Tag Archives: memory

Dolly by Susan Hill

Dolly by Susan Hill

Set in the dank dark landscape of the English fens, orphan Edward Cayley is sent to spend the summer with his Aunt Kestrel, whom he has never met. With him is his spoilt and spiteful cousin Leonora, also visiting for the summer. After Leonora’s birthday wish for a beautiful Indian doll is not fulfilled, the furious rage she unleashes unsettles Edward and haunts him for many years to come. Years later when Edward and Leonora are the only surviving members of the family, he returns to the the fens, and discovers the frightening consequences of Leonora’s actions, which are inescapable…

‘In the distance he heard the sound of paper rustling and the muffled crying of Dolly, buried beneath the earth.’

The problem with reading ghost stories by Susan Hill, is that her fans expect it to be as good (if not better) than The Woman in Black. While I will say this one isn’t quite as frightening, I also don’t think they’re particularly comparable. Dolly is quite a short story, only 153 pages long, but it feels a lot shorter. The majority of the book is leading up to the terrifying consequences of Leonora’s actions, which means that 80% of the story is spent on the edge of your seat waiting…

‘The grasses whisper, the wind moves among the gravestones. And somewhere just about here, by the low wall, another sound, not like the grass but like paper rustling. But there is no paper.’

What I liked the most, were her brilliant descriptions of the English fens, and the old gothic decaying house. Her writing style is such that you could read any of her books and be happy just reading her atmospheric writing, even if the story isn’t perfect. I would however highly recommend Dolly – it is a short but intriguing ghost story, great for reading in front of the fire on a winter’s evening. Just don’t expect it to be the next Woman in Black.

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

‘It takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time’s malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing – until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.’

I had to read The Sense of an Ending, of course. After winning the Man Booker Prize 2011, and having heard so many positive reviews, it was inevitable that I would get around to reading it.

I only needed to read the first paragraph before I knew I was going to like it. Even if I had hated the story, Julian Barnes’ writing is such that you are captivated, no matter what. At only 150 pages, and such a slim book, it’s almost a novella, and certainly felt that way after I finished it in a day.

The story centers around Tony Webster; a retired divorced man, with little left going on in his life. A letter he receives from a lawyer dredges up long forgotten memories of his school days, and Tony tries to understand and come to terms with events long past.

I felt that the main point was not so much what happens in the story itself, but memories, and how our memories are so tainted and unreliable over time, so as to confuse our own past. You are left with what the title suggests, a ‘sense’ of an ending, but not really an ending itself. The end is of course ambiguous; left up to the reader to interpret.
Tony is an entirely unreliable narrator, and you get the feeling perhaps he’s repressed his memories so much, that we are only hearing half of the story. Without giving too much away, small comments he makes throughout the novel imply various goings-on, but are never confirmed nor elaborated on.

‘How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but – mainly – to ourselves.’

I absolutely love Julian Barnes’ writing, he is a master with words, and I take great pleasure in reading his novels. When reading this book, you should start with no expectations, no prejudice, no ideals, nothing. Just take it as it is, and come to your own conclusions. Thought provoking and mysterious, I most definitely recommend giving it a read.

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson

Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson

‘I cannot imagine how I will cope when I discover that my life is behind me, has already happened, and I have nothing to show for it. No treasure house of collection, no wealth of experience, no accumulated wisdom to pass on. What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?’

Christine wakes up every morning with no recollection of where she is or how she got there. She believes herself to be in her twenties but when she looks in the mirror, she sees a woman in her forties staring back at her. She lives with a man, apparently her husband, although she has no recollection of him either. Every night when she goes to sleep, her memory resets all over again.

From the moment I started reading this book, I absolutely could not put it down. I finished it in a matter of hours, and what an exhilarating read it was too. A psychological thriller at it’s best, to say I’m impressed with SJ Watson’s debut novel would be an understatement. The twists and turns were brilliant, and despite the fact that for the majority of the novel not a lot happens, I found it incredibly fast-paced and raced through the chapters. The fact that Christine, as the narrator, has no idea what is going on or who to trust, makes her a completely unreliable narrator; my favourite kind! This means the reader is equally confused, so the surprises are all the more shocking.

I would recommend this to everyone, it’s such a great read, and definitely lives up to the hype.

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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