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Highlights in the Charts

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Reviewed by Marisha Puk


An undoubted classic, The Good Soldier is still a bestseller to this day and is constantly being re-illustrated and published, which suggests that it is a good read. The fact that people frequently revisit it is further testament to this.


I originally read this text when I was studying it. However, the more I read, the more I enjoyed the writing style. Dowell, the narrator, has a voice and presence that resembles Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. The story begins with “This is the saddest story”, which is a high claim indeed, but as you read, you begin to understand the effect on Dowell. We are told from the very get-go that his wife had an affair and subsequently died, and as we read on, we discover this story is full of adultery and death.


By the end of the novel, people have very different feelings towards the story, but everyone agrees that it’s a book to read and reread purely because of how it is written.


Reviews and acclaim for the novel range from describing it as “a tale of passion” to “a novel with an extraordinary afterlife”, which is a beautiful and poetic way of expressing it. If you are not usually a reader of the classics, do not fear the language level in this story or let that put you off; it is not overly complicated and would suit most readers. This novel is excellent for anyone who likes historical fiction books set immediately before World War One.


Give this story a try. It is not necessarily a read to make you feel positive, but it is a read to make you think differently, something that is a blessing in its own right. If you enjoy looking at language analysis, Ford has a variety to analyse. Overall, I would rate this book highly, and I am glad to have it on my bookshelf.


Carrie Kills A Man by Carrie Marshall

Reviewed by Jenna Tomlinson


As a book club host, I’m always looking for new and interesting books to sink my teeth into. But book clubs have their advantages, which means I’m never short of a recommendation or two. Although most recommendations tend to be fiction, a recent recommendation from a fellow book club member was a non-fiction title. And it did not disappoint.


Carrie Kills A Man is Carrie Marshall’s account of her experiences as a transgender woman. Beginning with her early life in Scotland, she moves through her self-awareness and self-acceptance within her family and community. From dressing up in female clothing as a younger person to attempting to live as a straight man with a family, Carrie gives a heartfelt and emotional description of her experiences coming out as transgender and how her life changed when she embraced this part of her life.


The account is raw and honest, with faultless humour and full of sincerity. Carrie reflects on how the decision to live authentically challenged the life she had built with her ex-wife as a suburban dad and how difficult it is to navigate not only coming out but also doing so with all the baggage that comes with doing it later in life. Carrie discusses how difficult not only the significant milestones are (medical appointments, obtaining correctly gendered certification) but also those small everyday tasks that people who identify as their birth gender perhaps take for granted – learning how to correctly apply makeup, going shopping for a suitable wardrobe and choosing clothes that suit you and your body. Even something that most people no doubt take for granted every day: their name and its correct use by people, both familiar and new to you.


I learnt so much from this book about the transgender community and the difficulties they face with the unnecessary barriers in place. Carrie also talks candidly about things she put in place to almost ‘safeguard’ her status in light of Brexit and other UK political decisions, which was gut-wrenching to read. It was awful to hear just how precarious Carrie and probably many people in her position feel. It was also amazing to see how the impact of social media and the internet has changed so negatively. I remember many of the examples Carrie brings up in her book, but it’s jarring to see them laid out so vividly.


I also love how Carrie’s passion for music leaps from every page. You can tell how much she adores music and how much knowledge she has in the field. It needs to be noted that Carrie’s music knowledge and taste is phenomenal. I read so much of this book loving the little lyrics Easter eggs she’d peppered throughout, especially when I saw some of my favourites amongst them (I cannot express enough that it made me feel very cool to share music taste with someone whose taste is so varied and interesting). I got so much of her personality through these sections and snippets, which made the book more personal.


I loved the book; I have read extracts to anyone who would listen, and I can only hope she writes more. Give it a read if you want to learn more about the experiences some people face, but also if you want to be uplifted by a story of someone who is honestly and openly living as the most authentic version of themselves, despite the anxiety and fear that has gone before. Thanks to my book club friend for the recommendation and for making me push this up my to-be-read list.

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