Four books that span classic to contemporary: ones to keep and treasure and ones to temporarily own on a library loan!


Something Old

The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

The Italian, written in 1797, is a sublime and elegantly written novel set in medieval Italy. Radcliffe writes in a gothic style; where mystery of the Papal Inquisition is hidden within the layers of veils, cloaks, shadows and secrets. Moving through city and countryside we are bombarded with epic landscapes from mountains, forests and volcanoes to shady monasteries and churches. You will be amazed at the imagery Radcliffe conjures up and even more amazed by the fact she had never visited the country at all! Radcliffe’s sheer imagination sets yours alight with this page turning thriller.   


Something New

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

A Toy Story. Steve Jobs unleashed the true child within with his large and longstanding investment in, the Pixar creation masterpiece, Toy Story. From then on his creations were manifested in play things; grown up gadgets, toys for the businessmen of the world.

The childish creativity of Jobs has been returned by Isaacson, who with childlike, brutally honest truths, retells the tale of Jobs from tantrums to triumphs. Steve Jobs is an inspiring read that opens up a world, that reminds us that life itself is amazing and encourages us to look at the world the way Jobs did; be piqued by everything and see where it leads us. 


Something Borrowed

Darkmans by Nicola Barker

Darkmans is not a novel, but a house brick; read it from cover to cover and you’ll end up with arms like Schwarzenegger. One of the reasons why you wouldn’t necessarily go and read it a second time is because of its length: 838 pages! Length aside, Darkmans is a novel that will possess your mind for the duration of the read. From the development of language to the delving into history, this novel exceeds temporal bounds. Time becomes lost as you are consumed by the maze you are caught within. Worlds collide in this novel; the past and the present. Barker has created a literary masterpiece, which may be its Achilles’ heel: it is so rich that it can only be a naughty purge, not a casual read.


Something Blue

Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro

The paradox of science fiction and emotional human relationships is manifested in Never Let Me Go. This novel exemplifies how nature is something that cannot and should not be controlled. Ishiguro illustrates an alternative sci-fi world to that which we know to be filled with robots and spaceships; he creates a world that lies between a dystopia and utopia, a world still very much human.

For those who benefit from scientific development, this world is a better place, yet for those who provide the benefit, life no longer exists. We see how life when managed (from creation to death) to such an extent such as those of the characters we meet, is not life at all. This novel is poignant on both an intellectual and emotional level; thus covering both areas of sci-fi and romance.

Images courtesy of Ann Radcliffe, Walter Isaacson, Nicola Barker and Kazuo Ishiguro


About The Author

Jessica is currently a Third Year student at Royal Holloway University, studying English and Creative Writing. She also hosts a breakfast show on Insanityradio every Tuesday morning 8-10. Jessica is a professional actress, keen novelist and script writer, who also writes a lot of critical reviews on literature and the Arts.

2 Responses

  1. Karl Fullerton


    thanks for the idea of the Italian.
    I was wondering what book to get for my mother for Christmas and this is right up her street.

    Nice one.


  2. Susan Delaney

    I think the Italian sounds really exciting for my sister. Just what I needed for a Christmas stocking filler.



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