9 February 2018

You have to read this… // A review of Louis de Bernieres' “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin- Louis de BerniĆ©res (Book ...
I have realised recently that every time I read a book I am under the impression that it might be the greatest book I have ever read. In hindsight I often discover that in fact it was merely mediocre and had just grabbed my attention for a little while as I read it. This book is definitely an exception.

When I first picked up the book upon the recommendation of my mum I had my doubts; the first few chapters consist of what seems like babbling nonsense about the history of some island in Greece, which at this point seems quite irrelevant – I just wanted to read the story! However, as I read I began to realise that Louis de Bernieres is a genius.  In fact, the seemingly irrelevant subplots of Father Arsenios, Alekos the Shepherd and the strong Velisarios in the first few chapters slowly combine together to form a solid context to the story of Dr Iannis and his daughter Pelagia.

The book is set in a beautiful island called Cephalonia in Greece and we follow the hilarious, bizarre, heart-breaking lives of its inhabitants during world war two, upon the invasion of the Italian soldiers. This is perhaps the first book I have ever read where I have cared as much for the minor characters as for the protagonists, as Louis de Bernieres has created them in so much depth and complexity that they seem so lifelike. His imagery is so vivid that at times it seems more real than reality itself, and I would look up sometimes while reading and be shocked that what I saw did not reflect the kaleidoscope of colour of Louis de Bernieres' version of Cephalonia.

In this review I am going to struggle not to spoil the mind-blowing events that take place as they are so painful that they made me want to scream, so exciting that I wanted to jump up and hug every person I saw and tell them the story of how Pelagia falls in love with the handsome, funny, captivating Captain Antonio Corelli.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some fairy-tale love story for girls to swoon over, not at all, but it is impossible for anyone not to fall in love with the Captain; I certainly did! When him and his soldiers first arrive, we sympathise for him as the Greeks use all their might to make them feel very much not at home, but your love for him grows as the Greeks’ does as you laugh at his attempts to capture the heart of Pelagia and her father, and this grows even more as we hear him play his beloved mandolin Antonia.  The most sceptical of you will question my claim that you can hear him play, but I must insist on Louis de Bernieres' vivid description which truly tricks you into believing you can hear him play the tremolo on this beautiful instrument. 

However, amidst the love and laughter, there is a dark undertone because of the war. The family struggles to find food, the various leaders of Europe are worrying in their offices and even the soldiers keep secrets. Louis de Berniere uses this beautiful story to convey the true atrocity of the war and the consequences it had on real people. It is true that sometimes we look back on the distant story of World War Two and hear the deaths as a mere statistic and the horror of it is never truly conveyed to us. This book makes you think twice about your allegiances and consider what is right in a world that can so easily be torn apart.

Please, if you read one book this year, make it this one.

From the Culford School Student Newspaper "Blue Stripe"

23 December 2017

How Long Should You Be Revising For?

Hey everyone!!

I found that the questions I am asked most are "how long should I revise for each night" and "when should I start revising?". In this video I answer both those questions!!!

In summary: Start revising NOW!!!! It's never too early to start revision, so come up with a timetable and get going!!!

// Jeani :)

20 December 2017

Study with me CHRISTMAS! // Revision during the holidays

Hello everyone!!

Today I had a huge day of revision, so I filmed it and created my first ever STUDY WITH ME vlog! Btw, I’m super proud of this thumbnail.

Watch the the video for some tips and tricks on how to revise during the holidays and hopefully your motivation will go up!

// Jeani

18 December 2017

how to tidy any space in under THIRTY minutes!! // SATISFYING time lapse + TOP TIPS

Hey Everyone!!

Sorry I haven't posted in so long; I've been swamped in A Level work!!!!

Today I had to tidy my room and to make this feel a little more bearable I decided to make it into a YouTube video!

Please enjoy, I have compressed the information below the video if you don't feel like watching it!

- Split up your room into different sections that need tidying to make it seem less daunting
- Split each section into subsections for the same reason e.g. split the floor into squares that you are going to clear up at a time
- Put on some cool music and have fun while you clear!!!
- Don't just hide your stuff and call it tidying, find the permanent spot for each object as you go

// Jeani

2 November 2017

Why Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a feminist novel // Put on Paper

Hello everyone!

Over the last several months I have been reading one of the most talked about pieces of feminist literature from the Victorian era. Admittedly, it has taken me a long time to finish this masterpiece but it was so worth the wait.

I spent the entirety of this novel with my heart throbbing in my chest as Hardy depicted the horrific lives of women in the 1800s with such honest brutality. I have been dying to write this blog post to explore my thoughts on this book which is so arguably relevant today, especially during this week's light on sexual harassment.
Spent the entire book wondering why it has stonehenge on the front, now I understand
Alec D'Urberville, the villain of the tale, is a symbol of Victorian attitudes towards women. His persistent attitude towards Tess leaves her terrified. In the beginning, he forces her to kiss him after her refusing and making it very clear that "I don't want anybody to kiss me" then continues to stalk her, then rapes her, and then four years later he begins to stalk her again. In a society where persistence for a woman one loves was romantic, Hardy's depiction of Alec D'Urberville as sleazy and untrustworthy was out of place, but one that any woman would have been able to relate to then,  and can relate to now. Hardy makes it very clear that men like Alec D'Urberville were not rare, as he constructs other characters who heckle her due to the "attention she excited by her appearance" which resulted in "rude words" being "addressed to her more than once". To highlight the severity of these comments, Hardy had Tess dress in "one of the oldest field gowns" as she "nipped off her eyebrows" to make herself look ugly to escape from the harassment.  A woman's worth in the 1800s was her beauty and for Tess to give it up out of desperation would have shocked many and invoked their sympathy.
Lake District courtesy @anjibabes instagram
Furthermore, Hardy brought light to the misery of 'fallen women' in the late 18th century. He emphasizes the unjust consequences of Tess' "relationship" with Alec D'Urberville through irony: Angel Clare reveals to Tess on the night of their marriage that before her he "plunged into eight and forty hours' dissipation with stranger", a voluntary act which probably left that woman in the same horrific state Tess had been in. This gives Tess the confidence to tell him of her past in the hope that he would forgive her as she forgave him, but after "her narrative ended" he claims that "you were one person; now you are another".  Hardy had spent the chapters previously building up to this moment with them falling in love and Tess holding back the wedding, desperate to tell him her story, the reader praying that Angel would forgive her and love her still, just to completely decimate any hopes at all with Angel Clare's "horrible laughter". The reader empathises with Tess as she "shrieked 'O have mercy upon me". The pain Clare puts her through in his dismissal of her is so heart wrenching for the reader. I just sat and cried. Any modern reader would be disgusted when he claims that Alec is her "husband in nature" as justification but then women had less or no sexual liberation and the fact that Tess was raped and forced into that situation would not have crossed his mind.

After this, Angel flits off to Brazil, leaving her to be with her family. After running out of money, she goes to find work at Flintcomb-Ash farm. Hardy uses pathetic fallacy throughout the chapters where she works here to reflect Tess' state of mind. The imagery of the farm focuses on the "desolate drab" colour of the fields and the "white vacuity" of the sky.  Even the farm's title "Ash" implies death and misery. The lifeless, colourless state of the farm mirrors Tess' emotions with her husband gone.  Hardy builds up tension to the point of Tess' wedding day and then sends floods of tumultuous emotion through the reader to mirror the chaos of Tess' life and then all of a sudden, she is left with nothing. She has no home, her family is dying and her husband who she loves so much has left her and she believes that he hates her. She is lifeless, she has been run dry completely. This reflects the lives of 'fallen' women of this period: they are left with nothing as society deserts them. Throughout the novel nature is used to reflect Tess' gruesome, despondent story: for example Hardy emphasizes from the beginning of the novel that this story is going to be violent and miserable through the death of the family horse who Tess believes she "killed".  Furthermore, the incident with the pheasants and their "rich plumage dabbled with blood" creates a gruesome and painful image which does not simply distract from Tess' story and her pain but reflects it and foreshadows her own gruesome end.

Moreover, another example of the consequences Tess faces due to Alec D'Urberville is her baby.  A pregnant, unmarried girl in that era would have been disgraced by society but Tess' baby's fate is so much worse. Hardy creates a beautiful scene with the "little ones kneeling round" as Tess' attempts to baptise her baby. The imagery of Tess with her "face a glowing irradiation" and "red spot in the middle of each cheek", "eye-pupils shone like diamond" creates this image of an angel, a "divine" being, which justifies completely that this is holy and Christian and real, despite the absence of a pastor; this detail seems irrelevant to the reader. However, this only makes it all the more painful when the child is laid to rest with the "drunkards, suicides, and others of the conjecturally damned", as a result of the sin of Alec D'Urberville.

Can we say Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a proto-feminist novel? Clearly Hardy set out to highlight the cruelty in the structure of society at this time through this heart-breaking tale, but still he colludes to some of the conventions through the romanticism of the idea of Tess' being Angel's "property" for example. However, Tess' story clearly defines many issues women faced and still face today. It would be so simple to replicate this in a modern setting as for many women the conditions are the same and the societal backlash would not be much different. How we can be 100 years later and this is the case is beyond me.

Perhaps we need another Thomas Hardy to remind us.

// Jeani

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27 October 2017

How To Revise Using Mind Maps // Ace Your Mocks

Hey everyone!

In a few weeks, year 11 mocks are coming up, which I'm sure is scary for many of you! Before I begin I just want to say that mocks are a chance to test yourself and while they are not something to stress over or panic about, you should utilise them to the best of your ability to show yourself how you will cope in the real exam situation.

Today I am going to focus on a small area of revision which really helped me during exams.

Mind-maps can work really well if you use them right and effectively. Below I will state the several rules of mindmapping!

1) You need to do two mind-maps

Don't hate me but this is just simple logic! You need to have an original mind-map comprised of information from your notes which refreshes your memory on the information. The second mind-map tests your memory as you blurt out the information on a much more messy mind-map. Watch this video from UnJaded Jade on 'blurting':

2) You need to use arrows

Using arrows helps you connect the information. This makes remembering the information easier in the exam as your brain makes the link between the information. 

3) Group information thematically and with colour

Again, this helps your brain connect the information together. In the above mind-map, I've grouped the information by character but it can be done by theme, date, chapter etc!

I hope this helped you with your utilisation of mind-maps! Subscribe below to get notifications on my series 'Ace Your Mocks' of which this is the first! If you subscribe you will get extra emails on tips and tricks beyond my blog posts!

// Jeani xx

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