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Book Review

Books Review
Text Sophie Larder

World Without End Ken Follet

Eighteen years after his bestselling epic tale, The Pillars of the Earth, captivated readers, Ken Follet has just released the eagerly anticipated sequel, World Without End. Set in the same cathedral town of Kingsbridge, the story begins two centuries later in the fourteenth century. The teenage king Edward II is on the throne having replaced his mother, Isabella, about whom rumors persist that she and her lover killed her husband, Edward I. Yet the royal intrigues are merely a mysterious backdrop to the realistic down-to-earth characters who grab our attention immediately.

On the day after Halloween, in the year 1327, four children who we follow through the course of the tale into adulthood, meet for the first time while sneaking away from the cathedral. As any person who has ever heard a fairy tale on their grandmothers knee will tell you, no good ever comes to children who enter a forbidden forest. And our heroes, the clever Merthin, his psychopathic younger brother Ralf, the natural leader Caris and the child thief Gwenda rapidly find out. Their lives are shaped, first by meeting each other and secondly by the strange and violent events that occur after this meeting. These are the characters the story centers upon, as they journey into adulthood following the course ordained for them from birth. like the poverty stricken Gwenda and the psychopathic squire Ralf. Merthin and Caris, inexpressibly drawn together from childhood, cast their own unique courses.

The characters find themselves caught in the central battle of Kingsbridge, between the ruling elite of monks of the Kingsbridge priory and the town guild of aldermen and craftsmen. It is a time of changing ideas and massive upheavals, as one disaster after another strike the town culminating in the greatest disaster of all, the Great Plague. The characters must battle for their own survival against the strict and narrow-minded dogmas of the church, as well as against some of the ambitiously corrupt men who are the monks and moral leaders of the city.

A wonderful page-turner and ripping yarn that will keep you enthralled throughout.

Becoming Jane

An enchanting biopic of one of Englands most beloved authors, Becoming Jane is loosely based on the younger life of Jane Austen, author of classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park.

The film focuses on the young Jane Austen, a completely wilful free spirit and vivacious and creative young writer, whose life as she becomes older is increasingly constrained by the values and expectations of Georgian England. Marriage to a man of means is the aim of a young womans life; a concept that the young Jane (American Anne Hathaway) finds it difficult to deal with. Passion strikes eventually in the unexpected person of arrogant, worldlywise Irish student of the law Tom LeFroy (James McAvoy). Choices and sacrifices must be made and the ending is truly poignant, giving credit to the young actors in the starring roles.

The film is a veritable whos who of British cinema. Julie Walters is superb as Janes irrepressible matchmaker of a mother and Maggie Smith stars as the evilly misguided Lady Gresham. The young stars shine in their roles, and do exceptionally well when portraying the older versions of their characters at the end of the film.

Austen fans will appreciate the constant parallels between Pride and Prejudice and moments in the authors life. Jane is a veritable copy of Elizabeth Bennet at her most wilful, while the tale of two sisters disappointed in love will strike a chord. Maggie Smiths character is an early prototype of the classic Lady Catherine de Burgh. Georgian manners, society and the more down-to-earth life of the era are portrayed in more depth than any Austen story, and will grip viewers with the films attention to detail.

This is a memorable film that is not necessarily historically accurate yet nevertheless provides an enchanting view of Georgian life and Jane Austens early years and influences.

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