Book Review – Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

Where Rainbows End review - Pinterest Graphic

Where Rainbows End, or Love, Rosie, as it is more popularly known is one of the sweetest, most heart-warming books that I have ever read. Upon finishing it last night, well into the early hours of the morning with the heavy weight of sleepiness settling over me, I found myself turning the final page with a warm feeling in my chest and a smile on my face. If the aim of this story is to encompass the feeling of falling in love, then I think it succeeded.

Back in January, I watched the film Love, Rosie, on one of those rare quiet nights in at university when I felt like I needed a good rom-com in my life. I loved it immediately. The characters, the story, the soundtrack, the imagery, and the general feeling of the film was me all over. And when I found out that it was based on a book, I knew that I had to read it. I bought it the next day.

Where Rainbows End is, however, very different from the film. Although the characters, concept and heart of the story remain the same, there are several big differences. Personally, I found that this did not detract from either of them, but instead gave me more to look forward to as I was reading the book without knowing exactly what was going to happen next.

The book is about best friends, Rosie and Alex, who grow-up together but circumstances cause them to suddenly live on different sides of the world. The book follows them through their lives as they remain in contact, struggling to both fight off and come to terms with their feelings for each other. But life is never as simple as that and sometimes reaching a happily ever after takes a fair bit of time and effort.

The most unique thing about this book is that it is written in the form of lots of different documents – letters, emails, chat-room messages, newspaper clippings, and even a couple of obituaries. By writing in this unconventional prose, Cecelia Ahern has perfectly encapsulated a sense of life that many books fail to do. As we read from the points of view of different characters, their believability is so strong that I almost feel like I really know them.

I also feel like this form lends itself perfectly to the romance genre. There is a romanticism to letters that is often forgotten nowadays, and if this book had failed at everything else, the one thing that it has definitely done for me is give me a new goal of writing more letters. As we rifle through Rosie’s assortment of lifelong documents, we explore the journey of the characters’ lives in a new and revealing way.

So many themes are explored in this book, but some of the ones that stood out to me were love in every form – family, friendship and romantic – following your dreams, and the circle of life. All of the characters strive to achieve their personal goals in life, and I feel that this adds a whole other dimension to the story, making it more than just your typical romance novel.

One of my favourite concepts of the book is the use of mirroring between the generations. Rosie is best friends with Alex, and her daughter, Katie, is best friends with Toby. Alex dreams of becoming a doctor and Toby dreams of becoming a dentist. And both pairs struggle to realise their true feelings for each other. I thought that this was a very clever way of encouraging Rosie to act on her feelings, as she did not want her daughter to make the same mistakes that she did.

I also found that the timeline of the story was important. Unlike in the film where Rosie and Alex reach their mid-thirties, in the book they go all the way to fifty without recognising their feelings for each other. There is something so poignant about the thought of going half a lifetime without finding your soulmate. This may be just because I am used to reading stories where the characters are much younger at the point of their happily ever after. However, I believe that the concept of finding love at fifty is important. It reflects reality in that sometimes it does take a long time, but the end isn’t what is important; it’s the getting there that matters. All of the characters lead full lives and their years do not go to waste.

But their romance is pretty important too.

I’m so pleased that I found this book. It is bursting with all of the happiness and heartbreak of life, stitched together in a unique way that tells a beautiful, poignant story of true love. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves a good rom-com or chick flick, or who just needs a little bit of love in their lives. Where Rainbows End is practically the definition of the word ‘love’.

And if you don’t feel like reading, then at least watch the film. For Sam Claflin, if nothing else.

Star Rating: 4/5

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of First Publication: 2004

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A Pretty Epic Year

Goodbye 2015, what a crazy year you were! Although I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, a lot has happened in my life and I can happily say that I am leaving the year a completely different – and better – person than I entered it.

The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

March – The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

It’s absolutely bonkers to me that this time last year, I was panicking about an A-Level drama performance that felt like it was going nowhere – but that I later passed with flying colours. Back then, I was just beginning to have doubts about the Creative Writing degree I’d applied for, and the BFI Film Academy course was creeping up on me with every passing day as I remained oblivious to just how life-changing it would be. I didn’t know half the people I know now. Everything was scary and intimidating. I had no independence. I was a different person. Before, the world was too big for me but now I’ve grown to fit the world a little bit more.

Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

April – Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

Last year, I made this post about my new year’s resolutions. This year, I’m not making any resolutions because for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m completely happy with who I am. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve always been self-conscious, caring too much about trivial things like my weight and what people thought of me. Over summer, I lost a lot of weight but even if I put it all back on now, I’d still be happy, and I’ve realised that what people think of me really doesn’t matter. I am happy with how I look and who I am.

September - The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

September – The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

I think the main reason for this is university. To say that going to uni at all was a last minute decision is an understatement, and I truly believe that had I not gone, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. I’ve only done one semester so far, but already uni has given me more opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined. Just surviving on my own has given me a huge confidence boost. When you’re forced to be independent, you have to push your anxieties and fear aside and just go for it. And being thrust into a new city on the other side of the country where I know absolutely no one would have seemed like a nightmare to me last January – or even last August  – but now I could happily walk into a group of strangers and make friends. If I ever need to, that is.

November - Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

November – Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

My last uni update was back in September, and even more things have changed since then. I moved into a different halls of residence. When I took the first accommodation, I was told that I had to find somewhere new by December as the international students would then move in. So, the race was on for us to find somewhere else to live. I literally couldn’t have made a better decision when I chose this place. I don’t know if any of my new housemates will read this but there’s a good chance they will so I won’t make this too soppy. I’ll just say that from the moment I first set foot in this place, they welcomed me like family and I’m so glad I know them now. I’ll also say that before I moved in, I barely drank any alcohol. Now, thanks to them, I can probably be found lying on the stairs most Wednesday nights. Thanks a lot, guys.

December - the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

December – the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

Of course, the year hasn’t been all smiles, laughter and drunk antics. My final few months of college brought me a whole lot of stress and anxiety, and there was the terrifying few weeks at the beginning of summer when I passed out in hospital and the doctor said I’d had a seizure. But hey, if you’re gonna have a seizure anywhere, a hospital is probably the best place to have it! Even if it was the night before one of my exams. The beginning of uni was a difficult time too, when I wasn’t sure of anything, didn’t know anyone and missed home like hell. But clearly, as things have a tendency of doing, everything turned out alright.

And there are even more things to look forward to in 2016. First and foremost, my beautiful older sister is having a baby. We’re all so excited and I can’t wait to meet my little niece in April. Our family is going to make her the most loved little girl in the world. As well as that, we’re also going on holiday In the summer, straight off the back of this Christmas’s Disneyland trip, which is a whole other blog post in itself. And, of course, there’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming out in November. It’s all a Harry Potter fangirl can do to stay sane for so long. Well, as sane as I already am, at least.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

All in all, 2015 has been a pretty epic year for me, and I hope it’s been just as brilliant for you. I am so grateful to my family and friends – old and new – for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you to all of my housemates and coursemates. All of you are fantastic.

Happy New Year!

Lost Girl

I am obsessed with Peter Pan, and it’s not just because I have a crush on Robbie Kay who played him on Once Upon A Time. It is the entire concept of Neverland. The conflicts between childhood and adulthood, dreams and reality, innocence and corruption, and freedom and responsibility resonate with me more than they ever did before.

As I am reaching my eighteenth birthday, it might seem silly to some people that I’m so attracted to a fairytale. Truthfully, the story of Peter and Wendy never interested me much when I was younger. It’s only now that I’m approaching uni and have to think about earning money that I really understand what it’s all about.

In the early 1900s when JM Barrie wrote the play ‘Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up’, childhood was cut short very early. The ages of the characters are never specifically stated in either the play or novel, but Peter is described as still having all of his baby teeth, and Wendy is just his height. Nowadays, childhood seems to stretch on for as long as possible. In early adolescence, children seem desperate to grow up, unlike Wendy.

Now, at seventeen going on eighteen, I find myself torn between wanting to live my own life in my own house, earning my own money. But, at the same time, the thought of all that independence terrifies me and all I want to do is crawl back into my childhood and hide there forever. Maybe that’s why I love the idea of Neverland so much.

Can you imagine how wonderful it would be? Someone turns up on your windowsill and whisks you away on an adventure full of more excitement and happiness than you have experienced in your entire life. Unfortunately, there are laws against that kind of thing now.

But at the end of the day, Wendy makes the ultimate decision and says goodbye to Peter, returning home with her brothers to face the inevitable challenge of growing-up, a feat that Peter was never able to accomplish. And it is so sad. The novel depicts the sadness of it much more than the Disney film.

Peter promises to return every year to take Wendy back to Neverland so that he would never forget her. But he does. Because time doesn’t work the same in Neverland, and although he holds to his promise for a couple of years, he soon leaves her for many years. In that time, Wendy gets married and has a daughter. Then, one night, Peter returns to take Wendy (or whom he believes to be Wendy) back to Neverland for her annual visit. And so occurs one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking scenes that I have ever read. Wendy wakes from her chair in the shadows in the corner of the room and sees Peter standing over her daughter’s bed. Peter cheerfully explains that he’s returned after a year to take her away, and Wendy says that it has been longer than that. It has been years. And slowly, Wendy emerges from the shadows and Peter recoils. She’s all grown-up. In the end, Peter takes her daughter to Neverland, and then her granddaughter, and so on. But he always forgets them.

If that hasn’t tugged on your heartstrings enough, then maybe this piece of information will. JM Barrie grew up with seven siblings. When he was six, his fourteen-year-old brother, David, died. His mother was so devastated that Barrie tried to fill his brother’s place by acting like him and wearing his clothes. In Margaret Oglivy (1896), Barrie described a moment when his mother saw him and asked, “Is that you?”, to which he replied in a small voice, “No, it’s no’ him, it’s just me”. He said that his mother took comfort in the fact that David would remain a boy forever and never have to face the horrors of growing-up and difficulties of adulthood.

This adds a whole new side to Peter Pan, who clearly has similarities to Barrie’s brother. The idea that Peter leads other little ‘lost boys’ to the place where they never have to grow up suggests that Peter makes it easier for dying children to move on. It is a sad but oddly comforting idea.

Peter Pan clearly has many layers and themes that are not as obvious as we thought. It is about more than just the struggle of growing-up; it is about the more complex ideas of life, death and love.

I strongly recommend that you read JM Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. Barrie writes in an imaginative style that is completely unique to him. His use of often surreal imagery creates an atmosphere that you can just lose yourself in. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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On a different note, my dad now has a blog in which he posts reviews of films, TV shows and books. You can visit it here.

You Are Extraordinary

Today, I am going to write to you all about something that I am only just learning myself. I know that at the moment I have a mixed bunch of readers, but I believe that this is a subject that will mean something to everyone.

A few weeks ago, I had something of an ‘existential crisis’ in the words of the wonderful Dan Howell (YouTube and BBC Radio 1’s danisnotonfire). It may have been partly due to stress of my exams, but that didn’t make it any less awful. I got it into my head that I wasn’t enjoying any of my college courses, and because of that, I started to lose hope in everything else that I enjoyed. I’m a writer but I couldn’t write anything. I love acting but I couldn’t find any energy to act. Singing is my favourite hobby but it just seemed so exhausting. I didn’t know what on earth I wanted to do with the rest of my life because nothing seemed to be working out at that moment.

The problem, I realise now, is that I was so consumed in the stresses of that one moment that I couldn’t see past it. I didn’t need to decide who I was going to be right then, and I still don’t. Neither do you.

The future is a wide expanse of exciting opportunities, and it is all yours. As cheesy as that sounds, it is completely true. You can be whoever you want to be and you can change who you want to be whenever you want. It doesn’t matter what age you are – if you’re not happy with the way something is going in your life, then change it. You’re never too old or too young to be yourself.

If you are in the middle of a job but you want to try something new or have a go at that dream that you’ve dreamt of achieving since you were eight, then go for it. If you are just starting at college or picking out your GCSE options, and you don’t have a clue what you want to do when you’re older, that’s fine. Just pick the things that you enjoy doing, even if they end up being a crazy eclectic mix that doesn’t make any sense. You still have your whole life ahead of you; don’t get hung up on this one part of it. There is always the option to change.

It seems like in modern society, people are scared to change who they are, or who they think other people think they are. I think this is due to the huge amount of judgement that is pressed upon us on a daily basis. But I promise you that it is perfectly fine to change things if it will make you happier. No one should judge you for that and if they do then they are not worth knowing. But that’s a story for a different blog post.

The point that I am trying to make here is that you shouldn’t let anything stop you from doing what you want to do in life. You are an extraordinary person and this is no one’s life but your own. You have people who love you and in the end, as long as you are happy, nothing else matters.