Review - Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Guest review by @bookspluscaffeine

Why do I like book subscriptions?

Because it means I pick up things I otherwise would not.

In the June NovelTea Book Club Classic parcel, I recieved Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm so glad I've now read it.

This sci-fi / satire follows the narrator, John as he attempts to write a book titled "The day the world ended" about the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He gets tangled up with the father of the atomic bomb, Dr Felix Hoenikker and his family, leading him to a remote island with a mad dictator, a bizzare religion founded on "harmless untruths" to placate the people (because the truth is too awful) , and the discovery of "ice-nine" - Dr Felix Hoenikker's next destructive chemical weapon capable of freezing the entire world. The religion, Bokononism has sacred texts in the form of calypsos which are jarring in their whimsy, and yet sometimes profound,

"Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand."

The characters are so grossly overplayed they more resemble caricatures (though not so dissimilar to current prominent world figures). Told with dry wit and irony, it's a glimpse into the end of the world. I read this book and felt chills- some bits were a little too close to the bone!

Cat’s Cradle was featured in the June 2019 Classic parcel from the NovelTea Book Club. If you’d like to learn more, or sign up to receive one of our monthly book & tea subscription parcels, please feel free to check out the rest of our website.


Subscriber Interview - Jill

This month’s interview is with Jill from Sydney, who subscribes to the Classic/Tea parcel.

Describe your life in a sentence:

I enjoy living in Sydney's inner west with all its great foodie spots; I work for the federal government and go to a local church.

What’s your favourite way to relax and recharge?

Catching up with friends over a meal.

Which fictional character would you like to be friends with?

I'd love to be friends with Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

How do you drink your tea (or coffee)?

If I'm at home, lightly flavoured black teas with milk during the day, and herbal tea before bed. If I'm out, I'll drink a macchiato or skim latte, depending on the quality of the barista!

Do you have a favourite NovelTea Book Club parcel so far?

I'm a bit of a Francophile so I was thrilled to receive the parcel with 'My Year in Provence'.

Review - Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park

Guest post by @barefootcrafter

Playing Beatie Bow is set in Sydney and tells the story of Abigail Kirk, who accidentally travels back through time to 1873.

I hadn’t read this book previously, though according to instagram, it is widely regarded as an enjoyable read, and it really was! In the beginning of the book, when two of the main characters could see a little girl that seemingly no-one else could, I thought I saw what was coming…and I was maybe half right! In the twists and turns of finding ones footings in a different time, the book shows us how easily we take for granted the way we do things considered “normal”, and how alien they would seem to people from another time. It was also a study in not making assumptions – when the main protagonist is brought full circle to a connection rooted in her time in the past, what seemed a foregone conclusion at the time, instead failed to come to pass, with a different, unexpected outcome. A fun, easy, classic read. 4 stars.

Playing Beatie Bow was featured in the May 2019 Classic parcel from the NovelTea Book Club. If you’d like to learn more, or sign up to receive one of our monthly book & tea subscription parcels, please feel free to check out the rest of our website.


Review - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

I’m not sure what it says about my feminism and/or my bookworm-ery that I made it to my 30s without reading A Room of One’s Own. I don’t think I was even particularly interested in reading it… until…

About a year ago, I heard a dramatic reading by an incredibly compelling actress. She sat, in casual clothes, on a stool on an otherwise bare stage, and had the audience (myself included) absolutely enthralled. Before the reading was over, I’d decided that we would definitely be featuring this book in a NovelTea parcel!

A Room of One’s Own is an essay based on two lectures that Virginia Woolf gave in 1928. The title based on Woolf’s premise that in order to write, a woman must have two things; a room of her own, and money to support herself. The essay explores some of the history of female authors and ideas around how women have been excluded from literary culture. Woolf imagines a sister of William Shakespeare, equally talented with words, and how her life may have run differently to her famous brother.

This book was thought-provoking. Predominantly, it reminded me that writing was, and still is, a privilege. To have the time to sit and to think and to craft words. To have access to pen and paper, or a laptop. To have a steady income from elsewhere. To be educated even. These things haunted women through history, and they still haunt many people today.

I think that Woolf’s conclusions are somewhat limited - both by her own privilege and the time in which she was writing - but I still think this book is a worthwhile read.

A Room of One’s Own was featured in the March 2019 Classic parcel from the NovelTea Book Club. If you’d like to learn more, or sign up to receive one of our monthly book & tea subscription parcels, please feel free to check out the rest of our website.