THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by John Purcell (@Bookeboy) exposes the seedy underbelly of publishing while pondering the meaning of great literature. #BookReview

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THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by John Purcell

Goodreads Description

Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption. A punchy, powerful and page-turning novel about the redemptive power of great literature, from industry insider, John Purcell.

Amy Winston is a hard-drinking, bed-hopping, hot-shot young book editor on a downward spiral. Having made her name and fortune by turning an average thriller writer into a Lee Child, Amy is given the unenviable task of steering literary great Helen Owen back to publication.

When Amy knocks on the door of their beautiful townhouse in north-west London, Helen and her husband, the novelist Malcolm Taylor, are conducting a silent war of attrition. The townhouse was paid for with the enormous seven-figure advance Helen was given for the novel she wrote to end fifty years of making ends meet on critical acclaim alone. The novel Malcolm thinks unworthy of her. The novel Helen has yet to deliver. The novel Amy has come to collect.

Amy has never faced a challenge like this one. Helen and Malcolm are brilliant, complicated writers who unsettle Amy into asking questions of herself – questions about what she values, her principles, whether she has integrity, whether she is authentic. Before she knows it, answering these questions becomes a matter of life or death.

From ultimate book industry insider, John Purcell, comes a literary page-turner, a ferocious and fast-paced novel that cuts to the core of what it means to balance ambition and integrity, and the redemptive power of great literature.

Details

Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 24th 2018 by 4th Estate – AU
ISBN
1460756975 (ISBN13: 9781460756973)

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My Review 

“Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption.”

THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by Australian publishing insider, John Purcell, exposes the seedy underbelly of publishing while pondering the meaning of great literature.

Amy Winston is a hard working and hard partying young editor who made her career launch off the ground by taking an average thriller writer and turning him into a household name. She is given the unenviable task of doing the same for literary giant, Helen Owen.

Helen and her husband, Malcolm Taylor, have been at odds with each other ever since Helen undertook the huge signing bonus to write the novel Amy has been told to edit into the commercial success of the year and moved them out of the tiny flat they had shared and written literary fiction in, even sharing an office, for more than 50 years.

When Amy walks into this complicated situation and agrees to stay at Helen and Malcolm’s flat until the novel is completed she bites off far more than she bargained for and is left to question her career, her principles, and what is the meaning of great literature.

THE GIRL ON THE PAGE was far more deep and meaningful than I expected from all of the buzz surrounding it. I’ve seen/heard a lot of comparisons to the television series “YOUNGER” and while they are similar in how they take us behind the scenes of the publishing industry, I don’t think that comparison really does “THE GIRL ON THE PAGE” justice. There were plenty of gritty sex scenes and a fascinating insider’s view of the publishing industry. John Purcell’s industry insider credentials are very strong, as he is the current Director of Books at Booktopia and owned his own bookshop for many years. I particularly loved the inside joke of the title of both this novel and the fictional “GIRL ON GIRL” novel. It does seem as though every second popular book at the moment has either “girl” or “woman” in the title!

“THE GIRL ON THE PAGE” is far more gritty, fast-paced, and shocking than “YOUNGER”. It will certainly cause you to ask yourself what does great literature mean to you? I particularly loved the final pages where Malcolm discusses what great literature means to him, and couldn’t agree more with his use of Jane Austen’s “EMMA” as an example of great literature.

5 stars!

About the Author

 

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John Purcell, photo credit  Sarah Louise Kinsella

 

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing.

Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines.

​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.

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Review: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is famous for being banned for its racy sex scenes. There is a lot ofchatterley  discussion about sex and quite a lot of swear words are sprinkled throughout, but it really isn’t that controversial for this day and age.

The novel was published in 1928, so it definitely was very sexual for those times. What I think is much more interesting about this novel is the discussion surrounding class the way Lawrence viewed the ways that England had changed due to the Industrial Revolution. These views were extrememly controversial for the 1920s and this is what makes Lady Chatterley’s Lover such an important novel. It’s a snapshot of a time of great upheaval.

I also found the contrast between this novel and The Great Gatsby interesting. They were both written about the same time but from very different perspectives. Where The Great Gatsby is about the wealthy New Yorkers, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is about the titled familys of England.

I found Lady Chatterley’s Lover to be a bit of a slow read. I really didn’t feel very interested in any of the main characters and didn’t much care what happened to them in the end. I did find Lawrence’s views on class and the industrialisation of England enlightening and found myself pausing to highlight quite a bit.

Definitely a novel worth reading, but not simply for racy sex scenes. I do wonder if the 2020s will be as tumultuous as the 1920s? That seems about the right time for the digital revolution to be in full effect!

David Bowie Song:

Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie feels like a good choice to describe the pressure felt by the workers during this period

 


Description

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER was banned on its publication in 1928, creating a storm of controversy. Lawrence tells the story of Constance Chatterley’s marriage to Sir Clifford, an aristocratic and an intellectual who is paralyzed from the waist down after the First World War. Desperate for an heir and embarrassed by his inability to satisfy his wife, Clifford suggests that she have an affair. Constance, troubled by her husband’s words, finds herself involved in a passionate relationship with their gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. Lawrence’s vitriolic denunciations of industrialism and class division come together in his vivid depiction of the profound emotional and physical connection between a couple otherwise divided by station and society

Details

Title: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Author: D.H. Lawrence

Published: 1928

ISBN: 0007925557 (ISBN13: 9780007925551)

Genre: Classics, Literature, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 402

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Books Read: 4/100

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Horrorshow raskazz with lashings of ultraviolence! clockwork

A Clockwork Orange is a modern classic. Published in 1962, it depicts a frightening dystopian future where youths hopped up on drugs run riot in the streets and terrorise people in their own homes. Alex, our humble narrator, is one of those youths.  Even though it is obvious he knows better, he is determined to continue on his merry way wreaking havoc with his droogs (friends), until they set him up and he is sent to prison. Alex undertakes an unusual and horrifying form of ‘therapy’ which makes him physically unable to perform or even think about acts of violence and is unceremoniously discharged from prison and left to fend for himself.

This novel raises some important questions about the matters of free will and choice. Is it morally ethical to remove a person’s ability to choose their own behaviour? How about when it means they will cease to commit acts of violence against others? Clearly the message this novel conveys is that is unethical to remove a person’s free will. I almost began to feel sorry for Alex when he was first released from prison and was unable to defend himself, but I soon got over that when he went straight back to his old ways as soon as he was able to.

The Final Chapter

My edition does contain the final chapter which is missing from many versions, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s film. I found it to be a bit of let down. I liked the idea of Alex deciding to change his ways, but thought the way he reached his decision was a bit unbelievable. It didn’t gel with anything we’d heard from him previously to just up and decide to be good for no other reason besides he wants a wife and child one day. Of course, I believe anyone can change, but there usually needs to be some kind of motivating event. Like maybe an actual wife and child.

Besides from that, it’s a must read. The made up language, nadsat, can be difficult to get into. I found this nadsat dictionary very useful for the first few chapters, but it is quite easy to get into the hang of it.

EDIT 24/02/16

I forgot to include my David Bowie song to match A Clockwork Orange. Obviously it’s Girl Loves me!

 


Description

“What we were after was lashings of ultraviolence.”

In this nightmare vision of youth in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him – but at what cost?

Social prophecy? Black comedy? A study of free will? A Clockwork Orange is all of these. It is also a dazzling experiment in language, as Burgess creates “nadsat”, the teenage slang of a not-too-distant future.

Details

Title: A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess

Published: 1962

ISBN: 0241951445 (ISBN13: 9780241951446)

Genre: Classics, Sci Fi, Dystopia, Literature

Pages: 141

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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Book Depository (Free Shipping Worldwide)

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Books Read: 4/100

1984

The Great Gatsby

The Gnostic Gospels

A Clockwork Orange

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A beautifully written snapshot of New York in the 1920s, old sport. gatsby1

The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, as well as a literary classic. I’m sure many people have studied this novel at some point during their school days!

It is narrated from the perspective of Nick Carraway who comes from a well-off Midwest family to New York in 1922. He becomes a mediator in the messy romance between his mysterious and fabulously wealthy next-door neighbour, Jay Gatsby, and his married cousin, Daisy. Daisy’s husband, Tom, is also having an affair and Nick spends most of the novel dating Jordan Baker,  who is a flapper and golf pro.

The Great Gatsby has become the quintessential novel of the 1920s, or the Jazz Age as Fitzgerald preferred to call it, and the decay of the American Dream. Jay Gatsby spent his entire adult life chasing the notion of the great American dream only to end up dead and alone, which implies that Fitzgerald believed it was a futile endeavour.

I believe the characters of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway represent different aspects of how Fitzgerald viewed himself. Fitzgerald’s wife was similar to the character of Daisy and it is well-documented that he spent a great deal of effort to make a name and fortune to impress her, much the way that Gatsby does for Daisy. Nick is the part of Fitzgerald who sees through the snobbish veneer of New York’s elite, forever feeling like an outsider.

The Great Gatsby is another one of my all-time favourite novels. I love Fitzgerald’s beautiful writing style that encapsulates the 1920s perfectly. It was a tumultuous period and this novel provides a perfect snapshot of several of the major social issues of the time: bootlegging, consumerism, social climbing, snobbery, fast cars, and reckless behaviour. The original cover is possibly my favourite book cover ever!

I can’t think of a David Bowie song that fits with The Great Gatsby, but I’m open to suggestions. As an outsider who made New York his home, I can see why Bowie listed this book as one of his favourites. I think he led the Gatsby lifestyle for quite some time before he realised the silliness of it all.

EDIT 31/01/16 I’m so silly! Fame is the perfect Bowie song for The Great Gatsby.

Fame, makes a man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow
Fame
Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just the flame
That burns your change to keep you insane
Fame
Fame, what you like is in the limo
Fame, what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, what you need you have to borrow
Fame
Fame, “Nein! It’s mine!” is just his line
To bind your time, it drives you to, crime
Fame
Could it be the best, could it be?
Really be, really, babe?
Could it be, my babe, could it, babe?
Really, really?
Is it any wonder I reject you first?
Fame, fame, fame, fame
Is it any wonder you are too cool to foolFame
Fame, bully for you, chilly for me
Got to get a rain check on pain
Fame
Fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame,
fame
Fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame, fame,
fame
Fame, fame, fame
Fame
What’s your name?

[whispered:]

Feeling so gay, feeling gay?
Brings so much pain?


Description

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

Details

Title: The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published: 1925

ISBN: 0743273567 (ISBN13: 9780743273565)

Genre: Classics, Literature, Fiction

Pages: 192

Source: I own my copy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Books Read: 2/100

1984

The Great Gatsby