Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Book 68 & 69 of 2015: The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien & The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

My first book review is pretty apt considering I'm planning to read a Tolkien book next (just as soon as I'm finished reading the three Pottermore mini-ebooks).

Back at the end of last September I cracked open my copy of The Children of Hurin for a reread, opting for my paperback version rather than the hardback for easy portability.

This is the expanded version of a story from The Silmarillion. Hurin is taken by Morgoth who then exerts is influence over Hurin's son and daughter, Turin Turambar and Nienor. Separated as children, doom seems to follow them wherever they go and even when they are unknowingly reunited they cannot find happiness.

When I started this book I was literally just starting a new role at work and that, combined with a hospital trip, slowed me down a little, but I made a fast start to it. I find this one a much easier read that The Silmarillion, but that doesn't stop it from being a wee bit heavy going in places and I couldn't help but feel just a smidgen too tired for it that week.

Honestly I felt really sorry for Nienor and Turin in this story. Turin made some bad decisions, but so did pretty much everyone else and at the end of the day all the bad things that happened to them were because of the 'fate' that was preordained for them by Morgoth. I suspect that even if they had done things differently, the outcome would have been just as miserable for them.

In the months prior to picking up The Children of Hurin I'd read The Simarillion and Unfinished Tales but I was glad that I'd had a reasonable break between them and picking up this book because this story features in both of the other books. It was still familiar to me, but it saved me from feeling as though it was repetitive.

I followed this up with The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which was one of the books in the Penguin Little Black Classics series.

This is actually three short stories; 'Old Water', 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' and 'The Rocking Chair'. The title story is about a woman who is sent to the country to rest as she is unhappy with motherhood and her marriage, whilst confined to her room she gradually becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room.

I did enjoy these stories. There was something delightfully creepy about them; particularly in 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' when I couldn't quite decide whether there was actually something going on in the room or if the narrator was experiencing some sort of breakdown. Personally 'Old Water' was my favourite for its dark sense of humour at the end. 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' was the weirdest of the three and 'The Rocking Chair' was just spooky.

I don't think that I've ever read anything by Charlotte Perkins Gilman before but based on these three short stories I definitely would read more by her in the future.

During the Weekly Challenge I tried to start and finish books within a week and this was my 39th Week's book (a book with a colour in the title). I'm glad I went with this rather than my original choice (The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear) because I was running a little behind on my target and this short read (only 57 pages) gave me a chance to get caught up.

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