Tuesday, 20 September 2016

To The Lighthouse

Hello, it's Heather! I've been busy updating the site's aesthetics (see the book blog page, it looks a little nicer now). I'm slightly obsessed with Virginia Woolf at the moment; I have three of her books downstairs on the window sill waiting for me to read them... so expect more soon.

Author: Virginia Woolf
Published: May 1927
Publisher: Hogarth Press
My rating (out of five): 

“She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor or her mind and she felt, It is enough!”

I read an extract of Mrs Dalloway at a university open day and was compelled to read some of Virginia Woolf's work due to the lecturer’s pure adoration and love of her books. I decided to begin with To The Lighthouse, but am sure that I will read Mrs Dalloway imminently. This writing style is so remarkably different; its focus being not about the plot, not about dialogue, not even about reliability (debatably), but on everything that floats through the character’s head, every little silly thought. I found myself reading bits aloud, murmuring lines and feeling the bias, the loathing and the favouritism resound in each word. The stream of consciousness style can be a little tedious for those that feel impatient for something big to happen, but for anyone that just wants to appreciate the present, however meaningless it may seem, this is the book for you.
The novel investigates many matters that one may ponder when they zone out. For instance, is it right to raise a child’s hopes and teach them optimism or to blunder these dreams with the swift reminder of reality? On one hand, it may be kinder to get the truth out there before the child imagines and hopes and believes in intangible adventures, but on the other, it seems harmless to let a child anticipate for something even if the thing they look forward to may be postponed, provided it will eventually happen. Then there are the trivial things to consider – do they like me? What is your opinion on them? How does it change every second? These ever-present thoughts make the reader realise the complexity of the human mind, it’s constantly humming, little bees of thought darting to and thro: the blankest of moments in life seem to be coloured in with the most interesting brain activity.
Virginia Woolf’s writing seems effortless, like she’s become possessed and has put her pen to paper and - whoop - an entire book has emerged. None of the words struck me as odd or pretentious, but there wasn’t the usual blend of ‘the house was red brick, the grass an emerald green’, she uses words like ‘blandishments’ and ‘fecundity’. I like these words. I wish authors would use these words more instead of sustaining with the usual, safe list of simple words. Say ‘fecundity’ to yourself now, slowly, feel it, each sound. It’s just such a great word (it means healthy, powerful productivity or growth).
As far as characters go, I would have liked to have seen more of Charles. The reader gains some mixed expressions on the man; he tells Lily that women cannot paint or write (Woolf must have hated these kind of people) which made her adamant to paint, he annoys Mrs Ramsay at the start by unnecessarily dampening James’ spirits; he is smart yet annoying, craves attention and controversy. I would have also loved to see more of Prue and Cam. There is definitely a strong feminist argument present in this book, note how Mrs Ramsay dies (I’d say spoiler alert but the plot is hardly the main part of the book), Prue dies, Cam feels stupid and Minta has her heart broken. Lily stands out for these reasons. I adored how she didn’t feel the necessity to marry despite Mrs Ramsay trying to persuade her to and how she pursued her dreams against the will – perhaps especially because of the will – of Charles not to paint.
This is such a fantastic book. I wouldn’t class it as an easy read, it takes time and literally every other line needs to be highlighted (I did this on my kindle as I have a thing against highlighting in books). Anyone that is an avid reader or has an interest in people (how they work, why they do what they do, what some of them are thinking) or wants to study the art of English, please read it. Partly because I need more people to chat about Virginia Woolf with, partly because it’s just a beautiful masterpiece of a novel.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Mother - A poem by Shani


Mother, best friend, soulmate
Light and dark, my counter opposite
Her hair is wheat, mine the night
She is fierce, she is brave, she is my mother

Mother, best friend, protector
She has borne me on her back since I was a babe
Her loveliness shatters my soul
She is strong, she is courageous, she is my mother

Mother, best friend, guardian
Shoved to the ground, feet pounding, pounding, pounding
Knives piercing the flesh on her back – she is trampled on.
Bloody and beaten, she stands, a gentle smile stitched on her face
“Always be kind, my love, always be kind,”
She is bold, she is reckless, she is my mother

Mother, best friend, confidante
She defends her dainty daughter, like a threatened lioness
And when I struggle, she struggles, when she bleeds, I bleed
She is passionate, she is valiant, she is my mother

Mother, best friend, survivor
A disease is slowly breaking her bones
Hours, doubled over in never ending agony
Cups of lukewarm tea left abandoned on the coffee table
She is relentless, she is daring, she is my mother

Mother, best friend, optimist
I think she sees the world in technicolour
I only see the world in trickles of grey.
She is fierce, she is brave

My mother is the woman I want to be. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

While I wait.

Hey guys! Its Lydia here! Sorry its been so long, I've been extremely busy with school and work. 
In my Creative Writing class we were given homework to a creative project, this was to write a poem,  screenplay, a piece of prose, basically anything you want, but to base it on a painting or photograph, so my project piece is below. I also made a playlist to do with it while you read, if you want to listen just search on Spotify Lydia Halsey, then clink of creative writing playlist. 
Hope you enjoy the story. 

I looked out upon the view; the floorboards slightly creaked under my feet as I moved towards the edge of the decking. The ocean was a lush blue this morning; it merged and was engulfed by the sky. I was just waiting and watching, as I did yesterday and what I will do tomorrow and the day after.
Clutching my small bumped stomach, I though of my husband, what was he doing? Was he surrounded by men running, scrambling for shelter, shutting themselves away from the piecing scream of a bomb. He could be sailing on a boat right now, returning home, returning to us, to me. He could be dead. No boat broke that stiff horizon line.
The air was thick and sweet from the waking heat, it surrounds me like a warm embrace while I continue to stare at the ocean.
The heavy wind lifted and tore at the grass, occasionally picking up tuffs and playing with them in the air, this happened over and over it became a dance. Through the wind children started to emerge, through the yellow grass and sunlight, they began to run towards me, their olive skin gleamed with sweat and black hair shinning against the sun. I heard their shoes against the stone of the high hill.
“You’re so slow, come on!” the girl shouted behind her.
“Stop running so fast, I can’t catch up with you!” the boy shouted back.
They both managed to reach the house, puffing and out of breath, they climbed the stairs playfully shoving each other’s shoulders and entered the house.
 I turned to see the children in the arms of a man; he was crouched towards the floor, his broad arms and shoulders wrapped around them drawing both children into his chest. He looked utterly at ease, his slender mouth pulled back to expose white teeth in a chuckling laugh. He too had the same hair and skin as the children; they made a stunning trio as he held them close. He finally looked at me, exposing his dark grey eyes. His eyes found my soul deep with in me; he seemed to notice my whole presence without moving his eyes from my face.  
 “Why don’t you come in from the heat, Andrea?” He asked me.
I lingered by the door before entering. His hand was stretched out, I could see the dark lines where his hand curved and creased. I lifted mine to take his, but as soon as I met his skin, the house and the children where gone.
The two of us were at the docks; he was dressed in a blue uniform, with a blazer with gold buttons and a black and white hat with gold embroidery.
“You don’t have to leave,” I breathed “There are plenty of other men who can fight.”
“That is true, but I cannot, I won’t sit and do nothing.”
The man from the boat behind us called, “Two minutes till departure.”
He took my shoulders in his hands and gently squeezed them, “I will be back, I won’t be dying out there. Keep an eye on the horizon” He promised, “I love you.”
He crushed me into him and I wrapped myself around him, inhaling deeply with the smell of coffee and honey. I forced my eyes closed, not wanting to see his tears, not wanting to say goodbye. When I opened them he was gone, and I left alone in the kitchen.
My body surged with convulsions of sobs and cry’s, for I knew that the future held so much bliss, but one simple telegram from a stranger would tear everything away.