The Wind in the Willows

When the books I’m reading start, cumulatively, to get a little dark, it’s nice to take a step back once in a while and indulge in a more playful book. The Wind In The Willows is a curious example this, because it treats its characters and scenes with a gravity that you simply don’t find in modern children’s fiction. The world of the Willows is a mishmash of fantastic ideas, and the sincerity with which Kenneth Grahame underpins the whole enterprise lends an air of wonderment to the proceedings, anchoring passages of unashamed fun to a substantial foundation while infusing the more emotional moments with oodles of pathos. This, in turn, creates a rock-solid emotional bond between the reader and the characters, making for an absorbing and emotionally satisfying narrative.Read More »


Through The Looking Glass

“I said you LOOKED like an egg, Sir. And some eggs are very pretty, you know.”

Just as the book preceding this one acted as a palate cleanser, Through The Looking Glass was a literary oasis for me; a brief, whimsical respite between two fearfully oppressive books. After Tess of the D’Urbervilles almost broke my brain, Lewis Carroll was there to lift my spirits with another dose of fantastical invention and frivolity, with a book that is childish in the best possible sense.Read More »

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my palate cleanser. Suffering from a fierce book hangover after Great Expectations, I needed to blitz through something light-hearted and so utterly contrary to the gloomy books I’d been reading in recent weeks that it would reinvigorate me on my classics-devouring quest. Lewis Carroll was the man to rise to that challenge, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was the book to meet it; a story that is saturated to the point of bursting with whimsy, intelligence and mad imagination in ways I have never before encountered while reading any book.Read More »

Peter & Wendy (Peter Pan)

All children, except one, grow up.

With the possible exception of Frankenstein, this is the first review I’ve written for a book where I was familiar with the story before I’d even seen the first page (though it won’t be the last, I’m sure). In this case that was actually very helpful – once the basic beats of the plot were dealt with (given that I knew them so well), I found myself much more able to focus on the conceits of J.M. Barrie’s writing that make Peter Pan such a timeless and magical story.Read More »