A Pin to See the Peepshow – F Tennyson Jesse

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There is nothing like opening an old book. Dark yellow pages, brittle glue, folded corners. This particular book was bound together with Sellotape and given to me on the premise it was an all-time favourite. A big promise. But it completely lived up to this. After a bit of a slow start, this book has ended up being one of the best books I’ve read of 2021 (and possibly ever). I want to re-read it, re-live it again and again.

I started thinking this was your average 20th century read about a young woman and her coming of age. Little did I know this would hand me the best portrayal of the English justice system I’ve ever read. The twist. The ending. Oh my god. It is brilliantly horrible.

We first meet Julia when she is a schoolgirl in 1910s London. She wants excitement, love, and to move out of her parents’ house. We follow her through her life. Through the First World War, her job as a shop girl, and finally her marriage and affair. We see Julia pine for love and sex, falling victim to the pressures of the First World War.

Julia is bright, imaginative and lives in a somewhat fantasy world, making rash decisions with a naive optimism that they will turn out the way they always do in books, happily for the protagonist. Like many of us, she believes she is special, and does not consider that anything really terrible could ever befall her. Death and murder is something that happens to other people, isn’t it? As the pace picks up, Julia finds herself a victim of society’s expectations for both her sex and her class.

If you are expecting an old-fashioned love story or coming of age about affairs, this is so much more. There is crime, justice, and most importantly, miscarriages of justice. A pin to see a peek show delves into the human soul. I cannot imagine how revolutionary this piece must have been at its time of original publication (1930s).

After reading (and raving about it to everyone I saw), I did a bit of research and found the book is based on the very real murder trial of Edith Thompson in the 1920s. Reading about just how much of Edith’s case is replicated in A Pin to See the Peepshow gave me a shiver down my spine. A desperately sad case that shows once again the death penalty is archaic and atrocious.

A Pin to See the Peepshow is undeniably a fantastic piece of feminist prose and if you find a copy, buy it immediately! It’s not currently in print, but I have seen that British Library Women Writers is publishing a new version which is available to pre-order from Waterstones and Amazon.

Christmas reads

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Is there anything better than sitting snug by the Christmas tree with a book? I don’t think so. I enjoyed reading a wide variety of books over the Christmas period, all different but all brilliant!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I loved the Midnight Library, it was just what I needed to read over the gloomy days of a lockdown Christmas. I’ve read Matt Haig before but this book really stood out to me. The Midnight Library is a celebration of choices and possibilities. It shows that we are all important, no matter how small we think we are.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club was a Christmas gift alternative to my normal Xmas Agatha Christie read. I devoured this novel alongside plenty of Quality Streets. Set in a retirement village, a group of OAPs sleuths are thrown head first into real life murder. An enjoyable murder mystery that will delight any Agatha Christie fans (like me!).

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro was a gift from my mum and very lovely read. An ode to book lovers, this delightful book will make you want to go to Paris and eat croissants overlooking the Seine.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

I love Dolly Alderton’s podcast so I had to buy her new fiction book. A great observation on modern dating, Ghosts isn’t your average rom-com.


The Girls and Daddy by Emma Cline

How have I only just discovered Emma Cline?! An incredible writer. I particularly loved The Girls which is loosely based on the Manson Cult in the 1960s. A brilliant portrayal of teenage friendship and the potential humans have for evil, The Girls has stayed with me ever since.

October 2020 reads

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Last week I handed in my final piece of work for my MA in Creative Writing! A 40,000 manuscript, 40,000 words which I had poured my heart and soul into for five months.

I spent most of the last month sat at my desk, but I did manage to read a few books. The novesl I read were all ones along the same themes that I was writing about (relationships, the past and friendship) in order to try and understand how these authors did it!

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

I read this on holiday in Cornwall and it is the ideal beach read. Nice and easy, Sweet Sorrow is about the teenage romance between Charlie and Fran set the backdrop of a amateur dramatic performance of Romeo and Juliet. A tragicomedy on first love that we can all relate to, David Nicholl’s draws on nostalgia to bring the point home.

Expectation by Anna Hope

Expectation follows the friendship of three young women. Beginning in their early twenties the novel takes us to ten years later where none of their lives have lived up to their expectations and in reality, each hungers for what the others have.

A lovely portrayal of female friendships and ageing, Expectation is very moving. As I start to move into my mid-twenties (agh!) and think about my expectations for the future, I felt very connected with this novel.

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

”Ordinary People? Haven’t you already read that?” Despite having quite similar names Ordinary People by Diana Evans is very different to Normal People. A study of friendship, parenthood and affairs, Ordinary People is about two 30-something middle class couples in London.

A study of friendship, parenthood and affairs, Ordinary People is about two 30-something middle class couples in London. Set against the backdrop of Obama’s historic win, the novel quietly tells the story of lives lost and the need re-find yourself.

The Past by Tessa Hadley

My tutor recommend this book over the summer and I can completely see why. A beautifully written novel about a family on holiday explores all the depths and complications of human emotion. Tessa Hadley has a unique talent of showcasing family drama with such psychological surety. I can’t wait to read more Tessa Hadley.

The New Banal: Contemporary Fiction’s Interest in the Ordinary

books, Essays

A discussion on Sally Rooney’s Conversation with Friends  and  John William’s Stoner

The Collins English Dictionary defines the banal as something that is “so ordinary that it is not effective or interesting” (“Definition of ‘banal’”). Yet, there has been movement in contemporary fiction towards pieces focused on the ordinary and employing the techniques of literary realism. Literature has become increasingly interested with the ordinary; no longer do readers crave escapist fantasies, but instead a focus on recognisable, everyday events. No writer epitomises this as much as Sally Rooney. Her work has seen huge success, particularly with the release of the BBC’s adaptation of Normal People.  But why is it that we are currently so interested in reading about the everyday?  

This is not a new phenomenon. An obvious example of literature’s interest in the ordinary is John Williams’ 1965 academic novel Stoner. Gaining little literary recognition when first published it is only in recent years that Stoner has become popular; with the novel awarded Waterstone’s 2013 ‘Book of the Year’ in Britain. The novel’s brutally honest account of life can be read as “depressing” (Preston), yet it is also an ideal example of how the banal can be effective. Williams’ novel documents the life of a man who “did not rise above the rank of assistant professor” and who “few students” remember “with any sharpness” (1). 

It is the complete ordinariness of this man which makes Stoner so heart-wrenching to read. We worry about being forgotten; his seemingly unexceptional life could just as easily happen to anyone. Stoner may be a “depressing” novel about the ordinary life of an “everyman” (Almond), but it still produces an incredibly emotional read. Stoner portrays real people and real problems which, however inconsequential to the greater world, can destroy an individual’s life. Edith’s rearranging of Stoner’s study is a particularly poignant moment, “Edith had, with the help of a local handyman, moved all of his belongings out of his study”, leaving his clothes and books in a “careless jumble” (129). What may seem like a simple act, is heart- breaking for the reader because we know how much those books mean to him; they are one of the only constants in his life. In comparison to other literary events, this may seem an insignificant act, but in real life it is often the minor events, like this, which have the most considerable consequence in our everyday life. 

Steve Almond writes modern life is “distracting us from the necessary anguish of our inner lives”, thus Stoner’s raw exploration of the ordinary is a much needed “antidote” (Hampson). Stoner is an “antidote” to the constant, modern pursuit of happiness and success and, arguably, this is the reason for the recent popularity. Williams reminds us that “a life that looks like a failure from the outside, that will be quickly forgotten once it ends, can be a noble, quirky and somehow beautiful experience.” (Hampson). In the modern Western world, there is constant pressure to maintain a perfect image of your life and yourself. Magazines, television and the rise of Influencers do not portray the average life, only an idealised concept. It is Williams’ positioning of Stoner as an “everyman” (Almond), and his focus on the seemingly mundane, everyday problems, that makes the novel appealing for contemporary readers. 

The need to recognise and understand “the necessary anguish of our inner lives” (Almond), has not only caused a renaissance in Stoner’s popularity, but arguably helped create this new fascination with the ordinary, which has allowed for Rooney’s success. 

Rooney’s two books have been described as “the literary phenomenon of the decade.” (Cain) and “cult-hit[s]” (Canfield). Through Conversations With Friends, Rooney demonstrates how everyday events can be portrayed as significant. Rooney draws on ‘what-if’ scenarios to transform events from banal into captivating. Rooney’s description of Frances’ “non-existent” (169) miscarriage, is a particularly good illustration of this effect of the ordinary. In reality, the bleeding was nothing but the possibility of what it could have been will remain with her forever. Therefore, it becomes not banal but in fact life-changing. Rooney writes “the non-existent baby entered a new category of non- existence, that is, things which had not stopped existing but in fact had never existed” (170). The emotive use of “baby” reminds the reader exactly what the possibility was and how life-changing it could have been. In addition, the phrases “I sat on the bed…and cried” and “it was okay to cry because nobody could see me, and I would never tell anyone about it” are written incredibly simply, and this allows them to be very effective. We understand exactly. We do not need Rooney to describe in vivid detail the room or exactly how Frances’ is feeling; we have all, at some point, sat on a bed and cried and never told anyone. Through this simple phrase, Rooney allows us to remember how it feels to sit and cry alone, and this is what makes it so effective. The reader is able to identify with the character and so the scene evokes an emotive and personal response. Although Rooney allows us to project our own feelings on the scene, we are reminded it is Frances’ “non- existent” miscarriage through the line “I would never tell anyone about it”. We can empathise, but the line establishes Frances’ shame and reminds us she is alone, alone in her room, alone without Nick’s support and alone without a baby. 

Arguably, we enjoy reading about the ordinary and everyday events because that is what our lives are immersed in and we want to make sense of it. As Andrew Martin argues “Rooney’s novels have the unusual power to do what realist fiction was designed to do: bring to light how our contemporaries think and act in private… and allow us to see ourselves reflected in their predicaments”. Just because something is small and seems unimportant doesn’t mean it won’t have a huge effect on our lives. Through writing about seemingly “non-existent” problems and the everyday, Rooney is giving people a voice. She is putting our own emotions on paper, and it can become much more personal to read than any imaginative scenario. 

It is also Rooney’s focus on characters and the relationships between them, which allows her novels to present ordinary events as extremely poignant. Anna Leszkiewicz writes that Conversations With Friends “is forensically engaged with the constant, small ways in which we interpret and perform in our relationships with others”. For example, chapter fourteen begins with a description of Frances, Nick and Bobbi eating breakfast. Rooney writes “Bobbi called me [Frances] a little pig, though she said she meant this ‘in a cute way’. And I brushed Nick’s leg under the table” (117). As David Canfield states Rooney’s work is propelled by the “nuances and revelations of everyday interaction”. These simple descriptions of unnoticed moments tell so much about the characters and allow a seemingly everyday scenario to gain significant. Through Frances’ comment “Bobbi called me a little pig, though she said she meant this ‘in a cute way’” the reader gains an honest view of their friendship and its dynamics. The reader understands the disrespect Bobbi’s “little pig” comment holds and Frances’ use of quotation in her response “she said, she meant this ‘in a cute way’” suggests she doesn’t believe it was meant “in a cute way”. In just a few words, Rooney clearly portrays the imbalance between their friendship. This imbalance is again emphasised through Frances’ “brush[ing] Nick’s leg under the table”. Frances’ comments that she gets a “spiteful sense of joy” through this secret activity. This covert action allows her to regain some power over Bobbi, as Frances is actively keeping something from her. The imbalances in their friendship’s power dynamics are levelled. 

Brushing Nick’s leg is both an insignificant event, but also incredibly poignant. As Alex Washam, Rooney’s editor, commented “what I love most about Sally’s writing is how closely she is attuned to the subtleties of human relationships… her characters and their situations are specific, but their psychological and emotional experiences are universal” (Canfield). From an outside viewpoint, “I brushed Nick’s leg under the table” (117) may seem trivial, but for Frances with her feelings for Nick, it is momentous. The reader understands this completely because they also have experienced moments like this, catching someone’s eye or brushing against them, which are both nothing but also can be interpreted as eve. 

It is the characters which allow pieces focused on the ordinary and everyday events to become extraordinary. Rooney said, “the kind of novels that I’m interested in writing are observations about what it feels like to be alive right now” (Canfield). Rooney writes about what it is like to be alive right now for the ordinary person, giving them a voice in a noisy world. Stoner is popular because no matter how much of a “failure” a life looks, purely being alive is a “beautiful experience”. Rooney and Williams’ novels are purely on the complexity of human relationships and how they affect us, and this is what makes them so interesting to read. 

We enjoy reading about the banal because it allows for an in-depth analysis of human relationships and gives a voice to the everyday person. Although literary realism focuses on the mundane, it can still produce a piece of intimacy and rawness through the use of character. A piece based on everyday events can produce just as big extremes in emotion as famous tragedies; they are a portrayal of everyday life and allow the reader to see themselves reflected in the work and put their emotions on the events. It may be that as our lives become more complicated and dominated by the aim to appear perfect the new banal will become even more popular. 

Works Cited:

Almond, Steve. “You Should Seriously Read ‘Stoner’ Right Now.” The New York Times Magazine, 9 May 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/magazine/you-should- seriously-read-stoner-right- now.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A% 22RI%3A7%22%7D&_r=0. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

Cain, Sian. “Normal People: how Sally Rooney’s novel became the literary phenomenon of the decade.” The Guardian, 8 Jan. 2019, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/08/normal-people-sally-rooney-novel-literary-phenomenon-of-decade. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.

Canfield, David. “Sally Rooney is capturing what it feels like to be alive right now.” Entertainment Weekly, 11 Apr. 2019, ew.com/author-interviews/2019/04/11/sally-rooney-normal-people-profile/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2019

Hampson, Sarah. “Stoner: How the story of a failure became an all-out publishing success.” The Globe and Mail, 11 May 2013[Canada] , p. 4+, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/stoner-how-the-story-of-a-failure-became-an-all-out-publishing-success/article15803253/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2019.

Leszkiewicz, Anna. “Sally Rooney on sex, power and the art of being normal.” The New Statesman, 12 Sept. 2018, http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2018/09/sally-rooney-interview-normal-people-booker-prize-bbc-three-adaptation-conversations-with-friends . Accessed 15 Apr. 2019.

Marriott, James. “The first great millennial novelist. Sally Rooney, 27, the literary senstation from Dublin.” The Times, 19 Jan. 2019, p. 4+.

Preston, Alex. “Stoner by John Williams.” Alex Preston, 12 Sept. 2018, 

Lockdown and university

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This post was originally published on The Bath Magazine website: https://thebathmagazine.co.uk/learning-in-lockdown/

After weeks of strikes, I was finally about to start having lectures again when Coronavirus hit. Overnight everything changed. Gone were the bus rides to Corsham Court, gone was catching up over coffee in the café and gone was writing in the library. 

Most people on my Creative Writing Masters at Bath Spa University don’t live in Bath. Instead, they commute from all over the country, which means I probably won’t see any of them until I graduate in the winter. It’s a big change from the group writing sessions and pub trips I had envisaged for the rest of term. But, it’s easy to think and dwell on all the things I’m missing, when really I am a lot luckier than most students. I don’t have exams, and my deadlines haven’t changed. I’m not missing a well-earned graduation or all the fun that comes after finishing exams in undergrad. My MA runs over the summer, so I while I’m gutted about the cancellation of Glastonbury, I was expecting to spend most of July and August inside anyway.  

Surprisingly, I don’t really mind being online. I do miss the chatty coffee breaks and saying ‘hi’ to peacocks on my way to workshops, and my internet connection leaves a lot to be desired. But, so far the transition has gone smoothly, people have learnt to use the chat function, mute their microphones and we have even managed a quick virtual coffee break. It is tiring to spend three hours glued to a screen, so my tutors have introduced more frequent five-minute breaks which allow us to stretch our legs and grab a quick cup of tea. Luckily my tutors, on the whole, have been really good with the move to virtual learning. They’ve been sending regular emails giving advice on how to block out distractions, and offering five minute chats whenever we need them. These mini motivation messages have helped grow a support network across the MA, which is great to be part of.

As it is Creative Writing, it is pretty easy to do in distance learning, as the bulk of is spent on my own at my desk anyway, so no change there. My main concern is that I have to keep my bedroom as tidy as possible and angle the computer away from my ‘floordrobe’. One of my tutors even suggest we each do a room tour, but as we’re all writers, I’m a little concerned my messy room might make its way into someone’s novel as a symbol for millennial laziness. Being online means an insight into everyone’s lives that you didn’t get sitting around a table.  Teeming bookcases, spouses popping in, and an introduction to cats, chihuahuas, children and Chinese ornaments – some of these show and tells are a lot more interesting than others. 

Although I now technically have more time than ever to get on with university work, that isn’t quite going to plan. Everyone is in the house again, all four of us actually living together for longer than a few weeks for the first time in five years. This means every time you leave your room, or, god forbid, try and work downstairs, you get caught in conversation. You wanted a quick cup of coffee and a scroll on Instagram, but suddenly you’re helping transfer tadpoles from one pond to another or helping your parents set up a Zoom call. You might be finally getting your teeth into some work when someone pops in with the newest lockdown meme, or Tiktok, or query about proofreading an email. And if it’s not your family, then it’s every form of social media out there. My phone has honestly never felt more popular. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Houseparty, Zoom. Friends who normally have busy lives and hectic jobs suddenly find themselves stuck at home and with a lot more free time – which is great for me, but less great for my degree. 

So, I better tidy that floordrobe, mute my phone and get ready for the next three-hour session!

Escape into a book: Eight books to read during lockdown

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Everyone has a list of things they want to do this lockdown; lose weight, master the art of sourdough, become Tiktok famous, read every classic under the sun… But if you’re not quite in the mood to start War and Peace or delve into Dickens, I have complied a list of the best books to pull you straight out of 2020 and immerse you into a fictional world. There’s a bit of everything in this list; thriller, drama, classics, contemporary, romance. Take your pick. These books are guaranteed to help you escape the real world.

The Dry

Jane Harper

In the small Australian town of Kiewarra, three members of the same family are brutally murdered. This is a who-dunnit that could rival Broadchurch. It is brilliant. It’s rare to get a great thriller that is also beautifully written but Harper does both here. I guarantee you will forgot lockdown and think only: who was it that killed the Hadler family?

Once you’ve finished The Dry, Harper has several other crime novels that are equally gripping.  

The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton

I got this on Christmas day when it was first published and I had already finished it by Boxing Day lunch.

It follows the new life of Nella Oortman as she moves from rural Holland to live with her new husband in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. This isn’t quite the house of her dreams. There are secrets at every corner and a dollhouse which mirrors their real-life counterparts. Nothing is what it seems and the cruel world of 17th century Amsterdam that will only bring trouble.

There has been a T.V series since but I preferred the book, it’s wonderfully written.

Rebecca

Daphne Du Maurier

First published in 1938 and still going strong, Rebecca is a true classic. You will whisked out of your house and placed in Manderley. Everything about this book is enthralling, thee descriptions, the narrator, the mysterious Rebecca. If you haven’t read Rebecca, now is the time.

A Ladder to The Sky 

John Boyne

Dark, chilling. Brilliant. I’ve written about this book in my last book but honestly it kept me hooked (so much so I read in the car and I get carsick).

It follows the story of would-be-novelist Maurice Swift, and his mission to rise to the top at all costs. There is nothing Maurice will stop at for a good story and the fame that comes with it.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

 Louis de Bernieres

I read this years ago, but it has remained one of my favourite books. It is set on the Greek island of Kefalonia during the Second World War, and is a story of love and loss. The imagery is so great in this book, that certain scenes stick with me even now.

Pachinko

Min Jin Lee

Packinko follows the story of a Korean family in Japan throughout the twentieth century. It is a full and rich saga. A story of struggle and identity in a hostile land, but also of family and love. You will get so lost in this world and the family’s struggle that Boris and his daily briefings become a faint memory.

Cross Stitch (the first in the Outlander Series)

Diana Gabaldon 

I read these books years ago when I was in Uganda and they were brilliant.

It’s a historical romance with a time travel twist – which sounds terrible but is actually great. They are an epic story of love in a time of conflict, and they grip you from the star. The best bit about them is they are huge books and there are loads in the series, so once you’re hooked they will keep you going until this is all over.

The books are now also a major T.V series, which is hugely popular. 

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

If you’re going to read one classic throughout the whole of lockdown, Jane Eyre should be the one. It is one of those novels which you can return to time and time again, and it only gets better. There is romance, but there is also so much more. There is a reason this book caused such a stir when it first published over 150 years ago.

To get your hands on these books, search your local bookshop. Lots of independent bookshops are still working and sending out books, so give them a try first before you head to Waterstones or Amazon.

If you do read any of these, let me know what you think in the comments.

January 2020 reads

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January was a pretty busy month; I started a new role at the Bath Magazine (I’m interning there one day a week) and had to learn to balance that with my part-time job and writing a 5000-word deadline. But it has been a brilliant month in terms of books. I read a lot, but it is rare that they stand out as much as A Ladder to the Sky and Girl, Woman, Other did this month – both two of the best books I’ve read in months. Anyway, I really want to keep track of the books I read, and I get asked a lot about what I’ve read and enjoyed recently so I thought I would start doing a monthly post to keep track:

Me in Agatha Christie’s writing room

Five Little Pigs

Agatha Christie is my guilty pleasure and it is always a great day when I find a new book of hers I haven’t read. I picked this one up on a visit to Agatha’s house, Greenway in Devon. I know I am a certified old lady but if you haven’t been already I would definitely recommend it!

I read Five Little Pigs curled on a sofa in Dartmouth very full with Christmas chocolate.  The sea visible from the window and the fire was flickering, I think Agatha would have approved.

A Ladder to the Sky

I couldn’t put this book down. A slow start but once you’re over the first part this book does not let up, I had to finish it. This is one of the only books I have ever sacrificed feeling (very) car sick to read.

A Ladder to the Sky follows Maurice Swift, an aspiring writer who will do anything to get his fame. We follow Maurice in four different chapters of his life, each getting more dark and more unsettling as we watch Maurice leer his next victim, powerless to do anything but shout at the pages. It is dark, powerful and all consuming. I cannot recommend it enough!

Miss Austen, Gill Hornby

I was really lucky to attend a talk by Gill Hornby about her most recent book. The talk itself was incredibly interesting, her writing process and inspiration.

Miss Austen is a book for diehard Austen fans. Hornby has cleverly replicated Jane’s own style of writing, interweaving her letters and also some of her brother’s (awful) poetry so well it is hard to tell when Jane stops and Gill begins.

Although Miss Austen isn’t a book I would usually pick up, I do fully appreciate the care taken make it true to Jane Austen’s writing.end Miss Austen

Girl, Woman, Other

I fell in love with this book. Full on, head over heels in love.  It is the first book I’ve read that follows a more experimental writing style and it has got me craving more. Bernardine’s use of poetry-prose fusion enables this book to flow beautiful and convey the lives of the 12 women. The experimental style of writing helps bring these women alive. Transforming them from characters on a page to real people who’s subconscious flows and mirrors our own..

There have only been a few books that have made me feel the way Girl, Woman, Other did. Only a very few that I have taken much longer than normal to read, because I am savouring every sentence. 

This is a brilliant feminist piece which explores the lives of women (bar one) throughout Britain. Girl, Woman, Other explores so much, race, domestic abuse, sexuality, without ever feeling forced overcrowded. Instead, it truly feels like a look at us all, all the women, girls and others. All the characters and their tales are interconnected, allowing you to truly see every side of the story. ‘Fuck Face’ the dinosaur of a teacher for LaTisha, is actually Shirley, the hardworking daughter of immigrants who dreams of transforming lives – oh and is the best friend of Amma, the playwright we meet in chapter one.

I can’t wait for her next book, and whilst I do I’m going to keep rereading Girl, Woman, Other. 

Space and gender in Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice

books, Essays

Space as a concept has always been significant in literature and lends itself to large amounts of critical analysis and discussion particularly in regards to the idea of gendering spaces. It is through this lense that this essay will discuss the concept of a masculine and feminine space in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The female authorship of both texts allows for a unique presentation of space, with both works using the country house setting to comment on the patriarchal world they inhabit whilst also using the natural world to give agency to their female protagonists. However, is it possible to have a space both genders can unite?

Rachel Fergus argues that through prominent primogeniture laws “houses became associated with patriarchy” in Austen’s era. Primogeniture laws meant aristocratic men and their estates became very much entwined, and Austen draws on this through Pride and Prejudice, so much so that the men and their houses become interchangeable. The country house became synonymous with male aristocratic identity, and this is most evident through Austen’s paring of Pemberley and Mr Darcy. As Michael Riffaterre notes “Darcy’s grounds and home symbolise their owner”. Austen’s repetition of adjectives such as “large”, “beautiful” and “handsome” (206) when describing Pemberley, is evidently also a description of Darcy. Whilst Riffaterre’s work focuses more on the idea of the repetition as a narrative device and truth prompting technique used to present Elizabeth’s true feelings, arguably it much more of an illustration of Darcy’s embodiment of Pemberley. Austen’s further descriptions of Pemberley again support this view. Notably, her description of the “stream of some natural importance… swelled into greater” (206), here the stream becomes an embodiment of Mr Darcy’s pride. However, its lack of “any artificial appearance” and false adornment, remind the reader that ultimately Darcy is a virtuous and modest hero. Moreover, Elizabeth tells Jane she has loved Mr Darcy since “my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley” (313), implying it is through Pemberley that Elizabeth falls in love with Mr Darcy. Here, Austen is suggesting that Pemberley and Mr Darcy are intertwined, with Pemberley allowing Elizabeth to see the real Mr Darcy.

Netherfield is also presented as synonymous with its owner. Mrs Bennet notes “you have a sweet room here, Mr Bingley, and a charming prospect over the gravel walk” (38). This line is an exact representation of Mr Bingley’s character; Austen’s use of “sweet” refers both to the room and also to his good nature. However, the use of “sweet” is an interesting description as it has connotations of simplicity and dullness, he is nothing exciting, and certainly not as “handsome” (206) and mysterious like Mr Darcy. In addition, “charming prospect” refers both literally to the view but also to his potential as a husband for one of Mrs Bennet’s daughters; he is financially viable and a gentleman in both status and character whilst also residing close to Longbourn, truly a “charming prospect” in Mrs Bennet’s eyes. Through the added description of a “gravel walk”, Austen is reminding us why Bingley is not her hero. He is dull and tamed; his decision to force civilisation on the garden through a “gravel walk” emphasises how he and Elizabeth, a character most at home in nature, could never be a romantic pairing. Interestingly, Sandra Macpherson argues it not only the physical representation of the house that links it with Bingley but purely his possession of the house in rent form. Macpherson argues that Austen presents renting as a comment on the “genialness of character” (9) of Mr Bingley. Although this is an interesting idea, ultimately it is through the physical representation of the houses that Austen links them with her male characters.

Similarly, Thornfield Hall is presented as synonymous with Mr Rochester through Brontë’s description of the hall as traditionally gothic. Jane’s description of the house as “imposing” with “its grey front stood out well from the back-ground of the rookery” (100) is particularly significant. Her comment she finds the house “imposing”, both reminds the reader of Jane’s unequal status whilst also is representative of Rochester’s character. Through describing the house as “grey” and placing it with a rookery, rooks being common in English folklore as having connotations of death, Brontë is creating a traditional gothic scene. Moreover, the description “array of mighty thorn trees, strong, knotty, and broad as oaks” (100), is reminisce of Austen’s description of Pemberley; it can be read as a direct description of Rochester, Brontë’s Byronic hero. In addition, the name “Thornfield” is particularly significant. Obviously, it creates dark and unpleasant imagery, as thorns suggest danger and pain. However, it could also be a comment on Rochester. Thorns are symbolic of Jesus on the cross with his crown of thorns. Through placing thorn in the name of the house, Brontë is implying that Thornfield Hall is Rochester’s own crown of thorns due to Bertha’s imprisonment in the attic.

Thornfield Hall acts as a physical barrier for Jane and Rochester’s relationship; it only when the house is destroyed that the two can be together. This is partly due to the destruction of the attic and creation of a ‘clean slate’, but also once the house is destroyed they are now equals. Whilst fire destroys Rochester’s hidden past it also breaks down the social structures keeping Jane and Rochester apart and allows for their marriage as they now financial equals. As Parama Roy reasons, the house is symbolic of the genteel structure and becomes the “locus of innumerable oppression” (719) not purely for Jane but also for Rochester. Thornfield Hall and the attic ties Rochester to his past and prevents him from being able to marry Jane. Clearly, the attic represents a hidden and suppressed element of Rochester; it represents his past and troubled character. Bertha’s “clamorous peal[s]” of laughter “echo in every lonely chamber” (108) allowing her to be a constant reminder for Rochester, and the reader, that his past is inescapable. The description “echo in every lonely chamber”, also suggests Rochester himself is lonely as due to Bertha’s existence he is unable to remarry. Brontë’s use of “every…chamber” reinforces the idea that Rochester’s past is constantly around him and every aspect of his life. Drawing on this, Roy suggests that Brontë is intentionally presenting the country house not as its traditional “symbol of stability and solidity” but as a “cradle of the unpredictable, the disruptive, and the terrifying” (718). Thornfield Hall varies greatly from the country houses presented in Pride and Prejudice, it’s an isolated, gothic hall where manic laughter pierces the silence. Through her creation of Thornfield Hall and Bertha, Brontë is commenting on the problems of the aristocratic and patriarchal society she lives in and the constant performance that surrounds it. Bertha’s entrapment in the attic reminds the reader of the secrets hidden and acts done by members of the aristocracy and patriarchy in order to keep their status.

John Sung Han suggests the attic “represents a liminal space that straddles a storied past and a progressive future” (537). Interestingly, although the attic symbolises Rochester’s hidden past, Bertha is also a manifestation of Jane. Roy agrees, noting “we would achieve a truer reading of the novel if we were to see Bertha as a double for both Jane and Rochester” (720). Brontë clearly creates parallels between Bertha and the attic and Jane and her life at Gateshead Hall, particularly the red room scene. Jane notes “since my illness she had drawn a more marked line of separation than ever between me and her own children” (27). Here, she is a direct parallel with Bertha, locked away and separated from the family for being considered different. Whilst, Sung Han argues that the attic is symbolic of the struggle between Brontë’s two protagonists and perhaps a unique combination of both feminine and masculine space, this essay would argue this is not the case. There are clear parallels between Jane and Bertha, and the fact Bertha is kept prisoner in this attic by Rochester evidently show that the attic is a purely a manifestation of another way men control women. Thus, it is obvious that Jane and Rochester cannot be together until the attic is destroyed that allows for further release of masculine control.

Conversely, it can be argued that both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre present nature as a feminine domain. Austen’s description of Elizabeth walking to Netherfield as “crossing field after field… jumping over stiles”(30), clearly illustrates how the land is all divided up by men. Elizabeth’s ability to cross the land emphasises how she is now in control and able to transcend man’s division of land because it is a female domain. As Rachel Fergus argues Elizabeth views nature and escaping to the wilderness as “respite from the patriarchal society” and “just by walking alone, Elizabeth is claiming a right that is often only afforded to and associated with men”. Interestingly, modern adaptations, notably the television series and 2005 film adaption, draw on this idea and place Elizabeth Bennet in outdoor scenes and often with wilder surroundings than Austen would have imagined. Arguably, this modern presentation of Elizabeth owes much to feminist readings and a modern take on the romantic heroine as active, rather than passive. Notably, the 1995 television series sets Lady Catherine and Liz’s confrontation in the grounds of Longbourn, contrary to the novel where it is set inside. It particularly interestingly that director Simon Langton decided to change this aspect, placing two women in their own domain to allow them to fiercely argue. Elizabeth triumphs over Lady Catherine in the outdoors and Fergus argues this is because “Lady Catherine accepts and profits from her position and class in society, and thus does not have the wisdom to love wilderness that Elizabeth has”. This is an interesting concept that nature perhaps isn’t the domain for all women, only for those who are uncomfortable in the patriarchal world and aim to break free of its constraints.

Clearly, Jane feels trapped in Thornfield. This is evident through her continuous use of words such as “desired” and “longed” (110) which suggest a desperation. Jane is described as “restlessness” and paces the corridor of the third story “backwards and forwards”, creating imagery of a caged animal, trapped and desperate to escape. As Jane talks about telling trapped she places it with comments on gender inequality, noting “women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel” (110). Through placing this sociological observation with descriptions of Thornfield, Brontë is highlighting how the house is a man’s domain. Brontë is suggesting that Victorian women are metaphorically “locked up” in a man’s world, this is later symbolised by Bertha’s imprisonment. Roy agrees the house is purely a male domain, noting Jane is “distanced from it by being female” (721). Therefore, it only sensible that Jane is more comfortable in the outside. When first exploring Thornfield Hall Jane comments “I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh air, yet listening with delight to the cawing rooks” (100), implying she feels “calm” and at peace in nature. Even the rooks do not disturb her, instead she “delight[s]” in their sound, suggesting she is more content with the natural world and animals than the oppressive domestic space and her fellow humans.

Furthermore, nature allows for the sexes to unite as it has an equalising effect. Both writers are aware the masculine domain extends far beyond the domestic space to encompass the world as a whole, however, both Austen and Brontë choose to present nature as the female domain. Thus, allowing women a space to have the same control as men and when the two sexes meet in nature they are equal. Austen writes “more than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park unexpectedly meet Mr Darcy” (156). The use of “unexpectedly” suggests Mr Darcy surprises Elizabeth, implying he understands Elizabeth’s need for control and tries to meet her in a place where she is most comfortable. In addition, “unexpectedly” suggests Elizabeth is not used to men allowing women control. Moreover, Pemberley’s creates a place of co-existence between nature and the domestic, allowing Elizabeth to fall in love with Darcy. It is on “first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley” (313) that Elizabeth falls in love with Darcy. Austen implies this is because “she [Elizabeth] had never seen a place for which nature had done more; or where natural beauty had so little counteracted by an awkward taste” (206). The suggestion that “natural beauty has so little counteracted by an awkward taste” allows Elizabeth to realise that she will not be suppressed in Pemberley or Darcy. Instead, Pemberley’s presentation of the combination of nature and the domestic illustrate that through Darcy she has met someone who views her as his equal. As Fergus notes “at Pemberley, nature and a house are fully integrated – the wilderness and domestic are combined to create a place where Elizabeth can live and hold true to herself and her relationship with nature”. They are able to unite in nature and Pemberley because the control is equalised; unlike Jane or her other sisters, Elizabeth would never be happy being controlled by a man. Ultimately, nature plays a huge role in Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship; it is when walking that Elizabeth accepts his marriage proposal because walking transcends the boundaries of gendered space.

Similarly, Jane and Rochester first meet in the outside and the two are equal in this first meeting. Jane is not frightened of Rochester, instead, she remarks “the frown, the roughness of the traveller set me at my ease” (113), suggesting a similarity between them in regards to their social behaviour. Through remarking “I retained my station when he waved to me to go”(113), suggesting Jane views herself as equal to Rochester in an outdoor setting, supporting the argument that nature acts as an equaliser. Throughout the novel, Jane and Rochester talk most openly when outside, indeed as in Pride and Prejudice, it is in the outdoors that Rochester first asks Jane to marry him. Again, similarly to Pride and Prejudice, Jane and Rochester can only unite in a place where nature and the domestic are equal, that being Ferndean. Brontë’s describes a house with “dank and green” walls which is “scare…. distinguishable from the trees”, “set heavy in the frame of the forest” with “no flowers, no garden-beds” (435). Ferndean is not grand or tamed, it is at one with the forest surrounding, it’s “dank and green” walls allowing it to be barely distinguishable. Jane is now finically equal to Rochester, and thus Ferndean, with its harmonious wedding of the natural and materialistic world is a place of complete equality for Jane and Rochester. Whilst, Brontë’s description of a “dank” house with “no flowers” may strongly contrast to the pleasant lands of Austen’s novel, it is the perfect home for a couple who once mistook each other for a ‘goblin’ (113) and a witch.

Overall, in both novels, the estate is presented an embodiment of its male owner and thus it is impossible for the protagonists to be together in that male domestic space. Both Brontë and Austen suggest through their work that in order to be happy in a relationship there needs to be equality between the sexes. In Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, it is only in nature or where there is evidence of the co-existence of nature and domestic that the sexes are able to unite, and this is seen through Pemberley and Ferndean. Evidently, this is because both represent an equality between the sexes. Although both writers can be considered ahead of their time through their comment on the constraints of patriarchal society, illustrated in their novels the country house, Brontë goes further and through the attic and Thornfield Hall itself, she comments on society as a whole. Ultimately, it is obvious Austen and Brontë both view masculinity and femininity as conflicting concepts which are unable to unite in the constraints of the patriarchal world, and so are only able to successfully join together when they are both equal.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 3rd ed., Wordsworth Editions, 2007.

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. 12th ed., Oxford University Press, 1991.

Fergus, Rachel. “Houses, Nature, and Pemberley.” Rachel Fergus, 16 May 2018, rachelfergus.com/2018/05/houses-nature-and-pemberley/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.

Macpherson, Sandra. “Rent to Own; or, What’s Entailed in Pride and Prejudice.” Representations, vol. 82, no. 1, 2003, pp. 1-23.

Pride and Prejudice, Directed by Simon Langton, BBC1, 1995

Riffaterre, Michael. Fictional Truth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Up, 1990.

Roy, Parama. “Unaccommodated Woman and the Poetics of Property in Jane Eyre.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 29, no. 4, Autumn 1989, pp. 713-27.

Sung Han, John. “A Lumber-Room of Her Own: Attics in Pamela and Jane Eyre.” Style, vol. 48, no. 4, 2014, pp. 529-42.

ICS all you need to know

Travel

Dreading the idea of graduate life? Not fussed about heading to London just yet? Why not try International Citizen Service. International Citizen Service (ICS) is a government funded volunteering scheme which partners young people from the UK with young people from the developing world and places them with projects which have requested help.  

ICS was something I did during my time from university three years ago and lots of people have been asking me about it recently as an option to do now they’ve graduated and have time. So, I thought I would make a post about my time with ICS and explain more about the programme and be completely honest about what I experienced.

My experience

Having changed course and taken a break from university in 2016 I had nine months of nothing, just waiting to get back to the crazy student lifestyle my friends plastered over social media. I wanted to travel and explore but more than that I wanted to do something that would help me grow and where I could help others. Inspired by friends I applied to be part of International Citizen Service and was selected by Restless Development to volunteer in Uganda. Restless Development are a youth led development agency who work with young people all around the world. I was going to work in Uganda where Restless Development teaches about sexual health and reproductive rights and HIV and AIDs, as well as helping young people develop sustainable livelihoods. 

In order to join ICS, you have to do an intensive interview process after which I was accepted and sent off to Uganda; where I spent three of the most intense, scary and yet amazing months of my life. 

Life in Uganda

When you arrive in your host country you do at least a week of training and learning about the country and programmes you will be delivering. As well as getting to know your UK and, in my case, Ugandan counterparts. For both countries people came from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences and we ranged from 18 to 27 (for UK volunteers the age limit is 25 but for Ugandans it was older).

After 10 days of training by health professionals and Restless Development staff, I moved into my new home. For the first month, I lived in Kanjuki, with the local hairdresser and two other volunteers. However, after a tough month (read: endless sleepless nights due to rats scampering over our beds and bodies, the threat of ‘Night Dancers’ and fractions appearing in our group), I moved to another village. Of course, it was sad to leave the local children I’d begun to befriend; who called me ‘Mama Esther’ and led me around the village with sticky paws. I particularly missed my host sister Shima with who I shared a love of Taylor Swift with, and who took me around on her daily duties introducing me to all her friends and inviting me to hang out. 

I moved to a tiny congregated iron hut in the village of Busaale, a small village with no running water or electricity. Here I was to spend two months with my new ‘mama’ and four lovely new sisters – my three fellow volunteers and our seven-year-old host sister Sandra. 

We settled quickly into village life – getting up early to collect water from the borehole and washing with the morning sun beating our backs. 

During most days we taught at local schools and ran sessions for youth groups in the afternoon. Although we were given guidance by Restless, we created the sessions ourselves and drew posters and created games to keep everyone entertained.  Issues like menstruation and contraception are barely talked about in Uganda, even though it has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa. The only teaching girls get about menstruation is from their female family members so for those whose mother and aunts are not around it is incredibly difficult for them to learn. Menstruation is a taboo in Uganda so men are not usually taught anything, leading to them mocking and bullying girls when they are on their periods. This teasing combined with the difficulty to get sanitary supplies means many girls skip school on their period and this can cause them dropping out altogether. As women we found these facts particularly hard to swallow so made sure we focused a lot on menstruation, teaching both girls and boys how to deal with it.

I was use to classes of thirty at school but in Busaale a class of fifty was considered small, and often classes were combined for our talks leading to us speaking to over a hundred children at a time. My confidence had been severely knocked starting university and I was definitely not one for public speaking, however with only a small team we all needed to get involved and very soon I’d forgotten any fear I had. Before ICS I’d found the prospect of public speaking to even a small group terrifying, but by the end, I was happily leading seasons to hundreds of school children. 

Teaching in Busaale

The good bits:

Busaale was a world away from anything I’d ever experienced. Whilst corrupt is rife in Uganda and something I came to experience on a regular basis, our host mother and family were some of the kindest people I’ve met. They brought us into their lives and shared everything. Unlike one of the fellow teams who’s host family stole the charity money and fed them only rice, our mother cared for us like her own. She was a fantastic cook, always trying to cook our favourite foods and provide us with fresh mangos and pineapple – I’ll always member how her brother brought us around twenty pineapples after we helped build his family a ‘tippy-tap’ to wash their hands. 

Our placement was also very lucky that we had Kiran, not only one of the kindest people I’ve ever met (and now a life-long friend but also a fantastic cook. When Ugandan food was getting a bit too much, Kiran would make the most amazing curries and fresh chapatti, and when we could scourge eggs the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had. Unlike many volunteers, we ate an array of meals and were constantly battling against our host mother’s attempts to fatten us up!

After sessions, we’d help our mama cook and relax in our little room; whispering secrets and learning every word to the few songs we had saved on our phones. Our host sister Sandra would also join us after school, kneeling down in the dark and drawing us pictures of everything she’d seen in the day.

Sometimes we’d make the hour round trip to Kayunga town and treat ourselves to tiny tubs of ice-cream or even a plate of chips in a local ‘hotel’. We also ventured to Jinja, cramming into the smallest taxi (aka a precarious minibus) with around fifteen other people, a few babies and of course lots of chickens. Jinga was loud and colourful and completely different from Busaale. It’s where we went when someone had malaria or typhoid (surprisingly common) but also as a treat to go and visit the Nile. Go to the Nile. If you’re ever in Uganda, go to the Source of the Nile. It’s very, very beautiful and something you will never forget.

Reality check:

Pro rat catcher Ralph

If you view ICS as a way of getting a new profile picture and having a long sunny holiday then beware, its not a holiday. They always say this and its easy to ignore, but it really isn’t a holiday. ICS is scary. It just is. Most of the people I was out with got malaria or typhoid and it is a pretty eye opening experience to be with your friend in a hospital where you have to go out and buy your own loo roll or food, and where you need to keep an eye on her drip because the nurses are just so busy. There are a lot of superstitions in Uganda and it is pretty terrifying to be in a place where everyone believes in witchcraft and ‘night dancers’ (cannibals) apparently live in your village and try to bash down the door to your tin house at 3am (this actually happened). Some people are also, understandably considering history, very anti westerners and you will recieve lot of abuse. You will also have a hell of a lot of experiences with rats, and cockroaches. But do you know what, you just have to deal with that, because when everything else is happening a cockroach invested toilet doesn’t seem that bad.

Also a major issue I had with ICS is the lack of teaching support we got. Although we had basic knowledge on most of the things we were teaching, with some topics we lack sufficient knowledge and experience in dealing with the situation. When I landed all I knew about HIV and AIDs was what I’d seen on Comic Relief and there is only so much you can learn in a week, especially when you are in a new country trying to make new friends and also refresh everything you learnt in GCSE biology… So it’s very fair to say we were not in the right position to be teaching and talking to children who have all had some experience with it. I will always remember one girl putting her hand up and telling us that her mum had just been diagnosed with AIDs and what could she do? I’ve never felt more out of my depth and more uncomfortable about the fact that I am a privileged white girl who was over there for three months to then leave them all behind. I hope that since I’ve done ICS the training has improved. It is a great programme and has so much potential to build friendships between countries and debunk myths on menstruation but there is a very fine line between the work and being a ‘white saviour’. 

But despite everything I’m still very glad I did it. It certainly wasnt easy but ICS takes you out of comfort zone and places you in situations you’d rarely even dream of. It is hard. You will get homesick, you will get physically sick and you will receive abuse from some of the people you’re trying to help. But you’ll also meet amazing people, make friends you’ll always remember and have the possibility to change lives.

If you’re stuck after graduation I would definitely recommend looking in to it.

https://www.volunteerics.org/apply-now

Mini break in Lisbon

Travel, Uncategorized

I’m all for a spontaneous trip, and last summer my friend Verity and I went to Lisbon for a wholesome week of sun, sangria and definitely no suspicious parents.


Airbnb is a lifesaver for cheap and unique places to stay; we found a really sweet little apartment in the centre of Alfama and it was perfect. What we didn’t know is every June Lisbon holds a festival for St. Antony (also called the Festival of Sardines) in Alfama. As the sun sets, the neighbourhood becomes alive with music, street food and celebration. Pop up restaurants line the streets, all selling the same, but I’m sure delicious, charcoal cooked sardines and homemade sangria, tiny pots of rice pudding and pastel de nata. Obviously, the focus on sardines is not great for veggies as they don’t sell anything savoury apart from fish, so we normally ate elsewhere first and then joined the streets for pudding. The festival continued every night we were in Lisbon, so we never left Alfama in the evenings. We stayed five minutes away from the centre of the fiesta, and so we spent our evenings getting tipsy off sangria and people watching on the steps of a beautiful white chapel. The party continued into the early hours of the morning, so we fell asleep listening to Portuguese pop songs and very full on street food. 


We both developed a strong love for sangria and could easily drink a jug a night, same goes for pastel de nata, the Portuguese egg tart, which is now one of my favourite foods. We found a little café a few minutes’ walk away from our apartment and had breakfast there every day of our stay, so much so the old ladies who ran it soon recognised us and knew our order! 


After our daily breakfast of pata del nata and freshly squeezed orange juice (I can’t think of a more ideal way to start the day), we did a huge amount of exploring. Lisbon is a beautiful and lively city with so much to see. It is also really close to the beaches, so we took the train to the sea and sunbathed a few days, which was a nice break from the busy city.

One day trip we took was to Sintra (there is a train from Lisbon which runs half-hourly and is very cheap). Although touristy, Sintra is a must stop if you’re visiting Lisbon, purely because it is utterly stunning and has lots to see. I would definitely like to return as we did not see enough of the palaces or the castle! Most of our fellow day trippers took the bus straight to Palácio Nacional de Pena, an impressive castle built in the hills. It is pretty spectacular because of its bright colours. However, though we were warned that walking up there took a while and was difficult in the afternoon heat, but of course, we chose to ignore that and start out anyway, determined not to shed out on the expensive coach. If you’ve ever been anywhere with me, you’ll know I’m pretty horrendous (but determined) at directions so, of course, we got quite lost and after an hour ended up getting the bus. We didn’t pay to go inside because had already been to Palacio Nacional de Sintra and also it was so warm we just wanted to explore the gardens. Palacio Nacional de Pena is incredibly gorgeous but very touristy. If you’re short on time, I would recommend going to Palacio Nacional de Sintra instead because it was completely empty when we went there and just as interesting. It has stunning architecture and beautiful, old hand-painted tiles. 


Verity is very interested and knowledgeable about churches, so of course we went to quite a few including the Monastery of São Vicente De Fora. This was actually a brilliant shout because it was almost completely empty and we had the place to ourselves to explore and learn about the Monastery and its history. The Monastery is breathtaking, with architecture from all periods including Renaissance and Baroque, and beautiful tiles of the fables of La Fontaine. If in Lisbon, I would definitely recommend visiting because it has a flat roof which has the most amazing views of the city. I’m not entirely sure if this was allowed, but we ate our picnic on their roof and enjoyed the sun for a good hour, all by ourselves!

Lisbon is such a stunning city and so lively, 5 days was just enough to see everything we wanted and not rush it but I definitely want to return and explore more.