Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Spellbound Stories Reading List

Learn more about the ten novels and the songs they inspired...

Veronika Decides to Die is a novel by Paulo Coelho published in 1998.. It tells the story of 24-year-old Slovenian Veronika, who appears to have everything in life going for her, yet she is not happy; something is lacking in her life, and one morning she decides to die. The overdose of sleeping pills she takes does not work, and she wakes up in Villete, the local asylum. There she is told that her heart is damaged and she has only a few days to live.  The story follows Veronika through these intense days as she starts to question all her ideas about life. Soon she comes to realize that every second of existence is a choice we all make between living and dying. Against all odds she finds herself falling in love and even wanting to live again…  One More Dance is Veronika's story.

The God of Small Things (1997) is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins whose lives are destroyed by the "Love Laws" that lay down "who should be loved, and how. And how much." The book describes how the small things in life can affect people's behaviour and their lives. Little Things argues that it's the small quirks a person has that makes another fall in love with them.

The Master & Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, written between 1928 and 1940 but unpublished in book form until 1967. It is woven around a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union and is considered by many critics to be one of the best Soviet satires ever written. This complex novel, heavily influenced by Goethe's Faust, inspired the song Devilish Disguise.

Beloved is a novel by the American writer Toni Morrison published in 1987. Set after the American Civil War (1861–1865), and based on a true story, the main character, Sethe, kills her daughter when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to the Kentucky plantation from which Sethe and her children have recently escaped. She kills her daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured. A ghost who is believed to be the murdered daughter comes back to haunt the family home. The song inspired by Beloved is called Ghosts.

The Time Traveler's Wife is the debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger, published in 2003. It is a love story about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and about his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. They first meet on one of his time travels when she is 6 but it's not until she is 20 and he is 28 that she meets him "naturally". In their last meeting, she is 82 and he is 43. All He'll Ever Need is a love song.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber is a 2002 novel set in Victorian-era England. The novel details lives of two very opposite Victorian women, Agnes and Sugar. Sugar - an intelligent and resourceful prostitute - is the mistress of Agnes's husband and lives in their household after he employs her in the guise of a governess for his young daughter. No-One Can Tell highlights the plight of the mistress who may seem to have the best of both worlds but could easily end up with nothing.

White Teeth is a 2000 novel by the British author Zadie Smith. The story mixes pathos and humour while illustrating the dilemmas of immigrants and their offspring as they are confronted by a new, different society. However, no matter the colour of their skin, the religion they follow, or the country they come from, everyone has at least one unifying feature - white teeth. Beautiful Smile is about falling in love with someone from a different culture.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published in 1950. Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that the White Witch has ruled for 100 years of deep winter. Four English children discover this magical land via a wardrobe in the big, old country house they stay in during their World War II evacuation from London. Magic & Mystery is a song about the magic and mysteries of everyday life.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 novel by German writer Patrick Süskind that explores identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit. The story focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume apprentice in 18th-century France who, born with no body scent himself, begins to stalk and murder virgins in search of the "perfect scent". Jean-Baptiste's story is told in Heaven Scent.

The Color Purple is a 1982 novel by American author Alice Walker.  Celie is the main character and has been oppressed by men her whole life. At 14 she is forced to marry a much older widower to look after his house and children. They all treat her very badly but everything changes when she falls in love with her husband's mistress. Forbidden Fruit celebrates going against the grain to discover your true identity.

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