Monday, 29 November 2010


This is a tale of two styles of narration and a case of early Potter-style mania


Night is generally my time for walking. In the summer I often leave home early in the morning, and roam about fields and lanes all day, or even escape for days or weeks together; but, saving in the country, I seldom go out until after dark, though, Heaven be thanked, I love its light and feel the cheerfulness it sheds upon the earth, as much as any creature living.

I have fallen insensibly into this habit, both because it favours my infirmity and because it affords me greater opportunity of speculating on the characters and occupations of those who fill the streets. The glare and hurry of broad noon are not adapted to idle pursuits like mine; a glimpse of passing faces caught by the light of a street-lamp or a shop window is often better for my purpose than their full revelation in the daylight; and, if I must add the truth, night is kinder in this respect than day, which too often destroys an air-built castle at the moment of its completion, without the least ceremony or remorse. 

The Old Curiosity Shop is a tale written with two points of view: for three chapters it is written in first person narration, after that it becomes standard third. The novel was originally published in instalments. The story stirred a fever-pitch of excitement - the kind fans of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows would understand. Dicken's fans stormed the pier in New York to welcome ships arriving from England crying: "Is Nell alive?"

I cried reading The Old Curiosity Shop.The Irish leader Daniel O'Connell sobbed when he read the ending, he threw the book out of the window of the train. Oscar Wilde suggested the melodrama was too much for him. He must have skipped Jude the Obscure  by Thomas Hardy- I broke a toe when I was reading this: I kicked a piece of furniture a yelled "What else can possibly go wrong?!"  It was Jude I threw out of the window - never did read to the end. However, I queued up until nearly two in the morning to get my hands on my copy of The Deathly Hallows. They wouldn't let us read it in the shop. We were given our copy at the cash desk!

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliffe was the first book made me cry. Sitting crossed legged while my teacher read it - I remember the book in sense-sharp detail.

Which book has provoked the most extreme reaction from you? 


  1. I do remember reading Jane Erye on an airplaine and crying because of how she was treated as a child.

  2. I tried to read Uncle Tom's Cabin as a child and had to stop when the full force of what it meant to be a slave -- to have no freedom at all -- hit me.

  3. I don't read a lot of heavy stuff. I'm into funny kids books. Love Wimpy and anything by Dahl. I like to laugh when I read. That's great fun for me.

  4. I bawled reading "One Day" by David Nicholls. There's something about a good cry, it's refreshing.

  5. Hi Jennifer
    Poor little Jane - the dark bedroom would have fried me. Very cruel and inhumane treatment. Then when her friend died in bed :(

    Hi Laura
    I'm not surprised you were so moved by Uncle Tom's Cabin it was a shockingly, sad read.

    Hi Ivy
    There are plenty of MG books that are shockingly sad - I had trouble reading the first of the Young Gladiator series.

    Hi Patti
    Like dreams, books help the reader experience - from a safe distance - some harrowing, life changing events.

  6. I'm not into sad books. I like the funny ones and the scary ones. If it's funny and scary, all the better. Love those.

  7. This is probably not what you're looking for, but when I read Frank McCourt's Teacher Man, I laughed out loud so many times my husband thought I had lost my mind. I still laugh just thinking about it. And, no broken bones!

  8. Hi JD
    That will do nicely... I'm feeling the need to research and buy :)

  9. Hi Elaine.
    Hi Elaine

    I remember buckets of tears at Watership Down (Richard Adams) - not with sadness per se, but when El-ahrairah came for Hazel at the end. Wow ... it has me welling just remembering it 30 years later! *Deep breath*