T5W| Top 5 Characters I Wouldn’t Want To Be.

Hello everybody, HAPPY WEDNESDAY.

The theme for T5W this week is ‘characters you wouldn’t want to trade places with’ and as I only have a few minutes to get this typed up before Nathan drags me to the car to go climbing; I’ll dive right in.

I found this week’s list especially difficult to compile – in part because my morbid attraction to books with unsavory characters (that I definitely wouldn’t want to trade places with because they’re AWFUL) means that I had a lot of books to choose between and in part because I only had a few minutes to collect my thoughts. I did however pick 5 characters for this list that I could not be tempted to trade places with in a million years, be it because they’re generally unlikable, irredeemable people or because their situation or circumstances are so dire that I can’t imagine how I’d cope.

The first character I picked for this list came to mind immediately and they’re a pick of the situational variety – Ma from Room by Emma Donnoghue. Ma is the young narrator Jack’sroom_9780330519021 mother in Room and though the novel is told from his perspective, we get a really hard-hitting sense of what the situation must be like for Ma, who’s held captive in a room by a man called Old Nick and has been for seven years. Her situation is unbearable to say the least, I can’t even begin to imagine how she remains such a strong, admirable character throughout.

The second character who springs to mind, again because her circumstances are so horrific and terrifying that they send shivers down my spine is Agnes from Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. Agnes is this novels protagonist and she’s awaiting her execution for the murder of her former boss, living out the remainder of her numbered days on a remote Icelandic farm in IMG_27781829, where she’s attended to by a priest who’s charged with her spiritual preparation for death. Pretty awful situation all considered. That said, it’s a beautifully heart-wrenching book. Amazing imagery, 10/10 would recommend.

My third pick for this list is Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, the only (but completely logical) reason being that he’s a sick and twisted psychopath who tortures and murders women in the most horrific and demented ways and has literally no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This was a really easy one.

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The next character on my list suffers unimaginable hardship and cruelty and that’s Lina from Between Shades of Grey. Lina is a 15 year old Lithuanian artist, taken in the beginning of the novel with her mother and brother to a labour camp during the second world war. Throughout the novel, she experiences how ugly humans can be to one another and loses almost everything dear to her and her situation is terrible and one that nobody would ever wish to be in.

betweenshadesofgreyAnd my last pick is Frank Wheeler from Revolutionary Road. I can’t express how desperately sad I feel for Frank Wheeler in Revolutionary Road. I think at his core he’s a good person, and a very normal, relatable person which is what makes Revolutionary Road so poignant but he embodies everything I’m scared of becoming, self-deluded and scared of perusing your IMG_2542dreams and living the life you want. I think it a nutshell, Frank
and April both feel incredibly unfulfilled with their lives, and they expect more from Suburbia and marriage and life in general because they feel like they’re owed a happiness that
they don’t want to work for; they aren’t really motivated enough to do anything about their frustrations and they pay the very human cost of that fool’s paradise.

So that’s all for my T5W this week, I’ll see you again next week! Now to go and climb some walls!

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The Sealed Letter – A Quick Book Review

Rating: 7/10

Having read ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue practically in a single sitting, I picked up ‘The Sealed Letter’ out of hopeful curiosity for Donoghue’s Victorian fiction, and with very little idea what to expect.

Reminiscent of Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’, the novel details the real life divorce case of Harry and Helen Codrington in 1864. Wilful feminist Emily ‘Fido’ Faithful, a bastion of the Women’s Reform Movement, is delighted when she’s reunited with her once intimate friend Helen Codrington on the streets of Victorian London. However, as the novel progresses their friendship begins to unravel and Fido finds herself reluctantly entangled in Helen’s adulterous relationship with naval officer Captain David Anderson. So follows a fascinating story, with insight into 19th century attitudes towards divorce, the emerging feminist movement and the legal situation for women in Victorian England weaved masterfully into a narrative of betrayal, manipulation and prejudice.

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After a promising beginning, the energy slumped a little for me around half way through, although the lively court case redeemed the pace and I did find myself excited for my lunch break so I could find out what happened next. The ending did add a nice twist too, in a way that left everything leading up to its reveal somewhat open to various interpretations – something I actually quite liked! Stylistically, I got on well with Donaghue’s tone, though it’s marked distinctly against the purposely juvenile voice given to ‘Room’s’ Jack, for which Emma is best know. The way in which the narrative shifted to accommodate events from the perspective of the three central characters was smoothly done, and the snippets of letters and newspaper cuttings interspersed with prose made for a more multi-dimensional experience overall. That said, I hoped for stronger character development, on Fido especially – I think Donoghue missed a great opportunity to build a really strong and likable female character here, but in the end I found myself frustrated with her blind loyalty and almost foolish devotion to Helen, whose ruthless manipulation and continued selfishness singled her out as the least sympathetic character of the trio; an almost anti-hero for the women’s movement and a characterization I’m not sure was all too faithful, if you’ll pardon the pun, to the historical figure she portrays.

Though a complete departure from the tone and style of ‘Room’, ‘The Sealed Letter’ explores themes of feminism, loyalty, friendship and dishonor with an interesting blend of historical fact and fiction that secures a strong place for Donoghue on my list of authors to look out for in the future.