One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

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STAR RATING: ☆ 

BLURB:“In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched.’  (Goodreads.com)

I made the fatal mistake of watching the film (!!!! I know) before I read the book for this. I am not kidding, I will never EVER do this again. It completely colours the way you read the book and basically had me making comparisons the entire way through. I thought the film was good when I watched it, but reading the book made me see that it’s just a watered down version, with very little depth that the book has.

This book is deep. And you can tell Ken Kesey was high on LSD when he wrote it (which he actually was, he was taking part in trials while writing), and I feel like you have to read it very slowly, reading every single word to gather the high level of emotion he’s trying to convey in his words. You need to be completely alone whilst reading this, or it just won’t get through, and unlike some other books, I noticed a complete difference in my ability to digest this book whilst in the company of others.

I can’t even pin down if I enjoyed it or not, but I have to take into account that this book is way before it’s time, before mental health institutes were a common thing of books and films. It’s portrayed in the stereotypical way, especially when the book has been translated into film and stage, the obvious clinical and sterile atmosphere with the crazy and scary mentally damaged, so whilst reading this I had to try and cast off my natural dislike for this kind of thing.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, but I genuinely think my opinion of it was tarnished by the fact I had watched the film before – SOMETHING I WILL NEVER DO AGAIN.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

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STAR RATING: ☆ 

BLURB:“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.” This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family—their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog—is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red’s father.  (Goodreads.com)

PAGE COUNT: Approx 357. (hardback)

This is the only book I’ve ever read (or can remember recently reading) that didn’t make me anxious, or scared, or angry or any other negative feeling. And although that is sometimes what makes a book better, it is always nice to have a kind of break, and just read something that doesn’t focus on anything too heavy.

This is a completely family based novel, and although is not completely gripping or page turning, it’s very easy to read, doesn’t require too much brain power. If I had liked the plot more, I can imagine it being the kind of book a person would go back to for comfort reading again and again. It’s not that its overly happy, it deals with death and difficult family situations plenty, it just doesn’t take these to the extreme, choosing to focus on the details and storylines interconnecting a group of people. I did spend the majority of this book kind of plodding through it, waiting for some big bombshell to drop and everything to go pear shaped (as I often like in books, slightly sadistic of me I know), but realised towards the end that this was never it’s intention.

I like how Tyler writes, she’s amazing with words and imagery, and I couldn’t help thinking that with the right plot line, she could write a completely gripping book. She unfolds different parts of this family’s life one by one, chapter by chapter, but not in a disjointed way, in a very slick way that you hardly realise it, and by the end I not only had a complete image of this family in my mind, but also all the other nuances that make up a family and the people in it.