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

Ending Old Journeys and Starting New Ones

Well, this year has definitely been a journey. My 2014 resolution was to publish something, and thanks to the encouragement of my friends and family, I did just that. Granted, it wasn’t the book that I’ve envisioned in my future, but we’ve got to save something for this year, right? Nevertheless, seeing my theatre reviews in print in an actual magazine that people buy, gave me a feeling of pride that I’ll never forget. It was a huge moment for me. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me achieve this, especially Artsbeat’s editor, Amanda Penman, for giving me the opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I got through my first year of college this year. You may or may not know that I’ve found college to be a rather difficult challenge and have come close to giving up more than once. But I got through it, passed all my subjects, and so far my final year has been much better.

What else have I achieved this year? Well, this blog for one thing. Over the years, I’ve started and restarted so many blogs that I’ve lost count, but this is the first one that I’ve held close to my heart. And I think that shows because you have been so supportive of it. Thank you, everyone, for reading all of my mundane ramblings, putting up with my rants, and being interested in what I have to say. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it wasn’t for every single one of you.

I am so proud of all of my friends and family for what they have achieved this year. My dad’s football reviews are being published in the club’s magazine, my mum’s beautiful paintings are selling better than ever, my older sister has started a new (extremely busy) journey to midwifery, my brother has been promoted, and my little sister performed stunningly in her Class 8 Play before going off to Iceland with her friends at the beginning of summer. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am to have a family as kind and talented as them.

And what do I have to look forward to in 2015? In January, I’m attending a film course with BFI that could lead to all sorts of exciting things. I’ll be taking my exams and finishing college in summer, which will lead to me taking a new path into the unknown world of Adulthood, wherever that may be. Whether I start university or take a year out to focus on writing, I know that next year will be full of opportunities. And then, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary, we’re going to Disneyland! Remember, this post from way back in May? Well, it’s finally happening! I guess publishing reviews was good enough. (Not that I’m giving up on the book front.)

I don’t truly believe in ‘resolutions’, as the word seems to discourage people to stick to them. But I do believe in making plans and goals for the coming year. So here are mine.

1. Write a book.
I’m not giving up on this. It will happen this year, I swear. I’ve made my first steps towards it, and nothing’s going to stop me now.

2. Write more, in general.
I’m going to write everything. Articles, blog posts, book reviews, theatre reviews, poetry, scripts, music, everything. If there’s something that I haven’t tried writing before, I’ll do it this year.

3. Learn guitar.
I’ve always wanted to be Ed Sheeran, but my chances of that were greatly diminished when I stopped my guitar lessons at five years old. Now, with a renewed sense of music, I will finally begin to achieve my dream of becoming a musical sensation (ha!).

4. Face my future.
I’m terrified of adulthood. Now, at eighteen years old, I’m not going to be scared anymore. Honest.

5. Eat healthier and exercise more.
This one is not a promise.

What are your New Year’s resolutions/plans? Let me know in the comments.

Merry Slightly Late Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Lots of love, from Beth.


Listening to: Wrecking Ball by Jasmine Thompson
Watching: Thor: The Dark World
Drinking: Schleur
Eating: Christmas chocolate

THEATRE REVIEW: Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, London

les mis master of the houseThe West End’s Les Miserables, is a humorous and heart-breaking adaptation of Victor Hugo’s (who also wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame) novel of the same title, brought to life through the marvellous medium of song. I will admit that I went to see this way back in March and there has been a cast change since then but I assure you that it remains just as spectacular as it was all those months ago.

The story takes place in pre-revolutionary Paris, where the impoverished are kept in poverty and the rich become wealthier. After Jean Valjean (Daniel Koek [covered by Chris Holland on the date I saw]), a man who broke his parole, witnesses the death of Fantine (Na-Young Jeon), a woman who formerly worked in his factory, he takes her daughter, Cosette (Samantha Dorsey), into his care. She was previously being taken in by the Thenardiers (Cameron Blakely & Wendy Ferguson), who abused her.

Years later, revolutionary groups are being created. One of them is run by Enjolras (Anton Zetterholm), and is participated in by Marius Pontmercy (Rob Houchen). The Thenardiers’ daughter, Eponine (Carrie Hope Fletcher) is hopelessly in love with him, which he is oblivious to. Instead, Marius falls in love at first sight with the now-older Cosette. Because the police inspector, Jarvert (Tam Mutu), almost finds them after searching for years, Valjean and Cosette are forced to run for England, leaving Marius behind.

Meanwhile, Enjolras is planning a movement against the monarchy. As the battle rages on, many characters die, but Marius and Cosette end up together, marrying with Valjean’s blessing.

les misThe set of the West End production is spectacular. Based on a revolving stage, the main piece of scenery is a gigantic structure that the actors are able to move around and transform while transitioning between scenes. It changes beautifully from a building to a barricade.

The music is absolutely unforgettable. Even as I sit here six months later, I can still hear it in my head. Not only the songs with lyrics that will make you weep, but also the twinkly transition music, full of hope and stars. The music of Les Miserables is simply magical. There is nothing like it in the world.

Adam Linstead’s solo verse as Grantaire in the song Drink With Me is such a heartfelt, poignant moment. It was a travesty to cut them from the film version, as I truly believe that those words have so much meaning for all of the characters, and show the theme of the entire musical.

“Drink with me to days gone by,

Could it be you’re scared to die?

Will the world remember you when you fall?

Could it be your lives mean nothing at all?

Are our lives just one more lie?”

carrie as eponine1Of course, the acting is astounding. Carrie Hope Fletcher, in particular, shines. She brings the character of poor Eponine to life, depicting her as a girl who never really knew love but had a lot of it to give. With a stunning singing voice, Carrie is an extremely talented lady with a bright future ahead of her. She will be taking some time out as Eponine this year while she is touring the country as Beth from The War of the Worlds – The Final Arena Tour. Look here to see if tickets are selling in your area. You can also visit her YouTube channel here.

After the show, I briefly met Carrie as well as Jonny Purchase and Dale Hodge, who are members of the ensemble. Everyone was lovely, taking the time to talk to their fans despite not having long for their between-shows break.

Other stand-out talent included Anton Zetterholm, Tam Mutu, Rob Houchen, Wendy Ferguson and Adam Linstead.

If you get the chance, Les Miserables is a monumentally impressive show and I recommend that you go see it when you can. The current cast are:-

Jean Valjean………Peter Lockyer

Javert………David Thaxton

Fantine………Celinde Shoenmaker

Thenardier………Tom Edden

Madame Thenardier………Wendy Ferguson

Eponine………Carrie Hope Fletcher

Cosette………Emilie Flemming

Enjolras………Michael Colbourne

Marius………Rob Houchen

I would recommend this to:-

  • Anyone who isn’t afraid to cry.
  • Revolutionaries.

Star Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

(Pictures of the 2014 cast belong to Johan Persson.)

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.