This week I find myself having finished a few shorter reads that I want to talk about but that didn’t really fill a full review. Not wanting to drag something out for the sake of it, I’m going to combine them all in one simple post. Why not?
Blossoms in Autumn by Zidrou
This short graphic novel was something I received from NetGalley so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. It tells the story of two people over the age of 60 finding love and unexpected surprises along the way. Ulysses and Mediterranea both share the pain of having unusual names and understand the loneliness that comes with old age. After a chance encounter at Ulysses’ son’s gynaecology office, the pair realise that they still have the chance to fall in love.
Blossoms in Autumn is a super sweet and charming read. It is a cute romantic comedy that isn’t afraid to deal with big issues. It pulls no punches in its attempt to show the life of older people and, particularly with Ulysses’ retirement, the sense of worthlessness associated with advancing years. However, it ends up being a positive look at life and will leave any reader feeling full of hope.
In terms of the graphics, I loved the realistic style here. Everything is wonderfully rendered and the use of colour is fantastic. Their lives start in muted greys and browns to show how cut off from society they are. The past is full colour but their present lacks much excitement. Until, of course, the couple meet and slowly colour starts to seep in. They start to find happiness and purpose. They rediscover their youth and the use of colour is perfect.
All in all, this is a wonderful and quick read. A beautiful and unusual love story. We don’t often get to see this side of old age but it refreshing and fun.
The Red Tenda of Bologna by John Berger
Thanks to a fellow Bookstagrammer, I was inspired to start reading my mini Penguin Modern Classics box set. My aim is to read one a week until I’ve finished all 50. This week I randomly picked out this one, which I think it number 30.
The Red Tenda of Bologna is an interesting little read about family, memory, and beauty. Set out in little vignettes I guess, this book has a kind of hazy feel to it. It’s like you’re seeing things through a mist and nothing feels real. The writing is beautiful and utterly evocative. It’s difficult not to read this book and get swept away to Italy.
Obviously, this is a very short read but it packs so much punch into its few pages. It is impactful and personal. Berger has so much to say about humanity and it’s a joy to read it.
Ada Lovelace by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Zafouko Yamamoto
A fantastic and cute story about the life of Ada Lovelace. The illustrations are fantastic and really bring her story to life. This would definitely be a great read for young people to learn more about important historical figures and, in particular, important female figures. The book does a great job in ensuring its young audience will be able to understand the more difficult aspects of Lovelace’s legacy by simplifying it. My only question would be “is it too simple?” but that’s a minor quibble.
This is the kind of story that inspires young people to follow their dreams and do what they love. Ada was discouraged from using her imagination to invent machines. Her story shows us how powerful your imagination can be. This is an utterly charming read.
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
I have owned this book for a really long time but put off reading it. I’m not entirely sure why but it’s just one of those forever on my TBR books. I started reading this book in February and have only just put it back on the shelf. That should go someway to explain my feelings on it. Bill Bryson has a very relaxed approach to his celebration of Shakespeare in an attempt to make quite a scholarly book an easier read. However, for my, the tone doesn’t quite work with the aspirations this book has. It is presented as something of a textbook which means there is something of a gulf between the style of writing and the facts. It doesn’t really work for me.
And Bryson’s casual approach also has an effect on the information in the book. He constantly tells us that we don’t know anything about Shakespeare whilst also telling us loads of things about Shakespeare. It feels really odd to constantly remind your reader that, essentially, nothing we’ve just read is very accurate. Maybe that explains my inability to get through it at a normal speed?
But, probably, it’s just because it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. As someone who studied English literature at university, I’ve come face-to-face with Mr Shakespeare quite a lot and have experienced many of these academic hypotheses. Perhaps if Bryson had done something more than regurgitate the work of other people this book would have been more enjoyable. Instead, it acts like a summary of Shakespeare research but lacking any real depth or detail. It might work for some readers but not for me.
Who is Murdocal? A casual critic who is a little bit too obsessed with pop culture. A young woman who swears and rants much more than she knows she should whilst trying to make her way in an adult world she isn't prepared for. A not as recent as she'd like literature graduate who, between job applications and subsequent rejections, has turned to the internet to fight the boredom and review the shit out of everything.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every family has someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up. Maybe I'm our faller."