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Book Review: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
A-Tiny-Bit-Marvellous-Dawn-French A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French is Dawn’s first attempt at fiction after her hugely successful autobiographical book Dear Fatty.

Written in the form of a dairy we are introduced to the Battle family: Mo about to turn 50 years old, a child psychologist who doesn’t understand her own children; Dora about to turn 18 years old, who is very strong willed – yet lacks confidence in herself; Peter the baby of the family who has a strange obsession with Oscar Wilde; Dad…who’s just dad and Poo their dog.

In the first few chapters we learn more about the family. Mo, it seems is noticing her age. She feels that she has a dull, grey, boring life and has a poor relationship with her children. The trouble is that she doesn’t understand them. Speaking to Dora seems to always lead to an argument and Peter is simply obsessed with Oscar Wilde. To make matters worse she barely speaks to her husband these days, let alone have any quality time together. She begins to wonder if in need she still loves him.

Dora on the other hand uses the term “like” an awful lot, so much so that she does seem fictional. Dora hates Mo with a passion, as she doesn’t get her. Dora has big dreams but is not sure how to achieve them.

Peter aka Oscar Wilde actually thinks he is Oscar at times and this makes for hilarious reading. He is the stereo typical geek, having his own private club with his friends at school. The password for entry to the club meetings is usually sometime academic. Despite his eccentricity you do come to love Peter and find that he is young, exploring his sexuality – being attracted to men rather than women.

Then Noel comes into Mo’s life. A mature student studying to become a child psychologist Mo is shocked to discovered that he is attracted to her. Mo, attracted to the excitement and attention of a younger man begins to explore this potential relationship. However at the same time, Peter also likes him. Peter persuades Mo to allow him to have therapy with Neol around his Oscar Wilde fixation. However when Peter attempts to kiss Noel, therapy is abruptly ended by a jealous Mo.

Meanwhile Dora has met someone online who “gets her.” The book continues to reveal the story and from this point your hooked. As the book comes towards the end it is revealed that Noel never liked Mo at all. He used her to try and get close to Dora. Dad steps in and plays hero, fights Noel and banishes him back from where he came.

The story is well written and the twist at the end is unpredictable. The characters write their diaries in their own voice and feel real. However for me there was too much emphasis on Mo and Dora’s relationship, poor Dad the hero of the story isn’t even given a name. This is not surprising as Dawn often talks in interviews about her relationship with her daughter and you know what they say – write what you know.

On a personal level though, it was nice to see Peter aka Oscar get together with one of his friends who’d always liked him towards the end.

Over all it has some laughs in it and is a good first novel. Dawn engages you well and you become fascinated by the different characters perception of events.

You can buy A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French on Amazon.

Blog soon,

Antony

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Book Review: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

By Books & Authors, History, Reviews4 Comments
Diary-of-a-Young-Girl-by-Anne-Frank

I remember being at school in that history class, the desks lined up facing the front. The old floor wooden, worn and dusty. The view from the third floor windows down to the concrete playground. And yet, I never really found myself looking out of the windows wishing to be elsewhere. Why? History fascinated me. We had one of those great teachers who was so enthusiastic about her subject. Yet despite this my memory of what we covered isn’t great.

However I remember seeing clips of a film about the Anne Frank Story, perhaps we watched it all, I don’t remember. But I recently remembered bits of the story from class and wanted to learn more about Anne Frank. So I bought and have recently finished reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

The Frank family were Jews at the time the second World War started. They along with another family had the foresight to hide from the German authorities. They knew from German propaganda that the authorities were blaming Jews for the problems the country had. They also knew it would not be long before they faced persecution if they didn’t hide. The Frank family went in to hiding in The Secret Annex, which is the place Anne Started to write her diary.

Anne starts off by introducing herself and explaining she wants a friend that she can write to and tell her deepest thoughts. She names this friend ‘Kitty’. Then she begins to write regular dated letters always starting “Dear Kitty”. These entries start by covering a lot about her family, the food they eat, the other family in the Annex and how they get on (or not).

You continue to read on through the diary and you start to see that this was a very intelligent girl. She self analyses, shares her dreams (of being a writer) and a huge driver in her life is to improve herself. As her body begins the transformation from girl to young woman she writes about the changes she is under going both physically and emotionally. She starts to get frustrated with her parents, they don’t understand her; she starts to have feelings for the boy who lives upstairs Peter. You begin to connect with her and remember your own adolescence, the dreams you had and your first crush.

Throughout The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Anne keeps you informed on what is going on in the war and what the families living in the Annex think it means for them. Anne discloses how her paralysing fear gets the best of her at times and she reflects on how lucky she is to still be alive. She often thinks about her friends from life before the Annex and wonders what’s happened to them.

Although in the war things are going well, Britain and the other Allies are making progress; things worsen at the Annex. The are break ins at the factory below The Secret Annex, the food is poor with little nutritional value and toileting is limited. But at least they are alive with renewed hope that British and other Allied troops will soon be at their rescue. And then the diary ends.

Throughout the diary I looked for those famous words “In spite of everything, I still believe there’s good in people.” But I never found them.

The Afterword explaining the details of the families discovery in The Secret Annex by the authorities and what happened to the the two families members individually as well as their hiders. The conclusion also covers what’s happened historically since then. Otto Frank (Anne’s Father) deciding to publish the diary, the diary selling well, the house of The Secret Annex being saved from demolition and becoming more than a museum. Become a place were people can learn tolerance, in the hopes nothing like this ever happens again.

The Afterword explains that the famous quote (above) was actually said by Otto in a news paper interview after the diary had been published.

I felt that I knew Anne after reading her intimate diary and that she displayed the true spirit of humanity. The true spirit of humanity consisting compassion, hope and love on all levels. That through dark and tough times we should keep these good aspects of humanity and know that we will come out of the dark times stronger. The book is a aids as a reminder of the mass genocide that happened during the war and that intolerance breeds the conditions that would be necessary in order for mass genocide to happen again.

You can buy The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank on Amazon.

Write soon,

Antony

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