Great Adaptation for Polish (and English) Language Learners


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alicja w krainie czarów adapted by Scotia Victoria Gilroy


As an adaptation and translation, I felt the vibe of the original Alice story, and found myself laughing and smiling throughout. I can happily say, therefore, that this was a job very well done and performed with care to the source material, allowing me to confidently recommend this to Polish language learners at around the B1/Lower Intermediate+ level who may be interested in improving their skills while enjoying an adaptation of a classic tale that talks to rather than down.


*Of course, this mark reflects my opinion on this as an adaptation and translation rather than as a piece of literature.

Conflicting Emotions


Rain by Don Paterson


A mixed-bag, within which I feel there is a little something for everyone, but I am uncertain how satisfying the overall package is. My relationship, not only with the whole collection, but with individual pieces, is in constant flux – not only from mood to mood, but from moment to moment. 

Sometimes a piece and I sing at at complementary frequencies; at others, the same piece lies flat and lifeless upon the page.

And then I don’t know: am I being overly generous because such-and-such a piece was there for me at the right time? or overly harsh because it wasn’t the right moment for it? I think it’s only fair to go with the latter, with the caveat that many of these pieces are fair-weather friends: there to reflect a mood, but not to influence or alter one.

With that in mind, if you do hit upon that particular piece at that particular moment, I’m sure you’ll find some moments to treasure. I’m similarly sure that sometimes you’ll find nothing worth your while.

Despite the low moments, it does hit some heights and there is some genuine feeling here that makes it worth visiting despite the misses – and leads me to feel that this is a slightly above average collection worth a qualified recommendation.




Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann


I found this review difficult to write because, whilst I absolutely loved the majority of this book, I began to lose a little patience with it near the end, which initially left a sourer taste in my mouth than I think its wonderfully told story deserves.

‘Wonderfully’ because, despite any hesitations as the final part drew to a close, so initially captivated was I by the main characters’ lives, and such was my interest in the telling of their stories, that the momentum gained was more than sufficient to keep me involved until the end – and now, only a short time after completing my journey with them, an overall feeling is beginning to be felt and this wonderful connection to the whole story realised.

From the outset, this story makes its inexorable way toward its conclusion with a certain sense of inevitability and fatality. There really are no other directions the paths these characters are on can lead. This is not to suggest that the story feels predictable; merely that they inhabit a living, breathing, dynamic world, where each action and decision has real-world consequences and effects. You become so drawn into their lives, particularly in the earlier parts, that you find yourself emotionally invested in and caring about every decision and choice they make, and every step they take; feeling optimism when they go one way, or dread when they go another; and sharing in the sense of justice or injustice at the fruit that these paths may bear.

All of the main characters are sympathetically-not-sentimentally drawn as fully-rounded human-beings, and are infused with love by the author. As such, their motivations are clear and understandable. Subsequently, you find yourself able to empathise with them all, even in the face of behaviour that may appear disagreeable – and you really do care and do become emotionally invested in the outcomes of their well-meaning if misguided choices and actions.

It is these living and breathing people that populate the story that make it such a joy. This book is a lesson in characterisation. They are drawn so well, within and without, that we feel able to see how they are seen, and feel how they see – and are, therefore, able to empathise with, appreciate, and understand all of these points of view. This gives us a fully-rounded, fully-realised, believable cast inhabiting a generally fully-drawn believable world.

For those that enjoy getting invested in lives populating a convincingly told human drama against the backdrop of a realistic and generally relatable world, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I doubt this a book that will affect your worldview and, although a beautifully framed story, its structure and telling don’t break any new ground – hence the four rather than five marks. However, that’s not what it’s here to do: it’s here to tell the story of this family and various members within – and this it does wonderfully. It therefore receives a hearty recommendation from me.