Sunday, December 26, 2010

"I will add two more to the 'Top Ten' " - Tarryn Talbot



Harry Potter Deathly Hallows (part one)


Distant Hours by Kate Morton
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Before everyone starts screaming and crashes our comment block; yes, I know this was not published in 2010. But something that makes me want to carry on reading throughout the night, even with a presentation the next day has to be good, right?


My favourite meal of 2010 was the sesame tuna at the V&A Waterfront with not only my favourite ladies but also excellent local authors: Lawrence Anthony, Emma Chen and Chris van Wyk. We had such fun that night with plenty of laughs and creative ideas for “next books” and left the restaurant in giggles after a long, event-filled weekend at Cape Town Book Fair.

Present of 2010

Has to be not only the best Christmas gift of 2010 but probably the best one I have received in my lifetime thus far: a limited edition of The Secret Garden, given to me by Kelly Ansara. It’s beautiful. The cover and the text and images inside bring back all my childhood memories of insisting my mother read it to me every night.

Book memory of 2010

Starting up this blog! I have had so much fun creating this with Kelly. It’s wonderful to be afforded an opportunity to put your passions and creativity in one and to just go ahead with it. The photo “shoots” are by far one of the best book memories that I have, trying to keep a straight face while Kelly is in the room is no easy feat!

Reading Rebecca. Everyone knows how much I love this book. And yes, it is a great book in itself. But sometimes, it is the memories that surround the book that make it more poignant for a person. I started reading this book when I was in a rather complicated relationship. Four chapters in, I stopped. After the relationship ended, I started the book again. Just like the story of Rebecca, my life was full of tumultuous relationships, learning to find my feet in a new environment and burning something to the ground so that something new could begin (don’t take that too literally. I am not an arsonist). Thankfully, it was minus the malicious house-keeper.

Memory of 2010

No one but Kelly and Fuzz will really understand this: “She gonna go and fetch Flo-Flo!”

Receiving the promotion at Pan Macmillan. Still searching for the four-leaf clover that someone has obviously sneaked into my life.

The Supplier’s party. Not because of the party itself but because of the events afterwards and the laughs it affords amongst us girls now.

Favourite memory of 2010

Driving with Fuzz and Kelly, bottles of wine and plenty of junk food in tow with soccer songs at full volume as we were stuck in 2010 World Cup traffic. Everyone was hooting and-above all else-friendly to everyone. Beat the Christmas spirit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me”.

Little did I know that from that sentence on, I would be on a literary roller-coaster. The way that this book is written; the suspense, the performance, characters who you hate and love and cry for, the yelling at the yellowed pages “what are you doing to me?!” all made for a day at the fair for the brain.

The main character-and story teller-of the book-is the second wife of Maxim de Winter. The book begins with her looking back on a dream that she had about Manderley and as she remembers her dream the story unfolds (this may be a bit tricky for some who think she is just had one very long dream throughout the book, but stick with it). We never know the name of this character, but we certainly learn about her thoughts and emotions.

We are lead on a journey through Monte Carlo where we are introduced to a rich, obnoxious Mrs Van Hopper who happens to be paying our narrator for companionship (no euphemism intended). And Maxim, dear tortured Maxim, the owner of Manderley, who lost his first wife, Rebecca, in a drowning accident. The narrator and Maxim spend a lot of time with each other when Van Hopper falls ill and has to spend her days in bed. In brief, their car rides together and Maxim’s imparting of daily wisdom on the naive and shy narrator leads to an engagement and very quiet affair for a wedding.

Back at Manderley, that is where the story really gets good. With a malevolent woman for a house keeper (Mrs Danvers), an almost-silent butler and servants that seem to be more capable of day to day activities of Manderley than the new woman of the house (the narrator) all make for a compelling drama with intrigue, jealousy, suspense, romance, twist and turns, makes-you-pace-the-room pages.

I would love to dissect the whole story here for you, but then you wouldn’t need to read it. And you must!

It is study of envy, of juxtapositions that make the reader put down the book and contemplate the concepts and marvel at the sheer genius that du Maurier was without even trying.

Rebecca has also been described as the first major gothic romance in the 20th century. It certainly contains all the elements of the great gothic novel and had often been compared to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, with the house so strongly influenced by the previous occupant, the brooding hero in the shape of Maxim, the mad woman in the shape of Mrs Danvers, the growing tension and, well, I won’t give any more examples because that will just give the game away.

However, I thought the book ended abruptly. I am a “and then” reader and felt a little out done when Maurier -done on purpose, I am sure-ends it as spectacularly as she began the book.

Do me a favour: pick the book up. Read the first chapter. After that, you can sit with me and have a glass of wine as we discuss the whole book. For that is what you will have read...

- Review by Tarryn Talbot

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe

I am, probably, the least likely person to read this book out of Tarryn and I.  I always figured that I would be reading non-fiction books while sitting on my veranda at the spritely age of 85 during my retirement – a very juvenile notion.  I will also admit that I am the first to opt fiction over non-fiction!  However, this one can be made the proverbial exception to the rule. 
I finally placed Peter Godwin’s The Fear back on to my bookshelf yesterday afternoon; I was white-faced and the pit at the bottom of my stomach lurched as I thought of the torture victims I had, only 30 minutes before, encountered.  I placed the book in its alphabetical place on my bulging bookshelf and had the intense urge to start building a Zimbabwean relief centre in my back garden (Another juvenile thought).  I wanted to blow my vuvuzela down the street and rally all my neighbours to start a mini Kempton Park revolution against these horrid crimes and to somehow regain the dignity of these tortured people.
Peter Godwin, a writing gem to the African Journalism Genre, whips you about on this 4X4, uneven road, 3rd world, eye-opening, heat-ridden, and flinching non-fiction rollercoaster journey through Zimbabwe’s nail-biting elections that has finally brought a tyrant to his knees.   Though, Zimbabweans can smell freedom, Robert Mugabe won’t go down without a fight.  The Fear is what people have dubbed this pogrom of torture and discipline – a way to turn the vote to favour Robert Mugabe.
I haven’t gasped and cringed at TRUE writing before, because we live in Africa and anything is possible.  The Fear by Peter Godwin left me outraged, sympathetic, saddened, weepy, unmoved, thought provoked, jolted, separated, grateful and just plain sick to my stomach towards each case all at one time.  I placed this book on the shelf and hugged my Dad, my Mother and had sugared tea with my Gran. This book forces you to look at the world in a new and eye-opening way.  This happened right “next door” without any media covering this!
A book not for the faint hearted but something you as, not only an African, but as a Human being should read.  A book that confirms that power makes monsters of men (By men I am not be gender specific).

- Review by Kelly Ansara

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's a Book Thing is MIA

Dear Followers & devout book readers,

I hope this blog post finds you well and eagerly celebrating the Christmas cheer with a flurry of bestsellers and old favourites?

Tarryn and I would like to apologise for falling off the face of the earth.  We took a step and whoops! off we fell, thus making us rethink and redo everything we have learnt about the earth being round.  Admittedly, Tarryn & I have discovered the trials and tribulations of Christmas and Publishing.  I hope we don’t disappoint with the posts, reviews, photos & ideas we have for this blog.  We have been attending book launches, meeting authors, planning author tours, working full time, reading, pretending to stay awake at our desks, drinking copious amounts of coffee and living on Woolworths Salads, and Sour Worms – All for the benefit of the blog.

So out of the publishing trenches we come, alive with new and improved photos, reviews and some great events.  We hope to enlighten, excite, and make you laugh...

Kelly & Tarryn

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