The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak.

The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak. 

A review by Kate O’Brien.

A charming retelling of a story that most of us already know, set to a tune that will have us humming as we go. 

Published by Beehive Books, Catherine Ann Cullen’s The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak is a delightful story. What better way to introduce young readers to the story of Brigid’s cloak than by sharing a tale that can also be told through song? 

Catherine Ann Cullen is a talented poet who has a knack for writing charming verses that linger in the ears for a long time. Catherine’s take on the story of Brigid’s cloak started out as a song. 

You can see Catherine Ann Cullen singing “The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak” at Catherine adapted a traditional tune to fit her bouncy, funny take on the story of Brigid’s cloak, a story that many of us would have learned in school, but likely not in such an entertaining way. 

If you have not heard the tale, the book is about the Irish legend of St. Brigid. Brigid was never without her “wee small cloak.” Brigid is determined to build a church for the people, but the miserly King refuses to share one inch of his vast lands. Brigid is not deterred and she asks the King for as much land as her cloak will cover. The King took one look at Brigid’s “wee small cloak”, and laughed and laughed and agreed to her deal at once. Imagine the miserly King’s shocked face when he saw Brigid’s cloak growing, growing, and growing some more. It was the clever and determined Brigid who had the last laugh. 

When I first heard Catherine Ann Cullen’s take on the tale, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia because the last time I had heard the story of Brigid’s cloak, I was in primary school. 

I didn’t expect to be filled with such fondness for the tale, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself humming the song for the rest of the day. Catherine Ann Cullen has created a delightful earworm that is sure to have younger readers singing in their seats. 

Illustrated by Katya Swan, The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak plays out on beautiful pages. Katya has brought the story to life with rich colours that burst with life on the pages and catch the reader’s eye. Perfect for when we are trying to grab a younger reader’s attention. Katya’s artwork and Catherine Ann’s form go hand in hand because both are simple, and easy to follow, while still being beautiful, bright, and lots of fun. 

The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak is a charming read and it is a gorgeous addition to any bookshelf. As an adult, it was lovely to return to an old story that has been retold in a fresh, musical way. A book like this, a book that combines rhythm and song with easy verses and bright illustrations is a perfect way to introduce younger readers to a well-known, well-loved tale. It encourages role play, it encourages song, it is a fantastic book that allows young readers to explore a tale in various fun and engaging ways. 

The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak is available now at and other bookshops. 

You can find follow Catherine Ann Cullen on Instagram @catherineanncullen. 

Katya Swan @katya_swan_illustrations & Beehive Books 

Important Note: 

All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. This is not an ad. This is not a paid promotion. 

Image taken by myself, with permission, at the book launch of The Song Of Brigid’s Cloak.

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: Horrifically Significant.

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.

I would suggest that one will always remember the first time they read Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. The first time I read this text I was in secondary school, in English class and I remember getting to the end and feeling a pit in my stomach. I was intrigued, I wanted to know more, and I was shocked. That is something that stands out to me when I think about stories that I’ve read throughout the years. I was also a drama student, so I have come across so many scripts, short stories, excerpts etc., throughout the years so the fact that I still remember to this day how shocked I felt when I read The Lottery really demonstrates just how impactful this text is. 

Clearly I was not the only person that this text had an impact upon. The Lottery was first published in The New Yorker in 1948 and it is safe to say that this story caused ripples in the water. The New Yorker received letter after letter after letter from members of the public, demanding explanations about the story and what it meant. 

The Lottery has been called one of the most famous American short stories in literary history. 

Fair warning – There will be spoilers in this review.

The Lottery is a short story about a seemingly idyllic town. Set in June, on a warm and sunny day, the townspeople are gathering for the annual event – the lottery. Adults and children gather and play and chat happily before the event begins. When it is time for the lottery to take place, everyone in town separates from the merriment to stand with their family members. One by one the head of each household takes a slip from the old, falling apart yet unnervingly unwavering, big black box. 

Jackson has written the story in an objective third person point of view. When a story is told through an objective third person point of view, it is slightly different compared to when a story is told through a limited third person point of view. Usually when a story is written in the third person, the narrator exists outside of the story and this means that the omniscient narrator can enter a character’s head and allow readers to access a character’s thoughts. When we can access a character’s thoughts, we can read about how a character feels. When a story is told through an objective third person point of view, the point of view remains neutral and relays events to readers almost like a camera that is filming the goings on in the story. An objective third person point of view remains neutral, this point of view does not enter a character’s head, so readers cannot access their thoughts, and so it is harder to discern how a character is feeling. An easy way to think about the objective third person point of view is to think of it like a report. The facts are relayed, but emotions and motivations behind those facts are not. 

I would say that the main character is Tessie Hutchinson, but the objective third person point of view does not allow readers to get to know Tessie. As a a matter of fact, readers are not allowed into the thoughts of any character so I think that while Tessie becomes the focal point, we as readers, are somewhat detached to her. This is an important thing to note in my opinion, because the more I read this story, the more I think that this detachment to Tessie is very intentional. I think that is exactly the point. 

If you have not read the lottery by now, this is the part of the review where I spoil the ending. I am going to discuss the ending as I cannot discuss the themes of this story without revealing how it ends. 

As I said above, the lottery begins when the head of each household picks a slip of paper from a big black box. Tessie’s husband takes a slip, just like everyone else. Every slip in the box is blank, all except one. One slip has a black dot on it, this is the slip that Tessie’s husband Bill has taken from the box. The Hutchinson family is singled out. Tessie protests. It is not fair, she says. Her husband was rushed through picking his slip, she moans. She is ignored. There are five family members in the Hutchinson family. Tessie, Bill, and their three children. So five slips are put in a box. All are blank, except one. One slip has a black dot. Bill takes a slip. Blank. The three children take a slip one by one. Blank, blank, blank. Tessie takes her slip. The slip with the black dot. Tessie has won the lottery – that is what I thought when I first read this story, Tessie’s won, but something is wrong. Something is off. 

Tessie has not won the lottery. Tessie has not won anything. Tessie has lost her life. 

Tessie begins to protest again, she shouts and screams that it isn’t fair, it isn’t right. 

Everyone else in village starts to collect stones, all while Tessie continues to protest. Her cries about injustice are ignored as Tessie is stoned to death. 

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery has been called a masterpiece, and I have to say that I would agree with this assessment. 

This is a story that is unbelievably unsettling and upsetting, and it is very easy to see why this caused outrage when it was first published. 

This is the kind of story that makes people deeply uncomfortable, it is the kind of story that is thought of as being too horrible to write. That is what makes it so important, that is what makes it so brilliant. It is a dark piece, that is undeniable, but the horrors that exist in this text, and what those horrors represent and prompt one to think about are why this story is a crucial read. 

I believe that everyone should read The Lottery once in their lives. It should be a text that is taught, analysed and discussed because I think that while it was published in 1948, the story remains historically, culturally, and socially relevant and significant. 

Let’s talk about the themes of the story and their importance, alongside the story’s setting and how the story’s setting allows those themes to have such a memorable impact. 

I would call this story a suburban gothic. The story is set in an idyllic, suburban, American town. The exact place is not specified, but I think that adds to the idea that this could be any town USA. The story is set in June. It is summer, it is a warm, sunny day. Children are playing. It is the picture of suburbia …until it isn’t. The setting is significant. It seems unbelievable that such a horrific act could take place in a place that seemed so lovely and safe. That is the point, that violence, and horrific, unjust acts can take place anywhere, and sometimes the place that looks the prettiest can be home to some of the most awful acts. In my opinion, this is an important idea to discuss. Often, it can be argued that people think that certain places are dangerous, and it is easy to place where we live on a pedestal. It is easy to be naive and say “well things like that don’t happen here, bad things like that would never happen where I live.”, but this is very often not true. The Lottery is a story that highlights how ordinary and usually kind, reasonable people can act cruelly and allow cruelty to occur and this cruelty is allowed to occur in their safe, idyllic town. 

It is very easy to act as though one is above violence, but it is important to be aware of and ensure that, actually, we are not complicit in any violence.

I would suggest that the main themes of this story are the ideas of the danger of blindly following traditions, mob mentality, and hypocrisy. 

The lottery is an event that happens every year. It is an event that has been allowed to happen every year. Why? Well, the event is held because of the superstition that the lottery will lead to a good harvest, so there is this idea being put forward that a sacrifice will lead to prospering. This superstition rationalises the killing of one person, because this death leads to a good harvest, which is good for everyone else in the town. The townspeople need a good harvest. In this warped event, motivated by superstition and tradition, one could find a twisted sense of fairness. This twisted sense of fairness is almost symbolised in the narration. The story is told objectively, through the third person, there are no emotions involved. The event is presented matter of factly, and the idea that comes across is that the townspeople think that choosing someone at random through a lottery is the fairest way to decide who will die for the harvest, however readers are more likely to agree with Tessie. This is not right. This is not fair. This is wrong, this is shocking, this is unjust. 

The lottery is an event that has been unquestioned for so long that the big black box that the slips are put in is old and battered. This implies that perhaps it is time to end the event, as when the lottery first started, it was wood chips not paper in the box, but now the town has grown so much that the wood would no longer fit as there has to be enough for every family member to pick one. There is talk about other towns and about how other towns have stopped doing the lottery, but in Jackson’s story, the town is committed to the lottery because “there’s always been a lottery.” 

I would say that this story is pretty clearly presenting the message that clinging to traditions of old can be reductive and sometimes downright dangerous. While it is important to remember the past, it is crucial that society always moves with the times, and sometimes clinging on to something just because “it has always been done” does more harm than good. Sometimes we simply need to say enough is enough and stop doing something that no longer works – although when it comes to a story like Jackson’s, I can’t help but wonder if the point was to make readers question if this lottery was ever really fair in the first place. I would think not. 

The mob mentality aspect of the story is really interesting. The story highlights how the status quo is maintained, and often it is maintained simply because no-one stands up to it. Tessie protested, but her voice was quickly drowned out, and the story makes one think about how people act when they are surrounded by people who are doing the same thing. It is the echo-chamber effect. When you have an opinion that you know is a popular one, it is easier to share that opinion knowing that you will be agreed with. It is easier to shut down change, when it is clear that there are more people that are unwilling to change than those who are, and this is where mob mentality becomes dangerous. If more people are unwilling to change, unfortunately dangerous things continue to carry on. A horrifying, yet significant aspect of this story is the fact that Tessie’s husband Bill and their children participate in the stoning of Tessie. This is an absolutely awful thing, and it is horrible to think about, but it does demonstrate how people will go along with the status quo even if doing so harms someone they love. It is perhaps one of the harshest literary metaphors I’ve come across, but the point the story makes is clear. 

It is practically impossible to read The Lottery without thinking about hypocrisy. 

I’m going to say the setting is hypocritical because in a story like this, the setting is just as much of a character as anyone else, and small towns that preach good values are the perfect backdrop to a story about hypocrisy. The town is idyllic, the town is lovely, the town is safe and the people are good. How can the town be idyllic if a horrific event takes place year after year after year? 

How can the people be kind if they allow someone to be killed year after year after year? 

The town is not idyllic. The people have simply justified extreme violence because it suited them to do so. Tessie is this year’s victim of the lottery, but Tessie is also a hypocrite. 

Tessie arrives late to the lottery, she claims she forgot it was taking place that day. This highlights how nonchalant she has become about this event. The fact that she is a married mother implies that she has lived through the lottery every year up until this one. Tessie does not protest until Bill picks the slip with the black dot and even then she does not protest about the lottery, she simply complains that Bill was rushed when picking his slip. This implies that had someone else gotten the black dotted slip, she would not have said a word. She would have participated in the lottery, just like she has done every year until this one, but now she is protesting because it is her family that is in danger. Suddenly the lottery effects her and her family. I would suggest that Tessie is a very symbolic character as she represents a much larger societal issue. Tessie represents the fact that so many people do not care about injustice and are happy to let it continue until it impacts them or someone they love. When it impacts them or someone they love, suddenly it is not okay and that is hypocrisy at its finest – to say it is okay for others to suffer, but not for me. 

Is it any wonder that this story caused outrage in 1948? I bet it still causes outrage today as many, many people do not like it when societal flaws and hypocrisy are pointed out. 

We must point them out, this story is an extreme, horror filled example of why social flaws must be discussed, of why societal norms must be challenged if they are harmfully outdated, and why we must be always aware of violence and injustice, so that we can put a stop to it, rather than be complicit in it. 

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is perhaps one of the most frightening kinds of horror story, because so many of the themes in the story can be applied to real life. The story is extremely evocative, it is so well written. It builds, and builds until the horrible picture unfolds completely. It is jarring, it is mysterious, it is very unsettling, very scary, and the more I think about it, it is upsetting. 

That is why it is brilliant. The fact that is it so horrifically evocative is what makes it such a significant read. 

If you have not read The Lottery, you must and if you have read it, tell me do you remember the first time you read it and how you felt when you did? Please let me know because I’d love to read other people’s reaction to this story. 

Kate xo. 

The Haunting Season.

The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

A collection of ghost stories by Bridget Collins, Natasha Pulley, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Andrew Michael Hurley, Jess Kidd, Elizabeth Macneal & Laura Purcell. 

The idea behind compiling this collection of stories appealed to me immediately. 

The idea behind this beautiful book was that winter is the perfect time to gather together to listen to ghost stories. 

I love winter. Autumn is my favourite season, but there is something deliciously gloomy about winter. I can’t explain why, but I’ve always had a fondness for grey skies. In my humble opinion, there is something calming about looking out the window at a dull, grey sky. Even better, if the dull, grey sky sits above bare, leafless trees. There is something quiet about it, something peaceful. I love those days where it looks as though at any second, the grey sky would split open so snow could fall. I love crisp cold air that allows you to see your own breath. 

Winter is a time that inspires descriptions & beautiful icing imagery. All of the blues and greys are juxtaposed against the warm twinkly lights of Christmas and the bright, vivid oranges of dancing flames in big fireplaces. 

The stories in this book take readers from Covent Gardens to the Yorkshire Moors, and the stories inspire goosebumps at every turn. The stories range from wonderfully eerie to at times desperately sad. At times I was deeply moved, and deeply unsettled. Some of the stories, in fact some of the lines in this book stayed with me for a long time. 

This collection of stories also lead me to think about the link between female mental health & horror in 19th century literature in particular. This collection of stories shines a light on how women suffered with their mental health, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum. It is very sad to read accounts of women who did not have the support, who suffered because they were dismissed as mad, when they really needed someone who understood, someone who was willing to help. 

I also couldn’t help but be reminded at times of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. 

This collection of stories is very evocative. The large, creepy, mysterious houses provide excellent backdrops for peculiar stories. I would suggest that there is a gothic element to the settings of these stories; big houses that don’t feel safe, suddenly making the home a place that one needs to escape from rather than find refuge in. 

I’m also quite fond of the idea that someone could get lost in their own home. The idea of being in a place with rooms upon rooms and not knowing what it is in each room intrigues me greatly, as I would feel very unsettled if there were wings in my house that were unknown to me. The fact that one can be in a house yet be so disconnected from parts of it is an idea that I’ve always been fascinated by. The idea that horrors lie around you but you are unaware of them until you go exploring the unknown rooms is an eerie but intriguing idea. 

There are eight stories in this book. It is hard to pick a favourite. I struggle when it comes to picking a favourite anything in general. If you have been a reader of my articles here on for a while now then you’ll be aware of this. I like categories. 

I can’t just pick a favourite movie, I have to have a favourite Christmas movie, a favourite nostalgic movie, a favourite Disney movie etc. 

This collection of stories is no different. I enjoyed each one of the stories and there are times when I could say that any one of the eight are my favourite, and all for different reasons. I’m going to discuss the stories in no particular order. 

I think that I would set Confinement by Kiran Millwood Hargrave aside because out of all the eight stories this one didn’t scare me, or I should say that while it did scare me, it didn’t scare me in a ghostly sense. This story was sad. It reminded me a lot of The Yellow Wallpaper. It is scary in the sense that when we look back through history, we see that so many women suffered because their health was not taken seriously, and not understood. 

It is frightening to think about how many women’s lives would have been different if they had gotten the support they needed, especially when it comes to postpartum care. 

I enjoyed this story. The ending made me sad. It stayed with me for a long time, but I could guess the plot and how it would play out fairly early on. It was the least “ghostly” of the stories. 

Thwaite’s Tenant and The Chillingham Chair by Imogen Hermes Gowar and Laura Purcell respectably are two stories that have similar themes and stories, but both are haunting in their own way. I loved Thwaite’s Tenant. I felt that this story had a really satisfying ending. I also think that this story is the one that captured the idea behind the collection really well. This story is filled with ominous descriptions of a cold, big, sinister house that one wouldn’t want to get stuck in on a freezing, wintery night.

The Chillingham Chair handles a similar story in more suspenseful way. I feel that this story was darker than what I consider its counterpart. I would say that it is the scarier of the two stories. The idea that an inanimate object can be horrifying may seem unbelievable, but Laura Purcell is excellent at portraying objects as things that can be in fact, very frightening indeed. 

Lily Wilt by Jess Kidd has the creepiest premise in my opinion, although it also feels the least realistic. The idea that a photographer would be so infatuated with a dead girl that he wants to bring her back to life somehow is unsettling, yet morbidly intriguing. This premise did remind me a little bit of Frankenstein, simply because I think that the story makes it clear from the start that bringing someone back from the dead cannot happen without consequences. This story is perhaps the most mysterious of the eight in my opinion, although at times a few more details would have been nice. Lily is a very mysterious character and wanting to know more about her is what kept me turning the pages, but we actually know nearly nothing about her at all. One might say that is the point, and if that is the case then I’m fine with that, I like a story that aims to keep readers curious and achieves that goal, but a few more details would have been nice. 

As I said, this story is very mysterious but it is also perhaps the least realistic of the eight. I’m sure that some people would have the opinion that ghost stories are simply not realistic at all, and that depends on one’s belief or disbelief in ghosts. 

I’m talking about a collection of ghost stories, and when one is talking about ghost stories, or myths, or legends, I think one tends to operate under the assumption that the stories being told are true, if a little unbelievable. That is how I operate anyways. When I think about storytelling around a fire, I tend to think of intriguing, magnetic stories that pull in a crowd. The stories delight and scare the listening audiences, and then later people wonder if the events of the tale really happened. That is the fun of a ghost story. 

So, I am looking at these ghost stories as suspense filled and unbelievable, but true and within this scope, Lily Wilt feels the least realistic, but I enjoyed the story all the same. 

A Study in Black and White by Bridget Collins keeps readers guessing constantly. This story opens the collection and I think this was a smart choice because the story is consumed by an unsettling yet intriguing atmosphere. I think this is the story that I have reread the most. 

The Eel Singers by Natasha Pulley is wonderfully creepy. This story has elements that I’ve stated many times that I am a fan of; this story features protagonists who long to go somewhere quiet at Christmas time, but the people who live in the town are not very welcoming at all. We’ve got newcomers in a mysterious town. We’ve got townspeople who don’t like newcomers, and we’ve got this ever increasing idea that something just isn’t right. I love this kind of setup. I really love that unsettling feeling that builds and builds and the longer you’re in town, the more things just feel off. 

I could be a little biassed because this kind of setup is a premise that I am a fan of already so when I realised that this was the route this story was taking, I was excited. I knew I’d like it before I read the entire thing, but I do think that this setup can make for an  extremely enticing read, especially when it’s done well. 

The Hanging of the Greens by Andrew Michael Hurley is story that gives us a mysterious story within a story. It’s rather cryptic, and the ending does involve a twist that I won’t spoil. I enjoyed this story, but personally I would call it a mystery rather than a ghost story. 

I don’t think this book has to be strictly a collection of ghost stories only, as mysteries definitely fit the theme of gathering around to hear unbelievable tales. In my opinion, this story is about how the perception of the truth can heavily impact one’s life. What you do with what you think is the truth is extremely important, and when you discover new information, your entire belief system can be shattered, and all of your actions can be put under scrutiny. Information impacts the actions you take, and finding out new information after the fact can have a shocking effect. This story was engaging, but just not very ghostly. Our main character in this story is haunted, just in his own way. 

Monster by Elizabeth Macneal is an interesting story about how things can be different from how they appear. This idea is a very important one, and I think that it is an important lesson to learn that things are not always as they seem. This story is interesting as it highlights how victories cannot always be celebrated if they are intertwined with mystery, I also think this story is a good commentary on how becoming too consumed by one thing can be a slippery slope to go down. It’s not my favourite story in the collection, but I did like it. 

Overall this is a collection of stories that I really enjoyed reading. Some stories scared me more than others, and I enjoyed some stories more than others but it is a varied collection. It would be boring if all eight stories were exactly the same, and the collection does bring intrigue, mystery, and varying degrees of horror to readers. 

The cover is also beautiful, and while one should never judge a book by its cover, this book does look absolutely gorgeous on my shelf. I would recommend it. If you like ghost stories and mysteries then I’m sure you will find something that you love within this collection. I also love a collection like this because I do enjoy short stories, I like snippets of something that could have been longer, but kept me guessing and reading a book like The Haunting Season allows readers to enjoy eight different intriguing stories, and what better time to read ghost stories than in October? 

Do you have a favourite ghost story? I’d love to hear it. 

Kate xo. 

Through the Looking-Glass.

Hello everyone. I am publishing my March’s Book Of The Month discussion later than intended, but let’s dive right in.

Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass takes place months after the events of Alice in Wonderland.

In this book, readers follow Alice to another magical world as this time she takes a step through her mirror (the looking glass) to a world where everything is inverted. If Alice wants to get somewhere, she must walk away from it rather than towards, left is right, etc.

The novel is also written in the third-person, and once again Carroll’s writing is very direct. This novel is filled with poems all about the passage of time and the loss of youth and some of them are rather poignant. This novel includes the famous verse entitled Jabberwocky, which I will be talking about in a discussion all on it’s own because it is one of my favourite poems. I absolutely love the use of nonsense verse, and I will be discussing nonsense writing and its importance at a later date. I think this book is more challenging to read, for example at times the text is backwards. This use of placement on the pages is interesting. Alice must read backwards, therefore the text is backwards, so readers have the same struggle as Alice. When we must read backwards, our actions mirror Alice’s, who has stepped through a mirror so the idea and the symbolism of the mirror becomes really interesting and in my opinion, quite complex.

There is the idea that literature mirrors reality. I talk about this a lot, as after all so much art reflects life. Alice steps through a mirror into a world where everything is backwards, yet the injustice and pointlessness and the cruelties that Alice must contend with can be argued to mirror the injustices that one must face when they grow up, because adulthood and reality is unfortunately filled with things that are not fair. Cruelty exists, inequality exists, lack of control over our own choices exist. So it is very interesting that this nonsensical world mirrors the injustices of the real world and then at times our actions while reading mirror Alice’s so the whole reading experience is very immersive.

I think that Through the Looking-Glass is darker than Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know if this was Carroll’s intention. I think sometimes that Carroll intended to write a nonsensical fantasy novel about a curious girl and her curious nature is celebrated, and ever since readers and scholars have analysed this work and created interpretation after interpretation because the nonsense and the wondrous nature of the book has inspired curiosity. The fact that this is a book that celebrates wonder and in fact lends itself to endless interpretations is quite funny, and perhaps that was the intention, perhaps Carroll wanted people to endlessly question. So while the intentions of Carroll are impossible to know, I do think that his works can be discussed at great length, and I think that some of the discussions can be quite complex.

I love the idea of fate in Through the Looking-Glass. I love the idea of the chess board. I think that the chess board is very symbolic. I think the chess board by itself could be the heart of many discussions and interpretations. I see the chess board as a metaphor for how in life, each move we make determines our next one. This can be negative or positive depending on how you view it. One can question Alice’s choice. If she was always meant to play this game of chess, then did she have any control over the moves she made or did she do what she was always destined to do?

Spoiler below:

I think that Alice’s journey is quite an empowering one, because she plays the game of chess but she moves from pawn to Queen. This, in my opinion, demonstrates her journey from child to adult. She has matured, she is more sure of herself, she has learned a lot and she is using her newfound knowledge to improve her next move.

I think that Alice in Wonderland will always be my favourite work by Lewis Carroll. I loved it when I was young. I love the movie adaptations. I love the text. I always go back to it, it is surrounded in nostalgia, so the conclusion that I have come to is that Alice in Wonderland will always be one of my beloved childhood texts but I think that Kate in her twenties prefers Through the Looking-Glass.

Read Through the Looking-Glass if you haven’t already and then tell me which text you prefer.

Kate xo.

Alice in Wonderland.

Hello everyone. I am sharing discussions that I have written a while ago now, but I have not been publishing discussions regularly in a while. Things have been extremely busy, and I am attempting to find a new schedule that works for me, as for a while now the things that I love have been put on the back burner.

February’s Book Of The Month was Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and I have had this discussion written in part for a while, but I am finally publishing it now. This discussion will be followed by a discussion about Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass as that was March’s Book Of The Month.

I will be back on track for April, and my next book discussion will be published at the end of the month as usual.

Let’s dive into Wonderland.

In this novel, readers go on a journey with Alice down the rabbit hole to a strange world where logic and wonder seems quite absurd, and all of the characters we meet seem quite peculiar. Alice must navigate her way through this strange place, in order to find her way home again.

I think that it goes without saying that one of the most obvious themes in this book is the theme of growing up. Alice experiences many changes in Wonderland, she shrinks, she grows, she must identify herself, and at times she struggles to identify herself for she has changed so much. I think this idea of identifying oneself is very universal, because everyone must grow up and leave childhood behind, and discovering who we are, and what we want to do, and the kind of person we want to be is very challenging.

This novel was written in a time when there was a new importance placed upon the significance and innocence of childhood. Childhood was starting to be viewed as unique and important, because once you lose that childhood innocence, it is almost impossible to recapture it, and in fact many children’s texts focus on this idea of trying to recapture the unadulterated magic of childhood.

Carroll celebrates curiosity and wonder. Alice is a very open and innocent child. She follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole simply because she wants to know about him, he has grasped her attention. Alice questions everything in Wonderland, because the rules and logic confuse her, and at times, things seem unjust. I think that Alice in Wonderland can be talked about in many different ways. I think that Alice’s curiosity can be said to represent the natural curiosity that most, if not all, children possess. Alice’s questioning can reflect how children will question the rules that adults live by, as when you are a child, the rules of adults can be confusing, sometimes they don’t make sense at all, and in fact, sometimes the rules that adults live by can be arbitrary and even pointless. It is important to have rules, but it also important that the rules in place make sense and that they serve a purpose, rather than having rules just to have rules.

Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole could also be interpreted as a metaphor for the quest for knowledge. Alice goes on a physical journey and she learns so much, but sometimes one must go on a mental journey, and undertake a lot of research, and metaphorically take a trip down the rabbit hole in order to expand one’s knowledge.

Sometimes I think the only way to learn is to question, and if you are passionate about something then you will naturally ask more questions. More questions lead to more answers, which then lead to more questions. The more you understand, the more you want to know, which is why I will always strive to be a curious person.

Carroll’s writing style is whimsical and engaging. Carroll’s work showcases the importance of literary nonsense and his work can be very funny. His work is also very interesting to read as it is full of riddles. Carroll has written Alice in Wonderland in the third-person, and I find that most of his sentences are direct and straight to the point. The opening line brings readers directly into the story. The novel opens and Alice is fed up of sitting beside her reading sister, and as she is deciding how to cure her boredom, the White Rabbit runs by her and grabs her attention. The book takes us to Wonderland, a place full of twists and turns, but the writing itself is direct and easy to follow.

I love Alice in Wonderland. I always have. I think I love it because to this day I still love to ask why? I love the fantasy nonsense. I love books that take readers somewhere else. I love the richness and curiousness of Wonderland. I love each strange and eccentric character we meet. I love that Alice’s curious mind is celebrated and I love the sense of wonder that this story inspires.

This is a classic for a reason and I would highly recommend it.

Kate xo.

February’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Apologies because I’ve been a bit missing in action lately here on February has been an extremely busy month, but I am back now and there is so much to come.

It took me some time to decide which book I wanted to focus on this month and because I’ve had so much going on I hadn’t had the chance to properly sit down and read anything, but I have finally decided that this month I am going to discuss Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Feel free to read along with me.

Have you read Alice in Wonderland? Do you consider it a children’s classic? I consider it a classic in general, not just a children’s classic, but I will touch on this in my discussion at the end of the month.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone and I hope that you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day tomorrow if you choose to celebrate it.

Kate xo.

A snap of my beautiful edition of Alice in Wonderland. I just love how gorgeous this book looks on my shelf.

The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works.

Hello everyone. Happy February. If you’ve been following all of my updates here on, then you’ll already know that I decided to read The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works and discuss this collection as January’s Book Of The Month. 

I chose to read a selection of short stories because I wanted to explore more of Oscar Wilde’s work, but I also felt that a collection of short stories would be a good choice to read through in January as it can be a long, busy month after Christmas. 

Firstly, I will say that I really enjoyed reading the collection and if you are a fan of Oscar Wilde then I think a collection like this is a really lovely collector’s item. I’m very glad that I bought it as it is a welcome addition to my classics collection. 

As this is a collection of stories rather than just one text, I’ve decided that I’m going to take a moment to talk about Oscar Wilde’s writing style in general, before I move on to focus on one story from the collection that stood out as I was reading. 

Wilde is often described as a very memorable person, someone who was expressive and very witty and I think that his wit and clever use of word play can be easily pointed out in The Importance of Being Earnest, which is my favourite Wilde play. Wilde is a very imaginative writer, he describes things very vividly and very beautifully, I think that his language is often poetic at times. Wilde also uses paradox very often, and I think that some of his writing can be read through an almost sarcastic lens as he was very often making comments about the society that he lived in, this social commentary can be found again if one looks to The Importance of Being Earnest. I plan to discuss this play in more detail at a later date. 

I really enjoyed reading through this collection because some of the descriptions he has written are extremely beautiful, even if they are morbid. I think that I actually enjoyed the saddest paragraphs the most because I was so moved by his words. I think that Wilde was a real master of the English language, he was able to use words in such a precise way that they really paint a very vivid picture in one’s mind. 

The story that stood out to me when I was reading this collection is entitled The Nightingale and The Rose

This story stood out to me because in my opinion, I think that this story highlights the clash between English Literature and more so-called “serious” subjects. When I was in secondary school, there was this idea that English class was “only English”. I think it is a subject that people don’t take seriously unless they enjoy it. I think that this can happen quite a lot where people who do not study or do not enjoy the arts have this idea that it’s “only” music, and I can only speak from my own experience but I always felt that maths, science, and business were given more respect than English, music, and art. I think there’s still an idea that exists where if you like the arts, you can often be told to choose a more serious or more realistic topic. I would like to clarify that I respect all subjects and all professions. I think it is amazing that we have so many options about what to study. If someone loves working with numbers and chooses to pursue maths or science then I say good for them, but I think that you will hear someone say “it’s only English” more often than you would hear someone say “it’s only science” or “it’s only business”. 

The Nightingale and The Rose is about a student who wishes to woo his love interest with a red rose. Only a red rose will do. A little nightingale loves the student, she loves his wish for love, she wishes to help him woo his love so she gives her life so that he may have the reddest rose of all, because the rose was formed from her music and stained with her heart. The nightingale gave herself in song, she created something utterly beautiful, she gave her all, but the student didn’t appreciate it. The student dismissed her singing because singing “does no practical good”. 

The rose is formed and the student is overjoyed as he will finally win over his love, but the girl does not care for the rose, another boy has given her jewels so the beauty of the rose no longer impresses her. The student is hurt by her ungratefulness and he throws the rose to the ground, and then he returns to his books. He returns to studying mathematics and philosophy, newly determined in his belief that love is a silly thing for there is no logic in it, and logic rules all. 

The student knows nothing of the nightingale’s sacrifice. He does not know that she gave her life for him, he still believes her to be a selfish creature that only cares about her song. The nightingale’s sacrifice was for nothing because the student, nor his love, appreciated it. 

I found this story to be extremely poignant. Art is such an important medium of self expression, as is poetry, as is music, and when one is an artistic person, so much of oneself goes into our art. It is our passion, it is so important, and when we sing or paint or write, we give something of ourselves. So when one dismisses the arts, they are also dismissing the artist because it can be a deeply personal thing. 

I interpreted this to be a story about how much artists give to creativity and how disappointing it is when someone does not see the value in one’s work. I was so frustrated by the student. I wish he knew that the nightingale had given her all for him so he could at least appreciate her, but I know the point is that he didn’t. 

Obviously there are many ways that one could interpret this story. One could think about the dangers of giving up one’s entire being for love, and this is a valid point. This short story serves as a reminder that while it is okay to love someone and be in love, you should never give up your own self worth or individuality for that person. You can be in love while retaining your own sense of self and individuality. 

I think that this story can prompt thoughts about love and how we show love. This student was determined to win over his love by presenting her with the most beautiful red rose. He thought if he could give her this rose then she would dance with him at the ball and all would be well, but she didn’t appreciate his gift. She wanted more, she was far more impressed by jewels, and perhaps it is a message about how one shouldn’t be so obsessed with physical things. Love should be about kindness and respect and the connection one has with another person, not about trinkets but I think Wilde could have been making an observation about society. To this day, many people are preoccupied with physical things and wealth rather than genuine connections. 

Overall, I think this is a really poignant short story that can be discussed from many different angles and it can be interpreted in many different ways. It is beautifully written by Wilde as it is so descriptive and imaginative that even the saddest of moments are still beautiful to read. It felt almost lyrical and I really enjoyed it. 

If you have not read much of Oscar Wilde’s work then I would highly recommend starting with The Nightingale and The Rose. 

This has been January’s Book Of The Month. I hope you enjoyed this discussion. 

Have you read much of Oscar Wilde’s work? Let me know. 

Kate xo.

January’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. Happy January. It is a new year. I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2022.

I am looking forward to moving onwards and upwards this year.

I’ve just shared on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), that January’s #bookofthemonth is The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works.

This is book is a beautiful collector’s item that I bought myself before Christmas because when I saw it I fell in love with it. It is a collection of some of Wilde’s greatest works including poems and children’s works and it also contains beautiful illustrations.

I thought that this would be a lovely book to make my way through during the month of January even though it is a collection of different works rather than just one novel. The fact is that January will be a very busy month for me, as I am sure it will be for lots of people, and I have mentioned before how the appeal of shorter stories is that you can still enjoy reading beautiful pieces even if you don’t have loads of spare time. I also am a fan of Oscar Wilde and so I am looking forward to reading some classic literature as some of these works I have read already, but some are new to me.

Are you a fan of Oscar Wilde? If so, what is your favourite of his works? I’d love to know.

Do you like longer novels or are you a fan of a short story?

Kate xo.

A snap of this beautiful book.

A Christmas Carol.

Hello everyone. Happy New Year’s Eve.

I wanted to make sure that I published my #bookofthemonth discussion before we entered the month of January so let’s dive in because I am talking about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I want to take a moment, just like I did when I was discussing The Great Gatsby, to acknowledge the cultural significance of A Christmas Carol. I think that this is a story that has become automatically associated with Christmas time, and Charles Dickens does take some credit for highlighting the importance of generosity and kindness at Christmas time in this novel. This is a story that has been adapted so many times, there is a musical version, there is the amazing Muppets version, there are parodies of this story, there are episodes of many tv shows where a selfish character goes on a journey much like Scrooge does, so this text is really very important. It teaches such a valuable lesson and I think it is a text that everyone should read at least once. I say that about a lot of texts, because I think so many are brilliant, but if I had to pick just one to say this about then I would say that everyone should have to read A Christmas Carol because of what is in this text.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge that Charles Dickens was not just a writer, he was a social critic. He used his novels, fiction and journalism to critique the society that he lived in. He highlighted some of the worst aspects of human nature. He spoke about poverty, workhouses, hypocrisy, domestic violence, child abuse, he did not shy away from the dark realties of society and he held a mirror up to society and said we must fix these problems, people cannot and should not live like this, and he does this again in A Christmas Carol.

I am going to take a moment to talk about the style of Dickens. Dickens is a detailed writer. His books are dense, he is very descriptive, in fact I would say that his use of description is so detailed that it allows for very vivid images to be created, and some of them are hard to read but that is the point. He does not shy away from the gritty details. Dickens describes them fully and he makes readers face those issues. Dickens is also what I would call a character writer. I think he is one of the best authors when it comes to creating vivid, well-rounded, different characters who jump off the page. The three characters that immediately spring to mind when I think of Dickens are Fagin and Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. There are of course other characters that I love but these three are the first three that always pop into my mind and I think it is because these three are so iconic. Bill Sikes is arguably one of Dickens’ darkest characters and I would argue that Scrooge is famous because of his character arc.

So let’s talk about that arc. Scrooge goes through major emotional development in this novel and he is a changed man by the end of the novel and this is crucial because if Scrooge stayed the same, then the events of the entire novel would have been for nothing.

When we meet Scrooge he is a coldhearted man. The only thing Scrooge cares about is money. He does not care that he has no relationship with his only family members, his nephew and his wife, he does not care that he has no friends, he does not care about his employees and he certainly does not care about the poor. He begrudgingly gives Bob Cratchit the day off for Christmas. He outright refuses to donate any money to the poor. He coldly declares that the poor belong in workhouses and if they would rather die than go to a workhouse then they better hurry up and die.

Scrooge is haunted that night by the ghost of his dead partner Marley. Marley is a striking character because he is a tormented ghost who is bound by locks and chains. He warns Scrooge that he wears the chains in death that he forged in life and that unless Scrooge starts to change his selfish ways, he too will wear chains in death as he is forging them in life.

There is an image that I love in this book and it is a moment when Scrooge looks out his window and he sees that the street is full of tormented ghosts, all of them are bound in chains. All of the ghosts are trying to help a homeless woman who is shivering on the street with her baby but it is too late. They sneered at her and refused to help her in life, and now they cannot help her in death because the chains have already been forged. They have seen the error of their ways too late and now Scrooge is going to be haunted by three ghosts. The ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmases yet to come because unless he changes his ways, he too will be a tormented ghost, chained and bound by every cruel decision he’s ever made.

The main themes in A Christmas Carol are poverty, the importance of compassion, and the idea of examining one’s moral compass. Dickens always writes about working-class people in a good light. He reminded wealthy people in his time that poor people were people too and they deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. Scrooge does not view the poor as people until he goes on this journey with the three ghosts, he sees all the things he has lost because of his own greed and he is filled with regret.

The most striking image in the novel is in the ghost of Christmas present section when the ghost shows Scrooge two starving, ragged, sickly looking children. Scrooge is appalled by the sight of them. He asks who do the children belong to and the ghost responds by telling him that they are man’s children. This means that they are children of society. Dickens never shied away from discussing the fact that adults were not the only people to suffer, innocent children suffered too, children who could not help the families that they were born into, children who did nothing to deserve such hard lives and such disdain and the key thing to remember is that every poor adult was once a poor child and Scrooge is horrified when the ghost throws his own words back at him and asks are there no workhouses for these children? He throws back Scrooge’s words about how if they are going to die then they should hurry up and do it, and Scrooge cannot bear to hear or see anymore. He becomes even more appalled when he sees that Bob’s son, Tiny Tim is likely to die and for the first time ever, Scrooge cares about the people around him and he cares about something more than money.

It is at times quite a scathing text. The aim of it was to prick the conscience of upper-class readers, because many of them likely shared Scrooge’s original attitude. It is easy to look the other way and scoff at those who you deem beneath you, but when you are confronted with the image of children who are dying, children whom you could have helped, it is not so easy to look away and Scrooge learns that if he continues to look the other way then chains await him in death so the novel ends with his change of heart.

The change of heart is key to the success of Scrooge’s character. If he did not learn a lesson then his journey through the past, present and future would have been for nothing. It is a heartwarming tale despite the harsh realities of the poor that are highlighted. It is at times hard to read, but that is what makes it so important in my opinion because poverty is not a Dickens era problem, it still exists, as does homelessness, as does greed, and it is so important to remember that we must be compassionate, we must treat others how we would wish to be treated ourselves, we must understand that when we are ruled by greed, we lose so much, it is important to be thankful for how fortunate we are, and we must always remember that those who are less fortunate than ourselves are people who are still worthy of kindness, decency, and respect. No matter what our job or role in life, everyone is entitled to kindness and respect and everyone’s basic needs should be met.

If you have read or watched A Christmas Carol, tell me what your favourite version is, what is your favourite scene etc, I’d love to know.

This has been December’s Book Of The Month.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone.

Kate xo.

December’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all keeping well. I am a little late announcing this month’s #bookofthemonth and that is because it has been an extremely busy few days and I was still deciding which novel I wanted to sit down with in December.

I have made my choice and if you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you’ll have just seen my latest grid post, revealing that December’s #bookofthemonth is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I have chosen this classic text because I love the works of Charles Dickens. I have studied the work of Dickens in great detail, I have written a dissertation about his works and A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite texts. I think it is a very important text. I think it is a text that everyone should read at least once. The text has become somewhat synonymous with Christmas time, this is something that I will discuss in my review, along with all of the other reasons why I love this text at the end of the month.

So please feel free to read along with me and enjoy the work of Dickens this December.

Have you read A Christmas Carol? Are you a fan of Dickens? Let me know.

Kate xo.

My beautiful Christmas edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.