Review | Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood

underadancingstarTitleUnder a Dancing Star (2019)
Author: Laura Wood
Publisher: Scholastic
Read: 1st – 3rd July 2019
Genre: young-adult; historical fiction; romance; retelling
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“In grey 1930s England, Bea has grown up kicking against conventions. There are so many rules. She must marry. She can’t choose. She must keep the family estate safe. But when Bea goes to spend summer in Italy, a dazzling new world opens up. There are moonlit nights, and beautiful vistas – and Ben. A cocky young artist who just happens to be infuriatingly handsome too. One night, under the stars, their friends set them a challenge. It’s a duel of kisses. The rules: sparks must fly. Dreams must come true. Neither party may fall in love. A long hot summer of kisses and mischief unfolds. But storm clouds are gathering across Europe. Is their perfect summer ending? Or is this just the start?” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

innislearTitle: The Queens of Innis Lear (2018)
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Read: 7th – 17th June 2018
Genre: fantasy; retellings
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king’s three daughters – battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia – know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war – but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Tag | The Shakespeare Book Tag

You may remember that a few weeks ago I did a guest post all about Coriolanus and the body on the lovely Rosie’s blog for her Simply Shakespeare feature. This week Rosie’s post for Simply Shakespeare was a themed tag and it would feel downright rude of me if I didn’t join in with the tag for today’s Tag Thursday – head over to Rosie’s blog to see her tag post or keep reading to see my response below!

1. Much Ado About Nothing: Your favourite bickering couple whom everyone knows really care about each other (can be romantic relationship or friendship)

Considering I’m definitely of the Harry Potter generation could I ever say anyone but Ron and Hermione? They are the ultimate bickering couple, for me it’s on a level with Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice or, indeed, Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. For me, growing up, Ron and Hermione were just constantly arguing and Harry was the linchpin that held that trio together somehow despite the moments of genuine falling out.

Can I also do a quick shout out for Matthias and Nina from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology? I’m not sure they quite “bicker” because it’s more Nina constantly pokes and prods at him and he refuses to rise to it because it’s undignified or whatever, but we all know they do bicker really… or at least they do in fanfics, and I LIVE for it.

2. Measure for Measure: A book whose plot or genre is really hard to explain to other people

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I have literally no idea what happened in the plot of this book, but I have utmost confidence that Neil Gaiman knew what he was doing at every point. As long as you have faith in the author’s ability to plot, I think it’s ok if you don’t know what happens at every stage!

On a less confusing note, I still also struggle to explain the plot of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater to a satisfying degree. Yes, it’s about a group of kids who go to a fancy school searching along ley lines for a dead Welsh king, that might be the “plot”, but it’s also not really what the book is “about”. It’s weird and inexplicable.

3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Your favourite book featuring fairies or elves

Unfortunately,  I don’t much like this resurgence of sexy/dangerous fae that seems to have become a fad as of late – I totally blame my dislike of Sarah J Maas’ writing for putting me off anything that now mentions ‘fae’ or ‘faerie court’ in the blurb! So I’m going to have to reach back into the depths of my childhood for one…I used to love the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer which told the story of the eponymous pre-teen criminal mastermind as he kidnaps for ransom one of the fairies who live in the core of the Earth – not kidding. It was amazing and I actually really want to re-read it this year to remind myself just how great it was and maybe this time I’ll actually finish the series too.

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T5W | Authors You Want to Read More From

Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Authors You Want to Read More From. As Sam says: “Talk about some authors that you’ve only read one or a few books from, and you NEED to read more!” I have a horrible tendency of enjoying a book and then completely and utterly failing to pick up other books by that same author unless it’s part of a series… and even then I sometimes read the first book, love it, and then promptly abandon the series accidentally! There are also a lot of authors whose work I enjoy but have not actively pursued or kept an eye on… let’s see the top 5 of those authors, shall we?

5. John le Carré

I first tried to read John le Carré back when the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy film was out – I’d been to see the film, really enjoyed it, and wanted to get stuck into the source material. I never made it even halfway – I was way too confused by the novel. Fast forward a few years and it was announced that Tom Hiddleston (yeah, him again, sorry/not sorry) would be starring in an adaptation of a le Carré novel called The Night Manager. I picked up the book, I read it, I loved it, and was firmly convinced that the casting people deserve gold stars for their casting of Pine, Roper, and Corky. (Like, seriously, Tom Hollander as Corky is spot on.) Fast forward a few more months and I haven’t read another le Carré despite the fact that I now think I have the right reading level to follow his plots and I’ve bought a couple more of his novels with the very intention of reading them sooner rather than later. I need to correct that, stat.

4. Donna Tartt

The Secret History is one of my favourite novels, and yet I haven’t read anything else by Donna Tartt – why not? I am more than certain that I adore her writing style thanks to the slow, languid pace of The Secret History and I thought her character development and characterisation was super intriguing. She only has three novels currently published so it’s not as though she has an extensive back catalogue that I need to work through and The Goldfinch sounds right up my alley… it’s getting faintly ridiculous that I haven’t yet picked up another Tartt novel and yet I persist in re-reading The Secret History.

3. William Shakespeare

I took a final year course dedicated entirely to the Bard himself. My postgraduate/MA dissertation was completely focused on the excessive body in Coriolanus. I graduated with a distinction in early modern literature. And yet I still do not consider myself fully versed on enough of Shakespeare’s plays. To be fair to me, there are quite a few to get through, but I’m still annoyed at myself that I haven’t read/watched more of them. At last count I’ve managed (in some guise) 23 out of 36 which, hey, is not bad by any means but a large portion of those were speed-read before a seminar soooo it’s safe to say I might not have entirely appreciated them to their fullest. I need to sort that out soon – is it too ambitious to decree that I want to be completist and read all of them?

 2. Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has wrote some of my favourite novels (cough Good Omens cough), I love him as a writer regardless of what age he is writing for, and I pretty much sit in awe of his existence, even as I just casually scroll through his Twitter. Despite this… I’ve only read a couple of his books – why?! I’ve never yet finished American Gods (it’s long and complicated, ok guys?!) or Neverwhere (nope, I got no excuses here), despite adoring The Graveyard Book with every fibre of my being and being super creeped out and intrigued in equal measure by The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The film adaptation of Stardust (whilst different from the book apparently) is kind of one of my favourite (not so guilty pleasure) films – I mean, come on, sky pirates – and I’m curious to read that story told in the darker, more gruesome tone that I’m told the book has. I think I probably just need to read all the Gaiman ever.

1. Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier wrote possibly my favourite book of all-time, Rebecca, and yet I have only read one other novel by her (Jamaica Inn for what it’s worth) – that’s very dumb of me. I have My Cousin Rachel sat staring at me every night when I go to sleep (my bookshelf is right by my bed, ok, it’s less creepy than it sounds) and yet I still haven’t picked it up properly. I’m so serious about needing to read more du Maurier that I recently deliberately bought Frenchman’s Creek, Rule Britannia, and The Scapegoat in the editions I’m collecting (no, not the pretty ones, sadly, but I have to get them to match my Virago Modern Classics copy of Rebecca I have because that’s my copy, you know?). I have no more excuses, I now have plenty of du Maurier to be getting on with… so get to getting, Emma!

So there we have it folks – those were my top 5 authors that I want to read more from. Do you agree/disagree with my choices? Which authors do you want to read more from in the future? If you have a Top 5 Wednesday list, be sure to link it below – I’d love to take a look!

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T5W | Favourite First Sentences

Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic. This Wednesday’s theme is Favourite First Sentences. As we all know, first sentences do a lot to sell a book to a new reader. They are an author’s chance to really grab the reader and suck them into the world they have created. Because of this, my favourite first sentences are often ones which instantly highlight the weird or wonderful story that is about to unfold in front of my very eyes.

Confession time: I am a fiend for browsing those ‘top 100 first lines of novels’ lists that you often get on book sites (I’ve linked some at the bottom of this post), to the point where I collect opening lines. I might end up with a first sentence in my collection which I adore because it sets up a story so wonderfully, even if I didn’t end up loving the story that follows. Likewise, some of my favourite books only have so-so opening lines in comparison. So, whilst some of these first lines are on the list because they are the opening lines of some of my favourite books, others on this list are just damn good first lines. Since this is quite long enough already, I’ll just let the lines speak for themselves instead of rambling on about why I picked them – if you’re curious though, comment below and I’d be happy to explain my reasoning.

Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t simply pick five so, instead, I offer up 4 different lists which contain my top 5 first sentences from… Shakespeare plays, classics, modern/contemporary novels, and books I have yet to read – hopefully you enjoy a good list as much as I do, since I’ve given you four of them!

Enough explanation, let’s go…

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Theatre Review | The Two Gentlemen of Verona

These past few days marked my trip to Oxford to visit a friend from school who now lives and works there (on the off-chance you’re reading this, hi Ceyda!), along with her sister (whose blog you can find here and should read, obviously). Amidst museum wanderings, semi-successful punting expeditions, and a jaunt to London to attend YALC on Friday, we took in a spot of Shakespeare at the Bodleian, as you do on a summery Thursday evening.

Shakespeare’s Globe, in conjunction with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, are touring a production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Nick Bagnall, which sees Shakespeare’s early comedy launched brashly and boldly into the 20th century, a musical and theatrical mashup that should please even someone having a bad day. In fact, I defy you to sit and not clap or tap feet along to the music. Believed to be Shakespeare’s first play, Two Gentlemen tells the story of Valentine and Proteus, two young men who discover the trials and tribulations of falling in love in quite a spectacular (and farcical) fashion. Considered by some critics to be his weakest play, nevertheless Two Gentlemen is a comedy which teases the themes later plays will return to with such roaring success, including cross dressing heroines, a band of outlaws, the inconstancy of men, clownish servants, and men (and women) frankly being fools in love.

“Valentine loves Silvia and Proteus loves Julia – but Proteus is fickle and falls for Silvia too. When Valentine plots an elopement, Proteus betrays him and Valentine is banished and joins some outlaws in the forest. What are the chances that he’ll be pursued by Silvia, and Silvia by Proteus, and Proteus by Julia, and that all will be waited upon – after a fashion – by their servants Speed and Launce and even Launce’s dog, Crab?”
(Synopsis taken from The Globe’s programme)


Photo taken at Chilham Castle, Kent | Images © Gary Calton

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Making Up For Monday | 16th November

Another dreary Monday which means only one thing – I remember that ‘Making Up For Monday‘, a weekly meme created by Tiffany at An Avid Reader, exists and I gladly riff off this week’s prompt which is:

What is your favourite book set in the past?

Taking a look at my favourites shelf on Goodreads will illustrate that most of the books I read tend to be set in the past for an obvious reason – they were written in the past. Therefore I’m not sure how many of them could actually count as ‘historical fiction’, since roughly speaking they depicted the time in which they were written, give or take a decade or so (i.e. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley). However, there are a couple of obvious themes I can spot from the other favourites on that shelf and they fall into the following categories: books “about” World War I and II; Shakespeare’s history plays; Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine.

When it comes to the World Wars, literature is often a useful jumping off point to try to conceptualise such a significant historical moment. The poetry of WWI and II is frequently taught in schools, and I know we focused on figures like Sassoon and Owen during A Level studies, by reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and a poetry anthology which included the famous ‘Dulce et decorum est’ and so on. I’m not much of a historian, never have been, but I love learning about history through stories. If history textbooks were written as narratives, I’d have paid much more attention in school, to be honest; I’m terrible with facts and figures, I’m good with quotes and concepts. Because of this, I found both Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief equally heartbreaking for very different reasons.

The former is a look at WWI through the journey of Stephen Wraysford, an Englishman who stays with a family in Amiens and falls in love with Isabelle, the lady of the house, who is in an unhappy marriage. The two dangerously start a relationship whilst the world is on the brink of war, and obviously it all goes wrong from there. It’s about sex and love and violence and death in that way that the polar opposites of sex and death seem to be so entwined in literature. It’s beautiful, and the descriptions of WWI battlefields are so grotesquely chilling that it’s truly an unforgettable read.

Secondly, there is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief which I feel needs no introduction but, essentially, we look at WWII as told by Death. It follows Liesel, a young German girl fostered by a couple who later hide a Jewish man in their basement. It’s about friendship and love and books and it’s one of those bittersweet reads that will make you weep, a lot, at the same time as adoring the prose. It’s beautifully written and it has a lovely message, summed up in its final line.

I’d always been a fan of Shakespeare, from reading Much Ado About Nothing in Year 9, 10, and 11 (what can I say, they stuck with it in my school) and loving it, to reading Romeo and Juliet and having some… interesting opinions about it (I hated it and told a Cambridge lit professor I did in an interview, whoops), to reading Macbeth and just being amazed at the crescendo of events in that particular infamous Scottish play. When I went to university I ended up discovering a deeper penchant for early modern, including a surprise interest in the likes of John Donne and early modern outlaws, but Shakespeare was always involved for me.

I particular enjoy some of Shakespeare’s “history plays” which have gone on to become some of my favourite “books” (shh I’m counting them) ever: Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry V. After reading Richard III this year I think I’d even recommend that. Summed up by the phrase “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, all of these examples seek to humanise and, conversely, fictionalise historical figures. Some of Shakespeare’s characterisations have become so enmeshed with the public perception of these figures that it’s difficult to conceptualise them without being influenced by Shakespeare’s play of the same name – looking at you, Richard III. If you don’t have the patience for reading plays I’d at least recommend watching the BBC’s wonderful The Hollow Crown miniseries which was wonderful, Richard II in particular is beautiful.

And finally, Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine must have a category to itself because I’m not even quite sure what it is. Equal parts historical, pulp, science fiction, it’s a mish-mash of different genres and I love it for it. I wrote this and this review to try to puzzle out why I enjoyed it so much but I think, in the end, I have to say I enjoyed it because it took a playful look at early modern society from a contemporary perspective, drawing the two together and unafraid to mix them together to create something truly unique. I think it’s safe to say you won’t find another historical novel quite like it, even if I am on the hunt for such a thing in the hope it exists! Eyre’s book left me with such a book hangover and I still haven’t been able to find anything else of a similar vein so please if you know of something similar, comment below because I feel like I need it in my life.

I think that very much covers most of the books I’ve adored that are set in that wide-ranging time known as The Past. Weirdly, I’d say I very rarely read contemporary unless it has some kind of fantasy element weaved into it (i.e. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys), but I’d greatly appreciate any more historical fiction recommendations.


Currently Reading: 5th May 2015

A short and sweet one from me for the moment and in case the title didn’t give the game away this is a ‘Currently Reading’ blog post. Because for all I plan to do Friday Reads videos/blogs, Fridays end up being inexplicably busy most weeks. No, I don’t know why, but let’s just roll with it and do a ‘Currently Reading’ instead.

Number one on the list is George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I’m sure I don’t need to explain what this is about given the proliferation of its extremely successful TV adaptation but a quick summary because it helps me to practice summarising the plot of rather complex books. Game of Thrones is the first-book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, what I believe is considered a low fantasy series which deals with the various Houses of Westeros, all vying for the Iron Throne. Sprawling, complex, strangely addicting, Game of Thrones has the quasi-historical medieval vibe that fantasy books enjoy, meaning you’re almost convinced this could just be historical fact. Were it not for the dragons.

I’m about one third of the way through and I’m enjoying it so far. I appreciate the short chapters – it means I can definitely justify saying ‘I’ll just read a chapter or two before I go to sleep’… cut to 2 hours later and I’m still reading. I hate using the phrase ‘page turner’ but it really does fit the description, it is addicting. The one difficult I’m having is that I’ve seen Season 1 of the TV show so… I’ve basically already “read” this book. Nothing is particularly surprising me, a lot of the dialogue is pleasingly similar, there are a few more interesting characterisation quirks that are missing from the TV series but, overall, it all feels strangely familiar. The last time I attempted to read this it was on my Kindle and I got halfway through before abandoning it so… here’s to hoping that reading an actual physical copy will get me past that halfway sticking point.

Number two on the list is William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Yes, yes, Emma is banging on about that play again. In my defence… my dissertation is going to focus on it so… it’s practically required of me to bang on about it over and over.

After an extremely useful initial meeting with my supervisor, she suggested perhaps taking the approach of using one play with which to examine a range of bodies. I’m still trying to tease out what my focus(es) or main thread of argument will be so to the play itself I turn! I also have a couple of adaptations to watch – that’s the one thing that concerns me about writing solely on Coriolanus. Yes I have seen the Donmar production enough to commit it to memory (oh boy have I), yes there is a modernised film adaptation directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes that looks like it does interesting things with its modernisation, yes there is the expected 80s BBC version which… I’m just hoping isn’t as dry as their Love’s Labours Lost was. But, aside from that, there aren’t that many adaptations readily available… the Globe did a production… oh, but before they got into the habit of recording their shows to put online and on DVD. I think it may be a case of reading peoples’ accounts of stage adaptations of it and using those in lieu of anything more substantial.

But, in any case, I will be re-reading Coriolanus extensively over the summer. The thing striking me at the moment on this re-read? Virgilia’s alarmingly perfunctory responses that entirely marginalise her as a character. She literally cannot get a word in edgeways over Volumnia’s commanding presence. That might be an avenue worth exploring in the manner of Pascale Aebischer’s comment on examining gaps or silences in a text.

As mentioned above, I need to read some critical things on the body whilst trying to work out what my line of argument will be. So… there’s a steadily forming stack that in all likelihood barely touches the surface. But I am (very slowly) working my way through them in short bursts of studying, trying to be concious of really unpacking what each critic is saying and focusing my efforts on deciding if I actually agree with them. I have an unfortunate tendency to presume that I have nothing new to say about Shakespeare because hundreds of more qualified academics before me have already said it all, or said it better. This is a habit I need to break. I’ve been trying this year not to fall back onto relying on critical opinion rather than positioning my work in dialogue with critics so I’m only tentatively digesting all this critical opinion. The main aim here is for me not to read so much that it entirely drowns out my prior, gut instinct opinions on Coriolanus. So wish me luck with that… because goodness knows I’ll probably need it when I’m done with this stack!

And that is what I’m currently reading. The plans for most of May, in lieu of a TBR, are to finish Game of Thrones and potentially start A Clash of Kings. Hopefully I will also get around to picking up Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd because I am so eager to see the recently released film starring Carey Mulligan but time will tell whether I give in and watch the film first! Other than these rather substantial books, Coriolanus and writing about said Shakespeare play will be on my desk for most of the month. And for the majority of summer. In all seriousness, and without a hint of sarcasm to be found, I couldn’t be more thrilled by the prospect.

A Retrospective: Shakespeare and Les Misérables

Oh, why hello there 2012! Wow, you really were a lifetime ago. And guess who forgot about this blog entirely in that intervening passage of time? Yes, me! It’s particularly wonderful to take a look back at 19 year-old me from the position of 21 year-old me, a person who has finished university and is now waiting for results and at the same time anxiously trying to lay down the train tracks in front of a moving train which I don’t yet know the cargo, or the speed, of. Does that metaphor hold up? We’ll see if the train derails come results day, I guess.

Whilst we waiting for that impending crash (or maybe/hopefully not) let’s take stock of what changes have occurred since my last post on 15th October 2012. Well, I’ve had 2 birthdays since then, not bad places to start. Especially since the 21st was celebrated in particularly geeky fashion – going down to Stratford with my ever lovely university friend and housemate, Sarah, to see the RSC’s Richard II. So I spent my birthday in the same room as David Tennant, watching him king it up, not a bad way to spend my birthday and it’s so very me that I couldn’t have asked for a nicer celebration. (Well I could have done without the audience member being taken ill half-way through the show, but, I’m sure everyone could have done without that to be honest). It’s been a year or two of Shakespeare, in which time I developed a shiny new obsession. Namely a certain Mr Thomas Hiddleston – of Loki/Avengers, War Horse, and maybe Suburban Shootout fame (do not Google it, for the love of all that is holy) – and that man’s particular penchant for Shakespeare only served to deepen that pathetic fangirling tendency. So, it made sense that when he was starring in Donmar Warehouse’s Coriolanus, had to see it. It wasn’t a passing fancy and as the reviews came rolling in, it became a mission. I wouldn’t have succeeded if they hadn’t extended the run a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t have succeeded if it had only been me trying to nab those sought-after Front Row tickets. I wouldn’t have succeeded if it wasn’t for the tenacity of aforementioned Sarah whose emotional outburst in the library on that fateful ticket-successful morning (the last ditch attempt too) encapsulated feelings that I just couldn’t express. I didn’t fare very well at the performance itself either. Having seen the production via National Theatre Live (which, quick shout-out, is such an invaluable way of getting theatre to the mainstream) I thought I was prepared. I’d cried throughout the second-half of that broadcast because I knew how the tragedy of Coriolanus would inevitably end. I was not emotionally prepared. It was not pretty. I couldn’t stick around the theatre to give a quick thank you of appreciation to the actors who came out to stage door because if I had I just would have burst into tears in front of Hadley Fraser and Deborah Findlay. And we all know that would have been just a touch embarrassing for all involved.

Seeing the RSC’s Richard II and Donmar’s Coriolanus has been two highlights of my 2013/14 and experiences I will definitely remember and cherish. The sad fact of theatre, unfortunately, is its ephemeral nature. But it’s also its greatest virtue, the connection between audience and actor (if you will allow me to be particularly thee-ah-tar, dah-ling for a moment) is something that changes so much from show to show. Aaron Tveit says it well – it’s an exchange of energy between performer and observer, and there’s nothing else quite like it. 2013/14 has awakened, and firmly cemented, a love for theatre (and for Shakespeare) that I didn’t fully realise back in October 2012. Also a shameless love for a Mr Hiddleston, but we’ll leave that one well alone/to my Tumblr.

Which brings me to another obsession which was well fostered and, oddity of oddities, also at the hands of Sarah who introduced me, in the January of 2013, to a little thing called Les Misérables. Who would have guessed the downward spiral that quickly occurred. I’d never particularly been a huge musical theatre fan. Sure, I’d seen a few things – We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia, Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang – but they were more to do with my grandma’s love for musicals than my own. How very wrong I was, and how very naive I was to think that Les Misérables wouldn’t grip me the way it did. In the end, for some godforsaken reason, I ended up doing my undergraduate dissertation on it, the book in any case – though I did spend a sizeable portion of that 10,000 word limit talking about the musical and film adaptations. I couldn’t have guessed that in October 2012. I had no clue that I would have obsessed over a blonde-haired student revolutionary called Enjolras; that I would have synced up Spotify playlists whilst we were in separate rooms and belted out an embarrassingly out-of-tune rendition of the entire film soundtrack with, oh you guessed it, Sarah. That I would have spend countless hours of frustration trying to pin down in 10,000 words why Les Misérables needed to be paid attention to – this is the best I could come up with. That I would, thanks to a well-timed Christmas Present IOU from my parents, be able to perfectly coordinate seeing Les Misérables in the West End with that Coriolanus trip to spend two days in London being incredibly geeky but loving it? I couldn’t have predicted that.

That’s the funny thing about retrospection, isn’t it? It’s hard to mentally rewind to that place of inexperience. It doesn’t have to be huge life-changing moments you want to try to un-remember to see what life was like back then, it can be the little things. It can be trying to re-imagine what you were like in October 2012 having not heard Red And Black yet or having not shivered in terror seeing this still frankly scary-as-fuck single expression from Coriolanus. Maybe my next blog post will be about more serious things, more grandiose things, like graduation, examinations, what on earth to do in the rest of that unknowable thing that is my future. Sounds ominous.