Monday, 12 December 2016

The Snow Queen (Bristol Old Vic)

The story of The Snow Queen, written by Hans Christian Anderson, is a well known classic, beautifully brought to life by director Lee Lyford and company. This production marvellously combines humour and childish innocence, with meaningful messages of friendship and courage.

Kai (Steven Roberts) and Gerda (Emily Burnett) have been best friends and next door neighbours their whole lives. Kai is brave and loving, whilst Gerda struggles with facing up to her fears. As time progresses children from their village begin disappearing until Kai and Gerda are the only children left. After Kai is taken by the evil Snow Queen and her goblins, Gerda sets out on a quest to rescue him, learning important things about herself along the way.

The set captured the playful, magic of the story, effortlessly portraying the enchanted home of the Flower-witch, to the gloomy and haunting prison of the Snow Queen, with large shards of ice jutting across the stage. Each place Gerda visits has it's own delightful personality, echoed in the colours and styles of costume designed by Tom Rogers. Another interesting addition, was the use of projections to portray Gerda falling in a river, and traversing along long halls in the Duke and Duchess' palace. 

Throughout the Snow Queen there were a variety of different songs that made the audience laugh, cry and gasp in admiration of the amazing vocal skills, particularly of Gwyneth Herbert, who played the Snow Queen. The music mirrored the childish innocence of Kai and Gerda, as well as reflecting their friendship which was founded on moments iconic of childhood, such as ice-cream and laughing at farts.

Every performance that I have seen over the last couple of months at the Bristol Old Vic has boosted my excitement and anticipation, and Thursday's production of The Snow Queen was no different. I left energised and excited, fully assured that every member of the audience was laughing hysterically throughout the evening, charmed by the tale of self-discovery and friendship.

Monday, 21 November 2016

946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (Bristol Old Vic)

Sitting down in the audience waiting for 946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips to begin, I was totally unprepared for what greeted me. As I chatted with my sister, I noticed a man trying to climb over the edge of the divider that separated the gallary from the pit. He then proceeded to ask those in the back row of the pits to stand up so he could do some last minute cleaning. I initially completely fell for it, and it wasn't until, about 5 minutes later, that I realised that this was, in actual fact, the beginning of the show. These 'cleaners', were part of the performance. As the lights faded, and the actors had all eventually made it to the stage, I prepared myself for a very enjoyable performance.

The story of Adolphus Tips, written by Michael Morpurgo, and adapted by Emma Rice for theatre, is both hilarious and tragic. Following the story of Lily Tregeneza, an energetic girl living in the countryside of England during world war II. From the arrival of the evacuees, to them departing again, the life of Lily Tregeneza is full of ups and downs. Played by Katy Owen, I was amazed by how springy and childlike she acted without coming across as silly or over dramatic. Katy bounded across the stage bringing the character of Lily to life, spreading her huge smile and childlike decisiveness. Sharing her small worries, that seemed enormous, only finally put into context when the horrors of the war touched her personally.

One of the things I loved most about 946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips was the incredible singing, in-particular Nandi Bhebhe who played 'Harry', an american soldier and friend of Adi. The music was both haunting and tragic at points, reflecting the turmoil and horrors of a war that robbed so many people, but also the small joys and victories experienced by those who remained at home, as well as the final victory of the war's conclusion.

I think the finale to the play summed the whole experience up for me. The whole cast came on stage, and encouraged the audience to stand before teaching us all a few simple clapping patterns. Then as an entire theatre we stood on our feet and began to sing along and 'dance' with the performers, something that just made me laugh even harder than before. I certainly left the theatre smiling, marvelling at how well the production highlighted emotions of grief, whilst keeping the bouncy perspective of the child who narrates it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic)

Brilliant! Just brilliant! This Grinning Woman walked out of The Old Vic and immediately started telling everyone they must go and see The Grinning Man for themselves. Based on Victor Hugo's The Man who Laughs and adapted for the stage by playwright Carl Grose, The Grinning Man is unmissable for its incredible writing, performance, direction and production.

I was intrigued and engaged from the moment I opened the door to the already crowded theatre. The expectation in the auditorium was palpable: heightened by the huge jeering grin spanning the stage; setting the scene for the marvel to follow. The sets continued to bring the  performances to life throughout: a performance within a performance; a stage within a stage; a huge grin; a church; a throne room; a dungeon. The sets morphed effortlessly and seamlessly to change not only settings but mood from heartbreak and despair to joy, and sprinkled with humour throughout.

The cast for The Grinning Man were incredible. They had beautiful voices that sang the haunting melodies of Grinpayne's tragic life. I was particularly inspired by Louis Maskell who played Grinpayne. His voice portrayed a quiet belief, a desperate hope and a childish innocence and curiosity. This was contrasted by the harsh, prideful character of the clown, whom the audience are encouraged to distrust. As an audience member I often felt moved to protect Grinpayne from the pain of his past, as well as his physical pain. We were taken along his journey, with him, as he discovered his true identity beneath the smile. 

The use of puppets was particularly fascinating, and so effective that I initially thought it was a real little boy running across the stage. I have never watched War Horse, but had always wanted to see how they used puppets, so having the opportunity to watch the same puppet company at work was amazing. I loved how realistic it was, and how you often forgot that there were people controlling the puppets’ arms and legs. 

I think the thing that captured my heart most in this performance was the fact that it made me both laugh and cry. I'm not going to say that's a hard thing to do, because it's not. I am quite easily moved to both laughter and tears when watching performances, however it is rare to find a performance that does both, certainly not in such a beautiful way as this.

In case you haven’t guessed it already: I recommend watching The Grinning Man 100%! It is the sort of performance you can watch again, and again, and pick up new things from the plot and the cast each time. Grab some friends and some tickets and go see it. I dare you not to come out grinning.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Guys and Dolls- Bristol Hippodrome

Wow. This was quite literally one of the most incredible musicals I've ever seen, and I'm not really sure how to put it into words. A couple of weeks before going to watch the performance I happened to be in town, and saw a poster for Guys and Dolls, and I remember wondering how good it was actually going to be. Turns out, it was completely mind-blowing. As the first song ended and clapping broke out across the audience, I lent across to my mum, smiling from ear to ear and whispered, 'I'm going to like this.' I did, and my smile lasted all night through. I'd go and watch this production again in a heartbeat. I loved the songs, the energy, the story-line, the cast. Everything about this made me want to scream, and shout, and tell everyone all about it.

The cast were what was truly inspiring about this performance of Guys and Dolls. Yes, I loved the plot but it was the cast that really brought this show alive with their amazing vocals, acting and dancing skills. I hadn't heard of Richard Fleeshman and Maxwell Caulfield before, but I will certainly be looking out for them in the future.

I'm going to be completely honest and say I don't often focus much on lighting in a performance. I much prefer to watch the cast and plot develop but Guys and Dolls was an exception. The lighting was so spectacular that you couldn't help but notice it. In particular there was a gambling scene in which lighting was used to give an impression of throwing dice, rather than actually physically doing so. The songs also added marvelously to the atmosphere, and I have added many of them to my 'favourite songs' list. 'Sit down, You're rockin the boat,' 'Develop a cold' and 'Guys and Dolls' are three I can think of straight off the top of my head, but the more I consider it the more I realise how much each of the songs deserve the title 'best.' All of them set my feet taping, and my smile steadily growing.

At the end the whole cast joined in a super cool tambourine dance which I really want to learn! I feel like I need to find a tutorial of it somewhere, although I'm not quite sure where that would be. This summed up the whole performance for me, it may sound cheesy but I totally love singing, dancing musicals complete with happy endings, and Guys and Dolls is exactly that. The whole audience were on their feet by the end, and I'm pretty sure all of us left with a smile on our faces.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Taming of the Shrew- Ballet

I would never say that I am a great judge of ballet; in fact, the only ballet performances I have seen are; Alice in Wonderland when I was 8, and Taming of the Shrew, which I watched yesterday in the Bristol Hippodrome. But without a doubt, this was fantastic. I don't necessarily mean in a jump up and down, desperate to go again sort of a way, but a 'wow they were amazing' sort of a way. I don't know if I would personally choose to go again, and yet I would advise anyone with a love of Shakespeare or ballet to go.

The mime and facial expressions are what truly blew me away. How a story could be told without any words or any explanation other than the movement of their bodies, completely inspired me. Each step, or leap told a story, it portrayed whether the character was; happy, sad, in love, angry, scared or confused. The words of Shakespeare were wonderfully woven together and brought alive with the phenomenal dancing portrayed by the ballet company.

Humor is a huge theme within Taming of the Shrew and the ballet really drew on this. I myself laughed out-loud multiple times, snorting in a totally undignified manor as Kate fell off her horse once again, or as Bianca's suitors battled. In particular, Iain Mackay, used his incredible dancing abilities to leap between humor, love, and anger, owning the stage in a way that made him stand out from everyone else.

All in all, Wednesday evening was thoroughly enjoyable and I would definitely go and watch another Birmingham Royal Ballet production.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

King Lear (Bristol Old Vic)

I must admit that I went out to watch King Lear with a slightly sinking heart, yes, it was Shakespeare, and yes I was sure it would 'knock me off my feet' but I was tired and ready to go to bed. From the moment I sat down on the slightly faded green seat in the Bristol Old Vic, my attention was captivated. Not only was the whole atmosphere of the theatre that of bustling excitement, but the set up of the stage looked intriguing, and different from any other Shakespeare I'd ever seen.

From the get go the set took my breath away. Throughout the performance it was moved effortlessly around the stage, creating a stable, a palace, or the wilderness, with just a few props and lighting. One very interesting technique was to use a projector to show the division of the kingdom between the sisters. This was done in a way that kept the authenticity of Shakespeare's works, but also made it easy for the audience to understand what was going on. The costumes were also very original, with many of the females wearing trousers towards the end of the play, instead of dresses that would've been typical in Shakespeare's time.

In terms of the acting I was completely inspired. In a play that is all about the divide between young and old, Bristol Old Vic marvelously brought together two generations of actors and actresses working together to re-tell this spellbinding tragedy. Well-known actors such as Timothy West and David Hargreaves acted alongside students of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and there was no obvious divide in talent or passion. The bar was set unbelievably high by the whole cast as they played out the story of King Lear and his daughters. Sanity, insanity, love, hate, loyalty and betrayal are woven together in this tale of mistakes and regrets.

At the end I was left desperately wishing I could re-write the script Shakespeare wrote some hundreds of years before, and yet, in some ways the end shows many things my ending possibly could not have done. Shakespeare shows that, even if, in the end people are forgiven and shown where they messed up it doesn't mean everything will be sorted into 'happily ever after.' Sometimes it ends with men, blind and stumbling, begging to be forgiven, before leaving the mess they created behind forever.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

TUI Discovery Show Team

I’m just back from a holiday around the Mediterranean, and, before I head off to get some rest after all the late nights and hectic days, I thought I’d jot down my impressions of the show team, who I have to say, were amazing. Not only were they incredibly talented they were also constantly working. Almost every night of the cruise they gave us a different performance, with singing, dancing and acting. Each show was completely unique in style, ranging from classics such as;West Side Story to Legends Live (a show involving songs from people such as Freddie Mercury, Prince and Michael Jackson, to name just a few.) 

As well as the general energy of the team, there was also buckets of talent. I have always loved music and getting emotionally connected to songs, whether that is laughing, crying, feeling inspired, or just wanting to jump up and sing along. Every single song preformed during the two weeks I was away moved me to one of these emotions.

Songs such as; 'I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you,' and 'Bare Necessities', that included hilarious (and rather accurate!) monkey-impersonations by Arnie made me laugh. 'Tonight' preformed by Tom and Danielle at the end of West side story, and Whitney Houston's, 'I will always love you,' preformed by Jess made me cry. The group performance of 'He lives in You' and 'Bridge over troubled water' completely inspired me, and 'Court of King Caractacus,' 'Moses Supposes,' 'Good morning, Good morning' and 'Walking on sunshine,' to name only a few, made me want to get up on stage and join in.

Not only did they sing beautifully they also preformed visually stunning and intricate dancing routines, including one particularly challenging dance to 'Move it, Move it' from Madagascar. I am not a dancer, and do not know how to portray with words how brilliant this dance was, but I was quite literally smiling during the whole performance.

What I loved most about these shows was the energy and enthusiasm that the team showed no matter what. You would hardly know that they had been up late the night before, and then rehearsing all day, before doing two performances and joining in with deck parties etc.

I'm not sure if the rest of the world will get to see these guys perform but if you do I’m sure you would love them just as much as we did. So here's to the team: Tom, Jess, Arnie, Emma, Danielle, Dylan,  Harriet, Jordan, Michael, Rhian and Paul - thanks for being such a memorable part of our holiday - Great Job! ... if I can find out how, then jaffa cakes (or custard creams) are on their way. x

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I have just recently finished reading The Lord of the Flies with some friends. A group of about 8 us met up fortnightly to discuss a chapter, or two, of what we had read the week before. Many times I found myself sorely tempted to read ahead, so involved did I become with the plot, and intrigued with how the author showed the merciless destruction of civilisation.

This book may seem like a dark and depressing novel, and in many ways it definitely is. In fact it is deeply disturbing on many levels, but if you look past that, and instead focus on the many examples of symbolism placed throughout this book, you will find it far more interesting. Something that struck me when talking about Lord of The Flies with my friends was their different opinions on whether they would, or wouldn't, advise people to read it. One girl put it very well saying, 'who I would suggest it to would very much depend on whether they would 'get' it or not.' Basically, to really get full worth out of this book you need to see past the story, and focus instead on the underlying meanings- the whole plot is an image of how the author sees the world.

If you are at all skeptical of reading this book, maybe you could try reading it with friends and doing discussion questions. I know that it really helped me engage when I could talk about it with friends. In fact it was very interesting to see how we each thought it related to us, and how easy we could relate ourselves to the characters. In some ways I think that is the scariest thing. Without laws and 'civilisation' would we become like Jack, and Ralph, and Piggy, and Simon? Would we fall into that level of savagery? This book isn't about enjoying it, it's about acknowledging that we are all plagued by the Lord of the Flies, the beast who lives within.

Horrible Histories- Bristol Hippodrome

I grew up reading and watching Horrible Histories. In fact, all of my friends did, and it was almost constantly a topic of conversation, 'have you read this or that book yet,' 'which is your favorite?' etc. etc. It came to the point that a lot of my friends knew the theme tune to the CBBC show, although I never quite got to that point. Anyway, today all of these old memories were brought back, when I went to watch Horrible Histories at the Hippodrome in Bristol.

From the start the atmosphere was amazing. The whole theatre was packed, and with one of the liveliest audiences I think I've ever seen- possibly partly because they were all under the age of 13. As the lights dimed and the show began everyone went silent, ready for the cast to appear, from the get go they owned the stage.

The whole performance was done in a pantomime style, with the audience encouraged to join in singing along and a few members even invited up onto the stage. During the interval I had a brief conversation with two boys who were sat in front of me, asking them if they were enjoying the performance. Both said yes very adamantly, describing aspects of it as 'scary' and others as 'hilarious.' The second half was particularly entertaining, when we were all given 3D glasses so that we could confront the minatour, more realistically.

The cast was amazing, engaging and talented. All the Hippodrome staff were wonderful and helpful. I would definitely encourage others to go, especially if you are aged 7- 13, enjoy history and love pantomime, This is a perfect mix of facts and fiction, entertainment and education.

Friday, 20 May 2016

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

What an enlightening book.  Often drawn to fiction rather than biography, a delayed flight at Edinburgh airport lead me to pick up this novel rather than the others on the shelf.   I had been staying with my godmother and when she dropped me off she kindly offered to buy me a book to read whilst I waited for my plane back to Bristol.  

I am not sure why this book stood out among the others, whether it was the fact Malala was the same age as me, or the fact she stood up very vocally for things I too felt strongly about, or the intriguing blurb. Whatever it was, I am so glad I picked this book off the shelf, it is one of the most inspiring things I have ever read. Often it can be hard to see how stuff happening on the other side of the world is relevant, this brings home just how important it really is.

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.  Born in Pakistan in 1997 she was shot by the Taliban for standing up for girls in education.  She now lives in Birmingham.  This book tells her story  aswell as giving us the backdrop to her life in Pakistan and the daily battles and difficulties faced. 

One of the things I love about this book is how down to earth Malala is about her fame and the portrayal of her life. She focuses on things that are part of her normal everyday life, things that were changed by the arrival of the Taliban. She describes her love of her country, the love of her friends and family, and most of all her love of school. In the UK, school is more often complained about, than raved about, we often don't realise the value of something until it is taken away. Malala was willing to fight for what is valuable - education for all.

This is a difficult book to blog about accurately - I am aware that its contents aren't trivial, but real issues, of great sensitivity.  These are real situations that many are facing across the globe, girls and boys alike, and they should not be taken lightly, so my advice is to read this book for yourself.

Thank you Aunty Katherine for a great weekend and a wonderful book to take away with me.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Sword that Saves by Ambrose Merrell

''There is no greater courage a man can have than to show his vulnerability. All men are vulnerable. All women are vulnerable. It's crazy that some men pretend they aren't and bottle it all up. It's not strong or manly, it's stupid. Strong is revealing the vulnerability. Strong is saying, 'I have these vulnerabilities and still I embrace life with all my being.''

The Sword that Saves is a gripping novel that has many compelling twists and turns. Every page holds a new question, followed by half an answer that leads you to another question. Everytime you think you've figured something out everything changes. 

There are so many great characters and settings woven throughout the story that is almost impossible to put down. When I pick it up I can feel myself sucked into modern day Vancouver, before being flung back into 16th century Japan. The time changes are displayed through language and setting in a way that makes it clear at every moment where you are in the story and yet there are secrets still hidden about how and why this time travel is possible.

When I first thought about writing this entry I asked myself the question, 'why should people read this book?' In the end I came up with a list of reasons that you should give this book a go, since the initial list was too long here are my 3 top;

The writing style- Every writer has their own writing style and Ambrose Merrell is no different. His style captures the essence of adventure, with its speed but also manages to keep a steady underlying pace so that you never feel rushed. Some authors may have similar, or even on first glance, identical writing styles as others but they are each unique. This can be through their humour, characters, what they deem important, how they express thoughts, attitudes, changes of scene. All of what builds up the book and makes it what it is. Sometimes you can get books with wonderful plot ideas but a terrible writing style, either because the author isn't very good at writing, or they have not discovered the style that best suits them yet and keep trying to write like everyone else. Ambrose Merrell however manages from the start, to create his own engaging way of telling this great tale.

The Plot- The Sword that Saves has a very interesting plot that provides both things that relate to modern day. and the history of ancient Japan. Personally Japan is a country that I have never had the opportunity to read or study about much. The Sword that Saves brings the ancient customs of the country alive providing a new interest in things of the past.

The Characters- I can't say that I have a favourite character at the moment but there is definitely an aspect of each character that I like best. I love Sam's bravery and trust in people, even when he first meets his Sensei he is willing to follow him, even when it may seem strange. I love Zoe's unwavering faith in her brother and Sophie's ability to see people as they truly are. I love that Grace, provides Sam with some of the greatest advice, and I love that no matter what each of these characters overcomes their own struggles.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


A few days ago I was talking to one of my friends, Eleanor. She asked me what I was doing of the weekend and so I listed off the things I would be doing; my little sister’s birthday, helping out at Kids@Ken (my church’s kids group), going to my grandparents, and flying in a Chinook. Of course it was the last activity on the list that particularly caught my friend’s attention.

I am not really sure how best to put my experience into words, there are some things that can not accurately be described, but I’ll give it my best shot.

The morning started with an early rise and a hectic packing of bags, being me I hadn’t packed yet and still needed to fill in forms etc. At around 6.50am I was in my uniform, hair done, shoes polished and hoping my uniform didn’t crease too much, and that I’d got everything I needed. On arrival at the coach stop no one from my squadron was there. Thoughts along the lines of, ‘I got the wrong place,' 'wrong time,' 'wrong date'. But, no need to panic. I was on time, everyone else was late. Despite the earlier setback we somehow managed to arrive at the RAF station early. Don’t ask how that’s possible, it just happened.

Arrival, people everywhere. Fire engine, police dogs, gliders and finally the Chinook. Safety brief, brace position.  Lined up, helmets, goldfish bowls trying to speak but can’t hear anyone. Thought I was going to be blown away as I walked to the back of the Chinook. Sitting down, seat-belts. Windows, tipping side to side, open back, trying to speak, forgetting that I can’t actually hear. Landing, getting  off and then just letting it all sink in as I fall asleep on the coach- with my mouth open! 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Moscow Symphony Orchestra

This was by far the best classical concert that I have seen so far in Colston Hall. The music seemed to both lift and dull my spirits by turns and many times I found myself closing my eyes so I could just focus on the music. I'm not going to lie and say there weren't any times I found myself searching for a clock, but there was something beautiful about learning to sit through the music even when I really wanted to follow my youngest sister's example and start fidgeting in my seat. Expanding and challenging what I enjoy and experience is something that can, in-itself be very rewarding. Not only did I get to experience the world renowned Moscow Symphony Orchestra but also to widen my own taste in music.

One of the most amusing parts of the concert was that there were three encores. Yes, three. After the second half finished everyone clapped, so the conductor came back on, bowed and left again. Then everyone clapped louder, so the conductor came back, bowed and played another piece. He then bowed, left, everyone clapped and he came back. Then, he left, everyone clapped, he came back, he played a piece and left again. THEN... Anyway it took a long time and I was laughing a lot by the end, along with most of the audience, excluding my two sister who were desperate for it to be over!

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Mirror Chronicles: Circles of Stone by Ian Johnstone

The length of time I waited for the second Mirror Chronicles to be released is probably the longest amount of time I've ever had to wait for a book. During that time I read and re-read Bell Between Worlds, puzzling over all possible hints towards the new book's plot. In all meanings of the word, I could not wait. From the moment I put the first book down I was desperate to pick up the next.

When Circles of Stone was finally published I was in the middle of exams. Initially I had decided I wouldn't read anything non-exam based until I had finished, that quickly changed however when Circles of Stone arrived in the post. In any time I had spare I would grab this book up and find myself lost in two mirrored stories, unraveling at a pace both fast, and gripping. Often what I thought was 5 minutes would evolve into a few hours and within no time at all I found myself at the end. Now I am waiting for the third book, and I have not even started thinking about what I'm going to do when I've finished reading all three!!

Giving a blog on the second book without giving spoilers could be difficult, especially since the Circle of Stones reveals so many new things about Sylas and 'The Other,' but I am determined to try my best!

A major difference between 'Bell Between Worlds' and 'Circles of Stone' is how quickly the plot's pace speeds up. The first book seems to lure you along, hinting at mysteries and questions that only become more and more confusing as the book develops. Then, in book two, everything is thrown into chaos, all that was hidden comes into the light and the world's tender balances break down. Every page holds a new answer, followed by a new question.

In 'Bell Between Worlds' I didn't have a favourite character, instead I focused on the development of 'the other' and the introduction of Sylas' character. In this installment of the Mirror Chronicles trilogy, however. my favourite character would have to be Ash. This is mainly because of his sense of humor and liveliness, even in the most pressing and otherwise severe situations he always seems to be in control- even when to everyone else, he clearly isn't!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

In The Heart Of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Moby Dick. Perhaps you've heard of him. The famous whale who had upon his head the curses of many captains whose boats he'd crushed and lives he'd destroyed. One such captain in-particular was told to have sailed the seas in desperation, searching for the large white whale. Of course, this is fiction, made up in the mind's eye of an author. But, what if it wasn't. What if you found that the story of Moby Dick and the tragedies  that ensued were based on true events. The events of a ship called the Essex. What if the only reason the story of Moby Dick was fictional is because the author was sworn to change the names and certain particulars so that no one would know.

I didn't know about 'In the Heart of the Sea' until January when some friends and I were looking for a film to watch at the cinema. Having read 'Moby Dick' I was eager to go and watch this new movie, my friends took some convincing though. In the end, I just decided for everyone, they didn't seem to mind too much!

I loved the movie and, when in Waterstones with my Granddad I happened to find 'In the Heart Of the Sea' on the shelf. After flicking through a few pages I was instantly hooked and, despite the fact I was in the middle of doing GCSE's  and had unofficially decided not to read anything but exam books until I'd finished, I decided I had to read this. 'In the Heart of the Sea' is written similarly to a history book, mentioning dates, times, people, places and describing each one of these things in detail. Nathaniel Philbrick also mentions all the various sources from which this book was pulled together, making this one of the most unbiased accounts of these tragic happenings.

For anyone who likes history, this book is fascinating and heart wrenching. Questions such as human morality and basic principles of civilisation verses the desperate need to survive. Looking back at it from a modern perspective, it is clear to see how many of the tragedies faced by the Essex's crew could have been avoided, and yet, crucial decisions made changed their fate, leaving only a handful of survivors.

One thing I  particularly loved about this book is Nathaniel Philbrick's factualness, he doesn't use dramatic license but instead sticks to the original story, letting the haunting tale weave itself exactly as it took place all those years ago. This book is definitely worth a read, and as the summer draws steadily nearer, I strongly encourage you to pick it off the shelf and, immerse yourself in the unfortunate of events, of the whale-ship Essex.