Books

“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel
to far-away places without ever leaving your chair” – Katrina Mayer

 Scroll down for the latest book reviews and book-related articles
to immerse yourself in a selection of global literature.

Channelling Jane Austen at Box Hill

They had a very fine day for Box Hill; and all the other outward circumstances of arrangement, accommodation, and punctuality, were in favour of a pleasant party… Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and every body had a burst of admiration on first arriving. So writes Jane Austen in Emma. Unfortunately things do not continue so happily for that little party, but Box Hill  is certainly a heavenly picnic spot, high in the Surrey Hills, with idyllic English countryside stretching as far as the eye can see. When I signed up to judge an international English competition, I was excited to find my venue was Box Hill School, in the village of Mickleham. When I arrived at the cottage where I would be staying, I exclaimed that I felt like Jane Austen. It was immediately apparent that my manager was not familiar with the finer details of Emma, as he was looking at me like I had two heads. Good start. Still, once I explained the literary connections, he thought I was slightly less odd. When not enclosed in a hall furiously scribbling down marks, we judges had time to explore. Mickleham can kindly be described as ‘sleepy’ – its one shop opens on a whim, so you have to strike it lucky, and its other notable attractions include a church, a pub and the school. There the village ends. My new-found Liverpudlian friend, Delia, was horrified that there wasn’t even a supermarket in the vicinity, but after a warm-up country walk into the woodland behind... read more

A Book and a Film for Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! Though I still have yet to set foot in China, I have long been fascinated by its art, culture and writing. I have chosen a Chinese book and film to share with you to celebrate the start of the Year of the Horse (though I can’t promise a great many horses are involved), both of which piqued my interest in world film and literature when I was at an impressionable age. I am very much fond of the idea of a new year at the end of January – after a long and dreary post-Christmas month, with dark mornings and darker evenings, it is a welcome relief to arrive at the start of February, knowing that Spring is not so very far away. Plus, if the best-laid resolutions of January went wrong in week one, this is another chance of renewal. 2014 is the year of the Horse, which apparently brings with it prosperity, good fortune and fiery energy – which sounds good to me! Until the first buds of Spring do appear, this seems like a very appropriate time to curl up with a Chinese book and film to get through these last winter nights. Book: Chinese Cinderella Whenever I went to stay with my Grandma as a child, she would take me to the local bookshop and let me choose a book. I built up quite a library this way, and on one occasion, when I was 11 or 12, I chose Chinese Cinderella from the shelves. I know they say to never judge a book by its cover, but I’m sure that... read more

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