Monday, 8 June 2009

Nell Dunn

Nell Dunn is another author I've discovered by reading my way through Virago books at random. I came across Poor Cow and Up The Junction when I was ordering some DVDs for our film collection at work, and then decided to read the books before I watched the films *(see below). It's the story of a young woman living in the 1960s, and is as much a description of London in the 1960s as it is of her life. I think there is a sequel but I'm not sure what it is called. I went on and watched the film last week and was really impressed by the way Ken Loach brought the book to life using lots of music and not too much dialogue. It's gritty and not terribly cheering but definitely worth watching.
I'm now reading Up the junction, which is more of a series of vignettes than a joined up story like Poor Cow so it will be interesting to see how that translates to the screen.
(((*edit* I think what I liked so much about the books is how different they are from other Virago books that I've read. Main female character faces hard times is not an unusual theme, but so far the characters that have encountered hardship in the novels I've read have been from the middle and upper classes. I haven't really read any other "working class" centric Virago books yet, although I'm sure there must be some.)))

* I always prefer to read the book first when the book came before the film (and I don't tend to read those books that came after the film). I like to get the author's original intentions and see it all in my imagination first rather than letting the film dictate how I see things. Somehow it taints the experience of reading the book if you've already seen someone's interpretation. Almost the only case I can recall of preferring the film to the book is Mary Poppins, and I'm quite sure that is because I watched the film aged 5 or 6 and only read the book a few years later, and was very disappointed as it wasn't so exciting (I was probably only 9). The Mary Poppins books are quite dark and very different from the film, although I was interested that the stage show in London a couple of years ago was actually very faithful to the books which have grown on me as I've moved away from singing a Spoonful of sugar so frequently!


  1. I currently have a copy of Poor Cow on its way to me so I am glad to read that you enjoyed it.

    I too prefer reading the book before seeing the film although there have been some notable exceptions. A few months ago I watched Revolutionary Road without having read the book first and was blown away by how good it is; I wonder how the book will fare in comparison although I imagine it will be well.

  2. It turns out I have already bought the sequel - The silver shoes - so I shall read that in a few days time.

    I think the book of Revolutionary Road is even better than the film. I had a Richard Yates phase about this time last year; his books can be quite depressing though.

    Which reminds me, I've read The reader, but must watch the DVD which I catalogued at work the other day as I was too ill to go and see the film when it came out.

  3. The Reader was another book that I had to read before the film came out, seeing as I had the book sitting unread on bookshelves for close to a decade. Still haven't seen the film either.


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