Tuesday, 26 August 2014

strange girls and ordinary women : a book review

They say you know instinctively who to trust.

Alice is normal; she'd never do anything rash. But when she sees her husband one day with a younger girl, she knows at once that he's having an affair. And it must be stopped.

Vic loves her friend Michael, more than he knows. He wants happiness and thinks he's found it with the magnetic Estella. But Vic feels she can't be trusted - and she needs to make Michael see that too.

They don't know Kaya; her life is tougher than they can imagine. But Kaya's a survivor, and she's determined to find a way out of her miserable world.

Three women, three lives that come crashing together in this dark, lyrical and utterly enthralling story of warped perceptions, female intuition and 'the other woman'.

I was always told not to judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit, that there was something that drew me to Strange Girls and Ordinary Women by Morgan McCarthy*. From it's unique title, to the mysterious and forlorn woman on the front of the book in a popping yellow dress, this book demands attention, and it certainly didn't disappoint.

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women is about exactly that. It is the story of strange girls and ordinary women, and the consequences when different worlds collide, or perhaps more accurately, of the girls that ordinary women see perceive to be strange when they upset the apple cart.

It is the story of three separate, and entirely different women, Alice, Vic and Kaya, who, as the book progresses, their paths become increasingly linked with one another in the most unexpected of ways.

Alice is the wife of a thoroughly dastardly doctor, Jasper, who she quickly realises is having an affair. At first, she is undoubtedly an ordinary women, keeping a warm home, cooking whole salmons and doting on her husband. When she cottons on to the philandering ways of her husband however, she quickly demonstrates some spying skills that the most discreet of private detectives would be proud of. Perhaps not quite an ordinary woman as originally thought.

Vic is the manager of a hotel in sunny Madeira, helplessly in love with her friend Michael, and increasingly bitter of his growing relationship with the captivating and mysterious Estella. Kaya, is the exotic and alluring club dancer, who's hardships in life are in stark contrast to the comforts and normality that Alice and Vic enjoy.

At first, the book feels slightly disjointed as the author introduces the three different women in three separate narratives. But as their paths become entwined, you become more and more drawn into the book, leading to a quiet, but poignant conclusion.

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women is a story of real life. There aren't huge explosions, sweeping romantic statements or of heroines being swept off their feet, but of the realities of life and of its varied personalities, in very different circumstances. It is a gripping, and powerfully written book, and one that will make you feel rather sad when you finish. A thoroughly enjoyable book (even if you want to shake Vic up and down for being such a wet blanket at times).

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women by Morgan McCarthy - link

Friday, 22 August 2014

wishing away

I had a mug of steaming apple and cinnamon tea yesterday. Not in itself, an extraordinary event, but it got me thinking, that being tucked up when it's dark and rainy outside, with something deliciously sweet and spicy (not to mention warming), even if it is August, and I'm stuck in an office in central London with a severe case of the post-holiday blues, that Autumn, the most magical of all seasons, is just hiding around the corner.

And yes it's August, and yes, I really shouldn't be wearing black tights and cardigans, but it's cold, and after months of battling the unbearable hot central line, the colder temperatures, chilly air and darkening evenings are a blessed relief.

I cannot wait to spend Saturdays walking through muddy fields whilst warming up in a cosy house afterwards; I cannot wait to secretly jump into piles of crisp leaves when no-one is watching; I cannot wait to drink gallons of apple and cinnamon tea (perhaps the most Autumnal tea of all) and I cannot wait to dig out thick scarves, woolly socks and wellington boots.

So hurry up Autumn. We've missed you. See you in ten days.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

the harry potter tag

You might or might not know, that I am something of a Harry Potter (dare I say it) fangirl. I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was in primary school, back in the good old days when we could play on pavements outside, when you could have a three course meal and still have change from a five pound note, and when only the first two Harry Potter books had been published. As soon as I picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, I became hooked, and by the time the last book had been published in the summer holidays during the second year of University, I had convinced myself that one day, just one day, I too would receive an Owl from Hogwarts. Of course, and somewhat tragically, that day has never come. But when I saw The Harry Potter Tag on Little Miss Katy's fabulous blog, I knew that I had to get involved. So without further ado, it's time to delve a little further into the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

one : which is your favourite book?
I would imagine that this is akin to asking a parent which of their children is their favourite.  Undoubtedly they have one, but shouldn’t really admit it. So with this in mind, my favourite (Harry Potter book, not child…I don’t have any of those) is The Prisoner of Azkaban. For the simple fact that this is where we first meet the devilishly handsome Sirius Black. I could never believe he was the baddie of the story even when JK was trying to convince you that he was. No flies on me.

two : which is your favourite film?
The Prisoner of Azkaban. Obviously. Sirius.

three : which is your least favourite book?
Again. Parents. Children. But it would have to be The Chamber of Secrets. Apart from the fact this is where Dobby enters into our life, the rest is rather, well, dull.

four : which is your least favourite film?
I don't think you need to be a bona fida Einstein to work out that it is clearly The Chamber of Secrets.

five : which part of the books or films made you cry? 
I can't even talk about when Sirius died. Too heartbreaking. But when Dobby died in the part two of the final film...well...I don't think I've cried so much since Marley and Me.

six : if you could hook up with any character, who would it be?
For the record, I despise the expression, "hook-up". Secondly, as an engaged lady, I hardly think it's appropriate for me to talk about "hooking up" with fictional or non-fictional characters. But since you asked. It's Sirius. Obviously. And by Sirius, I clearly mean Gary Oldman.

seven : who is your favourite character?
God. Really. Why are you even asking me this? But for the point of a diverse answer, I also adore Lucius Malfoy. And Buckbeak.

eight : who is your least favourite character?
Lavender Brown. Pointless.

nine : what is your favourite line?
I just love, all the deep, meaningful quotes, perfectly pinnable quotes, from Harry Potter. One of my favourite is: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light". And of course, any time that Snape says Harry Potter. Even in the books.

ten : what would your patronus be?
Dan and I have actually had this conversation before (it's a laugh a minute at the soon to be Pike household), and we've decided it would be an otter. This is primarily because I look like an otter (apparently). Best not to ask.

eleven : if you could have the resurrection stone, invisibility cloak or elder wand, which would you choose?
We all know what happens when you try to cheat death, so clearly, it would have to be the invisibility cloak. It would also be wonderfully useful. Can you imagine if you saw someone you wanted to avoid - one sweep of the cloak and awkwardness avoided.

twelve : which house would you be in?
I'm not brave enough or cool enough to be in Gryffindor. I'm not clever enough to be in Ravenclaw. Hopefully, I'm not mean enough to be in Slytherian (after all, that would be a massive bummer) so Hufflepuff it is. I imagine that's where tea-drinking, book-reading, early-night loving, club-hating, old-before-their-time types would hang out. And I'm okay with that.

thirteen : if you could meet any members of the film cast, who would it be?
Well. This might be a surprise to some of you. But after a lot of thought and careful consideration. I would have to say Gary Oldman. Shocking I know.

fourteen : if you were on the quidditch team, what position would you play?
Team mascot.

fifteen : were you happy with the ending? 
Yes. Apart from that nineteen years later nonsense. In the films it was particularly cringeworthy.

sixteen : how much does harry potter mean to you?
The world. On a string, of course.