My choice of the year is The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, by UEA alumni Natasha Pulley: a delightful sequel to her debut novel The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which could not have come at a better moment to whisk you away from the strange times we find ourselves in. Gentle, witty, and beautifully crafted as an antidote to the modern-day, Pulley continues to blend historical fiction with a little bit of fantasy, and a dash of Victorian science in a wholly unique manner. I thoroughly recommend reading all three of the books in this series, they are sure to become firm favourites.
This isolation has definitely pushed me to read some of the books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for weeks, months or even years. One of which is Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. As someone who gets easily intimidated by the lengths of novels, this 428-paged beauty took me a while to open. However, once I delved into the world surrounding Manderley, I was completely absorbed. Rebecca’s deafening presence throughout the entire novel left me in awe of Du Maurier. Despite the plot-twist being arguably expected, it still managed to leave me stunned and, more importantly, in love with the novel.
One of my favourites of the year so far, and now of all time, is T. J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, which was released in March of this year. It’s a wonderfully written novel about a man who is effectively a social worker for magical youth and the time that he spends at an orphanage which houses some of the most ‘dangerous’ of these children. It’s a beautiful story about family, trust, and the importance of understanding those who are different from yourself. It’s magical, and had me in tears of joy by the end.
My favourite arts moment of the year so far was no doubt, Bijan Sheibani’s adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s grown-breaking play: A Taste of Honey. This production was very heart-warming, combined with the cheeky wit of Northern England. As someone who saw the play and later reviewed it, I was not disappointed in the play’s ability to convince an audience to envision of a bygone era of rough Salfordian accents, smoke-blanked horizons, and the harshness of working-class life. What made this production even more brilliant was the presence of live music, something that kept you in-tune with the performance in every movement.
The last year has brought a range of enjoyable and exciting theatre experiences, including seeing the incredible Tim Minchin live in Ipswich.
The highlight of my year, however, has to be seeing Dear Evan Hansen in the West End. Never before have I witnessed a piece of theatre that so perfectly sums up so many feelings and expresses them so beautifully. Although the theme of the storyline that the main character follows is troublesome, the musical is simply a modern-day classic, one that I hope will live on like so many of the greats that have come before it.