The Book Character Types Tag

There are many character types in fiction and I have decided to create this tag to showcase some of them, taking inspiration from this website on writing. The first five character types presented below simply reflect the characters’ roles in a story (there are seven such roles overall), while the last five are typical archetypes (there are twelve overall, as categorised by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, among others).

I. Protagonist: “The main character of the story is the protagonist” – Klara from Kazuo Ishiguro’s sci-fi novel Klara and the Sun [2021]

Klara is a very curious choice for a protagonist and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before with such an unusual narrator. Klara and her vision of the world are presented convincingly and the readers are constantly wondering how much of a “human” Klara really is or is becoming. It is precisely when we follow Klara’s “mental-processes” that Ishiguro’s new novel really “shines”, which also means the beginning is one of this novel’s strengths.

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Patricia Highsmith: Edith’s Diary and The Tremor of Forgery

American novelist Patricia Highsmith (1921 – 1995) is probably known for her Tom Ripley thrillers (among which is The Talented Mr Ripley [1955]), as well as for psychological suspense/thriller books that later also became films – Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt or The Two Faces of January. Below are the reviews of her two books, novels that showcase the depth of this author’s psychological character studies and her admirable, low-key stream of suspense. 

edith's diaryI. Edith’s Diary [1977] – ★★★★1/2

The difference between dream and reality is the true hell” [Highsmith, 1977: 291].

I first spotted this great book on Radhika’s Reading Retreat (check out her amazing blog and book recommendations!) and I knew I had to read it. In this story, Edith Howland moves with her husband Brett and her young son Cliffie from New York City to Pennsylvania. The family is not rich and hopes for the best in their new community. Edith starts to run a political newspaper in the new place, while keeping in touch with her old neighbours in New York and her wealthy aunt Melanie. Pressure on Edith intensifies as her son Cliffie becomes first troublesome then passive and aimless in life and Brett’s uncle George arrives to demand attention to himself. Soon, it is evident that the life that Edith imagined for herself and her family does not quite accord with reality and Edith finds herself increasingly prone to fantasising as she writes in her dairy. What will be the cost of this fantasy? – Simple paranoia and mental health concerns, or maybe the complicity in the death of another person? Edith’s Diary is a nuanced, psychological novel full of hidden, but real fears, and a quietly disturbing account of a woman whose repressed despair caused by social and personal expectations may just surface to lead to tragic results.  Continue reading “Patricia Highsmith: Edith’s Diary and The Tremor of Forgery”

Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” VS. Patricia Highsmith’s “The Talented Mr Ripley”

The Secret History Donna Tartt The Talented Mr Ripley Cover

I have decided to make my own detailed comparison between these two books – Donna Tartt’s bestseller of 1992 – The Secret History and Patricia Highsmith’s thriller The Talented Mr Ripley, published in 1955. Although they have completely different plot lines (though both deal with a murder and its cover-up), I also believe there are some very telling, nuanced similarities between the two books. It is not fantastic to suggest that, perhaps, when writing her first debut, Donna Tartt drew some inspiration from Highsmith’s genius. Continue reading “Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” VS. Patricia Highsmith’s “The Talented Mr Ripley””

Review: Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Tangerine Book Cover Tangerine [2018] – ★★★★   

Tangerine is a debut novel which is now both gaining visibility and provoking some strong reactions – there are apparently as many people who love this book as there are those who hate it. The story is about two women – Alice and Lucy, who take turns in the story to share their thoughts on past and present events. Alice, who shared friendship with Lucy in the past, is now married and lives with her husband John in Tangier, Morocco. Unexpectedly, Lucy also arrives to Tangier to rekindle her friendship with Alice after a year of separation. When John disappears, Alice and Lucy have to question both their relationship and their lucidity. The downside is that Mangan’s book gets much too close in its plot and characters to Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr Ripley [1955], but it is still an intriguing and enjoyable read. Mangan uses simple language and manages to weave a thriller which is slow-burning and deeply psychological, while also vividly evoking the colours of Morocco.  Continue reading “Review: Tangerine by Christine Mangan”

The Fall Book Tag

Shanah at Bionic Book Worm has created this autumn-themed book tag, and I just could not resist doing another tag. 

  • The PrestigeCRISP FALL AIR – A book that felt fresh and new: Christopher Priest’s The Prestige [1995]

This book is far from perfect, but the idea behind seems original and the structure new. Most people will know the plot from Nolan’s film The Prestige (2006), but it is still an exciting read, even if you have seen the film (the book is different in its beginning and in its end). The plot mirrors the stages of a magician’s trick, and Christopher Priest provides the reader will all the hints to solve the mystery in the very beginning. There are a couple of surprises in the book, even though the story is also slightly predictable and goes into the direction of pure fantasy, which may not please everyone. 

  • The BeguiledHOWLING WINDS – An ending that blew you away: Thomas P. Cullinan’s A Painted Devil/The Beguiled [1966]

I was impressed with Cullinan’s The Beguiled. It is so much more underneath than this simple tale of girls living in a boarding school during the Civil War and their interactions with a wounded soldier who comes to the school’s doorstep. The book is psychologically interesting because it contains multiple unreliable narrators who, throughout the novel, try to persuade the reader that their version of events is true. It is up to the reader to make his or her mind up in the end. The ending is well crafted and did surprise me. Also, the film by Sofia Coppola did not do justice to the book or its characters at all, even though it was spot on regarding the atmosphere.  Continue reading “The Fall Book Tag”