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Olive Kitteridge et al

Last week I finished reading The Gormenghast Trilogy. I had seen the made for TV BBC film as a teenager and fallen in love with it... so much so that for Christmas that year my parents bought me the books and also a book on the art and creation of the TV film. I haven't watched the film in a long time, due to the demise of the VCR and only having a copy on VHS. I sometimes try to convince myself that it would absolutely be worth buying a British (Region 2) VCR just so that I could watch this one film again. Really though, who am I kidding? I just need to find it on DVD!

The book, though, is another creature entirely. I was completely absorbed by the first two novels (Titus Groan and Gormenghast), they're often cited as being similar to The Lord of the Rings; except there's something about them that makes them appeal to me much more, as I am not a Lord of the Rings fan in the slightest. Gormenghast has that very dry, self-depreciating humor that I love so much, especially in this genre where writers tend to take themselves a little too seriously. It is certainly a satire on the genre and also on British culture.

One thing that really did stick with me when reading it is that the cast for the BBC film was beyond perfect. The scenery was beyond perfect. The literature itself had been toyed with and moved around, but really that obviously only served for it to better fit the medium of film. There were parts that I wished they'd kept in the film, especially toward the end of the second novel, but it in no way retracted from the quality of the story.

The third part, however, was sorely lacking. In fact it was skipped from the BBC production as well. The story really finished at the end of the second novel, it seemed obvious that the third had been left incomplete by Mervyn Peake as his health deteriorated only to be published post-humously. Honestly I stopped reading the last one (Titus Alone) halfway through.


Another book I finished reading this week was Olive Kitteridge, which was beautiful. I really enjoy reading very character oriented books and this was no exception. It is a series of short stories that revolve around a woman named Olive Kitteridge. Each story is from the perspective of a different character and each character knows Olive in one way or another, some are her close family and others merely know her in passing. In some stories she is barely mentioned, but the impact that one seemingly insignificant person unintentionally has on the lives of the people around her is simply amazing and inspiring to read.

I've now started reading Unaccustomed Earth. I am halfway through and I am enjoying it. Like Olive Kitteridge, it is a series of short storys, however this time they are based around individuals who do not know one another and only have one thing in common, that they are of Indian (as in "from India", not Native American) heritage and living in America. I'm always drawn to books that address cultural displacement, it's something that appeals to me being an Ex Patriot myself. Although my displacement from British culture to American is obviously not as extreme as those who have come from very different countries.

And before you get yourself thinking, "Oh wow she must have a lot of free time, reading 1600 or so pages in only a week!" I read very fast, like stupid fast. It's one of the main reasons I decided to major in English at university, I can read fast so I can go to work to pay for university while everyone else is reading their set 3 novels per week, then I can read mine the night before class. Sneaky right? Yeah sneaky. The only time I really get to read is while I'm sitting with Mikey in his room at night waiting for him to fall asleep. I quite enjoy that quiet time.

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I am a 24 year old British stay at home mother to a two year old boy. Married to a U.S. soldier and currently living in Germany.

I have seen the Vatican from the very top of St Peter's Basilica, the mud in the World War I trenches outside Ypres. I have walked through Montmartre side streets bustling with people in the evening, gotten lost in the streets of Greenwich Village NYC, run through cornfields on the Welsh border and sat outside with a cup of tea watching fireflies in the fields of the outer Chicago suburbs.

I have held the hands of others through addiction, fear, suicide, despair and come out the other side. I have left everything behind to begin anew.
I have fought mental illness and walked through snow in the mountains of the lake district, England. I have explored the morgue in the bowels of an abandoned hospital on a summer evening, climbed to the top of scaffolding on the outside of a five floor warehouse to look at the city lights of Nottingham at night and I have watched the sun setting on the Texas horizon.

I have held my son's tiny hand through the plastic window on an isolette in the NICU ward. Walked, speaking only in whispers, through the catacombs beneath the ground on the outskirts of Rome and seen the fireworks over Heidelberg castle.

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