novel has since been made into a film and was very well received by critics. I was attracted to it by a review and the sleeve notes promised me it was “laugh out loud enjoyable”. 

Whilst I wouldn’t say I laughed out load whilst reading it, I certainly enjoyed the amusing way Joe Dunthorne presented the life and thoughts of a Swansea teenage boy.

Oliver Tate is a confused teenager, trying to come to terms with relationships, both with his parents and his girlfriend. 

For any teenager, relationships are a minefield as hormones begin to take control. Add to the mix doubts about the stability of his parent’s relationship and his guilt regarding the bullying of a classmate, and you have a potent cocktail.

Whether the book is based on personal experience or not, Joe Dunthorne captures this turmoil and angst of the modern teenager very well. I for one would hate to be a teenager today. 

A really good book with wonderful insight, told with sympathy and a great deal of humour.

The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Clubby Karen Joy Fowler

As with most things I have always enjoyed variety on my reading and I just can’t seem to resist anything connected to Jane Austen.

I came across the film several years ago and have watched the DVD several times, so I knew what to expect from the book itself. And in that I was not disappointed. As we all know, films very often make so many changes to the original book that they become almost unrecognisable. Not so with this book. 

The story is pretty much unchanged, which is good.

In “The Jane Austen Book Club” we follow a year in the lives of a group of six friends who get together to read and discuss the works of Jane Austen. Each member hosts an evening and at each meeting we get a glimpse into their pasts. 

For most of the six, Jane Austen is a life-long passion, but for one, Grigg – the only male of the group and a life-long Science Fiction fan – these meetings have another meaning entirely. But there is nothing sinister, he has simply failed for an older woman and for him the club provides an opportunity be with her. 

All the members of the club have troubled pasts and, in some cases, uncertain futures. Throughout the year the members all discover things about each other and themselves that will shape their futures. Relationships blossom or are rekindled, but in each case, in a way that we feel Jane Austen may not have approved or understood.

As the group reflect on the meaning and intent behind the works of their literary hero, they often find their own lives reflected in her works. 

“The Jane Austen Book Club” is a charming and at times witty look at the fragmented and troubled lives of six individuals which, with references to Jane Austen’s own life and works, in a way shows just how much love and relationships have changed of the intervening two centuries. Jane’s idealised world is one we would all like to experience, but in reality very few ever will.

I really enjoyed this book. Maybe not the thrill-a-page kind of novel, but it does have a subtle message, much like the works of Jane Austen herself.