Book Review: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

A few of weeks ago, my colleague said she had been chatting with a friend about an amazing book.  She said this friend really recommended reading it and had mentioned that it had a particularly compelling plot.  At the time, I was still stuck in ‘Byron-land’ and as much as I wanted to read this book, I knew that my attention was fully occupied with the divine George Gordon and therefore I mentally added to my ‘to read’ list.  Imagine my joy when, upon walking into my local library yesterday, the first book I laid eyes upon was the very novel we had been discussing…

The Book of You by Claire Kendal is a thriller and to be honest, it’s not a genre I am usually drawn to.  However, I literally could not put this book down last night and even found myself waking up early just so I could finish it before I headed out to my dance class at 9:30am.  The plot centres around a female protagonist called Clarissa who is being stalked and intimidated by her colleague, Rafe.  She finds herself called up for jury service and is relieved, knowing that it will remove her from his presence – even if just for a short while.  It is announced that the trial will run over a 7 week period and, during that time, Clarissa begins to see frightening parallels between her own experiences and that of the female victim.

Using both the first person diary format and the third person description of events means that Kendal is able to interweave the complexities of the situation with Clarissa’s own inner voice.  This results in the reader being in the position of both observer and confidante, which mirrors somewhat Clarissa’s position as juror.  Kendal crafts the narrative in a way that makes the final encounter between Clarissa and Rafe inevitable yet when it arrives, the shocking impact is successfully maintained.  There’s also a twist at the end but of course, I won’t reveal that…

There are elements of the narrative that are uncomfortable to read and some that are upsetting and harrowing.  The thematic links drawn between fairy tales and Clarissa’s experiences also lead you to question just how unsettling these well-known tales really are!

It’s rather difficult for me to pose the usual set of book group discussion questions here as in doing so, I may inadvertently give away too much of the plot.  I feel that it won’t be long before a film studio snaps up this book (indeed, they may already have done so!) and perhaps in this instance, a good starting point for discussion could centre around the casting of the characters.  Clarissa, for example, requires an actress who can effectively convey her vulnerable fragility alongside her inner strength.  Who would you choose?

My library copy of The Book of You by Clare Kendal ready to be reviewed...

My library copy of The Book of You by Claire Kendal…ready to be reviewed…

I’m back!

It feels like an absolute age since I last sat down and blogged – in reality it’s been 20 days since I posted my charity shop haul.  I’ve had a manic few weeks but as things have finally started to settle down, I wanted to catch-up and let you know what I’ve been up to…

Well, top on the list has been studying.  I finally finished my Byron essay, after spending most of Christmas and the New Year working on  it.  I could easily still be sat here now working on it as I’m never happy but I got it finished and sent off last week.  It’s all about waiting for the results now…fingers crossed!

studying MA

I’ve spent MANY hours sat at the computer typing away…

Seeing as I couldn’t commit to blogging during this time, I’ve mostly been adding little bits here and there on twitter and Instagram.  I really love the visual nature of Instagram and it appeals to the wannabe photographer in me!

I’ve made a number of new charity shop purchases and have set myself a little challenge for this year.  With the exception of items such as underwear and socks, I’m going to attempt to only buy clothes from charity shops and vintage markets this year.  So far so good, although I am hankering after a T-shirt in New Look that says ‘Skint’ on it as it pretty much describes me at the moment!

After finishing my essay, I went to my local library and got out a load of books.  I’ve read two and am currently working through a third one at the moment.  I’m also reading a biography of the poet John Clare as I want to write my MA dissertation on him.  If you haven’t heard of or read any Clare, he’s a Romantic period contemporary of Byron and Keats. He had little formal education, wrote mainly about country life and sadly, spent many years in asylums.  For me, his poetry is a sheer delight – lyrical, beautiful and poignant.

I’ve also joined a Pilates class and I am loving it!  I don’t go to the gym because I genuinely don’t enjoy the atmosphere; I much prefer exercising on my own or in small classes like this.  I also intend to start running again from next week but most likely on the treadmill as it’s currently very cold here!

I’ve taken part in two new year challenges.  Firstly, I took part in the 14 day #ProjectPositive Instagram challenge with Anastasia Amour.  for the first 14 days of January, I posted images that related to the different topics set.  It was great fun and I got to ‘meet’ some lovely new people and to think about myself in a different light.  Do go and check out Anastasia’s blog – she’s all about empowering women to be more body confident and positive – a lovely lady too!

Secondly, I’ve been decluttering…big time!  My lovely new friend at Pauper to Princess has been running a January declutter challenge whereby you get rid of one item on the 1st, two on the 2nd etc., all the way up to thirty-one items on the 31st.  To be honest, I cannot tell you have much I’ve got rid of but it’s standing at a few sacks so far!

onesies charity

These onesies have gone to charity

books charity

Books I’ve read have either gone to charity or to friends

de-clutter challenge

I’ve been passing on old magazines to friends

I think that just about covers my January so far.  I hope you are all well and have been making the most of this month!

Rainy day reading

I decided to make today a reading day.  It’s been raining pretty much all day and it’s starting to get really cold so I didn’t need much convincing to stay inside and catch up with some reading for my MA.

I’ve now read this biography of Byron (last week’s charity shop purchase) from cover to cover.  Although the author’s writing style feels a little dated, it has certainly been useful in filling in the gaps in my knowledge regarding Byron’s life.

Byron biography

Byron biography

It’s always worth checking through the books in charity shops as you can often find a little treasure like this.


It’s raining? That’s ok…

IMG_1773.JPGUsually, I get down in the dumps when faced with a wet and windy day.  By definition, I call days like today ‘miserable’ and make the assumption that they are a bit or a write-off.  This got me thinking:  if I alter my perceptions of the bad weather, perhaps the nature of the day will improve?  Well, I didn’t manage to stop it raining but I did come up with five good reasons why a rainy day isn’t such a bad thing…

1.  It’s actually quite relaxing to hear the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the roof or the window.  Now obviously, this is best heard whilst tucked up in bed and not just before you’re about to set off to work on foot because the car won’t start (yes that was me last week!).

2.  Anything ‘outdoorsy’ that you do accomplish feels akin to climbing Everest.  Trudging through town this morning, weighed down by bags of veg (for the guineas & the rabbits), wood shavings and straw (for the rabbits), and then subsequently cleaning out the rabbits’ hutch made me feel like an intrepid explorer.  I’m not daunted by a little bit of rain!

3.  I can’t complain that my hair looks flat/thin/wispy.  It doesn’t.  It’s massive.  I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards – and that some of the hedge is still lodged in there – but hair is definitely anything but flat!

4.  It’s totally acceptable to eat a ‘hearty’ lunch and by that I mean one that contains lots of veg…and gravy…nom.

5.  It’s also totally acceptable to sit in a comfy chair, with the heating on and read.  I do a lot of reading for my MA and today was just the right day to start getting my head round Don Juan.  Byron is actually bloody funny!

I’m not saying I want every day to be a rainy one because believe me, I don’t!  But once in a while, I guess it’s ok.