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Monday, 20 February 2012

You Deserve Nothing

Welcome to my little Niche within the library. So grab a coffee and let's review some books

You Deserve NothingYou Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You Deserve Nothing

By Alexander Maksik

Copyright 2012 John Murray Publishers

ISBN: 978-1848545724

308 pages

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik is a controversial Novel written by a former teacher. The Novel is told by three narrators........William Silver, the Charismatic English teacher at an American High School in Paris catering to children of diplomats and rich people, Marie De Clery, a fifteen-year-old student, and Gilad, an impressionable student who moves to Paris from Dubai. All three characters share a classroom together. The students are enthralled and influenced by their English Teacher whose influential teaching methods really make an impact on these young minds.

The Story is set in 2002 in Paris several months before the War in Iraq. Will Silver is a man who lost parents and wife, who moves to Paris to teach English and literature at an American High School in Paris, France.

Quoting from Camus and Sartre, Will teaches the class about Sartre's existentialism...or the idea that man is responsible for his own actions through his choices and free Will. Will's teaching method impresses Gilad who becomes enthralled by his English teacher, but this obsession crumbles when he discovers that Mr Silver is having an illicit affair with Marie, a fifteen-year-old student in his class.

Will Silver's persona crumbles further when Marie starts bragging about her affair in school and has an abortion. The Head Master or Principal gets word of it and brings Mr Silver up on charges. Mr Silver defends his actions in front of the school board. He's fired from the school . "Do you understand that what you've done is wrong?" asked the Principal, but Mr Silver remains silent and walks out of the room, past the hallway and out onto the Parisian streets without remorse.

The issues in the Novel are not a new ones. There have been many known cases of teacher/student affairs in the News and on television. This poses the question: "Should teachers violate their teachers' code of ethics and morality to satisfy their own carnal whims at the expense of a minor?" The Novel is based on a true story which is a bit shocking to say the least.

An educator has the moral responsibility to conduct himself/herself on a professional manner with regards to his/her students and the role of an educator should not be taken lightly. When educating young minds a teacher should show professionalism at all times and respect, preserve and uphold the innocence of youth. An educator must remember that they hold impressionable young minds in the palm of his/her hands...........and it is his/her duty to mould these young minds with dignity, respect and professionalism into respectable members of society.

I picked this book up because I love English literature and because it was set in of the cities I love. Like some of the students in the book, English was my best subject in High School. I had a lovely English teacher, Mrs Ross, whom I truly admired. In my forties, I still look up to Mrs Ross as a great model educator and even as a mentor. Mrs Ross taught the class in a fun way........but she would NEVER cross the line between violating her teacher’s code of ethics and morality like Mr Silver in You Deserve Nothing did.

The narration reads like a JD Salinger book or D.H. Lawrence. Several reviewers have been bold to say that this book should be classed as a memoir instead of fiction because it is based on a true story. In my opinion the book can fit into both categories. I felt empathy for the character of Marie as she was the one who got taken advantage of by her unethical teacher. I also felt for Gilad.........a young teenage boy whose ideals and perception of someone whom he looked up to were chattered when he discovered that the man he called his Mentor was involved with an under aged student.

I found the book a bit shocking and disjointed in places. However, it does serve the purpose of alerting the audience to the problem facing teachers who violates their code of ethics falling in love with their students.

Before I go to Sleep

Welcome to my little Niche within the library. So grab a coffee and let's review some books.

Before I Go to SleepBefore I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this compelling psychological thriller, S.J. Watson brings us a story about a woman who suffers a tragic accident and is left with brain damage so bad that it leaves her in a comma and with permanent amnesia. Christine Lucas is left with a rare form of amnesia which erases her memories--long and short term memory every time she falls asleep. With the help of her doctor, Dr Nash, a Journal , her best friend, Claire and her husband, Ben, she begins to piece back fragments of her life. Slowly, Christine regains her memory...but hold on to your hat........for it seems that what her husband, Doctor Nash and even her best friend, Claire tells her their stories form a different version of the truth. This Novel, a Debut, Novel by a man who once worked with Amnesia patients in the NHS is a brilliant, page-turner that will leave the reader intrigued and turning the pages. I was hooked since I read the first sentence! The plot has many twists and turns and I was shocked to learn the truth at the end.

Anteograde amnesia isn't new , but is a rare form of amnesia. I've read on the news about a woman who woke up one day and had the shock of her life when she looked in the mirror and discovered that she wasn't fifteen anymore and had a child.

The Novel is told in the first person. I like Watson's style of writing. The narration is mostly in the form of a journal. The reader can't help but feel empathy for Christine as she goes on her journey of re-discovery as she tries unsuccessfully to make sense of her past. The plot is fast-paced and it left me on the edge of my seat. I turned the pages thinking I solved the mystery behind Christine's tragic life, when BAM.............a plot twist..........and the author throws me off track again until the very end! Watson really knows how to keep the reader intrigued.

I was left with a sudden sadness for Christine. Her character sprung to life. Watson has created a well-rounded character whom everyone can empathize with. Memories are what defines us........points of references to base our future on. When our memories go, our lives are chattered. We are like zombies with no sense of direction. I don't know what is worse............having a photographic memory.......remembering every minute details of your life.........reliving every painful memory you've had, projecting those memories on the screen of your mind every single day.............or losing your memory altogether. I guess it's the latter..............loss of memory leaves us with a fragmented mind trying to make sense of ourselves and our world.

In closing, I praise the author for giving us a compelling book. Before I go to Sleep is a hell-of-a psychological thriller. I compared it to the likes of John Grisham and James Patterson. I look forward to reading more of this new Author.

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by SJ Watson - UK Trailer from S J Watson on Vimeo.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Somnamulist

Welcome to my little Niche within the library. So grab a coffee and let's review some books.

The SomnambulistThe Somnambulist by Essie Fox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In her debut novel, The Somnambulist, author Essie Fox writes a gothic tale about seventeen year-old Phoebe Turner living with a puritanical mother, Maude, whose prude ideas and values motivates her to go about East London engaging in activism, vowing to shut down theatres. Phoebe’s Aunt Cissy, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Phoebe’s mother - an actress and singer performing at Wilton’s Musical Hall. Aunt Cissy takes Phoebe to Wilton’s Musical Hall often and introduces her to many of her theatrical friends. There, Phoebe meets a mysterious man named Nathanael who will change these three women’s lives forever. Phoebe leaves East End and settles into a house, a mysterious house that just may be haunted. Set in Victorian London, Essie Fox weaves a tale of mystery and suspense in the tradition of The Lady in White and Rebecca. As I began the story, I found it slow but my interest perked up as I turned the pages.

I really enjoyed this story and was quite sorry for the Protogonist's plight. She was lied to since the day she was born. Amongst the issues covered in the book are Anti-Semetism, morality versus immorality, abuse, death, spiritualism and incest. I am fascinated by the Victorian era and chose this book because of this. There has been mixed reviews about this book and some have commented on the Gothic-ness of the book saying the darkness and gore in the Novel is very subtle. However, I found it very dark in places, such as a Gothic Novel should be. The author used several icons and symbolisms in the Novel to set the mood and tone of the Novel such as Ether's gravesite, the docks, the painting by Mallais, Hamman's Bouquet, the frragrance lingering on Cissy's gown of Turkish Bathhouses and sensual musk and the Cave where Pheobie and Joseph had sex without knowledge of the truth behind their 'true' relationship    Althogether, this novel was a good read. Very Well-written.

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