The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

hen-who-dreamed-she-could-fly-9781780745343

 Sun-mi Hwang

First Sentence:     The egg rolled to a stop upon reaching the wire mesh of the coop.

Back of the book:

This is the story of a hen named Sprout. No longer content to lay eggs on command only to have them carted off to the market, she glimpses her future every morning through the barn doors, where the other animals roam free, and comes up with a plan to escape into the wild—and to hatch an egg of her own. An anthem for individuality and motherhood.

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A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold

storm swords 2George R.R. Martin

First Sentence:     Her Dothraki scouts had told her how it was, but Dany wanted to see for herself.

Back of the book:

The Starks are scattered.

Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.

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A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow

Storm swords1George R.R. Martin

First Sentence:     The day was grey and bitter cold, and the dogs would not take the scent.

Back of the book:

Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast.

The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his younger sisters in their power.

Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

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Under The Skin

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Michel Faber

First Sentence:     Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up.

Back of the book:

Isserley spends most of her time driving. But why is she so interested in picking up hitch-hikers? And why are they always male, well-built and alone? An utterly unpredictable and macabre mystery, Michel Faber’s debut novel is an outstanding piece of fiction that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Quote from the book:

As soon as he’d entered her car and sat down, Isserley sensed he was trouble. It was as if the laws of physics were unsettled by his presence; as if the electrons in the air were suddenly vibrating faster, until they were ricocheting around the confines of the cabin like crazed invisible insects.

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The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

First Sentence: Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.

Winner of the Booker Prize in 2000 this is one of Margaret Atwood’s better known novels. Fifty years on from the tragedy mentioned in the first sentence, Iris Chase is looking back on the mysterious death of her sister. Interspersed with all this reminiscing is the story of Iris herself in the present day as an elderly lady, there is also a is a story within a story, a roman à clef published by Iris after Laura’s apparent suicide, a novel which turned Laura into a cult figure after her death. Inside this story is yet another one: a pulp science fiction tale entitled The Blind Assassin. All of these stories combine with scattered newspaper articles from the era to gradually reveal a hidden truth about the Chase sisters and Laura’s death. The moment of Laura’s death is the great tragedy of the book. Everything that surrounds this event is all part of the tragedy however and needs to be told in order to gain a true understanding of the tragedy:

But in life, a tragedy is not one long scream. It includes everything that led up to it. Hour after trivial hour, day after day, year after year, and then the sudden moment: the knife stab, the shell-burst, the plummet of the car from the bridge.

This novel was a delight to read and a deserved Booker winner. In particular, the interplay between the various stories and how it all unfolds is a masterclass in narrative structure. Together with characters who come to life and exquisite writing, this is a truly enjoyable read and Atwood is an author I’ll be reading more of in the future.

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