‘A Place Called Winter’ by Patrick Gale | Florence G

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

Throughout this novel Harry’s story is told simply, without embellishment, yet with beautifully descriptive writing, detailing the wilderness both surrounding Harry and within him as he searches to belong somewhere and with someone.

‘To find yourself sometimes you must lose everything’

This book is a frank look at sexuality and the battle of self-acceptance in a less enlightened time. It is a story that is both harsh and soft-edged, a bittersweet mixture, a story that doesn’t flinch from the truth.

You really feel like you are there with Harry during all he goes through and with those he meets along the way.

A Place Called Winter was first published in early 2015 by acclaimed author, Patrick Gale. This novel was Patrick’s sixteenth book. The character of Harry Cane is loosely based on Patrick’s grandfather, who, for some unknown reason, fled to Canada. Partick has referenced many books that inspired him to write A Place Called Winter but the book that has always stood out to him when thinking about influences is the classical love story Maurice by E.M.Forster. A Place Called Winter was also shortlisted for the Costa Prize in 2015.

I recommend this book to people that are above the age of fourteen because of some upsetting scenes.

“He was not a scholar – his brain seemed too sluggish or too dreamy to grasp the things demanded of it – but he was never happier than when left alone among books, and would spend hours turning the pages of atlases, novels or tales from history, alive to the alternative versions of himself they seemed to proffer.”

“Bad men you want to kiss are the worst; he had only to use the right tone of voice and you offered your throat to the knife.”

Both taken from A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Image Link: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71noXpH2KLL.jpg (20/03/21)

Paperbacks Vs EBooks | Lexy D

In 2011, it was feared paperback books would die out forever. However, in early 2017, the paperback made a comeback, outselling ebooks and e-readers. The sale of paperbacks grew by 4%, while ebook sales shrank by the same amount. This is believed to be down to an increase in price for ebooks, making them less affordable compared to paper books than they were when they first came out. In 2011, ebook downloads overtook paper book sales on Amazon, which developers had hoped would happen eventually, but never expected to happen so quickly.

Studies have shown that the paperback revival has been fuelled by the younger generations. Many children’s books, the kind that would typically be read to a toddler by their parent, just don’t have the same reading experience while on an e-reader as they do in physical form. 16 – 24 year olds have also said they prefer physical books to ebooks, saying they “like to hold the product”. It is also believed that, since teenagers live in a digitally dominated world, the opportunity to read a book in print instead of on a phone or e-reader gives them a chance to escape from the digital world. When a student’s eyes get tired, whether from revising or using social media, it is a lot more appealing to pick up a paperback instead of another screen. Paperback books provide downtime when people, and their eyes, get tired.

Books make an easy present for anyone. A book can be found and packaged up easily while staying a surprise to the recipient. A physical gift is much more satisfying to receive than a digital download code, saying that someone has bought you a book. Physical books also offer the ability for the reader to easily see how far through they are. Physically seeing how far through you are instead of just reading a percentage written in the corner of a screen appears to be much more satisfying to read. It gives a quick and easy idea of how much is left.

Reading comes with a whole experience, from going along the bookshelves to choose the book, sitting on the floor of a bookstore reading the first few pages, and then tearing a page as you turn it too quickly. You don’t get all of this with ebooks. And I may be alone in this, but books have a very special smell, which again just isn’t the same with ebooks.

So it would appear that paperback books are on the rise yet again. You‘ll be much more likely to see a paper book instead of an e-reader. However, fast readers and travellers may still prefer the ease of carrying many books at once in the form of an e-reader. So this won‘t be the end of e-readers, but it is definitely the resurrection of paperbacks.

Image Link: https://www.californialifehd.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/books.jpg (12/03/21)

Little Women TV Show Review | Lottie T

On the 26th, 27th and 28th December 2017, the BBC put on a TV series of the classic book Little Women. The television series was shown in three episodes based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. It is a tale about the March family, consisting of the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, their father, who is away at war, and the mother who keeps control of the household. It shows the happy and difficult times of the family, the challenges of growing, that love is no silly game any more and the reality of life beyond the safe family house. Although sisters, the girls follow very different pathways, but will always be a close loving family, despite the sisterly arguments along the way.

The characters were all portrayed very well by actors sticking closely to the characters in the book. Aunt March (played by Angela Lansbury) definitely came across as the fearsome, strict Aunt that she came across as in the book. Beth (Annes Elwy) came across as the quiet, uncertain sister as portrayed in the book. The setting and costumes definitely brought the book to life, filling in all the gaps, and making it seem more realistic. In the final episode a large chunk of the book was missed out, skipping out quite a bit, although this was not a large drawback, as the storyline still made sense.

Overall Little Women was great viewing and I would definitely recommend for all to watch.

Image Link: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/1200×675/p05r3gt8.jpg (12/03/21)

Religious Changes | Anonymous

With new beginnings often comes change. Whether the change is good or bad, well, that’s up to you to decide. But in one particular part of society over the last few years change has been inevitable. I’m talking about religion. Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, nearly all religions have experienced some sort of change. Not only have individual religions changed, but religion in Britain as a whole has changed. Studies from British Religion In Numbers (a website that keeps tabs on Britain’s religions) found that since 1950 British religions have become more diverse, less formal, fewer attend a place of worship, fewer people are in a marriage and more say they don’t believe in a religion. This is a huge difference from the 18th and 19th centuries, when discrimination against atheists was common.

Christianity in Britain dominated from the Middle Ages and although it is still classed as a Christian country, change in the late 20th and 21st century mean that Britain now has a wonderful variety of all different religions.

A major change in the religious world is how women are viewed. Women used to be under the control of their husband or father because of the rules of society and religion. In the Christian community women are now allowed to have religious roles within the church. The first female priest was ordained in 1994, first consecration of female bishops permitted was in 2014 and the first female bishop in 2015.

In Hinduism, it was traditionally believed by some that women should never be independent. However, Hindu groups such as ISKCON and The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission treat both genders equally in religious and secular life.

In Buddhism, religious leaders made women eligible for admission into the Bhikkhuni Sangha – the Order of Nuns. “This opened new paths of culture, social services and opportunities for public life to women. It led implicitly to the credit of their importance to society, and in doing so enhanced the status of women.” Although not all religions have had major change, change can happen whenever. Hopefully, all religions change to become fairer, safer and happier.

Image Link: https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/5b01eca0710699f45ff3e4bd/1538339543369-1S4H61UV751FYZ83LPE9/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kPyDInzrkkkTvJVD2oPO4DcUqsxRUqqbr1mOJYKfIPR7LoDQ9mXPOjoJoqy81S2I8N_N4V1vUb5AoIIIbLZhVYxCRW4BPu10St3TBAUQYVKcOlwAAbpDj1oqzhBeV7Ny8Q83nslMUOeMXuVfDrZdjYxDusl5y6K6cTGzQ1_KWc5I/catholicism.jpg (12/03/21)

The Waves of Feminism (So far) | Kate J

Feminism, a theory revolving around the concept of equality for everyone, is constantly shifting and developing within our modern world, where feminism in the Western world can be categorised into three, or arguably four, waves: suffrage, liberation, and sexual and gender equality, with each moving to a more global scale. Since the term ‘feminism’ was created in 1837 by Charles Fourier, a socialist philosopher, feminism has shaped humanity all over the world, and will continue to do so in the future.

The longest period of feminism to date is the campaign for female suffrage and the right to vote, which although beginning in the 19th century, took place over nearly a hundred years. The only country where women are unable to vote is the Vatican City, after Saudi Arabia changed its law in 2011 to allow the vote by 2015. In the United Kingdom, the emergence of the Pankhurst family spurred the suffragette movement, and began to be recognised in wider society at the beginning of the 20th century. Worldwide, the first country to ever grant the right to vote universally was modern-day Finland in 1906, with the United Kingdom following over twenty years later in 1928.

The second wave for women was the movement out of the traditional role of home-maker and into the workplace, started in the United States by Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique which took the opinion that women in their current place were not fulfilling their potential. This moved across to the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, and as a result more women began to work, both before and after having children. Although this was met with much resistance, today the United Kingdom workforce is 47% female, with increasingly more women in higher positions. However, there are more men named David as CEOs of FTSE 100 companies than there are women, fortune.com reported in 2016.

During the 1990s and continuing to the present, the third and fourth waves of protest concern the specifics of gender inequality and bringing these issues to all people, on a global scale, aware that previous movements had a focus on white, often middle class, women. A recent focus of this have been #MeToo and #TimesUp to bring attention to sexual assault, especially in the media industry. The empowering of women and girls through protesting body-shaming, harassment, racism and other issues that women all over the world face daily.

In 2018, feminism still has so much to achieve. As Caitlin Moran said recently in a Saturday Times column, ‘millions of women are being feminist everyday – whether they admit it or not’.

Image Link: https://www.stylist.co.uk/images/app/uploads/2019/08/18081306/womens-march-2020.jpg?w=1200&h=1&fit=max&auto=format%2Ccompress (05/03/21)

Top 10 Inventions of 2017 | Eeman Y and Olivia R

“New year, new me!” This is the usual cringeworthy saying to explain and show the beginning of a new era, a fresh start, the turning over of a new leaf, the next chapter of a book or, in this case, the latest technologies. We have what, we think, are the Top Ten Inventions of 2017! Let’s go…

10. Nintendo Switch

First off on our list we have as Number 10 the Nintendo Switch. This gadget would likely be more popular with the younger generations, although anyone is free to use it. Originally the device was made to be used as an easily transportable video game, complete with two consoles able to allow multi-player games. It’s extremely handy and entertaining on long, dull car rides or for just relaxing at home on your couch.

9. DJI Spark

Next, at Number 9 is the DJI Spark, which definitely will be lesser known to the public, but is just the company’s name for an airborne drone. It’s mostly used for taking artistic photos and images, but could similarly be used for making maps of a landscape; or, more seriously, for search and rescue missions. This clever design would help the authorities in scanning a large surface area more easily, more quickly and more efficiently as well! So, as well as being an ordinary tool for future photographers or filmmakers, it saves lives on a daily basis too.

8. Tasty One Top

For Number 8, we thought that the Tasty One Top was a pretty good fit! The Tasty One Top is a beneficial, smart device which can change its temperature when you are cooking so you can avoid getting things wrong when you guess. It will even tell you when your meal is ready or if you need to give it a stir, for example. As a nation, we are obsessed with finding new ways to create meals that are both edible, delicious and really healthy and good for you! Maybe more devices will follow after this one that will help us to be original with dishes that are low in fat.

7. Molekule

Coming up is our Number 7 … Molekule. The device purifies the air and can help those who have breathing difficulties or just want to breathe clean and fresh air. It can be particularly beneficial for people who live in larger cities such as London or New York, especially when pollution is a more significant and a bigger problem in these more populated cities. Perhaps this device could help combat our difficult situation with global warming?

6. Nike Pro Hijab

At Number 6 we have the Nike Pro Hijab. This specific sportswear encourages and helps women who choose to wear a hijab to participate in more sports and feel comfortable enough when they are doing sport, making sure it is appropriate for the religion. It is all one piece and made out of a wicking fabric. It isn’t overly expensive or hard to find and it could assist women that enjoy sports activities to proudly join in those games.

5. Bempu

Now, as Number 5, there is…Bempu! This neat device helps new mothers and fathers in developing countries to tell when their newborn is getting too cold to prevent them from getting hypothermia and can also warn of overheating. We find it mind-blowing that a small, simple device can stop death rates from increasing every year. Bempu uses an improved thermometer to monitor the baby’s temperature and, when they get too hot or cold, the wrist band flashes, alerting the parents to it straight away. This means that in developing countries, more children will live to adulthood.

4. NASA Mars Insight

On the slightly more technical side for Number 4 we have chosen the NASA Mars Insight. This module is made to help us find out if there really is life on Mars by taking important readings and scans of the planet. Other NASA modules have always brought back detailed and stunning photos, maybe this one will bring us one step closer to answering the question: is there life out there?

3. iPhone X

The Number 3 is, of course, the iPhone X! This device is packed full of tech, you can even turn yourself into a talking emoji. It was officially released on 3 November 2017, around two months after the previous iPhone 8 came out. Although expensive, the iPhone X has lived up to all the expectations that the other phones had brought with them. It’s handy for simple everyday tasks and can be quite entertaining to discover all the new tools.

2. Fenty Beauty

And second to last in Number 2 is … Fenty Beauty. The inventor of this cosmetics line – Robyn Rihanna Fenty, a singer, songwriter and actress – created this company to enable women of colour to buy makeup products that match and complements their skin tone perfectly. Because everyone knows that when you don’t have a foundation that matches your skin … then the whole look is basically ruined!

1. Fidget Spinner

To end this list we have chosen the FIDGET SPINNER as Number 1! We thought it should especially be here as it was a massive craze in 2017. Although it was not actually invented that year (it was originally created by Catherine Hettinger in the 1980s) it was brought back by Scott McCoskery. The fidget spinner was originally used to allow children to fidget or do something with their hands, helping with autism and ADHD.

Image Link: https://9to5mac.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2018/03/iphone-x-plus-concept-video.jpg?quality=82&strip=all (05/03/21)

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith | Florence G

Tom Ripley is far from a hero. In fact he’s probably more of a psychopath.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking.

His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

“He liked the fact that Venice had no cars. It made the city human. The streets were like veins, he thought, and the people were the blood, circulating everywhere.”

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking. His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Image Link: https://i.grassets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1540771547i/7853133.UY1520_SS1520.jpg (26/02/21)

The Crown Series 3 : A Review | Freya T

After discovering the recasting of the Crown on Netflix, many fans, including myself, were either delighted or anxious about how the brand new set of actors would portray the Royal Family. The answer: brilliantly. The fact that it now stars two GDST alumnae was a minor thought as I binged through 10 episodes, and became so engrossed I finished the series wondering what it would take to become a royal (for those interested: quite a lot), and became lost in the labyrinth that is YouTube, watching interviews with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies, as well as Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty, ending somehow with a five-minute crafts video (not so important for your viewing of the Crown).

One huge success of this season would be the likeness between Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman’s voice, when they portray Her Majesty. The similarity was incredible and for a split second I did wonder whether the recasting had been a very well executed reddit-ruse. Season 3 starts with Queen Elizabeth, now in the mid-sixties, looking at two stamps, one of herself as a young Queen (Foy) and as her current self (Coleman). I felt it was a nice bridge between the two casts and a quick, yet somehow in-depth scene, exploring new ideas of how the Queen had changed over the small amount of time that we had missed, other than, of course, physically.

Another triumph from Season 3 would be the chemistry between the cast. Focusing less on the relationship between Prince Philip and the Queen as a married couple, we now see development of the connection between Princess Margaret and the Queen instead. Helena Bonham-Carter and Olivia Coleman’s chemistry was immense, and the tension between the two sisters was portrayed wonderfully. We see Princess Margaret feeling overlooked and neglected, as she lacks royal duties. A holiday to America quickly changes to a political mission (not a spoiler) and we see the relationship between the sisters develop.

Throughout the series as ever, we see how the Royal Family, and the Prime Minister, deal with issues that happened in that era. I found interest in Episode 3 in the disaster of a mining slag heap collapsing on the small,Welsh village of Aberfan. Personally, I have always found that this show enlightens the viewers to the feelings of the Queen and her family, and I enjoyed seeing her response to this disaster in particular, as well as learning more about Aberfan itself.

Fear not, however, as this season has a bit of everything in there: love triangles (or in some cases squares), but also a variety of drama, with an underlying sincerity as the audience see deeper into the functioning of the Royal Family, following them through the swinging sixties. It is probable that many people find it difficult to relate to the Royals as they are in such a unique position, but I think a mention to the actors playing the newer royals is very much needed, as they seemed to create a relatability to the Windsor family.

I first came across Josh O’Connor as Larry in ITV’s the Durrells and found his portrayal very funny and was desperate to see this up and coming actor in more films. As a result, I watched the Riot Club, another of O’Connor’s projects, and quickly became a fan, as I watched his appearance in the TV version of Les Misérables, as well. Upon hearing about his new role in Season 3 of the Crown, I became excited to see his acting skills flourish in the role of the Prince of Wales. Many a heartfelt scene in Season 3, the audience grow to sympathise with Charles, especially in his inauguration speech, and I think this is due to excellent writing but also O’Connor’s excellent portrayal, as he captures all the supposed traits of Prince Charles. Adding to this, another actress who deserves a mention would be Erin Doherty as Princess Anne. The last two seasons of the Crown had never properly focused on the Queen’s children, let alone the young princess, but Season 3 was the time for a change, which was executed perfectly. Doherty’s performance as the private and defiant princess was superb, and she quickly became my favourite character. The chemistry between her and O’Connor as siblings, but also friends, was terrific, and their combined roles have caused much anticipation among many families, especially mine, as we wait to see what will happen next between the two siblings.

If you take nothing from this review but a desire to watch the trailers for the show, my job will be done, as I think you will instantly be hooked. This brilliant show deserves many a positive review, but whilst watching it, it is important to remember that it is a dramatization, and not everything is quite as it seems, as with most docu-dramas. A quick disclaimer, if you’re in Upper Five and are wanting to start your viewing of all three seasons of the Crown, maybe wait until after mocks, because I can assure you it will be difficult to get any revision done.

Image Link: https://tommygirard.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/the-crown-season-3-poster.jpg (20/02/21)

Her Blank Canvas | Katie N

A painter creates her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets, for they are all laid out  
in swirls of arching colours  
gracefully blossoming across the paper 
Untouchable beauty  
and scenes of happiness 
Preserved within paper  
That complete her 
Through paintbrush she feels  
Laughter and tears  
And all in-between  
Created, built and left to dry 
Each day she feels  
Filling her life with meaning 
Paint and memories 
A life fulfilled 
And she is finished  
Paintbrushes banished  
locked in their boxes  
For creating life- another day 
But the picture will stand there  
Years on untouched  
Fading at the corners  
alone gathering dust  
A painter leaves her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets left to lay out-  
Turns her back on the colours  
Thoughtlessly floating back to her life
of grey

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1b/57/98/1b5798ab8dd89ac7883a3da10df1e3cb.png (20/02/21)

Musings of a Wide Open Space | Ruby H

These moments are now laced with a longing  
For more of the same old. And in these barren winds sway, 
The wild grasses of a month without sun. 
Over the moors lay your absence, 
Rolling under horizon after horizon. 
With these hands I could christen you, 
But the sunsets churn out shadows, 
And each one holds me and asks for a dance. 
Until my hands bear the mark 
Of arching waltzes dissolved in rain, 
Because I’m dancing around the sun rays, 
Chasing these soulful nights.
Over the hill stands a flower. 
Dropping hours through its hourglass.
And gently, the winds pluck it away, 
Slip away petal by petal. 
Sway through the sun. 
Dance into the grasses. 
Pull apart the seconds.

Help me weave these moments, 
Into reeds by a lake. 
And watch me as I wade through shallows, 
Towards the emptiness of the sky’s flaws. 
Watch the petals cry into the water. 
Lean away from this echoed longing.  

Watch the grasses linger in sorrow.

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/474x/9e/f9/f1/9ef9f1dc4d56a15e398cef1804a779b8.jpg (13/02/21)