Tag Archives: metafiction

After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold

DATE FINISHED: June 14th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Margaret is recently married to a good man who – so far – has been understanding of her reluctance to fulfil her wifely duties. Margaret discovers a long-forgotten childhood journal and she suddenly realises that a whole chunk of her childhood memories are missing. The journal takes her back to a delightful summer where she was entertained by the young Rev James Jameson, a friend and colleague of her father’s at Oxford. How could those pleasant days have led to such unpleasant adult nightmares? Margaret is determined to dig out the truth…

THOUGHTS:  Arnold has based this novel, categorically, upon the relationship between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), and his child-muse Alice Liddell. Read more of this post

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Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

DATE FINISHED: May 16th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Author St. John Fox stands accused of multiple murder – by his own muse and creation Mary Foxe. He also finds himself on the brink of divorce from his jealous wife, Daphne, who believes he is having an affair. Is St. John in love with Mary or Daphne? And does choosing one necessarily mean the end of the other? What’s a man to do?

THOUGHTS: Stories within stories, slipping times and locations, where do memories and fantasies collide and divide? If you prefer a linear narrative, this is not the book for you. Read more of this post

A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde by Kevin MacNeil

DATE FINISHED: October 2nd, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Robert (Lewis) is in a bad way after a cycling accident, but he is determined that it will not affect his casting in the lead role(s) of a new production based on Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  But it seems he must prove his worth over a new actor who has been brought in to play the same role(s) not to mention win back his erstwhile ‘girlfriend’ Juliette.  In fact, none of the cast or crew seem to fully appreciate either Robert’s bravery/tenacity in the face of his post-accident pain, or indeed his immense talent.  And somehow, everything in his life seems to be sliding dramatically from bad to worse…

THOUGHTS:  The bulk of the story is told by Robert, so given the aftermath of the accident, combined with the subject of the play, the logical reader expects some kind of Jekyll & Hyde manifestation within his character.   Read more of this post

Kehua! by Fay Weldon

DATE FINISHED: September 11th, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  Kehua are Maori spirits, whose role is to shepherd unsettled souls back into the family fold, so that they can rest in peace.  But how did they get to Highgate in London?  And does it matter if the kehua occasionally get their instructions to ‘run’ mixed up with a command to ‘kill’…?  Beverley has lived in London for the whole of her adult life but the demons of her past seem destined to be visited upon her daughter, granddaughters, great-granddaughter until the kehua are able to set things straight…

THOUGHTS:  Weldon is up-front in her use of the kehua as a metaphor for inherited family behaviours – but then, there are very few authorial devices we are not privy to in this novel, Read more of this post

Still She Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe

DATE FINISHED: March 31st, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: When Charles Dodgson meets the Liddell family he is quickly enchanted by one of their daughters Alice – future muse for the classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.  It’s a historical fact that after many photographs and years of friendship, Dodgson’s contact with the Liddells was brought abruptly to an end, and the pages of Dodgson’s personal diary from this period were removed.  Roiphe offers an interpretation of what might have happened…

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

DATE FINISHED: March 17th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: Thursday Next is a LiteraTec (Literary Detective) working in Swindon after a botched attempt to close in on old nemesis Acheron Hades.  When Thursday’s uncle invents a machine that can transport people into the pages of a book, it becomes an issue of national security, and it is up to Thursday to rescue her aunt from being lost forever within Wordsworth’s daffodils, not to mention restoring Jane Eyre to her rightful place within the pages of her own story.  Oh, and there’s a love story thrown in for good measure.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post