I feel like I am very late to the party having only just discovered Angela Carter but in case I’m not here is my review of The Bloody Chamber.
Firstly, wow! The writing in this book is incredible. Here is a brief extract to show you what I mean:
“When they saw the white bride leap out of the tombstones and scamper off toward the castle with the werewolf stumbling after, the peasants thought the Duke’s dearest victim had come back to take matters into her own hands. They ran screaming from the presence of a ghostly vengeance on him. Poor, wounded thing.”
Powerful stuff in just a few short lines. Angela Carter has a really unique writing style that makes the words appear both like a great literature piece that you feel smart reading and at the same time quite humble and absorbing so that the stories are approachable to the everyday reader.
Anyway, back to the book itself. It is split into ten short stories. Several of these are re-tellings of recognised classics. If anyone has ever read the “original” Grimm stories (for example in the original Grimm version Cinderella’s sisters cut off their toes to try to make them fit the slipper), Carters tales are like this only much much darker. The Snow Child (re-telling of Snow White) was particularly shocking and striking and stuck with me long after I finished the book (not quite giving me nightmares, but not far from it).
I know this isn’t a part of a normal review (never judge a book by its cover and all that) but I must add the cover of this book is particularly beautiful. It feels like an old-fashioned storybook and the black and red imagery really draw the eye.
If you are intrigued by all the hype around Angela Carter then this really is a fantastic book to get you going. Although not for the faint-hearted. This really is a smart, intriguing and beguiling collection of stories.
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According to the Oxford English Dictionary the definition of Britishness is:
The quality or state of being British or of embodying British characteristics.
I am not sure this goes a long way in describing what Britishness means. As I myself am a British mongrel, having been born in Glasgow (Scotland), I moved to Yorkshire (England) in my teens, then moved in my 20’s to County Durham (England). These three areas have distinct accents (and unfortunately none of which sound anything like Colin Firth’s “British” Accent). These three area’s have different priorities, different schooling, different cultures, and different industry backgrounds. They even have different laws! For example did you know in York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.
For me I take an altogether different view on patriotism and Britishness, probably a rather naïve, childish view, but one that works for me.
Britain for me is a land of fairy-tales. Filled with castles, we have the tales of King Arthur and his knight’s, the legends of Robin Hood hiding out in the luscious green forests and the humble shoemaker and his elves. It is the land of evil uncles murdering Royal Princes’ so that he can be crowned king. It is the green valleys that are the land of hobbits, Abbey ruins frequented by vampires and the Scottish islands that are the homes of the seal people. If this history, these stories can teach someone anything, it is that being British is about being different and celebrating that and each other and marvelling at the inspirational land that is all around us.
So for those looking for a bit of inspiration, pick up a book by a great author from your area (or further afield) and immerse yourself in what you can see around you.
For those that like this map I was bought it from the literary gift company, – there is also an American one and an Irish one too 🙂
See “My Literary Lap of UK” posts where I myself have started the journey of visiting these spectacular places.