On the Dickensian bandwagon

26 01 2012

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

When Nicholas’s father dies he, his mother and sister, Kate, are left penniless. The family seek help from his wealthy uncle Ralph, who takes an immediate dislike to his young nephew. While Kate is found work as a dressmaker, Nicholas is offered a position as a tutor at Dotheboys Hall but soon discovers that the headmaster, Wackford Squeers, is a grotesque ogre and that one boy in particular is struggling to survive his harsh regime.

In Charles Dickens’ blackly comic masterpiece Nicholas embarks on an adventure that takes him from loathsome boarding schools to the London stage and confronts issues of neglect and cruelty.

It’s 900 plus pages of comedy and melodrama covering years in the ups and downs of young Nickleby’s rather bizarre life. Hugely entertaining though although really quite dark at times and the action never really lets up. Highly recommended, as with the other more popular current BBC adaptations.

Deptford calling

19 01 2012

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh

It is 1593 and London is a city on edge. Under threat from plague and war, strangers are unwelcome and severed heads grin from spikes on Tower Bridge. Playwright, poet and spy, Christopher Marlowe has three days to live. Three days in which to find the murderous Tamburlaine, a killer who has ascaped from between the pages of his most violent play…Tamburlaine Must Die is a swashbuckling adventure story of a man who dares to defy both God and state – and discovers that there are worse fates than damnation.

A really entertaining Elizabethan thriller which is brief, sparse and yet remarkably intense. Welsh is an excellent writer and this is an extremely powerful novella. To describe it as ‘swashbuckling’ is a tad misleading though.

%d bloggers like this: