I went to see ‘Wise Children’ at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo last week after Rebecca of bookishbeck won a pair of tickets and very kindly offered her spare one to me. I also managed to track down a copy of the book from the library and read it this week. ‘Wise Children’ is Angela Carter’s final novel published in 1991 a year before her death and the stage adaptation is Emma Rice’s first project with her new theatre company (also called Wise Children) since leaving her role as artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2016.
Dora and Nora Chance are the illegitimate twin daughters of one of the great Shakespearean actors, Sir Melchior Hazard, whose twin brother Peregrine is believed to be dead. As Dora and Nora celebrate their 75th birthday towards the end of the 20th century, Melchior is about to turn 100 (and possibly Peregrine too…). The story is narrated by Dora who looks back on the sisters’ humble beginnings in south London brought up by the eccentric Grandma Chance and their career as a double act as chorus girls in the weird and wonderful world of Hollywood, theatre and music hall variety shows. Continue reading
Although Ian McEwan has tackled a vast range of subject matters in his literary fiction, many of his books fall into specific categories or share distinct themes. There are the early macabre works like ‘The Cement Garden’, the espionage stories such as ‘The Innocent’ or Sweet Tooth, the state-of-the-nation novels like ‘Saturday’ or The Children Act and then there are the books like ‘Nutshell’ which somehow fall into all of these categories. Nutshell’ is a unique interpretation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ from the point of view of an unnamed foetus who overhears a murder plot hatched by his mother Trudy and her lover Claude to kill John, who is Trudy’s husband and Claude’s brother, and cash in on the value of their marital home.
‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series – a project which involves today’s bestselling novelists retelling William Shakespeare’s best known plays. In this modern interpretation of the comedy ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, Kate Battista is a single twenty-nine-year-old nursery teacher living with her absent-minded academic father Louis and her fifteen-year-old sister Bunny. Her father hatches a plan to marry Kate off to his socially awkward eastern European lab assistant Pyotr so he can stay in the United States after his Visa expires. Continue reading
I have been to a number of individual literary events in London over the last few years but until this weekend, I had never been to one of the many book festivals held in the capital each year. Now in its eighth year, Chiswick Book Festival in west London runs from Thursday 15th – Monday 19th September with talks from a wide variety of authors and other speakers. Armed with an all-day pass, I went to four events at St Michael and All Angels Church and the Tabard Theatre yesterday.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992, ‘A Thousand Acres’ by Jane Smiley is essentially the plot of the Shakespeare play ‘King Lear’ set on a farm in Iowa in the 1980s. Approaching old age, Larry Cook decides to hand over ownership of his 1000 acre farm in Zebulon County to his three daughters, Ginny, Rose and Caroline. Caroline, the youngest, objects and is cut out of the will and before long, many other family secrets are revealed. Given the ‘King Lear’ link, I don’t think I will be giving away a great deal by saying that ‘A Thousand Acres’ ends in tragedy. Continue reading