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review 2020-06-29 07:57
The Furies by Natalie Haynes
The Furies: A Novel - Natalie Haynes

TITLE:  The Furies


AUTHOR:  Natalie Haynes



"When you open up, who will you let in?

When Alex Morris loses her fiancé in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city. These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she's taken on.

There is one class - a group of five teenagers - who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit. But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them. Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, she even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her...




I liked the writing style and the idea was interesting, but at the same time not particularly original.  Some of the character's actions/reactions didn't seem quite plausible.  This would probably make a decent movie.

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review 2020-06-12 06:50
The Great Escape by Natalie Haynes
The Great Escape - Natalie Haynes

TITLE:  The Great Escape


AUTHOR:  Natalie Haynes



"It's the summer holidays and Millie's bored stiff. Every week, she has to clean windows with her dad at a nearby laboratory. But she's sure something weird is going on inside. Then, one day, a cat comes hurtling through the lobby towards her and asks her for help."




Enjoyable and entertaining.  Light and fluffy.  Kids and cat to the rescue!

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review 2020-04-06 22:23
A Thousand Ships
A Thousand Ships - Natalie Haynes



Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung.

I have sung of armies and I have sung of men.

I have sung of gods and monsters, I have sung of stories and lies.

I have sung of death and of life, of joy and of pain.

I have sung of life after death.

And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows.

I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.

I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight.

I have celebrated them in song because they have waited long enough.

Just as I promised him: this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we? They have waited to have their story told, and I will make them wait no longer. If the poet refuses the song I have offered him, I will take it away and leave him silent. He has sung before: he may not want it and does not need it. But the story will be told. Their story will be told, no matter how long it takes. I am ageless, undying: time does not matter to me.

All that matters is the telling.

Sing, Muse, he said.

Well, do you hear me?

I have sung.

Well, this was utterly fantastic.

Stomach-turning, bloody, violent, cruel, disgusting, and utterly fantastic.


Yes, this is a retelling of the story of the fall of Troy, but it is also a lot more. A Thousand Ships does not focus on the siege and the battles and the heroes. The story and what happens after the fall of Troy is told through the points of view of the women of Troy, who lost all, the mothers of the "heroes", the wives, the daughters. 

Some deeds cast long shadows, and here we have shadows dancing like the Furies, engulfed in black flames, destroying everything in their quest for vengeance.  


Oh, and there are bickering gods and goddesses, too, just for some light relief.


What I would be interested to know is how this all works for readers who are not familiar with the underlying stories. I mean I found it gripping, and I know the characters. I would love to know what others make of this book. 


Also, this is my second book by Haynes. I picked up her The Amber Fury a few months ago on a whim, and acquired her other books after reading it because I was stunned. I am now a confirmed fan of the author.

She can write, absolutely, but I am also impressed by her attention to detail, research efforts, and general handling of the source material.


There is an enlightening Afterword to this book that is as relevant and worth reading as the stories told in A Thousand Ships themselves.

"I hope that at the end of this book, my attempt to write an epic, readers might feel that heroism is something that can reside in all of us, particularly if circumstances push it to the fore. It doesn’t belong to men, any more than the tragic consequences of war belong to women. Survivors, victims, perpetrators: these roles are not always separate. People can be wounded and wounding at the same time, or at different times in the same life."


Previous Reading Updates:

Reading progress update: I've read 90%.

Reading progress update: I've read 66%.

Reading progress update: I've read 47%.

Reading progress update: I've read 33%.

Reading progress update: I've read 32%.

Next in the Ides of March ... and all of April Project

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review 2020-03-08 00:28
The Amber Fury
The Amber Fury - Natalie Haynes

We’re all responsible for our actions, and that includes me. In retrospect, I did everything wrong, almost from the moment I arrived in Edinburgh. I was weak, thoughtless and self-centred. I believed I was helping them, or at least I persuaded myself that I was. But the undeniable truth is that if I had made even the slightest effort to look outwards at these children, instead of inwards, I could have changed everything that happened. No-one was destined to die at this point.

Wow. Now, this book was not perfect and there are some aspects that made no sense, such as why an inexperienced teacher would be allowed to teach drama to teenagers with a history of violence without being given either their case files/histories or any training whatsoever on how to deal with certain behaviours or ensure security, is clearly beyond me. Or that the class never actually read any texts in class, which was really weird.


HOWEVER, this book made up for this in many other aspects. 

The plot was fresh to me. I could not predict how this was going to go. The characters were fully fleshed out, and the characters' inner conflicts were really well portrayed. 


What I loved best, tho, was that this story was not a re-telling of a Greek classic as the books blurb may have suggested. Instead, Haynes used the plot of Alex, a theatre director, teaching juvenile delinquents about Greek drama as a way to ask whether certain themes and issues addressed in Greek drama are still relevant today and how they would be assessed today. 

I thought this book was, despite its light tone of voice, really quite complex and really though-provoking, and all the while Haynes built up a plot that would climax in something that we, as the reader, know is going to happen, but we don't know what this is and when it will occur.

The Amber Fury was smart and thrilling and I loved it. I certainly also want to read Haynes' other books.

Even if you have no control over your life, you should live like you have a choice.




Previous reading updates:

Reading progress update: I've read 176 out of 298 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 148 out of 298 pages.

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review 2015-01-05 00:00
The Furies: A Novel
The Furies: A Novel - Natalie Haynes Excellent gripping tale that addresses the issues of dealing with grief, obsession and revenge. It's very well written and the progression of the story towards its not-too-surprising ending is well done. The books jumps back and forth in time, but not in a confusing way, so you know something about what's ahead but with enough not known that leaves it interesting.

I enjoyed the Greek tragedy class being taught by this teacher almost as much as I did the story. Those Greek tragedies and this story are all woven together in a fascinating way. I admire the writer's accomplishment in interweaving this all together as she did.

A very entertaining read!
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